I love Purim! Just like any other holiday, Purim can be quite costly if you don’t prepare and plan. Here is how I am 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.
One of the most important ways to celebrate any holiday without going into debt is to budget all year. I take 5% of each paycheck and place it in a separate bank account (modern envelope system) to save for all the holidays. I only spend as much as I was able to save. Sometimes I 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. In addition, it’s important to me 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.
It Is About the Joy
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 to impress or show off. It is not about spending more than 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.
Celebrating Purim on a Dime
Purim is one of the funnest Jewish holidays of the year and one that is actually pretty expensive. I always feel that since Passover (Pesach) comes right after with all its enormous expenses, that Purim sort of gets overlooked when it comes to budgeting. It may also seem silly to focus so much on Purim when Pesach is just around the corner. If you may go into debt then, shouldn’t you just let it all go now? To that, I answer: It is all about saving dimes.
Yes, you may not end up being debt-free over the holidays, but you can save some dimes. That little bit not only adds up, but it keeps you from adding EVEN MORE to your debt. It stops the avalanche of money from multiplying even more than it has to. I do believe that every penny and every dime counts. Additionally, small wins prepare you for big wins. Small victories give you hope and resolve, which can lead to even more significant victories.
Luckily there are some ways to make Purim a little easier on the wallet.
Purim Money-Saving Tips:
(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 lovely even when you are making something homemade. Don’t forget that Mishloach Manos’s point 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, a container of soup, or cake.
As Passover is right around the corner, none of these items need to be too large, or else they will just get tossed. 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. The recipient can even reuse them if they want.
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 it is 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, think hard about why you are determined to make and deliver such elaborate concoctions.
Kids Mishloach Manos
Kids like candy. It’s pretty universal. I will not make my kids give healthy or cheap Mishloach Manos if they want otherwise. The older they are, the more opinions they have. I try to 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.
Simple and hearty is the theme. I try to do the 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 only to use paper goods for the meal. But I find that simple, colorful paper goods look so lovely and festive without costing too much.
What are some things that you do to make Purim more affordable?
Read More about Jewish Holidays (Yom Tov) on a Budget!