“Today I have a neat notebook,” says Avi, 65, from Tiberias. Avi and his wife Zipporah thought that at retirement age they would be able to rest from thoughts of the lack of money, bask in children and grandchildren and find time for hobbies. They thought that after Zipporah had finished her many years as a kindergarten assistant and after my father was no longer behind the wheel as a tour bus driver, they would finally be able to rest. Just rest.
However, helping the children, especially the student’s daughter, and the lack of meticulous financial planning brought them to a minus NIS 24,000, precisely at a time when they are not working and cannot increase their income.
“We found ourselves in difficult financial situations,” Avi describes, “the daughter studied and we had to help her, and that got us into a bit – how to say to ‘Baruch.’ Suddenly we found ourselves in a big and unplanned minus and panicked. We were looking for ways to get out of it.”
Surfing the Internet also brought them to the Paamonim website and they realized that here they could get free advice worth gold. “We scheduled a day and they came to us and we sat down, that was about a year ago,” Avi says. The first encounter led to additional meetings and an accompaniment process that created a real change in the family.
Today, a year later, the family overdraft is only NIS 4,000.
The neat notebook was the first step in the family’s recovery process. When the numbers are clear and in full significance before your eyes, it’s easy to pinpoint places that can and should be cut.
“Today we make lists every month of the money that comes in and the money that goes out,” says Avi, “Let’s say we buy at the supermarket on a visa – I allocate a certain amount to myself when I buy it and don’t exceed it.”
The first part included – what to do – cuts. “We didn’t buy clothes at all,” Avi describes, “we got by with what we have. Everything is expensive today. I need for example sneakers for walking and can’t seem to fit it into a budget. We cut back on food too. For example, we didn’t eat meat every day and didn’t buy expensive food.”
“We have a car and we can’t give it up because I’m disabled,” Avi adds, “but we’re reducing travel to urgent trips only.”
In addition to the painful cuts, the couple discovered that there could be reductions that stem from thought alone and do not require a reduction in the standard of living.” We started doing a survey on where to buy cheaper. Today we are at such a level of knowledge that every product they tell us, we will know which branch of which chain gives it cheaper. Today we split buying between several places. We’re retirees, we have time, and we navigate by cheap prices.”
One of the most notable changes is the conduct of the entire extended family around the financial issue. The couple has three children. The youngest is 30 years old and lives in Tel Aviv, is finishing her master’s degree in international relations and is about to do a doctorate in diplomacy. Another 33-year-old daughter is married +3 and lives in Tiberias and an older 35-year-old son who repented, married with twins who lives in Beitar Illit.
What do you do with the grandchildren who come to visit and want sweets and gifts? With shared meals with many participants where grandparents are expected to prepare everything? And with travel expenses designed to bridge the distances?
The situation before Paamonim was that every visit by the grandchildren to Grandma and Grandpa Asayag led to a joint walk to the supermarket, where uncontrolled expenses began. “A child doesn’t distinguish between expensive and inexpensive,” my father describes, “he throws everything into the cart and then arrives: ‘Grandpa will pay.’ After paamonim entered the picture, we realized that it was not worth taking them to the supermarket with us. We make a list in advance of things they want and like and go shopping on their own after doing market research. It turns out that everyone is satisfied. They’re happy because they end up getting good things, and we’re happy because we’re able to give them without incurring unnecessary expenses.”
The joint dinners with the daughter in Tiberias have also undergone a change. “Our daughter understood what was happening and she started hosting us,” says Avi, “We hold her children during the week because she and her husband work and then on Friday and Saturday she pampers us.”
The issue of travel is still an issue that has not been fully resolved. Traveling to Beitar Illit is difficult for the couple financially and physically, so the son comes more than before, but the couple still hopes to be able to increase the meetings. “Today, with a lot of work, our monthly budget is balanced,” Avi says, “We’re still at minus NIS 4,000, but we manage to reduce it every month.