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: Educator and Operations Manager
Industry: High School Teacher & High Tech
Age: 35 & 36
Number of household members: 4
City: Tzur Hadassah
Salary per month (Bruto or before taxes): ₪25,000 (combined salary)
Ongoing financial support: No
Transportation: Approximately ₪1,000 (we have two paid-off cars, this covers insurance and gas)
Student Loans: NONE (finally!!!)
Health Care (basic health care is covered for all Israeli citizens through the government, but people may choose to supplement with private insurance): ₪400
Renters Insurance: ₪250
Water: ₪750 (combined with Municipal Arnona)
Va’ad Bayit: None
Cell Phone: ₪90
Child Care / Education: It will be around ₪1,800
Streaming Services: None
Extracurriculars (Chugim) for kids: Summer, so no Chuggim right now, but will likely be around ₪400
6:30 a.m. — My wife is a high school teacher and has been home with the kids while I’ve been working in the office most of the summer. I’ve decided to take off a couple of days to do things with the family, so we’re actually getting everyone up at a decent time to eat breakfast and head to Jerusalem for the day.
8:00 a.m. — Obviously, despite the promise of doing something fun, the kids are still messing around and getting out of the house takes longer than scheduled. And then we discovered lice in our son’s hair. Of course we don’t have anything in the house to treat it (somehow we’ve avoided lice up to this point, a miracle in itself) so we add a trip to SuperPharm to our to-do list.
10:00 a.m. — Arrive to the Jerusalem water slide park that’s been set up in the parking lot of the Pais Arena. There’s a little confusion about where to get the tickets but we’re only a few minutes delayed in getting in. The set-up is excellent – slides for all ages (including adults!), well organized and clean. Only complaint is a lack of shade, but I’m not sure how you remedy that in a parking lot amusement park. Tickets were ₪60/person, or ₪225 for five people, so it makes sense to buy five tickets even though we’re only four people.
1:00 p.m. — Everyone is cranky and hungry for lunch after hours of playing outside in the sun. Parking at Malcha is miserable but we eventually find a spot and head to the food court. The kids are excited about McDonalds and we’re too lazy to split up and find better food, so that was lunch.
1:30 p.m. — Finish lunch and rush to SuperPharm to buy all the de-licing equipment – Assy 2000 comb, Resultz, etc.
2:30 p.m. — We start the first of many loads of laundry and my wife starts on the kids’ hair. Our son quickly realizes that combing is terrible and chooses to have his head shaved and we are very proud of that decision. The little one, who didn’t have lice, has her hair washed with the treatment and gets combed out without much complaint.
4:00 p.m. — We put a movie on for the kids (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and let them relax for a bit while we deal with laundry and getting the house in order. We feed them in front of the TV because at this point, we just can’t be bothered.
7:30 p.m. — The kids are in bed, I’m working at the computer, and my wife hears music coming from the park across the street. Normally this would be annoying for everyone but this time she remembers that the Yishuv is putting on a pajama party and movie night for the kids. The kids are shocked when she goes into their room and tells them to get dressed and that they’re going out. Turns out you needed to register and it’s a ₪5 entrance fee per kid, but the woman running the event says we can just drop the ₪10 off at the Mazkirut the following day.
9:30 p.m. — The kids are finally asleep and we’re totally wiped. We make the executive decision that we don’t want to bother waking the kids early to do anything the next day, so I’ll swap vacation days from tomorrow to the day after. And then we go to sleep.
Daily Total: ₪580
6:30 a.m. — I do the last load of laundry and put away dishes that were left out drying from the night before. The kids are starting to wake up and I spend some time with them before I leave for work.
7:30 a.m. — I leave for the office and enjoy the shortened commute. I love that there’s no traffic in August but it’s a little depressing to think that everyone else is having fun and I’m going to the office.
9:00 a.m. — I check in with my wife who updates that the kids have gone out with a backpack full of water and snacks (and the dumb phone we bought for them to use) and she doesn’t anticipate seeing them again for a few hours. For us, this is the real highlight of Yishuv life.
3:00 p.m. — I do a quick grocery shop at the store near my office. It isn’t the cheapest store, but it is convenient, clean and usually pretty quiet. I get all our regular stuff, and some extra snacks because we’re planning a family outing for the next day and chips are a strong motivator for our children.
5:00 p.m. — Get home to find my big kid playing on the Nintendo and the little one “reading” a book. We’re working on getting her to actually read English (a challenge for our Israeli children) and we know she can, she just doesn’t want to. Reward, reward, reward.
9:00 p.m. — After the kids are in bed and asleep I start organize everything we need for the next day’s adventure. I fill up the bladders for our hiking backpacks and put them in the fridge to chill overnight. Get out the kid’s walking sticks and lay everything out so we can get an early start on the day.
Daily Total: ₪614
6:00 a.m. — I’m up early to make coffee and start packing up for our hike. The kids don’t complain too much about eating quickly and getting dressed and out of the house.
7:00 a.m. — We drop one car off at the end of the hike and drive up the mountain to the starting point and begin walking. The trail we are doing goes from Nes Harim down to the Bat Caves near Beit Shemesh, and on the way passes by caves and Roman ruins. We love the scenery and enjoy the hike. It’s mostly downhill but some areas are overgrown and thorny so even though it isn’t hard, per se, it still takes some time. We stop fairly often for water and food breaks because it’s hot and the last thing we want is someone to get dehydrated.
11:00 a.m. — We finish the hike and drive back home to shower and eat a decent lunch. Everyone enjoys a little down time before we go back out to run some errands I’ve been meaning to do for a while.
2:00 p.m. — I finally get the kids out of the house to give my wife a bit of a break and we drive down to Ramat Beit Shemesh to drop some old kids clothes off at a friend’s house. We are always happy to give away our old clothes.
2:30 p.m. — A plant we bought last year has outgrown its pot so we head over to the garden center nearby to buy something more suitable. It is a dead-zone there because nothing is growing right now and the guy said not to come back until October (earliest) if we want to plant more fruits and vegetables in our garden, so we stuck with just buying the pot today.
3:00 p.m. — It is too early to go home so we head over to the mall. More snacks (Rebar, bourekas – ₪62) and some wandering around. The bookstore is a favorite place for the kids and we’re always happy to buy them books. I fight with the big one about buying the Hebrew version of a book he’s already read in English and we compromise by picking a different Hebrew book (is that really a compromise or did I just lose another fight with an 8 year-old?) The little one picks approximately eight books she wants and we settle on the level 1 version of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I buy it for her with the promise that when she reads it (please G-d she reads it!) I will buy her another one. I purchase the bookstore’s loyalty card, which is discounted, and end up paying ₪30 less on our total purchase than I would have without buying the card – ₪112.
5:00 p.m. — We go home and I happily send the kids out to play at the park while my wife prepares dinner and I relax for a bit.
7:00 p.m. — Send the kids for showers and to bed. They fall asleep quickly and my wife and I hang out and watch TV until we go to bed around 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: ₪374
8:00 a.m. — Back to the office for me. I work until around 3:00 p.m. and then brace myself to go back-to-school shopping with the kids.
4:00 p.m. — Meet up with my wife and kids at the mall. Yes, back at the mall. Because it is summer and this will never end. I have printed the list of things the kids need from the school website and we decide to divide and conquer. My wife takes the kids to the section with backpacks and Kalmarim (pencil cases). My Gimmel (third grade) kid only needs a new Kalmar but the Aleph (first grade) kid needs both a Kalmar and a backpack. She works her magic and relatively quickly they’ve picked something appropriate. Meanwhile, I tackle the actual materials. I’ve been in Israel for many years but this is only my third year buying school supplies. I still don’t understand exactly what each different notebook does or why they’re so special, but I have discovered that if you’re willing to pay a little more, and go to the more expensive shop, you can just hand “the guy” your list and he’ll put everything into the basket and all I’ve gotta do is pay. Which is what I do. ₪667 worth for everything. And of course upon returning home, we find that we had a bunch of notebooks left over from last year. Naturally.
6:00 p.m. — And what’s a trip to the mall without dinner? [Insert whatever emoji exists of a crying father just handing over his paycheck to 21 year-old mall workers, over and over and over].
Daily Total: ₪831
7:00 a.m. — Nothing. That’s what I want to do today, nothing. But obviously that is not a real option. We are invited out to Shabbat dinner tonight and we were asked to bring dessert. This is my wife’s specialty and she has a whole plan for everything so mostly I just get out of her way.
10:00 a.m. — We go to the local school and I rollerblade for a bit with the kids. It is shady and closeby, so a great option for a lazy day. On the way back we pick up some milk and Artikim (ice pops) from the local Makolet.
11:00 a.m. — Early lunch of sandwiches and cut-up vegetables then we wrangle the kids to clean their room and tidy up the playroom before they can watch an afternoon movie.
4:00 p.m. — I prepare food for lunch tomorrow – just some wings and chicken for wraps. We had a couple of challahs in the freezer so we didn’t buy or bake this week and my wife cleverly made double-dessert so we have enough for tomorrow.
6:00 p.m. — Showered, dressed and ready to go to our friends for early Shabbat.
Daily Total: ₪26
Shabbat! Not much to report on Shabbat. Shul, lunch, nap. The kids were with us for most of the day but ended up at the park across the street by themselves in the afternoon. We appreciated the quiet and they were happy to see their friends. We didn’t have any plans for Motzei Shabbat so we just tidied up and watched a movie before bed.
Daily Total: ₪0
6:30 a.m. — I’m up early to make coffee and cut some vegetables for the family before I go to work. The kids and my wife wake up slowly as I’m leaving.
9:00 a.m. — I’m having issues with one of my credit cards and finally get ahold of someone in customer service at the bank. They tell me I need to go into the branch to sort it out. I kind of don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. Then I called the locksmith to come to switch out a couple of locks and install a new keypad lock on our door so that the kids will be able to come in and out on their own when the school year starts. He says he can come the same day and the total cost for everything he does ends up being ₪1,400.
12:30 p.m. — I eat a lunch of leftovers I brought with me, plus some of the vegetables I had cut in the morning. In general, I prefer to bring my own lunch, partially because it is cheaper and healthier but also because I’m really lazy about ordering food.
4:00 p.m. — I head home in time to pick up my daughter to go to a “Shalom Kitah Aleph” event the Yishuv is putting on. Going to Kitah Aleph is a HUGE deal in Israel and it is really exciting for everyone when their kid starts Aleph. The Yishuv event is underwhelming, but it is nice for the kids to see each other and play for a bit at the end of summer before they back in school.
6:00 p.m. — We leave the Yishuv event as the play is starting because my daughter wasn’t really interested and I was definitely not going to force the issue. We went home and had a quick “breakfast for dinner” supper of eggs and cereal and stuff.
8:00 p.m. — The kids are asleep and my wife and I sit down to go over our schedules for the week ahead to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything important. We are very ready for school to start and some order to be brought back to our lives!
Daily Total: ₪1400