Thursday, March 27, 2008


WHY are we still in Renovation MODE!

So I’m trying to get ready for pesach but my efforts are being hindered by the NEVER ENDING CONSTRUCTION THAT HAS BECOME MY HOUSE! Granted it was my idea to start this hullabaloo but really can it please come to an end? Thank g-d my husband is working on it and is putting in all of his free time towards the effort of completion. We are almost there and I cannot wait! I really would like to use the toilet rather than trip over it every morning.
In other news some things were bought for Pesach at Wal-Mart last night. I HATE Wal-Mart! But you got to do what you got to do in order to get the savings. So one of the things that I wanted to mention that is interesting at Wal-Mart is that they have implemented a door checker. This person’s job is to stand at the door look at your receipt and then check the items in your cart to match those of the receipt. In theory GREAT IDEA….In reality NOT SO MUCH! Here is the problem, the person checking my cart was not checking everyone in fact the only reason she checked me is because I patiently stood there and waited my turn. Everyone else that was not so patient went around the line and out the door with no repercussion. Moving on she read my receipt line for line it took her two minutes at the least, yet she did not check my cart AT ALL. SO she memorized my list and that was it? What’s the point? THEN, she let me go. So on my way to my car ( I had to park in Japan because in America the parking lot was full!) I was thinking I could have stolen anything I wanted and gotten away with it. WHY because I bought a huge 100 qt storage bin for all of the Pesach stuff that we will have store after Pesach. Nobody checked if anything was in there! I could have had all of my stuff that I bought inside and paid $10 for everything! There are also cart checkers at Costco. At least there I can understand it. Nothing is in a bag. Most items are clearly visible and they usually do a count of items while you wait. Yet again, mission completed and savings were made. I am still not entirely convinced that I wouldn’t have gotten the same savings at Target where I LOVE the store!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cleaning. PART 1

Okay so its been two days since I said I wouldn't freak out and guess what...I'm freaking out!
See I looked at the calendar and realized that really there is only three weeks to Pesach since I want to turn the kitchen over one week before we start so I can have time to make everything. So, now its time for double time. I've got to at least get the bedrooms in shape then I can spend the rest of the time on the rest of the place. From here on in...eating only happens in the KITCHEN! Why is it so hard to just eat in the kitchen!
I will be heading to Walmart for Pesach prep shopping. Since this is Pesach number one the expenses are pretty high. I HATE WALMART, but I'm going to wear a pair of latex gloves and go in there, and do what needs to be done...getting the bargains.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pesach is upon us!

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pesach cleaning has began!!! It is my great pleasure to announce that I have officially started cleaning for pesach. You read it right. I've decided that I will try to stay as sane as possible around this time of year. Therefore, the cleaning has begun. I have two shelves which are now 1/3 full of pesach things that we have already bought and the other 2/3 is waiting to be filled. Granted I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but since it is my first time doing this I would like a head start. We have been on a shopping spree for a few months now trying to find the best bargains and the best deals on everything for Pesach. We found awesome savings on glasses, silverware, wine glasses, cholent pot, etc..Now, the little things and other big things that may have been accidentally left out. For example we are still looking for a few items: mixer, mixing bowls, pots, shelf liner, counter top liner, grater, etc. As we are looking to buy these items cheap we are panicking that we'll be pushed into a corner if we don't start hearing of sales and soon.
One issue that is an ongoing one for the last three months is that our bathroom renovation is still not over. Although baruch hashem we have another one so we are not stranded without a toilet I would really like for this renovation to end. I would like for all the boxes around the house to go away. I would like to not trip on the toilet that is in my bedroom standing right outside the bathroom and I would like to use it! I would like to finally dust and for it to not return for at least one week. I would like to have my home in order! What have I learned from this...well for one we will now only work with contractors and not have this illusion of thinking we can do everything ourselves. Another thing is that we will have all the materials bought in advance and put into ONE room and not all over the house. There are other very valuable lessons but I'm starting to fade here I'm going to need to go to sleep. The main point is g-d willing we'll be done with this by the end of the week and then I can really get going on the cleaning of every room!
One last thing. A great blog that I have started reading gave awesome advice as far as things and lists that should be put together for Pesach if you are interested check out ProfK with the list entry.

One Last thing about Purim

Okay, this is it about Purim and then the posts will start with Pesach :)
So, after everything was said and spent and done and re-done we gave out our meshloach manot and made it in one piece. Things I would like to change for next year.
1. After Megillah reading (first thing in the morning just so that my day is free) it is important to go home and have a nice breakfast with family and company. ONLY after that is everyone to go and distribute.
2. Setting the table with food and drink for people that come in so that its not all about the 'gift swap'. This year was kind of crazy. Maybe because of the fact that Purim fell right before shabbat, either way I found that the delivery and acceptance of Misholach Manot was not as fun and exciting as in previous years. It was sort of like a 'gift' swap and a have a great purim and that was it. There was no come in and have a humantashen and l'chaim. Enjoy for a while, then go. It felt a little disconnected from the rest of the holiday!
3. I would like to make a list as in this year and then make so many more extras as in this year. Yet, I would like to make even more extras because I felt that we missed people on our list and the whole idea behind purim is to give. When you give, you form a bond. Anyhow, I would like to be more than prepared if that is possible for next year "g-d willing". I have purposed a certain number of Meshloach manot that we should package for next year to my husband who says that he sees my point and its a good one.

In other news because I will start preparing "cleaning for pesach this week we are looking to start eating all of our chametz :-)....yet I'm not going to crazy about it since we will sell whatever we don't finish and that will be that!

Next up....Pesach Prep!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Purim vs. Finance vs. Mitzvah

I'm sorry for posting yet another finance vs. Purim, but with some question as to my first entry, I feel that I need to expand on what I have already written.

One of my friends (not a blogger), who has had difficulty posting her comments, has expressed her concern to me in regards to a few of my posts, and, of course mainly to the content in the blog as a whole. So, I'd like to address these concerns as I feel she is not the only one.

In regards to spending money on Purim and it being a Mitzvah:
This to me is a clear contradiction of what Purim giving is truly about. I may be wrong but there are two mitzvot involved: one mitzvah is to give Mishloach Manot to each other and the other is to give the poor. Now, here is where a lot of people have the dilemma. The purpose of those mitzvot is not to spend more than what you could possibly afford on giving Mishloach Manot to your neighbours friends and family; and then drop the minimum amount allowable into the pushka to 'just' be "yotze" of the other mitzvah! Why drive yourself into debt in order to really achieve nothing? On the other hand, one could do smaller packages of Mishloach Manot and whatever they 'saved' on the Mishloach Manot they can give to the poor, thereby truly fulfilling the mitzvah.

I have more to say on this in regards to different circles. Usually, if you belong to one social group or another, you have different customs and traditions of what to do or what not to do for presents, weddings, mishloach manot and such. One of my friends lives in a 'nicer' area in America. A couple of years ago she got a beautiful mishloach manot package with an obvious Apple theme. Everything had something to do with apples, ...including the apple Ipod in there! This to me sounds as a little too much. YET, in that particular neighborhood, it was right in line with other mishloach manot packages that were being delivered. Then, there are other examples that go from there to any other extreme or go to a paper bag with food for two brachot in there, and given over. Any one of the examples above or anything in between fulfills the mitzvah or distributing mishloach manot to at least two people, with food for at least two brachot. NOW, cue in the politics of some communities, along with people not managing money, and what we have is: disaster.

Now with all that said, my friend who does not post comments, but maybe will, or at least will email me back, said that her mishloach manot are usually simple, with some items bought, and some items found around the house, such as tuna, fruit cups, etc. Here is where I have a problem: "FOUND AROUND THE HOUSE"! I understand that this phrase is a figure of speech, but it is so frustrating for me. This is why:
Yesterday, I went to Costco. I bought tuna: 12 cans for $11.49. If this is one of the things found around the house, whoever does not plan for Mishloach Manot costing them money just put in ONE item costing $0.98 otherwise known as a DOLLAR for that one item! This example is what I'm talking about! If a family does not keep track of how much they spend on EVERYTHING, then they WILL spend more than they need to or want to. My example of Mishloach Manot: fruit cup: $1.79 for 4 meaning one will cost $0.45; carrots (mini pack) $5.79 for 24 meaning one will cost $0.24; mini bottles of water: $7.35 for 48 so one costs $0.15; meaning for the price of one tuna can that was "found around the house" that still needs at least one more item that will be bought to be considered a mishloach manot package, I have gotten a nice package together for $0.84 which is actually even less money then the tuna.

This is just one of the examples that I see that people are just not aware of that they do. One feels that if it's already in the house, it means that it is free. In fact, it is not free! If a family is responsible for their finances by keeping track of all the purchases they make, then they would be able to see that in fact, they are not saving money.

The other point my friend brought up was the initial investment involved in trying to save money. On this point I agree with her. In order to save you have to watch for sales and be willing to spend. She also brought up the point that in a sale you will buy more than what you usually would buy. This is true. That is why it is a sale. They want you to buy all 10 items to get it at the price that usually 3 would cost. Yet, if it is a non perishable food item, and it can last a long time, and you know that eventually it will be consumed within the time that it can stand, then it is worth it..., again it's worth it in the long run. For example, I bought shampoo. On sale, at Costco, with a coupon. The price was too good to pass up on. So naturally, I bought it. I spent less on shampoo and conditioner than the usual cost at the store. My point is: I'll put it under the cabinet and in a year this will be used. I know that that quantity will last a year. Now, I'm all set with shampoo, and at a MUCH cheaper price than the bottle that would only last me two months. Yet, initially it cost me $9. However, in the end it will cost me less than $2 than if I would have waited till I ran out and went to the store to buy it at full price with no sale or coupon.

I am not trying to be a mean or an awful friend. I'm just trying to open people's eyes and minds to the idea that money can be saved! Money if used wisely will stretch more!

That's all for now.

Soon to come, organization!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Knowledge is power

Before starting I'd like to give a hit tip to SephardiLady with the following articles that inspired me to become an advocate: Finances, and: Our Finances.
Knowledge is power!
Why is it that I've spoken to countless young women who have no idea what is going on in their finances. They are intelligent, hard working people that are kept in the dark. Some are kept in the dark by choice, others don't want to stir the pot.
The ones that are there by choice, why? Because it stresses them out. I completely understand being stressed by finances. I personally hate paying bills...but that is not an excuse not to know where my family finances are. I do not pay the bills. I hate parting with money especially when its so hard to earn. I do however make a spreadsheet every month and break down where the money is going, what bills were paid and how much and why the credit card was to high or to low. Having the breakdown in front of you, makes you knowledgeable in where you can cut back and save or spend (more on this in further postings). Not knowing where your money is going makes you vulnerable to overspending and maybe even being taken advantage of by the credit card company for over billing you on something or other.
The ones that are kept in the dark because they don't want to stir the pot have serious miscommunication issues in their marriage. Thinking that it is normal to avoid a topic rather than to talk about it because it may anger or worse enrage the spouse is a bad case of being mentally abused. If you don't know where your finances are I hope that you trust your spouse enough to ensure that it's not being gambled, used on drugs, smokes, liquor, prostitutes or many other facets to waste money on especially when given full range from the spouse.
The last point I'd like to make on this for today is the fact that all of the people that say that they aren't involved in family finances because it stresses them out all of them have said they would be in deep trouble if anything would happen to their spouse. They also all said that their spouse would never mess them about. Although I hope that is true and everything will be fine for these people forever. I keep reading these cases where women find out that there husbands got them into huge credit card debt and other sorts of financial issues and left them with it when they filed for divorce. Also, other women were left with nothing when the husbands drained the bank account of all its assets and then filed for a divorce.
What I'm saying is that yes we all hope/pray/wish for the best and not think about the worst but it does not help by being in the dark. Just know what is going on in your own family finance. That is all.

Getting Prepared for Pesach

Ladies and gentlemen lets face it, Pesach is coming. At this point it is too late to deny it. There are a few options, one: convert to another religion, two: embrace it. I'm sure there are other options, but these are the best in my opinion.
Since my husband and I have chosen to embrace it we are starting to prepare early. Really, one of the reasons we are starting much earlier is because we have not 'made' Pesach before. So a brief explanation and then onto the preparations. We have of course celebrated Pesach many times, we even helped prepare many times but we have not really done our own. Last year we were in the middle of a move and our only Pesach preparation was to of course clean (that is never a problem though) and to buy a cutting board and a knife, grand total $5, not including the cost of food of course. This year however we are extremely excited to be doing Pesach at our house and having our families over. Since the only thing we have for Pesach is China and cute salad bowls that we got for our wedding, we are really starting from scratch....which brings me to the meat of this post.
We have known for a while now that we would like to do Pesach at our house, there was toss up as to it maybe being at my brothers but it appears we have won this year. So, every time there is a sale on a good or a service we are quick to think about it for the future. Which is really how you can SAVE on Pesach preparations. I was at Target in October and they had a food processor on sale from $50 marked down to $ we have a Pesach food processor which from what I hear is the work horse for this chag. There was a coupon for a crock pot, that is an old fashioned one (not on a timer) which is what you need in order to use in on a chag that flows into Shabbat, the crock pot original cost $50, we paid $10 that is right you didn't miss read it $10. We were looking for water glasses, beautiful glasses, 20% off 16 pieces $10 that's right $10!!! Now these are just a few examples that I am giving to prove that Pesach does not have to be this awful thing that everyone doesn't look forward to. It can actually be quite fun. Everyone likes getting good deals and if you are on the ball you can have fun and not spend a ton of money. Granted because we are getting all this stuff for the first time we are going to spend more money this year than in years to come. Since we will not need a lot of the things that we are buying and on the look out to buy this year. However, this is just an example of how things can be managed in every day life. If a person needs something the same day that they thought of it, chances are you are not going to get it on a sale at a great price. IF however the person is reasonable, and can wait a bit you can get a great deal for what you need.
The only problem with trying to save money is that it takes time! Its a lot easier to go into a store, buy whatever it is that you need and leave. Ten seconds after you leave the store you start complaining to every Sara, Chaim and Moshe how you got ripped off and how much money you HAD to spend. WHEN in fact you did not need to go into the first store, be it Walmart (which is not always the cheapest) or Bed Bath and Beyond (which is sometimes cheaper then Walmart) and spend the asking price of whatever it is you are buying. It never seems to amaze me how people go completely nuts over holidays. Pesach is the best example because people literally need to take a zanex when preparing for this one. The only reason to go crazy over the holidays is because you are ill prepared for them. If however you are on track with coupons, advertising and a little bit of shopping (be it by foot (store to store) or on the Internet) you can find good deals.

Monday, March 3, 2008


How do we not get into debt over Purim. Sure other holidays maybe more involved and more costly but it seems that everyone just forgets about Purim. This year we are looking at making between 35 and 40 Mishloach manot. That being said we are looking at a high price tag for all of them. So we have to get more creative. Meaning themes that are not as involved, and packaging which is cheaper than usual.
I enjoy it when people put thought into their mishloach manot so I try to do the same. I create a theme, try to match a costume and of course run to the dollar store to make sure that it can all go together. With about 40 to do, even the dollar store is a bit expensive. Packaging alone at even $1 will run $40 and that is without anyting inside! So when everything is all said and done we are looking at about $80-$ it worth it? Really is it? The mitzvah is 2 manot, with two brochas inside. So why am I going crazy with all these extras!? The answer you guessed it is Politics! We have a very tight knit shul. So if we ignore someone by not giving them a manot then we offend them and then a world war starts. So really now I'm doing things to make other people feel better.
So, this brings me to the following question...what are we celebrating and why?
If I feel burdened by all this stuff that I have to do...should I still do it for the sake of keeping face with other people? Should I still drive myself, my husband and everyone else around me crazy? Or should I live my life, do my mitzvah, try not to offend anyone and have a good time.

Honestly, I am not sure. I haven't picked which to do just yet. Hopefully I'll make up my mind by the end of this week and then all will be better.

Your thoughts are appreciated!

We decided that we are only doing 16 so the list got cut and if there are people who have their feelings hurt then we will talk to them about it. If they don't want to talk about it then obviously they are not so upset. :-)