Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How the Frugal Ima Got to Be Frugal: An Introduction

Our Story:
David and I entered the full-time, for real, salary-earning work force just under two years ago.  Before that, we had been sweating our way through 5 years (each) of grueling graduate coursework, living on a scant part-time income and a mass of student loans (ugh - more about that in future posts.)   Of course, like most graduate students, we were barely making ends meet, and certainly not saving for the future.

Our lives seemed to get even more hectic once we started working.  David started at his firm in August.  I started work as a campus rabbi in September.  Rami was due to join the family in November.  Because of the move across states for our jobs, David had to take another State Bar Exam in February.  Between sleepless nights, stressful Jewish holiday seasons and legal projects, and keeping two babies fed and clean, it seemed like Crazy + Insanity + Ridiculousness had come to live at our house.  We were in Survival Mode. 

We bought prepared foods.  We bought a new car.  We bought new clothes and pajamas for the children.  We paid a cleaner.  We ordered takeout.  We bought a HOUSE.  We didn't think we were spending extravagantly - we just thought we were spending what we needed to spend.  And, like many Americans making more than respectable salaries, we were still just making ends meet.  We couldn't tell you where our money went at the end of every month.  

A few months ago, I got Fed Up.  I drew up a budget and a calendar of payments for each month.  We sat down together, went over it, and saw that all our money was being spent on things that we could identify, and that no money was being saved.

We were faced with a double-whammy of a reality check: 
1. We made what most Americans would consider to be a very, very good salary and
2. we had not saved a dime for our emergency fund or our retirement, let alone the children's educations.   

Something had to give.  Thus started our practice of cutting costs wherever possible and working together to live happy, fulfilled, non-deprived lives while doing that. Now, we're cooking from scratch, loving the heck out of hand-me-downs, clipping coupons, re-purposing whatever we can, avoiding any unnecessary purchases, cleaning our own house, taking advantage of free entertainment, and focusing on saving every month.

The Story of This Blog:
As I scoured the blogosphere for tips and tricks for running a happily frugal household, I began to notice a common theme.  The frugality bloggers who most inspired me, more often than not, were blogging from a religious perspective.  These bloggers, who were mostly women and mostly Christian, had found arguably one of the most compelling reasons to stretch their dollars and run frugal households - their faith traditions directed them to do so.  

"Hey!" I thought, "I'm a woman of faith!  I'm a rabbi, for Gd's sake!  Doesn't Judaism have something to say about this?"
And, as is always the answer to that question, I realized that, yes, Judaism has a lot to say: about money, avoiding waste, making the most of what we have, mindfully saving for the future, and being content with our lot.   
Not only that, but it has more to say - about how our actions surrounding money and how we treat the things we are lucky enough to possess impact our children and the world around us. 

I look forward to sharing our family's road to a financially - and Jewishly - responsible household.  I hope you find some inspiration, both spiritual and financial.   And, most of all, I look forward to growing richer in my understanding of money, wisdom, and good sense through our conversations here.


  1. I cannot wait to read more......Mazel Tov on this new project.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading more...and sharing our experiences. We are a Jewish family who has chosen to live frugally as well, so we have lots of experience (and have made SO many mistakes as well!).

    Kol HaKavod!

  3. Thanks ladies! I know I'll learn a lot from you both, as I already have. :)

  4. Best of luck, and I look forward to reading more.

    You might find the Orthonomics blog to be of interest.


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