Personal Finance: Pessah and other financial surprises

Here are some other financial tips to help ensure your financial freedom in the holiday of freedom.

seder plate 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
seder plate 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Pessah is no surprise. A surprise is something that comes about unexpectedly, but Pessah comes about at the same time each year. As soon as we have eaten our fill of hamentashen, Pessah is in the air: the stores have discounts on cleaning fluids and kosher for Pessah cookies appear in even the smallest of grocery shops. Pessah is the most expensive holiday of the year. The grocery bills are tremendous, as we restock our shelves from scratch. Suddenly we seem to need new cleaning products, and somehow we always find we're missing a specific utensil or pans, cups or plates. And why is bread so inexpensive, but when it's made into lehem ani (poor man's bread) it costs a fortune? So how can we prepare for Pessah financially? Nowadays, people try not to be slaves to Pessah cleaning, so how do we make sure we are not slaves to the Pessah payments? The key to dealing with Pessah is to plan in advance. Estimate how much you spend on Pessah: include everything - food, wine, disposable dishes, family outings, etc. Then add this into your annual budget. Try to set aside as much as you need each month so that when you get to Pessah you have the resources to cope. If you have not planned in advance, then check your bank account and see how much you can allocate for Pessah. If you can keep to this amount, you are less likely to go into heavy overdraft. In the shops, they will offer to split the payments on your credit card. But if you take six payments you will still be paying for Pessah when it comes to Rosh Hashana and Succot! Here are some other financial tips to help ensure your financial freedom in the holiday of freedom: • Plan your menus in advance. Make a list of when you are going to be home, if you are having company and exactly what you will be making. This way you can prepare an accurate shopping list. This will not only save you money by preventing impulse buying, it will also save you time, as you won't keep popping into the shops for things you have forgotten. • Stick to your budget. Try not to go over your allocated budget for Pessah. And when you are food shopping, remember to leave money for family outings. • For those people who receive money vouchers or extra money for Pessah from their work, use this money for it. The purpose of this gift is to help you get through the most expensive holiday, so use it accordingly. • If you do go into a small overdraft don't worry. However, you will have to budget more carefully for the following month to make sure you get out of overdraft by the end of the month. As with all annual expenses, the key to dealing with them with minimal stress is to plan in advance. Unlike the Jews in Egypt, we have plenty of notice as to when Pessah is and should take the time to plan ahead. Chag HaPessah kasher v'sameach. Rifka Lebowitz and Suzy Kehati are family financial advisors.