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Archive for the category “Home Economics”

How the other half lives: The Wolfowitz Family

Yael (30) and Mor (29) Wolfowitz have three children: Ariel (9), Netanel (8) and Yasmine (5).

They live in a 4 room (3BR) garden apartment in Yishuv Avnei Hefeitz in the Shomron for which they have a mortgage.

Yael is a secretary for the rehabilitation work center “Chimes Israel” in Kfar Saba.  Mor is a networks manager for Machon Mor as well as studying for a bachelor’s degree in information security in Michlelet Or Yehuda.  Their car is a company car.

Hobbies and chugim: Netanel takes a drums chug, Ariel is in an art chug and Mor loves to fish.

Vacations: “After three years where we didn’t go on a vacation due to financial reasons, last July we went away for four days to the family hotel Nova Like in Eilat.  Every year we also go on a vacation on Sukkot.”

Budget: Yael: “I am on the internet obsessively and check my bank account all the time.  We had a fall, but when that happened we returned to Paamonim, got myself together and returned to proper financial management.  It isn’t simple, especially in the months of July and August.  In the past we were dependent on our parents but now we are completely independent.  Because of Paamonim I am more careful and on my own I began to volunteer to help others better manage their home finances.  Today I am a different person and that makes me much happier.  When I get into a disaster I know how to get out of it, and that is the best present that I received.”

Monthly expenses:

Apartment: 2093 shekels

Electricity and water: 520 shekels

Communication and television: 350 shekels

School and chugim: 2050 shekels

Car and gas: 220 shekels

Insurance: 400 shekels

Kupot Cholim: 230 shekels

Food and household expenses: 2800 shekels

Culture and leisure time: 200 shekels

Vacations: 300 shekels

Miscellaneous expenses ( pets, haircuts, fines, clothing, shoes, present, etc.): 845 shekels

Loans: 1500 shekels

Savings: 1000 shekels



How the other half lives- The Bass Family

One of the most important issues for new olim is learning how to make ends meet at the end of each month.  Sometimes it feels as if we are drowning and wonder how it is that Israelis seem to have it so much easier than us.  Every once in a while the newspapers publish stories about average Israeli families and their financial situations.  I think it is important for olim to see how the other half lives to help us put our own financial struggles in perspective.  This article was published in Yisrael HaYom  on 12 September 2014.

Yasmine (34) and Amit (36) Bass

Two children: Orin (6) and Yanai (4)

They live in a 3 room apartment (2BR) in Haifa for which they have a mortgage.

Yasmine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is studying social work at the University of Haifa.  Amit is a welder for the electric company.  They own a 2006 Renault Scenic.  For hobbies, Amit plays sports on the beach for free.  Yasmine: “I am a proud housewife and student, and my hobbies and free time revolves around the house.”  The last vacation they took was three years ago when they went to Eilat through Amit’s work so it was very cheap.

The budget: “We are constantly in minus but we know that it is a temporary situation because learning is intensive right now.  We are about 4000 shekels short each month.  We generally live on Amit’s salary. Since I started learning two years ago we are living on our savings.  We sold our apartment in Rishon L’zion specifically so I would be able to learn.  With what we earned from the sale we were able to buy the apartment in Haifa and be able to start learning.   To my luck I am an excellent student – so that I am able to deliver the goods.  We received help from Paamonim and got insight into household financial management and we are trying to pay up front so that we don’t build up debt.”

Monthly expenses:

Apartment: 3388 shekels

Electricity and water: 565 shekels

Communication and television: 540 shekels

School and chugim: 742 shekels

Car and gas: 2210 shekels

Insurance: 660 shekels

Kupot Cholim: 223 shekels

Food and household goods: 3000 shekels

Culture and socialization: 233 shekels

Vacations: 0 shekels

Miscellaneous expenses (pets, haircuts, fines, clothing, shoes, presents, etc.): 1175 shekels

Loans: 350 shekels

Savings: 500 shekels


Home Economics: The Tadmor-Levy Family

Kfir (36) and Dafna (34).  Children: Tali (3.5) and Shahar (7 months).  The live in a four room (3BR) apartment in Tivon.  Kfir is an administrator in a company and Dafna is the office  manager of a conservatory in Kiryat Tivon.  They own a Hyundai Accent, 2000 model.

Chugim: none- the kids are too young.

Hobbies: Kfir is studying for a masters in English literature in Haifa University and Dafna translates books.

Last vacation: We don’t go on vacation because it isn’t our style.  If we had a ton of money, we would, but with two little kids it isn’t fun.  If we go out, it is to the forest in Tivon.

Budget:  We don’t have a television for ideological reasons, we shop at secondhand stores and don’t get haircuts outside of the house.  We are not in minus right now, but in the last few years the money issue has become more difficult- at one point we had a 45,000 shekels minus for 4 months.  We are in a different situation completely now because of Paamonim.  They taught me not only to decrease our expenses but also find ways to increase our income.  My new job that I found is because of Paamonim.

Monthly expenses (shekalim): apartment (3015), electricity/water (425), Communication/television (400), school/chugim (2100), car/gas (2000), insurance (250), medical (200), food/household (1700), culture/leisure (250), vacation (0)- divided into 12 months, miscellaneous (120)- pets, haircuts, fines, clothing, shoes,presents, loans (2200), savings (450).  TOTAL: 13,110 shekels

If you are interested in participating, send an email to

Source: Yisrael HaYom, 22/11/2013, Tzarchanut supplement p13.


Home Economics: The Dvash Family

As a new oleh, one of the most important questions we ask is “How much money do we need to survive?”  The follow-up question after receiving our first paycheck is “How do Israelis survive on this?”

The answer is that many of them don’t.  That is, until the organization Paamonim stepped in. I wrote about them in previous posts (also here): instead of donating money to a family, they teach them how to live within their budget.  Mekor Rishon had previously posted examples of family budgets and the tips the family received to save money.  Yisrael HaYom has now started posting fmily descriptions, but without the tips.  I am translating them in the hopes that you can see how the other side lives.

The Dvash Family, Or Yitzhak 

Meital (38); 3 children- Idan (10), Shaked (7) and Yarden (5)

They live in a 5 room apartment (4 bedrooms) on the yishuv kehilati Or Yitzhak.  Meital has two degrees from the US in mental health and criminology.   She works as a rehab trainer in a hostel for people with psychological disturbances.  They own a Hyundai Accent Family, 2005 model.

Chugim: Idan- soccer, Shaked- basketball and Yarden- gymnastics.

Meital’s hobbies: being a full time single mom.

Their last vacation: 3 days at the Kineret in tents.

Budgeting: much better since she started working with Paamonim.   She used to take out loans of 2000-3000 shekels at a time.

Monthly expenses (shekalim): apartment (5420), electricity/water (530), Communication/television (686), school/chugim (2150), car/gas (660), insurance (0), medical (80), food/household (1200), culture/leisure (500), vacation (200)- divided into 12 months, miscellaneous (600)- pets, haircuts, fines, clothing, shoes,presents, loans (2000), savings (0).  TOTAL: 14,026 shekels

Source: Yisrael HaYom, 22/11/2013, Tzarchanut supplement p12.

Aliyah tip #4- Living in “minus”

One of the more comforting things I noticed when we moved to Israel was not the very low paycheck we had, but the way everybody seems to be in the same boat, trying to make their shekel stretch as far as possible.  There is no shame in post-dating a check, any checkout over 200 shekels can be spread out into “tashlumim” (payments), and the bank offers a very pleasing line of credit for when the monthly expenses are suddenly over budget.

These same comforts, however, can be very dangerous if not used wisely.   It is easy to lose track over how many purchases you are paying in installments, and if you are not careful they can become significant monthly expenses.  The “minus” that the bank so easily gives you accrues interest and you can very easily reach sums that you won’t be able to pay off with your current salary.  I remember when I brought my first paycheck to the bank to open an account.  We previously had an account at Bank HaDoar, which does not allow an overdraft, so I told the bank we didn’t need one.  Of course they didn’t agree- it was free and if you didn’t use it, you don’t pay anything.  So I agreed.  Based on my monthly pay of 10,000 shekels, they wanted to open an overdraft of 25,000 shekels!  I laughed and asked how they expected me to pay back 25,000 shekels  when I only earned 10,000 shekels a month?  Again, they smiled, and in the end I walked out with the overdraft.  I am forced to admit that there were times that we actually used that whole amount (summer camp, Pesach) and subsequently paid it off, but it was always an extremely stressful period not knowing whether we could get cash out of the bank because our line of credit was used up.

Since then our salaries increased, we tightened our budget, and we actually have an emergency fund saved.  We were fortunate to be able to do this on our own, but many people can’t.  For them, there is an organization called Paamonim.  This non-profit organization helps people get out of financial distress not by handing them money, but by teaching them how to manage the finances and keep their budget balanced; whatever their financial status.  Mekor Rishon newspaper followed some of the families helped by Paamonim and posted the tips that the families learned- you can read about one family in a previous post.  I hope to post other stories, but in the meantime if your Hebrew is good, you can read more stories/tips on Paamonim’s Hebrew web site.

Tip of the day:

זכות (+) and חובה (-) : make sure you know the difference on your bank statement! When we closed our first bank account, we missed the little ח next to the sum and instead of expecting a 4000 shekel refund, we had to pay 4000 shekels.  That was painful and embarrassing!

Pa’amonim and Rami Levy get you back on budget

This Shabbat Makor Rishon profiled a family who is trying to learn how to save money.  They received help from Pa’amonim, a very worthy organization which, instead of just giving the family money, helps them manage their money and get out of debt.

Some of the tips they learned:

  • Always compare your income and expenses and decide what is necessary and what is extra.
  • Don’t blame the high prices on your debt.  Take responsibility and find solutions.  Complaining doesn’t put money in your pocket.
  • Change the way you shop in the supermarket.  The husband started shopping instead of the wife and children.  He went to the store with a specific list and a budget instead of buying whatever looked interesting.  Don’t look only at eye level- good deals can be found above and below.  You don’t always have to buy the most popular brand.
  • Change the way you look at tlushim (tavei kniyah).  Don’t use them on frivolous items- use them for groceries and other necessary expenses.
  • Involve the children in budgeting.  Teach them the word “no.”  They will catch on quickly and learn to prioritize their own needs.
  • Compare prices at your local supermarkets.  This Givat Shaul family switched from Osher Od to Rami Levy and save 30% off their weekly shopping bill.  Here is the comparison:



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