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Money Talks

Money Talks

Judy's 10 Commandments for Saving Money

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Skyrocketing prices for fuel, food, and even dental floss have everybody scrambling for ways to save shekels. But remember: tough economic times don't last; people who aren't embarrassed to rinse out plastic bags do. Both my grandmothers came from "the old country," and trust me, there is no word for "disposable" in Yiddish. These Bubbies never met a piece of wrapping paper that they didn't like to use at least 15 times. In fact, through her judicious use, rinsing, and re-use of aluminum foil, one of my Bubbies only used two rolls of foil during her entire life! (One for dairy, one for meat.) With this kind of yichus, who better to offer money-saving tips than me?

So read on, be of good cheer, and for gosh sakes' don't waste an entire sheet of fabric softener when you can cut the thing in half. Happy savings!

1. Don't waste money on extravagances, such as electricity. That's right, keep those lights off, even in the dark. This is no typical Jewish mother joke. You can save thousands, maybe even millions of dollars on electricity bills by using night vision glasses, which can be bought for cheap at any military hardware store. If a neighbor comes over to borrow a cup of flour and asks why everyone in your family is wearing night vision goggles in your dark house, just tell him you are practicing your emergency preparedness drills, recommended by a leading survivalist guru in Idaho.

2. Warm your house with black-out curtains. They keep out the cold and give your night vision goggles a real test of endurance, too. Look, if they were good enough for Londoners during the blitz, they ought to be good enough for you, too.

3. Turn soap slithers into memorable bar mitzvah centerpieces. Display your ingenuity and appreciation for cleanliness by molding soap scraps into swans or models of the Ten Commandments. As a bonus, guests can use the centerpieces when they wash their hands. You'll be the talk of the shul with these!

4. Resurrect the fine art of bargaining. In many parts of the world, haggling over price is expected, and Extreme Hagglers have their own competitive leagues. In today's world, simply not paying retail won't cut it. Why not go mano a mano with those little credit card machines in the stores? After the register has tallied your groceries and the credit card machine screen asks, "Is $231.98 okay?" don't just press the "okay" button like a patsy, make a deal! Start your counteroffer at $17.54 and test your money-saving mettle. (Tip: If the cashier gives you funny looks, make sure to say your name is O'Reilly, not Silverstein.)

After the credit card machine screen asks, "Is $231.98 okay?" don't just press "okay" – make a counter offer!

5. Instead of that spendy African safari you've been planning, go to the zoo this summer instead. Look, when you've seen one giraffe, you've seen them all. What, were you planning to count how many spots each one had? And let's be honest: how many Jews do you know who like sleeping under mosquito netting?

6. Sell most of your worldly possessions on eBay. You know you'll never wear that horrendous orange striped tie your mother-in-law gave you, and that set of Boggle that's missing half the letter cubes? Fuhgettabouit! Turn your junk into impressive cashola on eBay, where you'll find buyers for the dumbest things on earth. After Passover, my friend Harry sold his swept up matzah crumbs in a Ziploc bag for $18 bucks! I don't know what's up with these eBay shoppers, but if they're dumb enough to buy matzah crumbs from the floor, they'll buy your broken toys, your van with no engine, and all your mate-less socks, too. Heck, offer that folding chair held together with only duct tape and with the screw sticking out of the seat pad and see what you get!

7. Shop at stores no smaller than football stadiums. Now that you've cleared out the clutter, you'll have room for 25-pound sacks of rice, gallon containers of mystery shampoo whose ingredients are listed in Armenian, and vats of freeze-dried coffee. In addition to never having to shop for non-perishables again until you're 108, you'll get a great workout dodging those forklifts in these megastores zooming toward you. Worst case scenario? If everyone hates the weird-smelling Armenian shampoo, just sell it on eBay.

8. Empty your car of non-essential weight, such as other family members. The heavier your car is, the more gas you burn driving around, so leave snow chains, shovels, sand bags, and relatives at home when you go out. This way, you can even sidle into a bargain matinee without having relatives whisper their running commentary throughout the movie. A win-win!

9. Cook as if it's almost Passover, all year round. If you have more days in the week than grocery money, concoct visionary meals such as "refrigerator soup," a hodgepodge of anything you can find in the back of the fridge or freezer that doesn't yet have anything growing on it. Be daring! Toss in the last few frozen fish sticks, half a can of kidney beans, flaccid celery (I think it may still have vitamins even in this aged state), Tobasco sauce, the unrecognizable leftovers with freezer burn, and you're in business. If your family complains, channel my long-departed Bubbie, who would say, "You want fancy? Okay, tomorrow we'll have borsht."

10. Don't skimp on the essentials. With all this Draconian belt-tightening, make sure you still buy yourself an overpriced latte every day. Ignore that little voice in your head reminding you that over a year's time, you will spend nearly $800 bucks on these drinks, money that could otherwise have filled your gas tank four or five times. But what seems like an indulgence is really just a way to ensure you're still getting essential vitamins and nutrients -- especially if you are living off of that cheap rice and "refrigerator soup."

Published: May 24, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) SusanE, November 24, 2009 8:18 PM

Reuse, Recycle, Restore. Reduce Your Waste!

Thanks, Judy for a good laugh today. Everything you talk about is true. Love the 'suggestions' . As kids we saved on energy and we made do with what was available. I am currently using Mom's kitchen and 1959 electric oven and her cooktop with range hood and her sink with food disposer. These appliances are all working well and All stainless and all good quality. We used large cardboard boxes for sleds in the winter. Dad sold refrigerators and Television sets and they came in big cardboard boxes. When we got older we had great sleds and toboggans but never had more fun than with the cardboard boxes.. My grandmother blew open two-ply napkins and refolded them and got twice as many. She had us kids color and decorate them for the holidays instead of buying colored ones. We had very little garbage to dispose of in Mom's home also. She didn't buy more than we could eat. She didn't buy what was unnecessary. ........ Now in 2009 my sanitation company guidelines allow FIVE black plastic 30 GALLON bags full of garbage from each household EACH WEEK. Let me say that again. 150 GALLONS OF GARBAGE EACH WEEK.

(8) Joey, June 3, 2008 12:11 PM

This was funny

#7 actually is good advice, overall, though, these were just fun to read. Thanks and God bless!

(7) Anonymous, May 28, 2008 5:20 PM

What a waste...

The sad thing is that in our wonderful Torah observant communities, there IS a lot of waste and extreme lack of concern for emvironmental impact of our habits on the earth that Hashem gave us. It is unfortunate that the "left" has hijacked these issues, causing main common sense routines like recycling to be often veered at in our more conservative communities. If we were as exacting in the mitzvot of stewarding the earth and not being wasteful as we are exacting with kashrut and Shabbat, what a light we''d be in our example. Using our natural resources without consciousness is taking Hashem''s continual blessing for granted.
May the whole world truly be full of Hashem''s Glory...and NOT our garbage.

(6) Anonymous, May 28, 2008 8:05 AM

this generation is truly wasteful

All jokes aside, I see a tremendous amount of waste in today''s homes. They throw out leftovers and clothing. They don''t know how to use a rag anymore. Everything has to be cleaned with a paper towel. Food has to be exotic. People eat expensive meat in middle of the week etc. There are some people who want a break in yeshiva tuition but don''t want to go in front of the committee who will tell them how to save money so they can pay full tuition. I understand it''s humiliating but they obviously realize that their lifestyle is extravagant enough to have where to cut from. I for one, would love somebody to help save more money. The problem is, I follow my own advice and I''m still broke!

(5) Marc Milton-Talbot, May 28, 2008 3:57 AM

Very Funny

So good I sent it on to friends.

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