Celebrating Purim on a Budget

Holidays are important. Spreading joy is important. Holidays are not a time to skimp or be unnecessarily frugal. They are a time to celebrate and enjoy…. and not go into debt.

 

Purim

One of the most important ways to be able to celebrate any holiday without going into debt is to budget all year. I take a 5% of each paycheck and place it in a separate bank account (modern envelope system) to save up for all the holidays. I only spend as much as I was able to save. I sometimes will take bonuses or part of my tax refund to bulk up this account as well. It is important to me to be able to celebrate appropriately. It’s important to me to be able to participate in holiday traditions and activities at the same level as others in my community. It is also REALLY important for me NOT to go into debt. It is a balance between participating the way I want to, and not blowing my money on things that are not essential. Saving money beforehand helps me with that balance. I spend the money I have and I don’t have to “guess” how much I can afford. The money is budgeted BEFORE I start planning so I have a dollar amount that I know I have to stick to.

Purim is about joy. It is about celebrating with friends and family. It is about thanking G-d for the good He has given us. It is not about going into debt in order to impress or show off. It is not about spending more that we can. It is about taking what we have and using it to increase our joy and our friend's joy WITH WHAT WE WERE GIVEN. Click To Tweet

Purim, one of the funnest Jewish holidays of the year and one that is actually pretty expensive. I always feel that since Passover comes right after with all it’s huge expenses, that Purim sort of gets overlooked when it comes to the budgeting.

Luckily there are some ways to make Purim a little easier on the wallet.

Read more about what Purim is here.

Purim Money-Saving Tips:

Mishloach Manos- (read here if you have NO CLUE what this is). I do something homemade every year. While store-bought items are much easier, the savings with something homemade cannot be beat. You can still do something classy and nice even when you are making something homemade. Don’t forget that the point of Mishloach Manos is not to impress everyone with your creative and flawless creations but to increase joy to the receiver. Some ideas that are budget-friendly and appreciated: fresh bread, muffins, vegetable platter, or cake. As Passover is right around the corner, none of these items need to be too large or else it will just get tossed. I find that most of the money goes towards packaging so I try to find packing ideas that will need less. For example, a simple bag will usually end up costing less than a basket, cellophane, label and ribbon. Gift bags are also easier to assemble and transport. They can also be reused. Please note that I am not bashing or criticizing anyone who goes all out for Purim. I love getting some of those elaborate and creative mishloach manos but its just not worth going into debt over. If you can afford it and enjoy it, then go right ahead! If you can’t afford it then think hard about why you are determined to make such elaborate concoctions.

Kids Mishloach Manos- Kids like candy. It’s pretty universal. I am not going to make my kids give a healthy or cheap michloach manos if they want otherwise. The older they are, the more opinions they have. What I do try to do is compromise by having one fun candy item and then something like fun cookies. This year we are doing a candy stick from Cracker Barrel ($.10 and OU) and then 2-3 colorful cookies (recipe here) in a bag. The whole thing will probably be less than $.50 each. This also allows me to make a whole bunch so they can give whomever they want without having to ration. The parents also appreciate that it’s not too much sticky and messy candy!

Meal- Simple and hearty is the theme. I try to do a main dish that goes with easy starches like rice or another grain. Simple side dishes like potatoes and coleslaw will fill up a hungry crowd pretty easily. (Read more tips on how to make a feast on a budget). One of my splurges is to only use paper goods for the meal. But I find that simple, colorful paper goods look so nice and festive without costing too much.

What are some things that you do to make Purim more affordable?

Basic Guide to Budgeting and Personal Finance

Are you clueless when it comes to Budgeting and Personal Finance?

Do you want to learn about Budgeting and Personal Finance but don’t even know where to start?

Are you just starting out and want to start Budgeting and Saving properly the first time around?

I wish I had someone to teach me basics of budgeting and saving when I was just starting to work. I would have saved myself so much heartache. This is not a blog about getting out debt (thank goodness!) or about Pursuing Financial Independence or Early Retirement (FIRE). There Basic Guide to Budgeting and Personal Financeare plenty of great people talking about those.

 

This is a blog about the  basics of personal finance and my own journey towards financial security. I am a “millennial mom” who is doing her best to give my family financial security all while living on a low income. No high-earner here!

 

How do you start getting your financial life in order?

It's actually very easy. There are no secrets or get-rich tips. It comes down to proper budgeting and saving properly. Click To Tweet

If you read the following posts (I suggest in order but you can do whatever you want!) it will give you the basic foundation to start getting your financial life in order. Its simple and straightforward.

Budgeting with the Modern Envelope System– a basic budget with a modern twist.

Budgeting on an Uneven Paycheck– What if you don’t get a set paycheck every month? This posts helps you set up a budget to fit your uneven paycheck.

Setting up Your Savings Ladder- Where do you put your savings? How do you know what to save for? The Savings Ladder will tell you exactly where and how much to save.

Emergency Fund: A Primer- The emergency fund is part of your savings ladder. Why is it so important? Why do you need it?

Why I put $5 a Month into a Retirement Account- Creating good financial habits is the key to successfully getting your financial life under control.

3 Tips to Boost your Savings-Looking for tips to boost your savings? Here are 3. No shortcuts though! Just good, old-fashioned savings.

 

Happy Reading and Good Luck!

Some Basics About Filing Taxes

TaxesSome Basics About Filing Taxes

Tax Filing 101

Disclaimer: The following post contains affiliate links, which means I may get money when you click or purchase something from a link in this post.

If you make money- you have to file taxes. Click To TweetThe good thing is that filing taxes is actually pretty easy for the majority of people.

There are 2 types of taxes that you have to file: Federal and State.

According to the IRS:

In most cases, you will need to file a return if any of the following are true:

  • Your gross income was over $10,000 as a single filer (or over $20,000 as a married couple filing jointly)
  • You earned over $400 from self-employment
  • You sold your home during the tax year
  • You owe taxes because of your retirement account, either from distributions or excess contributions
  • You owe Social Security and Medicare taxes on tips that were not reported to your employer, or on wages that your employer did not withhold these taxes from

After you file taxes, you may get a bill from the IRS saying that you need to pay taxes or you may get a Refund (this is when the IRS gives you money back)

The best and easiest way to file taxes is through a cheap or free tax software service. There really is no need to pay someone to do your taxes unless you have a really complicated situation.

According to a Reddit user, “If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $66,000 or less, https://www.irs.gov/freefile has many options which may allow you to e-file your federal and state income taxes for free using popular brand-name software like Turbo Tax, Tax Slayer, etc., even if you need the more “complicated” schedules for things like itemized deductions, self-employment income, or capital gains and losses. Note that the free products offered via this service may differ from the “free” (with pushy up selling) products you’d find if you went directly to the vendors’ web sites. Always follow the links from the IRS if you want the truly free versions.”

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Your employer, your banks, your school- they will all send you various tax forms. As soon as you get them- keep them in a folder or in a specific place on your computer. Once you have all your forms you can begin the process. Software like Turbo Tax allows you to save your work so as soon as you get your W-2 or 1099 from your employer you can get to work.
  2. Discuss with your parents your “dependent” status. Only one person can claim you as a dependent- either your parents or you- but not both. If you are still living at home or you’re parents are supporting you , they may still want to claim you as dependent. If this is not the case, let them know that they can no longer claim you as a dependent because you will be claiming yourself. This will ensure there are no issues if you are claimed as a dependent twice.
  3. File soon and file early. As soon as you can file you should do so. First of all, get it over with. Second, since many people wait until the last minute- the IRS usually takes while to process your return if you file near April 15th. However, if you file earlier (you can file as early as January 28th) they are more likely to process your return and give you a refund quickly.
  1. You MUST file by April 15th. Don’t wait until then. Do it earlier. But that is the latest you can file. Don’t miss the deadline please!
  1. If you are hit with a huge tax bill, then hire a professional to speak to. It is possible they can help you file an amended return if you did something wrong, or help you work out a payment plan with the IRS. Whatever you do, don’t not pay your bill! Even if you can’t afford it- work out some sort of plan. If you just run out on your bill you can be in a lifetime of trouble!

TurboTax

I personally have been using Turbo Tax to file my taxes for the past 8 years and I have been very happy. TurboTax is a software that you can purchase in-store or online that walks you through filing your taxes and then e-files for you, if you want. It’s easy, straightforward and it saves all your work. I also love that they save all your information from previous years so a lot of the information is already there the following years. It’s a great option that you can do from home- it’s quick and easy! You can request that your refund (if you are entitled to one) be directly deposited to your bank account which speeds up the processing time as well. I have always had very quick turn around times with my refund when doing through Turbo Tax, but I usually file my taxes in the first week of February. There are different forms of the software starting from free for basic returns and getting more expensive as you get more complicated. The website can help you figure out the best program to purchase.

DO NOT get your refund in Amazon gift cards (this is sometimes an option). It’s just begging for you to spend your refund instead of using to pay down debt, bulk up savings or use it for more crucial purchases. It may seem like a good deal (sometimes there is a financial incentive) but getting gift cards instead of cash is RARELY a good idea. Be smart with your refund and let the money help you become a little more financially secure.