Two words: tax refund. I use Turbo Tax to file my taxes because I have been using them for years, and I’ve always been happy. So why mess with a good thing?
Thanks to the earned income credit and the child tax credit, we are lucky enough to get a nice chunk back from the government.
We always give Maaser (charity) our tax refund because we consider it income. We try very hard always to give Maaser even though things are tight: I think it’s important to remember that we have everything we need and a lot of what we want even though we aren’t rich. But, unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. So we transfer the money into a separate account and give it out as the opportunities come up.
Purim and Pesach on a Budget
The rest of the tax refund we use towards Purim and Pesach. Depending on the year and how expensive things are, we try to put a nice chunk into our life happens fund as well.
Even though we technically have enough money from the refund to spring for a lavish Purim and Pesach, we need to remember that our life happens fund is not fully funded, and we can always save for retirement, a house, or our kid’s futures. We definitely work on being as frugal as we can, regardless. I think it’s important to remember where you are financially before splurging too much when you get a nice chunk of money.
For example, it may be tempting to spend it all when you get a bonus, but I don’t want to have fun right now and regret it later. It would be a shame to spend too much and end up pinching pennies next month. I’d rather have just enough for many months or do something actually to improve our financial situation- like saving, so I can eventually invest.
We do our best not to spend too much but being a Jew is expensive. Being Frum (Orthodox) is expensive. Yom Tov (Holidays) is expensive.
Cutting Purim Costs
That being said, there are many creative ways to cut down on costs.
Regarding Purim Mishaloach Manos and gifts for teachers (in our community, people like to give teachers gifts Purim time), I follow my guide to giving gifts.
The Purim Meal and the Pesach meals are no different from any other fancy meal or feast. I follow the same tips and tricks that I used when I wrote about thanksgiving. A feast is a feast no matter the holiday. While I serve meat, I try to also serve a vegetarian main dish to help with costs. I do a lot of vegetables and grains to keep the costs down. Even the meat main dish, I try to do something like beef and broccoli to make the meat stretch a bit more.
Pick One Thing
If all of this is too overwhelming for you, just pick one aspect of Purim to focus on and cut costs. It could be costumes- I borrow, make or reuse to save money. It could be mishloach Manos- I like to bake something and pay attention to the packaging costs as that adds up pretty quickly. Finally, it could be the meal- maybe join with someone to split the costs.
Back to Basics
All of these ideas aren’t particularly new or novel. But, then again, most things aren’t. You can use every tip here for any holiday or party, or occasion. If you aren’t Jewish, these things apply to you as well. This is for any holiday that you need or want to celebrate on a dime.
No matter the circumstances.
The 3 steps to making any Holiday on a Dime:
1. Budget based on the money you have
2. Hack and cut what you can to fit in your budget
3. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and try not to stress too much!