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Number of household members: 7 (including 1 Chayal)
City: Beit Shemesh
Salary per month (Bruto or before taxes): ₪32,000 combined
Mortgage: ₪650 (after paying a mortgage of ₪3,000 and ₪275 mortgage life insurance for 20 years)
Transportation: Car is partially covered by spouse’s work.₪1,200 for expenses not covered (we bought car after a 2 year used car lease). I take the bus – ₪300 monthly for a Chofshi Chodshi (unlimited rides for one month). 4 Rav Kavs for kids’ buses ₪250 + daughter’s transportation to Ulpana ₪440. Our kid in the IDF rides the bus and train for free anywhere in the country.
Health Care (basic health care is covered for all Israeli citizens through the government, but people may choose to supplement with private insurance): ₪430
Home Insurance: ₪200
Life Insurance: ₪505
Internet: Landline for internet infrastructure and content filtered internet ₪285. Only my mother-in-law calls on the land line – we call it the Savta phone.
Municipal (Arnona): ₪650
Va’ad Bayit: ₪130
Cell Phone: 5 phones – ₪360 including extra data, an additional phone provided by work.
Child Care / Education: ₪1,400 high school dorm, ₪240 elementary school, free Gan, ₪200 for after Gan care. IDF is definitely providing an education to my boy but is free. Higher education gifted by grandparents.
Streaming Services: No TV, no cable, no Netflix, way too much Mako, Youtube and Ted Talks.
Savings/Pension: Pension withheld from salaries plus ₪1,000
Gym: Sneakers and a bicycle
Community Fees: ₪170 shul membership
Extracurriculars (Chugim) for kids: ₪350 Chugim (hip hop, art), ₪320 math tutor, ₪540 wife’s drama chug.
Magazines: ₪100 (National Geographic, Pnima, Itzuv)
Night Out with Spouse (in lieu of therapy): ₪800 (Dinner, a show, late night Shuk hop)
Dentistry and Braces: ₪900
6:00 a.m. — I’m not a morning person. It takes all of my strength to get out of bed, caffeinate myself and begin my morning routine of spiritual and physical sustenance: G-d, bakery and makolet. Pocket change for tzedaka, ₪15 for 15 rolls and ₪12 for 2 liters of milk that will last a few days (maybe). Morning is a mad dash driving around the neighborhood, and then parking the car for my wife’s use. Now it’s time to wake the sleeping beauties!
7:30 a.m. – I walk 30 seconds to the street intersection and debate taking an express bus on the far side of the street and standing on a full bus for 40 minutes or taking the local bus on the near side and getting a seat for an hour ride. Either way, the ride is covered by my Chofshi Chodshi bus pass. I am on a first name basis with all the bus drivers on my route.
8:30 a.m. — I decide to sit and take the local bus (Reuven O.). Now I have energy to walk from the bus stop to work (about a 15 minute walk) and stop off at the health food store to pick up some nuts and dried fruit to snack on. This will last me 2-3 days of munchies.
10:00 a.m. — After a coffee and some nuts, I crack out some yogurts I stashed in my bag (₪2.70 each) on my way out of the house. I finish all my munchies way too fast.
1:00 p.m. — Sunday through Tuesday are Shabbat leftovers for lunch. I usually have lots of incredible leftovers and I have a steady lunch sharing partner at work who enjoys my wife’s Moroccan cooking. Once the leftovers are gone, lunch is pretty unimaginative – usually canned tuna (₪5), canned corn (₪3) and spicy Chumeh sauce (about ₪14 per jar). Lunches ordered from a restaurant can get expensive, so I limit this to when I”m dying of hunger or absolutely need a fix of Yemenite felafel with chilbeh and french fries.
5:00 p.m. — Time to call it a day at work. I walk past a whole bunch of stores on the way to the bus that are seasonally appropriate. The stationary store has greeting cards with pictures of pomegranates, apples and honey for Rosh Hashana, the lighting store has funky X-mas lights for the Succah at Succot, the bakery has endless versions of jelly and custard sufganiyot for Chanukah. I find the most expensive holiday season walking home from work is Pesach, as there always is something gorgeous for the Seder table at the Home and Kitchen store. Most days I just window shop, but every once in a while, I call in to check my balance in the bank to know how to pace myself before a holiday spending spree.
6:30 p.m. — Hi beautiful family! I’m home! How was your day? What’s for dinner??? Dinner is usually Israeli style, light, dairy and with lots of salad. My wife’s family lived in Israel during the Tzena period when food was rationed and her mom can make a feast out of pasta and fresh herbs. In our home, dinner is usually home-cooked not only because it tastes better, but because it also helps to save money. When we go as a family to eat out, it usually is for pizza and a salad. We keep the refrigerator very well stocked with dairy products, fruits, and vegetables all week long, but eat little meat or chicken during the week.
6:30 p.m. — This is when I get home (as indicated above). This is also the time that the children need to get to the math tutor, youth groups (annual membership fee and you pay for nationally organized tiyulim), hip hop chug, or need to be picked up from a friend. If it is light outside, they take the bus, if dark and the Boogey Man is out and about, I morph into a taxi driver.
8 p.m. — “Abba, I need black sneakers for my dance competition.” “Imma I don’t have a school uniform shirt and I need to buy a gift for my friend’s bat mitzvah.” “Abba, it’s @#*^! cold in the army and I need you to get me some hiking socks and hand warmers.” 8 to 9:30 pm can be time to unwind after a day at work or it can be a mad dash to the mall to get whatever is needed. At least one day a week, the unexpected purchases range from ₪50-350, and at times I need to put my foot down and say – this is what we are going to spend and no more.
10:30 p.m. — Before we go to sleep, one more item to take care of. I’ll be visiting the US in a couple of weeks and the kids have some special requests, something weird called LOL and some American chocolates (even though Israeli chocolate tastes way better). The internet can be an unusual and expensive place to visit. Need to be careful. Before going to sleep, I tuck in the kids at home, Whatsapp the kids in dorms and pray that my son in the IDF is warm, safe and happy serving the Jewish People. My wife and I are the most fortunate people in the world.
11:45 p.m. — Layla tov! Sweetie, no more Amazon. Put it down. :)
Daily Total: ₪44
6:30 a.m. – G-d, Gas, Gone. Woke up late. I saw the tank was on the emptyish side and filled up. Didn’t I fill up just a few days ago? Discounted car wash (₪10) for gassing up over ₪100, but no time to do it now so saving the coupon for later (regular price is ₪30 for external wash only). Parked the car for my wife and hopped on the bus with my monthly pass. I took the express bus and stood all the way to Jerusalem. Apple in my pocket (9.90 NIS per kilo) and some roasted almonds I bought yesterday.
8:45 a.m. – Watch battery died. On my way to the office I jumped into the pharmacy and saw they sold batteries in packages of two (₪34). I hold out to bring it to the jeweler later in the day for ₪20. Yes, more expensive per battery but the chances are that I’d lose the second battery by the time I’d need it 😊.
3:30 p.m. – I ran out in the morning like a chicken without a head, leaving the chicken leftovers safely in a plastic container in the refrigerator. I’m starving! Time for schnitzel nuggets at the local hot dog joint (₪37) or a Yemenite falafel with a Coke Zero (₪27). I settle instead on 2 containers of cottage cheese from the supermarket and feel proud of the saved money, calories and cholesterol.
5:00 p.m. – Just as I’m calling it a day, my daughter calls me to remind me that we’re out of conditioner. On my way back home I jump into the supermarket (2nd time in under 2 hours!!!) to pick up something that smells pretty.
6:30 p.m. – As I walk in the house, I am greeted by my 12 year old and 4 year old with beautiful works of art in my honor. “Abba, this is for you!” It’s not my birthday, but I feel elated by the show of warmth and creativity. Paper, pens, crayons, gluesticks, sparkles, decorate the pictures, the table and the floor. Cleanup is paper towels (₪15 package of 6 rolls) and window spray (₪9).
7:15 p.m. – My wife and I are going out to a show in Heichal HaTarbut in Ashkelon. Tickets are ₪66 each. Our limit on the cost of concert or show tickets is usually ₪10 per ticket. Driving to Ashkelon is 40 minutes and about a quarter tank of gas back and forth. We’re meeting friends for pizza before the show (₪65) and are bribing our daughter into babysitting by promising to enroll her in an all girls hip hop dance contest.
9:00 p.m. – I get a WhatsApp during the show from my daughter in Ulpana that she is nearing the end of her cell phone data plan. ₪10 will be sufficient to keep her surfing for the rest of the month. In addition to the cell service provider, we pay ₪160 for the year for the school’s kiddy filter. The other option would have been ₪25 a month for the more popular kiddy filter.
Daily Total: ₪380
6:45 a.m. – ₪12 for ten Pitot and ₪12 for two liters of milk that will last a few days (maybe). Local charity makes rounds for contributions (₪50).
10:45 a.m. – My wife participates in a work meeting with colleagues at a coffee shop. Everyone pays for themselves.
7:00 p.m. – Child #4 would like to go bowling tomorrow after school with a friend. 1 game + ice cream + bus fare = ₪50
9:00 p.m. – Electric outlet melted from an electrical appliance. That’s a thing in Israel. Calling an electrician is ₪250 to ₪350 for a house visit. I buy an outlet for ₪30 and replace it myself.
Daily Total: ₪194
5:00 a.m. – Child #5 is complaining that her throat hurts. Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey buys me time until I can schedule an appointment with the pediatrician (₪17 on sale when you buy 3, can be as much as ₪28 per container in some stores).
8:00 a.m. – Coin toss to see who stays home to take sick kid to the doctor. We get an appointment for 8:30 and are in and out within 20 minutes! Strep test shows negative, off to school you go! (₪0, as healthcare is deducted from paycheck, plus monthly supplemental fee).
1:00 p.m. – Coffee at work X3. Now I need something sweet – no sugar halva snack that I keep at my desk is a great fix (₪5).
3:00 p.m. – Call from wife – lose some weight the easy way – get a haircut. I walk down the block to Simon the Sapar who makes me pretty for ₪50. He should pay me for a therapy session as I now know about his problems with the neighbors, that his kids are critical of his cooking, and why he doesn’t like any of the alternatives to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Nobody else is tipping, so I don’t either.
6:30 p.m. – My family greets me with “Chapiches” the Jerusalem war cry for the newly scalped. It usually brings a loving slap across the back of the head. I kid you not. On the coffee table I see a letter from the municipality from the corner from my eye. A parking ticket! OK, it’s only ₪100, not the end of the world. When I see the date on it, I smile. The meter maid (a man) made a mistake and wrote that I parked without paying the meter (which is an app) on Shabbat. Our municipality doesn’t issue parking tickets on Shabbat! Saved! Registered mail to the municipality to fight the ticket (₪12).
Daily Total: ₪62
6:15 a.m. – G-d and pocket change. Makolet and bakery can wait. Tonight is supermarket date night.
10:30 a.m. – My calendar reminds me to pull out some cash to pay the kid’s tutors (mentioned in monthly expenses). Rates in Beit Shemesh are usually in the range of ₪60-80 per hour for elementary school aged kids and ₪80-100 for high school aged kids. Two hours of math tutoring for my 12 year old by a veteran teacher is ₪120. Your bank’s ATMs allow you to pull from another bank’s ATM for the same rate, so it’s pretty convenient and under ₪2 per withdrawal. As you pay per transaction, I try to pull today for tomorrow’s needs as well.
8:00 p.m. – My wife and I look at our shopping list and decide which is the best (cheapest) supermarket for what we need to buy for the coming week. There are more than 6 options in Beit Shemesh. Tonight is Osher Ad.
Daily Total: ₪850
9:00 a.m. – Today is Friday and I’m off from work. It’s almost like having a Sunday, but there is so much to do for Shabbat; bakery (₪80), butcher (₪250), flowers (₪30), jala (nuts and seeds that create piles of waste on the Shabbat table, ₪35) and a new bucket for sponga (mop) to wash the floor (₪15)
10:10 a.m. – Kid #1 returns from the army. My wife and I pick him up from the train station, throw his huge backpack into the trunk of the car, and ask him what can we do for him: ice cream (₪15), Belgian waffles with a hot chocolate (₪55), or all you can eat breakfast buffet (₪80). Cars honk for him on the street, and strangers yell out “kapara alecha, Hashem yishmor otcha, Shabbat shalom gibor shelanu.” (Hebrew phrases of support for soldiers) He decides on the waffles with whipped cream on everything (extra ₪5).
12:00 p.m. – Everyone is home for Shabbat. The kitchen is a war zone with knives and potato peelers working at superhuman speeds. Last minute runs to the makolet for chocolate (for mousse) or nana leaves for tea can add up. We try to do all our shopping at the supermarket and not the makolet because the differences in price are significant.
4:00 p.m. – Weekly allowance to the kids
5:00 p.m. – It’s been a busy week, and nothing beats the feeling when Shabbat is about to begin. The buses have stopped running an hour before. The quiet is sublime. One last act of the week to register – the clink of coins in the tzedakah jar. Sadly, with all the expenses registered by the end of the week, we haven’t been able to save much. On a monthly basis it’s just over ₪1,000 (not including pension payments withdrawn from our pay stubs). Luckily, we own our home. We bought in Beit Shemesh 20 years ago when it was a development town and we received incentives from the government to buy. Since then the value has gone up close to 300%. Where will our kids live? They’ll probably do what we did and move out to the less expensive areas – today this means in the Negev and the Galil – the north and south of Israel. The country is small enough, and the roads and public transportation keep everyone well connected.
Daily Total: ₪720
Shabbat – The day of rest. No money is spent.
Daily Total: ₪0