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 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. 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 too. 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 bigger victories.
Luckily there are some ways to make Purim a little easier on the wallet.
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?