Thursday, February 07, 2013

Values regarding money

I am hoping to start a new blog that will cover dealing with issues with your parents as they age. But since I haven’t started it yet, I decided to write some new material about financial issues, especially as they relate to what we learned form our parents.

I feel very fortunate for most of the attitudes about money that I was raised with. My parents both were successful enough in their professions to have a comfortable amount of money, but at the same time did not have the interest or desire to spend it on extravagant things. So I was raised without having to worry about money, but also without the desire or “need” to have a lot of fancy stuff. If it was something one of us needed, there was not even a question about getting it. We shopped in regular stores – not designer prices, but also never a discount store. My parents didn’t “bargain hunt” or worry over a few dollars. And my parents would immediately offer a financial solution to problems, even to other relatives and close friends. (For example – you’re going to be stuck somewhere? We’ll rent a car for you. You lost your job? We’ll lend you some money – and rarely expected it to be paid back.)

I appreciate this most when I talk to a friend of ours whose parents are extremely wealthy, yet show the opposite approach – they spend on (what to me are) extravagant things such as cruises and fancy d├ęcor in the home – yet they have their daughter drive a barely-working car, they drive out of their way to save a penny on gas, and they worry about using heat to an absolute minimum. My friend does have a good respect for the value of money (such as buying things on sale), but I prefer the idea of spending less on the extras, and not stressing over the necessities.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eating With People - Some Questions

I just saw an interesting discussion about whether you can trust the kashrut of someone who has not kept other Torah commandments. Here are some interesting questions - I don't think there are any easy answers to these.

For the purpose of these questions, "eat in their house" means that you would be confident in going over to their home and eating whatever was served from their kitchen. This means you are confident that (1) they have knowledge of the laws of kashrut, (2) that they observe the laws of kashrut, and (3) that they are not going to purposely feed you something unkosher for nasty reasons.

Would you eat in the house of someone who:

1. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle, but is openly a criminal, such as embezzling money? (Referring to crimes that are not only against secular law but also halacha)

2. Is openly gay, but keeps a kosher home? (We actually know someone who this would apply to.)

3. Does not keep kosher at all, but puts in the effort to learn about what you would require in order to eat there? I have a cousin who bought me new dishes and cookware, and learned the basics of (non-meat) kosher food requirements, so that I could visit her.

4. Is a close friend of yours who used to be religious and became extremely anti-religious? This person would have the knowledge of how to prepare kosher food for you, but would you be able to trust that they wouldn't purposely serve you something not kosher?

5. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle but says nasty things about other groups of Jews non-stop during the meal?

6. Keeps chumras that serve to prevent them from eating at almost anyone else's house, and feels they are "on a higher level" than anyone who doesn't keep these chumras? (chumras=customs not required by Jewish law, that are more strict than the already-extensive laws that we do follow.)

7. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle but didn't have any formal halachic learning, follows most laws because "someone told them to", and therefore may not actually know the details of kashrut?

8. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle but is a bad cook? =-)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Evil HR Lady: Cheapity, Cheapity, Cheap

Evil HR Lady (one of my favorite work-related blogs) had this fantastic post that I think most of us will relate to in this economy.

My company has gone insane with cutting tiny expenses and bugging us about every supply ad shipment. My boss had to talk them out of making a decision about one of our publications that would have saved a bit of money but really angered the advertisers, and therefore would actually cost money. In the meantime, they've held onto an accounting person who never returns phone calls from advertisers, sends out invoices for things that have already been paid, and is certainly costing money by angering our clients.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

She said ‘Yes we can’ to inaugural proposal - TODAY Weddings - MSNBC.com

This is so cute!

Part 2

Unfortunately my mother-in-law was also the recipient of a lifetime of bad financial training. Actually, no financial training. She grew up on a kibbutz - the ind with the children's room and the socialist ideals. The kind that, per my understanding, was proven not to work because eventually they had to find a way to actually make a living.

She married very young, and from that point forward she fell into very stereotypical roles. She did all the cooking, serving, cleaning, sewing, etc. She never learned to drive. She once worked as a cook in a restaurant in Israel, and otherwise has never held a job. In the meantime, my father-in-law was responsible for anything financial. She really has no idea how much anything costs (other than groceries), how to budget, how to make purchasing decisions, etc.

I'm very concerned about how things are going to proceed. She is going to be living on a fixed social security income. My husband has already had to argue with her about a number of items that she has considered necessities that she just isn't going to be able to afford. (Daily newspaper, using a bank card when buying groceries instead of a budgeted amount of cash.) She unfortunately has to sell off a lot of their belongings, including items she really wants to keep.

I haven't had the warmest relationship with my mother-in-law, but love her and am very worried about how this is going to work going forward. I trust my husband to use good judgement, but still feel concerned about problems coming up from us being too involved with her finances and care.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sad legacy

My father-in-law passed away last month. Although I cared very much for him and feel he suffered unnecessarily at the end of his life, unfortunately he left a very sad legacy behind.

My FIL had a poor relationship with money. He started his own business many years ago, and according to my husband the nature of the business was that some years he'd make half-a-million dollars, and other years they'd be relying on a gemach. The problem was that my FIL didn't save anything from the good years. Not a penny. The minute he had money, he would spend it. And unfortunately, as my husband has been going through his belongings, it turns out that much of what he bought was garbage. Fake gold and silver (that he believed was real and spent a lot of money on.) He bought things he didn't need - he would get a new TV if he heard that one of his friends had gotten one, even though he didn't need it.

My FIL used things instead of words. He would buy expensive gifts instead of saying the words "I'm sorry." My nieces and nephews only have memories of him buying them things, not spending time with them during their visits. Several years ago he sent my children a shipping box full of candy. Another time he bought my kids a ton of presents that were actually all cheap (not well-made and broke right away), rather than finding out if there was one item that they might really like, just so that it would look like he had bought them so many gifts.

And, on top of this attitude, he just didn't have the income to live like this. He spent loads of money decorating his house the minute he moved in (new floors, cabinets, etc.) yet it is being foreclosed because he didn't pay the mortgage. My husband had to argue with his parents to cancel their newspaper subscription when they clearly couldn't afford it, yet he actually CANCELLED HIS LIFE INSURANCE POLICY and left my mother-in-law with nothing. (She will be living on a small social security check for the rest of her life.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Yay Auntie A!

Just want to thank my friend who took the children apple picking today, since I am sick and my husband has an injured foot. I don't know if she took any pictures, but if so I'll try to post some afterwards.

The real meaning of a kosher home

One of the most kosher Shabbat meals I ever ate was at the home of my cousin whose family has not been observant in many generations. My cousin Claire and her husband live on an island off of an island off of Vancouver - it takes a mini-plane and a ferry to get there. We met over a genealogy website, and she invited me to come visit one summer when I was in college.

Although she has no connection to kashrut or Shabbat, she asked me extensive questions and made it a top priority to make sure everything was done right. She bought me an entire set of dishes and cooking items, and bought anything in their tiny general store that had a hechsher. We made a Shabbat meal, and sat up watching the candles and talking. Again, although she has no personal interest in observance, she made many positive comments and nothing negative, and this is her general approach to life as well. (For example, instead of using terms like "ultra-orthodox," she says "enthusiastic" which I feel conveys a really positive attitude.)

Now, let me tell you about one of the most traif Shabbat meal I attended. It was at the home of a rabbi who would later steal $3000 from my husband. This person was considered fairly high up in his yeshiva, and was the rav of the local shul. He spent the entire meal criticizing and ranting about all sorts of Jewish people, with a real hatred in his voice. He had complaints about women, including ranting at his teenage daughter about wanting to go to Israel after high school. He and his family did nothing the whole meal to make me feel welcome in their home, since I had never met them before, but instead just ignored me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fantastic website for the New Year

Project Forgiveness - for people to send in videos or posts about forgiveness.

(Thanks to Orthonomics for the link)