Welcome to Israel Money Diaries. We are asking Olim how they spend their hard-earned money during a one week period — and we’re tracking every last shekel. If you are interested in joining us in this project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Occupation: US hours call center- until very recently, when the entire call center was fired
Number of household members (whom you provide for): 1
Salary per month: ₪5,000 or less
Ongoing financial support: ₪400 housing assistance benefit
Rent: ₪1,944 for my room. I live with two roommates
Transportation: ₪213 for a monthly public transportation pass
Health Care (basic health care is covered for all Israeli citizens through the government, but people may choose to supplement with private insurance): Maccabi sheli for ₪90-100
Internet: Included in rent
Electricity: ₪160 per roommate
Gas: ~₪50 every few months
Water: ₪180 per roommate
Municipal (Arnona): Currently using Aliyah benefit, negligible Arnona
Cell Phone: ₪50
2:00 pm — I just woke up. Ordinarily I’d start packing a peanut butter sandwich for lunch at work but all of us were let go without warning last Thursday. Breakfast is instant coffee and some homemade muesli: a single plain yogurt mixed with a handful of oats and raisins. The raisins were ₪8 for a little under a half kilo, the yogurts were about ₪1.25 each (8 for ₪10).
7:30 pm — Lunch time for a night shift worker. A Hafetz Haim jumbo hotdog turned into a sandwich with some broccoli. Our microwave is broken and we can’t afford a new one so I thaw out the frozen broccoli with boiled water. I clumsily drop the first batch into a sink with some soapy water and dishes in it, ruining about ₪4 worth of broccoli. The leftover fried rice I’d made yesterday with last week’s leftover rice went hard in the fridge, so that’s out. The hotdogs are 5 for ₪15, the broccoli ₪13/kilo. There are hamburgers that are cheaper and larger but they’re 30% soy and filler, the hotdogs are 80% meat and not as nauseating to eat. Raw meat would be best but it’s three times as expensive.
4:00 a.m. — A bowl of cereal before bed. Cheerios were on sale for only ₪11 a while back.
Daily Total: ₪0
8:00 am — Up early for a meeting with legal aid for all of us who were fired. A private lawyer would be best but there’s no way to afford that even if we all pool our resources. Breakfast is a peanut butter and chocolate sandwich. The peanut butter was only ₪15/kilo, the chocolate spread a little less.
12:30 pm — Time to sit and send out resumes, but first lunch. Instant coffee, three eggs, and some leftover pita from last week that’s edible enough when toasted. I put some butter on the pita even though I probably should save that for cooking.
7:00 pm — Same thing as yesterday’s lunch for dinner. Hot dog sandwich, broccoli, peas and carrots, and home fries for dinner.
11:30 pm — A small bowl of cheerios
Daily Total: ₪0
10:00 am— Up early but not feeling hungry right away so I get straight to prowling the job boards in between spending some time in online tech courses.
1:30 pm — Instant coffee and homemade muesli.
7:00 pm — Three eggs cooked as a Japanese omelet with rice and vegetables.
Daily Total: ₪0
9:00 am — A sandwich on the road as I’m on the way for a doctor’s appointment to deal with chronic pain from a previous labor job (EDITOR’S NOTE: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS https://www.kolzchut.org.il/en/Main_Page). Their business model relied on taking advantage of Olim who didn’t know their rights. I’m lucky I had the foresight to pay for Maccabi Sheli, it costs more up front but saves a lot in the long term. I have to pay now for 10 appointments up front.
11:00 am — Stressed over the situation as of late but feeling surprisingly better after my first appointment. I decided it had been too long since I spent some quality time with the man upstairs. After having walked from the center out to the Kotel and back I see the busses are running late and grab an iced coffee and pastry from Maafe Neeman. My girlfriend is coming over and it will be a nice surprise to share half of it with her.
6:00-11:00 pm— My girlfriend and I head over to a local friend’s place for an evening binge-watching Hannibal. She has to leave early for work but I stay a bit longer and have some pasta with my friend.
Daily Total: ₪459
11:00 am — A bowl of cereal for breakfast with coffee, and my girlfriend and I hit the road for a beach day. Not the brightest idea given I’m freshly unemployed but we’ve been planning one for ages and she’s already got the day off. We talk to one of the station employees and he tells us a multi-region day pass is the cheapest/best option for transportation at ₪32.50.
3:30 pm— A break from the water to have some sandwiches we packed. My girlfriend also has a tin of sardines. I ask if she was planning on returning to the sea. She surprises me with grapes and some cookies to share.
9:00 pm— Sufficiently crispy for the day we have a cheap meal on the street (falafel) and head home, with the day pass paying for itself since we had to take the more expensive bus back to Jerusalem.
Daily Total: ₪47.50
11:00 am— A bowl of homemade muesli for breakfast with some instant coffee and the realization that my girlfriend has taken my key, locking me inside my apartment. Shabbat shopping will have to wait
2:00 pm— One of my roommates gets home and sets me free. Time for my weekly shop. The milk that’s 2L for ₪6 is sold out, so I get 1 Liter for that price instead; a bag of frozen broccoli; a kilo of hummus for ₪14; some more yogurt on sale for ₪12; ₪2 worth of plums that are on sale, pita for ₪12 (costs more than basic bread but it’s more filling); another batch of hotdogs for ₪15; a ₪10 kilo sized pack of gnocchi; and 18 pack of eggs for ₪17. For Shabbat I buy ₪5 worth of sweet potatoes and ₪14 worth of chicken drumsticks at ₪17/kilo, the best value I’ve found on real meat. The total for a week’s worth of groceries and Shabbat dinner is ₪124, and ₪111 after I split the ingredients for out Shabbat meal and hummus with my girlfriend.
9:30 pm— Shabbat dinner at home with my fair lady.
Daily Total: ₪111
11:30 am — A bowl of muesli for breakfast with some instant coffee.
4:00 pm — Some nuts and fruit for a light snack.
9:00 pm — Japanese omelet and rice with vegetables for dinner.
2:20 am — Half a bowl of cheerios.
Daily Total: ₪0