Pre-Pesach Family Finances
Now that Purim is over, people are putting Pesach preparations into high gear. But one thing scares many people even more than cleaning – the expenses…
Now that Purim is over, people are putting Pesach preparations into high gear. But the one thing many dread about getting ready for Pesach is not so much the cleaning as the anticipated expenses.
“No big deal,” many couples say. They just whip out their credit cards at the supermarket and go into deeper debt. When the smoke clears, they owe more money that they don’t know how to repay. Now, the big problem starts, because financial difficulties wreak havoc on marital peace.
While coaching a couple with acute financial problems, I drew up a practical financial rehabilitation program that also addresses the spiritual root of money problems. While filtering their specific issues, the outcome is a program of fourteen important pointers for avoiding financial trouble. The closer you stick to them, the more peacefully you’ll sleep at night, as well as enjoy a debt-free Passover:
- Sit down with your spouse over a cup of tea or coffee and make a list of all your monthly income and expenses.
- Arrange your expenses in order of priority, highest to lowest.
- If your expenses exceed the income, start deleting the lowest priority expenses until you balance the budget.
- Don’t use charge cards and don’t buy on credit. Credit purchases are questionable according to religious law, because of interest payments. Especially at the grocery store or supermarket, pay cash and avoid impulse buying.
- Look at all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years and think about how many things you purchased on a whim, that really add nothing to your life. Sell or get rid of whatever you don’t need in the service of Hashem. [Editor’s note: this de-cluttering will also make Passover cleaner much easier and faster.]
- Remember that The Almighty gives you everything you need in life; But, He does not provide you with a stipend for “keeping up with the Jones” (or the Goldbergs). Spiritually, debt stems from things you don’t really need.
- Our sages teach that “Happy is the person who is satisfied with what he/she has”. Don’t expect material possessions to satiate spiritual or emotional hunger.
- Try walking and using public transportation. Try getting rid of the extra car, you’ll save time, money, and improve your health tremendously. If you live in the city, you probably don’t need a car at all. And, if you live in Israel, the public transportation is the best in the world.
- Don’t save on child education – the Talmud promises that you’ll be refunded to the last cent.
- Give at least 10% of your net income to charity. The Almighty is more than happy to give you $100,000 when He knows that you’ll give $10,000 to charity.
- Cutting out your substances-alcohol and cigarettes-will save you hundreds of dollars a month and improve your health in a big way.
- Teach your children to perform household and garden chores; let them earn their spending money. It’s great for their education and saves on domestic help. Unspoiled kids are less likely to fall into financial trouble when they grow up.
- Husbands – honor and respect your wives! The Gemara promises that this will make you rich.
- Never lose your temper. Anger causes financial difficulties. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that oftentimes when a person is about to receive riches, he or she is tested with anger. If they pass the test and don’t lose their temper, they are rewarded with a gift of abundance from Above.
“14” is the numerical equivalent of yad (יד), or hand. King David says that Hashem opens His hand and sustains every living thing, especially when it comes to expenses in fulfilling His mitzvot, like Shabbat and Pesach. May you and your family be blessed with abundance, amen!