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The bad habits of Hanukkah and our pocket

How to spend and enjoy Hanukkah and stay on budget

Why do we spend so much money on Hanukkah? Mostly because of bad habits that lead us into the same traps every year. What bad habits? You’d be surprised – not the donuts…

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Planning: Surprisingly, Hanukkah falls every year on exactly the same date, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the kids are on vacation. The Hanukkah vacation (like any other children’s vacation) requires financial planning: a budget. Plan a budget for each day in advance and plan the activities accordingly. Try it this year – and you’ll see the results at the bank exactly eight days later.

Surrender to pressure: There is no special mitzvah to go to performances on Hanukkah. A family board game night can provide a much more meaningful experience than just another show. It’s hard to say no to a child who wants to go to a concert like everyone else, it’s easier to give in to pressure just so we don’t feel guilty about unsatisfactory parenting. But there’s no reason to pay hundreds of shekels for a concert ticket and tens of shekels for ancillary expenses like gas, parking and snacks for one multi-hour outing. Two financial education games from Paamonims’ Bag-Tick-Turtle and Ladders and Ropes.

It’s coupon time to go to a concert: ticket prices for shows are not uniform. The advertised price is not the final price. Search, check and demand discounts. Through credit card companies, retail chains, consumer clubs, workers’ unions and more. It’s also a good idea to check with your friends and family if they can help you get discounted tickets. Some concert producers allocate free tickets to those in need. Purchasing with coupons may reduce costs, but it’s important to pay attention to the details.

Food. Take snacks and drinks from home. The law permits the entry of food and beverages that have not been cleaned in the canteen. When it comes to food prices in buffets, it seems that the landlord has gone crazy – to the other extreme.

I came, I bought, I went. Many families see spending time at the mall as a kind of default: a good way to relieve boredom. In summer they escape to the air conditioner and in winter it is more pleasant than wandering the streets. This is a budget disaster. There is nothing wrong with shopping at the mall if you know exactly what you need and plan your visit in advance. A futile wander around the canyon increases temptations.

Hanukkah gelt: You give the kids Hanukkah gelt – and they run to buy the first game that catches their eyes. Give them tools for life and teach them how to conduct themselves correctly – explain to them that while money we received as a gift is suitable for pampering and fun, it is worth checking what else we can do with money and making a list of priorities. For example: encourage them to determine how much of the money will be spent on shopping and how much they should save for the future, which game will give them good value for money and which will not – and let them take responsibility for managing the Hanukkah gelt, all according to the age of the child and his abilities, of course.

I’m bored. Give the children some of the responsibility for taking advantage of time and alleviating boredom during vacation. We can teach and accustom the children that the question “What do we do today?” will be addressed to themselves. We can help them organize, but they should be responsible for finding relevant activities. Even before the start of a vacation: we can sit with the children, explain to them what is planned, each child can make a list of all the things he or she wants to do during the vacation. We, the parents, can accompany the process, assist with advice, but we should always have a message that means: “The responsiblity for your being busy during vacation is a joint one.”

Donuts. Aside from the low health value, daily buying of donuts opens up a big budget hole. You can make donuts at home. Search for recipes, compare flavors, and spend a culinary afternoon at home.

Final tip: Hanukkah ends exactly eight days after it begins. Planning eight days is a feasible task. Ask the Hasmoneans.

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