The Financial Crisis Hits Home: Money-Saving Tips for the Orthodox Family


Create a Home-Spending Plan
• Create a detailed analysis or spreadsheet to analyze your expenses. Classify each expense as either necessary (food, rent or mortgage, utility bills) or discretionary (clothing, vacations, entertainment)
• Allot a fixed amount of money to be spent per time period
• Consult with a certified financial planner for advice

How to Stretch Your Dollars
• Plan your menu for the week and shop accordingly
• Eat out three times a year only
• Swap children’s clothing with family and friends
• Dry clean only when necessary
• Unplug electronics not in use, such as cell phone chargers and hair dryers
• Use fluorescent lighting or energy-efficient light bulbs
• Close the vents in empty or unused rooms. Installing programmable thermostats or energy-efficient furnaces and air conditioning units will save even more money
• Trim down extras on phone plans
• Use a calling card for international calls; shop around, as many rates change monthly
• Drive a small, gas-efficient car
• Check with your insurance company to see if it offers discounts for cars with air bags or automatic seatbelts

Saving on Semachot
• Downsize on invitations, orchestra, liquor and photography
• Eliminate choices for the entrée
• Be generous but reasonable when buying chatan/kallah gifts
• Dispense with multiple engagement parties
• Have a small, intimate event—do not invite everyone you know
•Throw a kiddush luncheon in shul rather than a large event in a hall for a Bar Mitzvah celebration
• Celebrate semachot at home and self cater

Summer Savings
• Vacation locally
• Take a low-key vacation at a kosher bed and breakfast or go camping. Go on day trips and enjoy canoeing, hiking or rafting
• Rent a motor home and travel
• Use shul listservs to borrow items you may need, such as camping equipment, luggage, a roof rack, coolers, et cetera
• Search airline and hotel web sites, as they are often cheaper than so-called discount web sites
• Ask for a camp scholarship; most camps would rather have you pay a portion of the fees than not send your child at all

Teaching Children the Value of Money
• Teach children effective budgeting from an early age
• Give your children a weekly allowance for completing assigned chores, such as folding laundry or mowing the lawn
• Don’t give your children money randomly; let them save their money for a prized item. This will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment and will teach responsibility.

Special thanks to Steven Burman, founder and president of Credit Advocate Counseling Corp. in Manhattan; Ruby Herman, a budget consultant in Bergenfield, New Jersey; Basil Herzstein, a certified financial planner in Rockville, Maryland, and David Siegel, a bankruptcy attorney and debt settlement consultant in Teaneck, New Jersey, for these practical and helpful tips.

Compiled by Bayla Sheva Brenner

This article was featured in the Summer 2009 issue of Jewish Action.