The Financial Crisis– What is the Solution?

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  • #588680

    William
    Member

    We are living through one of the most difficult financial periods in recent history. From the nearly 50% loss in the stock market and general lack of liquidity to the thousands of layoffs that are taking place across major sectors of the economy, there is nobody that is unaffected. The frum community is no exception: hundreds of jobs have been lost, life savings and 401(k)s decimated, homes foreclosed, etc.

    A persuasive case can be made that the frum family and perhaps the community as a whole has been put in a far more precarious position than the average secular or non-Jewish family, as a result of what has happened. The cost of living for the average Frum family is significant; kosher food, three Shabbos meals, simchas, tuition, mortgages, car payments, shaitels, et al. There are few options for those that cannot keep up, and more and more we are seeing people that are falling into debt and are unable to put food on the table. Tomchei Shabbos, and other similar chessed organizations have seen their budgets drastically increase over the last few years. The fact that many of the gvirim that have supported these organizations in the past have now lost much of their own money as well.

    Frightening stories are appearing in Jewish publications: Stories of seemingly well off families having to rely on Tomchei Shabbos and other tzedakah organizations just to put food on the table. Stories of lines snaking around the corner of people waiting to pick up their “weekly groceries”, stories of mass unemployment, etc.

    Clearly, there are many issues that must be addressed in a time like this. Perhaps our kollel system needs revamping, perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps people have to take wedding takanos more seriously, perhaps people should cut back on unnecessary expensive clothing, shaitels, etc… perhaps not. These are issues for people far greater than me, However, I think everyone can agree that now is a time where people must come together to help out their fellow Jews in a time of need. Unfortunately, it would seem to me that simply going back to the same sources for tzedakah again and again may not suffice to solve this problem.

    Please use this post as a forum to offer constructive comments, suggestions, and possibilities to help ease the burden of those who are suffering.

    Thank you

    #625589

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Before turning to organizations like Tomchei Shabbos for food, people should start selling things that they have – jewelry, furs, expensive cars. They should downgrade. They should not buy new clothing or shoes unless absolutely neccesary. Every expense should be looked at as *essential for living* or *non-essential* and budgeted accordingly. Find cheaper alternatives to eating healthy (such as eating beans for protein instead of meat/chicken/fish). Dont make weddings you cannot afford and dont buy things you cannot afford. Save the little you can. Make your kids get jobs to help out if they are old enough – they should understand that the economy is tough on everyone and if they want to eat, the families need money.

    OK, I could rant and rant for a while…

    #625590

    mariner
    Member

    the answer is: GOVERNMENT GET THE HECK OUT OF THE WAY!

    the last time the government tried bailing out single industries one at a time, it led to a thing called the great depression. yes some companies will have to die, but it is better then the alternative, all companies dying. yes thousand will lose their jobs, but millions wont have to. its a recession, lets keep it that way, and not make it a depression.

    outlaw unions, and watch all the problems int ehis country go away! or at least outlaw them from backing candidates for office just like not for profits are not allowed.

    #625591

    squeak
    Participant

    Some pundit suggested that all candidates be forced to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors, like NASCAR. I think that would do a lot to help curb the seriousness with which we take their words. Case in point, if Obama had a General Motors sticker on his lapel as he begged for immediate bailout of the auto industry, what would people take out of that?

    #625592

    anon for this
    Participant

    SJSinNYC,

    I agree that people should trim what expenses they can before turning to organizations such as Tomchei Shabbos, but I don’t agree with all of your ideas. Of course people should try to trim expenses as much as possible and not buy clothes or shoes unless they’re necessary. I agree that people should try to trim their food bills by looking for cheaper sources of nutrients such as beans, eggs, or tuna for protein instead of meat or fresh fish.

    However, selling an expensive car may not yield much money, especially if it needs to be replaced with another. And I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea for kids to get jobs to help their families, especially if they already have a lot of schoolwork.

    It’s possible to save a lot of money on groceries and other household goods by paying careful attention to sales, using coupons, and stocking up on items you know you’ll use; there are websites devoted to this. I’ve saved a lot of money this way.

    #625593

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Anon, selling a car worth $40,000 and buying a car worth $20,000 works. It obviously doesnt work in ALL situations, but does work for many. People wont want to do that though. Just curious if you agree about selling jewelry though – I would rather sell my engagement ring (which I love) than have to turn to tzedaka for food when there are so many people out there who dont even have jewelry to sell.

    I was working at 14 – I worked on the weekends for my shul caterer. Luckily, my mother didnt need the money so it was all “play money” for me (which I saved a lot of), but if she had needed it, I would have forked it over in an instant.

    I am not saying to overwork kids, but there is nothing wrong with having them help out. Its not a good idea in all situations, but in many (especially with older kids) it could work.

    I highly recommend http://www.slickdeals.net to find savings. I use the drugstore brick and mortar area to save a ton of money at Shoprite, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Stop and Shop and others. Each store has its own thread (or its own thread per week for the drugstores) so its easy to find what the deals are and where the coupons came from.

    #625594

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    Asay Shabbtcha Chol V’al Yitztarich LeBriyos.

    Kal V’Chomer to eveything else in life.

    Another idea is to take in boarders, or move to a smaller apartment (if you are renting)

    #625595

    tzippi
    Member

    SJS, I’ve never bought a car for 20 thou, let alone 40. There are people who can easily save money by cutting down on luxuries like lattes, expensive jewelry, etc. But there are many who are living pretty thriftily already. ( Though I guess a case can be made that internet is a luxury too in which case I can still cut down 😉

    #625596

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    tzippi, there are very few people who cannot cut down expenses. There is no need to eat expensive chicken/meat/fish. You can get good protein/nutrients from much cheaper sources (like beans). That saves a lot of money.

    I find the internet saves me enough in coupons that it pays. It all depends on the family. My cable on the other hand is a luxury, but I can still pay my bills.

    Also, its not just about stopping to buy – you can SELL your previous jewelry and other things amongst the house.

    Some stay at home moms should consider getting jobs – perhaps pairing up with another SAHM and split the take home of the job. I know many people say daycare is too expensive and doesnt pay to work, but if one person works and the other watches the kids and they split the paycheck, everyone wins. Or swap babysitting – you get a job on Monday and Wednesday and they get a job on Tuesday and Thursday and neither pay for babysitting but are able to bring in more money.

    #625597

    anon for this
    Participant

    SJSinNYC,

    I agree that if someone could sell a car for $40K and and replace it for $20K that should come first, assuming the replacement vehicle has adequate capacity. I didn’t think of the numbers that way since we buy used vehicles for well under $20K.

    I think I’d sell my engagement ring too before turning to tzedaka for food.

    #625598

    anon for this
    Participant

    SJSinNYC,

    Sorry, hit return too soon. Thanks to slickdeals and similar sites I rarely pay for basic personal care items anymore and get good deals on supplies like paper goods and baby care items. In the past few months I’ve been trying to save more on groceries too, though I’ve found other sites better than slickdeals for this.

    #625599

    intellegent
    Member

    SJSinNYC,

    I am seriously considering your idea of cutting down on chicken etc. The problem is that I am not very creative when it comes to food and my husband and I both do not enjoy these interesting conconctions that people come up with! Do you have any ideas on how to come up with a full meal (main dish, side dish) out of other sources of protein for supper?

    Also what if one spouse is willing to cut down on these “luxuries” while the other spouse considers them necessities so will not cut down? Any ideas how to deal with that?

    #625600

    squeak
    Participant

    Tofu.

    #625601

    yoshi
    Member

    Personal Money Saving Tips: (I’m thinking off the top of my head, so I may remember more tips later)

    -Write a list of every single bill you have to pay every month, add it up, then work from there

    -Coupons, coupons, coupons, you don’t have to get the paper anymore, you can print them off your computer

    -Create a shopping list, so you don’t buy unnecessary items.

    -(some) off brand items are just as good.

    -Call your credit card companies, ask for a reduced interest rate.

    -Careful when applying for a credit card, read all the fine print, some rates can be variable from 8 % to 30 %.

    -Keep your eyes peeled for store sales, you can check the store’s website, when they’re having sales.

    -if you pay utilities bills, be conscious of how you use your lights, how much water is used, etc.

    p.s. if you don’t have this already, for shabbos you can get a timer for your lights to go on and off when needed.

    A couple things to think about,

    -You don’t have to buy brand name items of what so called “everyone” else has in town.

    -Keep in mind that whenever you put something on a credit card, you are spending money you don’t have (I’m not talking about necessities)

    -you don’t have to buy new clothing every season.

    -when you do buy clothes, go when the sales are hot! Sears & Jcpenny has amazing deals sometimes, keep an eye out for them. I bought baby clothes when they were having sales (they have sales very often) I did not spend more than $3 on any single item.

    -you can have some luxuries, but if you are tight with money, use them wisely, and again look online for discounts. I got a coupon online for free bowling with free soda for up to six people.

    -get regular checkups and dental visits, you may have to pay some money then, but it’s better in the long run, to prevent a $1000 bill for a root canal or hospital visit that could have been prevented.

    -speaking of medical bills, apply for financial aid if C”V you ever use the hospital facilities, &/or make a payment plan with them.

    Also apply for college financial aid from the college and a state grant.

    -if you can qualify, apply for medical assistance, food stamps, &/0r wic. Don’t cheat your way into getting this help, what goes around comes around and it’s not fair to those who are worse off than you.

    (I’m thinking off the top of my head, so I may think of more tips/ideas later)

    #625602

    tikva68
    Member

    anon,

    which websites have you found to help you save on food costs?

    #625603

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    intellegent – its hard, and you have to be willing to compromise. Are your spouse/kids (I dont remember if you had any) willing to try new things? That is step number one. The rule in my house (its me, my husband and a baby who doesnt eat much solid food yet) is we eat whatever one of us makes for dinner. You arent going to like/love everything, but we arent wasting it. Of course, we dont repeat the meals if its bad…but unless its REALLY foul, it doesnt go to waste.

    If you like more traditional food, you can try things like tuna casserole, omelets for dinner, and soups. If you are willing to be more adventurous, try tofu, tempeh beans (there are so many different types). Beans are REALLY cheap, especially if you buy them in bags. You do need to soak them before cooking usually.

    Would you eat wraps for dinner?

    I’ll start a non-meat/chicken thread so people can post ideas there. Might make it easier. (I would call it vegetarian, but canned tuna/salmon is pretty cheap so its good to include)

    The biggest problem is that sometimes when you go towards more vegetarian style, you use more vegetables which are more expensive.

    Oh another cheaper trick – if you use a lot of grated cheese, buy blocks and shred it in a food processor.

    As for the spouse that wont cut down – I would come up with your budget of absolute neccesities (like basic food, no eating out etc). Then add psuedo neccesities (whatever they are for you. For me, its organic produce for my son that I wont give up unless I absolutely have to in order to make other bills). Then put on “possible luxuries” and then “absolute luxuries.” Add up your salaries to get your maximum number per month. Then start subtracting – first the absolute neccesities, then the psuedo neccesities…when you get to possible luxuries, then discuss what to cut and what to keep.

    Its also important to keep long term goals in mind. Do you own a house? Are you planning to buy one soon? Or in a while? You need to try to save for a down payment. Or you may just want to save an emergency fund in case on of you loses a job. Is cutting out your coffee budget of $10/week (or $520/year) worth it to you? Maybe, maybe not. That depends on you. For example, my coworkers invite me out to lunch about once a week to go to a kosher place. For a while I felt obligated (after all, they were going kosher for ME). But then I added up the $10/week and realized that at the end of the year, I dont want to spend $520 on lunch like that. I would rather go out once a month (for $120) and have the $400 for other purposes. That $400 can be put towards a couch (our living room is empty right now because we are saving up for one). Remember, that adding a few of these simple things together can add up to big bucks at the end of the year.

    OK this is a megillah, I’ve got to go back to work!

    #625604

    Upromise is a great website that has lots of coupons and discounts.

    #625605

    tikva68
    Member

    bean soups are a great budget stretcher! great idea starting a vegetarian / frugal cooking thread.

    #625606

    intellegent
    Member

    SJSinNYC

    Wow! Thanks for all the advice! Don’t get me wrong. Since we got married two years ago, my husband has given up on a lot of things that he would really like to have. I think he was just never aware that money is limited! (He learned the hard way.)

    Starting a new thread is a good idea but maybe don’t label it vegetarian as that will just lead to some stupid controversial argument! 🙂 Maybe economic or something!

    #625607

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    intellegent, I understand! Many parents dont quite teach their kids that lesson so well. I’m thankful my mother did a good job.

    #625608

    favish
    Member

    TO ALL THIS DISCUSSION….WHAT ABOUT THE TAMM NISTAR ALL THIS IS HAPPENING…ANY IDEAS BACKED UP BY TORAH PERSPECTIVE NOT JUST OPINIONS INFLUENCED BY.. OTHE SOURCES?

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