| Money Mindset |

Money Mindset: Chapter 6

“I live pretty free right now. Because I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t worry about it. And it all works out in the end”

Kayla: Bigger kids, bigger expense
Russy: I want to stop wanting
Elisheva: Frugal mom of twin toddlers
Tamar: Bills scare me


Hi, Ladies,

Today is our last session together! I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey as much as we have. Let’s start by going over your homework. You made a list of four things you’ve been pushing off regarding your finances. Look at that list, and ask yourself: Why haven’t I done this until now? What has been holding me back?


For me, what’s holding me back is anxiety or stress. It’s an “ignorance is bliss” type of thing. I’m not stressed about money until it’s brought to my attention, so I’d rather just not know about it. But then I’m opening myself to anxiety. I don’t want to do things like review my spending because then I’ll get a report of everything I’m doing wrong, and I’ll stress about it. I’d rather not know and just hope that everything’s fine.

It’s also a big project to tackle my spending plan. I work full-time; I leave at six and get home just in time to take the kids off the bus and make dinner. I’m overwhelmed as it is. To start thinking about finances — another thing that takes up brain space — is too much.


One of my priorities is to review different car insurances. Our policy is running out, and I want to make sure we’re on the best one. But what’s holding me back is that I don’t know where to start. What do I need to ask about? Who do I call? I don’t feel like I have the knowledge base for it.

And I haven’t made a spending plan because I don’t think I have enough discipline to keep to it. I tried it, but it made grocery shopping so scary. I was like, “Do I have to put the broccoli back? What will the family eat?” I couldn’t do it.


One of my priorities is to review our savings plan for our kids to make sure we’re on track to pay for weddings and anything else they might need. Practically, I need the logins and passwords, but my husband and I have very different schedules, so it’s hard to find a time to get that information from him.


I think it’s mostly time that’s holding me back. My husband and I have different schedules. It’s hard to find the time to sit down with each other. We both have the numbers in our heads; we just need that time.


A few of you mentioned time. We are not trying to be the bad guys here, but we will give you tough love and just say it: When people don’t have time, it’s usually a cover for something else. Fear. Uncertainty. Stress. Nervousness. We believe that if it’s important enough, you’ll find the time. Not having time is another way of saying, “I’m uncomfortable with this task.” Whenever you find yourself using time as an excuse, dig a little deeper to get to the root.


You’re probably right. We’ve been in this constant cycle of getting in and out of debt. Every time we get ahead, it only takes a little bit, and then we’re behind again. I think I’m overwhelmed by thinking, “What’s the point of training?” I don’t see a real way out.

So let’s dig a bit deeper. Each of you didn’t take action because no action was better than action. Why? What pleasure do you get from your current situation, and how will that be shattered when you start to do the hard work?


I live pretty free right now. Because I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t worry about it. And it all works out in the end.

That’s interesting, because emunah and bitachon — trusting that it will be fine — is much easier when there’s nothing to worry about. But will that same level of “we’ll be fine” come into play if you have more anxiety? Can your bitachon handle that level, too?


I think the answer is no. It’s much harder to have that emunah when you know all the facts.

That’s something to think about. How can you make your emunah strong enough that even if you know more about your own finances you won’t be stressed?

The beauty of being a frum Jew is that we have our faith to lean on. It’s a gift the rest of the world doesn’t have; it’s a responsibility, not an excuse, but we can definitely benefit from it.


Right now, my husband has full control of our finances, so I have that feeling of being taken care of. If I start getting involved, I’m also taking on some responsibility.


I’m just happy not to think about our finances. I work in my daughters’ school, and because I don’t think about our spending, I’ll often run and get them a pastry or something from the nearby bakery. Their friends think they’re so spoiled, and I’m Mommy of the Year. If I have to start thinking about it, I’ll have to stop doing that and forfeit all the joy that comes along with it.


I’d be giving up the ability to indulge myself. We’d have to buy the food we need instead of the food I want — I can’t just treat myself to a complex dish I’m craving anymore because the ingredients aren’t in our budget.


And now for an even deeper dive. Ask yourself: What pleasure would you enjoy if you did take this action? What are you giving up by staying stagnant? We won’t go into this now, but think about this for yourselves. For example, Kayla might say, “I would enjoy knowing that I can be a cool mom in ways other than bringing my girls store-bought treats; I can bring homemade treats wrapped nicely and feel less stressed knowing I’m giving, but not going over-budget.” The pleasure would be the internal calm of knowing you didn’t blow the budget just to be a certain type of cool mom.


We’ve been talking about what you need to do in theory — let’s make it practical, though. What support do you need? What will help you actually take action?


I think it would be helpful to have a support buddy checking in with me, holding me accountable, making sure I’m on the right track.


Once a month, I need to sit down with my husband, log into our accounts together, and have a money date night. Maybe we’ll make popcorn or a good drink so it’ll be fun to discuss things like, “Can we be smarter? Can we do better?”


It might be interesting to do this in front of your kids and set a good example for them. Let them see what healthy money conversations look like. You want your kids not only to see when you swipe, but also when you save. “Look, this is what we’re putting away for your wedding. It’s not for another few years, but we’re already thinking about it.” Let them see that money is not stressful. It can be calm and even a fun conversation.


I agree with Tamar that accountability would be nice.


I want to find a community of people who are on the same page and not pressuring me into a lifestyle I don’t want to live. I want to find people who are supportive. I have one friend who has no problem saying, “I got this dress from a gemach,” and I want to hang around more people like her, who are open about living in a financially responsible way.


Rivky and Tsippi speak:

Over the last few weeks, we’ve gotten to see just how different everyone is when it comes to finances. Everyone has different knowledge, beliefs, priorities, and goals. As we wrap up, there are two main things we want you each to walk away with:

Money is so much more than a budget or numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s in the relationships we have with ourselves, husbands, children, and Hashem. Money comes with emotions and baggage. The more we understand it, the more we can take charge. This brings us to the other main takeaway:

We are in control of our money situation. It’s easy to think we’re victims; it’s all happening to us. That’s far from the truth. We each have the power to learn about and change our financial situation. We hope that this leaves you feeling more empowered. Remember: The financial future you want is in your hands — and you can do it.


Rivky Rothenberg, CPA, has vast experience helping families with money. Tsippi Gross is a business consultant and fractional COO who focuses on results. Together they started Ashir, a nonprofit financial consulting program to help families go from financial stress to money confidence. Rivky and Tsippi can be reached via Family First.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 876)

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