| Money Mindset |

Money Mindset: Epilogue  

If you’ve followed our column, you know that it’s not about the budget. We take a completely unique approach to looking at money

Hi! I’m Rivky Rothenberg.

I have a Masters in Tax and work as a CPA at a Big Four accounting firm, specializing in tax consulting for high-net worth individuals.

But my passion is helping individuals and couples in the Jewish community with their finances. I have been known to love a good Excel spreadsheet (don’t judge!) — and I love helping families get smart about their money by getting to know their numbers and make a plan, whether getting out of debt or saving for the future.

I believe that financial peace is attainable by everyone, but if we don’t approach money in a healthy way, it can lead to negative relationship issues, which is very stressful. I realized that many people struggle to follow through with their plans because the psychology and mindset pieces were missing. So while I do love teaching people the skill set of money, I know how important it is to use a holistic approach to financial empowerment, so that the financial plan we put into place will last long term.

That’s why I teamed up with Tsippi.


Hello, everyone! I’m Tsippi Gross, stand-in COO, business consultant, and entrepreneur.

Over the last decade, I have helped people grow their business and generate more revenue. And I noticed that while my clients were awesome at making money, many lacked the basic skills to manage it, leading to financial stress, never taking a paycheck, not being able to expand or hire, insecurity, huge problems in their marriages, and feeling like the hamster wheel never ends — you’ve just gotta work, work, work.

What’s worse was that these were highly intelligent, driven, sophisticated business owners who are the best at what they do and at the top of their fields. But the lack of money management caused a lurch in their self-esteem: How could their finances be so chaotic and nonrepresentative of who they are?

I became certified as a Dave Ramsey Master Financial Coach so I could help people not only make more money, but also learn the practical strategies needed to manage what comes in. While I love to focus on increasing the bottom line, creating a plan for the income provides real security. I noticed Ramsey’s approach leaves major questions in the Jewish world….

That’s why I teamed up with Rivky.


Women and Money

So many of us, at all income levels, would rather talk about anything else. We’re too busy running our homes, juggling jobs, taking care of errands, cleaning, cooking, hosting, parenting, taking kids to doctors’ appointments, entertaining kids who are on vacation (every second). There’s hardly time to take care of yourself; there’s almost no social life to speak of. When is there a second to deal with finances?

If you’ve been following Money Mindset over the last six weeks, you’ve seen that money is a “relationship” — and it can be complex. At Ashir, our financial coaching organization, we find money can tend to be a stressful topic, specifically for women. But we believe it’s extremely important for women to feel comfortable around money. Whether you make it, manage it, or are just good at spending it, much of our lives is run by money. Every woman at every income level has a relationship with money; the key is to ensure the relationship is positive and that you feel confident with your money.

How involved should a wife be in the finances? That varies on a case-by-case basis, but it’s important that she understands it. A woman once came to us feeling extremely frazzled. Her husband had always taken care of the finances, but a prolonged health problem had caused him to be completely out of commission for months. He was about to undergo a severe medical operation, and she had no idea where to start with taking over the finances. She didn’t know what bank accounts they had, what bills had to be paid and how. Putting all the pieces together was an enormous undertaking during an already stressful time. Imagine how different it would have been had she known where everything was and what she needed to do.

After coaching countless individual couples, we’ve found the common denominator. We all want the same thing:

To have enough (And a little extra wouldn’t hurt!).

To be on the same page as our spouse about our money.

To model healthy money skills to our children.

To have a secure future.

To feel responsible about our spending habits and have clarity on what is the “right amount” to spend.

To give more to causes that have an impact and are meaningful to us.

To show Hashem we’ve done the best job with what He’s given us.

This is attainable.

And if you’ve followed our column, you know that it’s not about the budget. We take a completely unique approach to looking at money. We want you to succeed whatever your goals are! We’ve studied a boatload of cases, identified why people fail with money, what the main stressors are, what does and doesn’t work, what behavioral approaches are needed, what relationship issues arise, and what knowledge you need.


The Problem: Why money is like dieting

Everyone knows that to lose weight you need to eat less and exercise more. Why is it so hard to lose weight when the formula is so simple? That distance from head to heart, or knowledge to practical lifestyle changes, is why the diet industry is worth billions. Giving someone a meal plan and expecting results doesn’t work, even if it gets a bit of traction at first. There is so much more to changing your habits for the long term.

Finances are similar — to be financially successful, you need to make more, spend less, invest smartly, and voilà! Simple, right? But there’s so much more that goes into people’s financial decisions, which is why making a “diet plan” or “finance plan” and telling someone what to do is not going to work long term. Budgeting is a tremendously important part of the process, but it can’t be the only step.

Much like a diet plan that doesn’t work long term because, “Yeah, I know I shouldn’t eat that cookie, but…,” money works the same way. Creating a budget plan without dealing with your money stories (or money trauma), limiting beliefs, habits, values, views that differ from spouse and family members, overall knowledge of money/finances, big picture plan, and emunah and bitachon is a recipe for failure. On the other hand, like a healthy lifestyle change that seems overwhelming at first, once you start working on any one area, there’s a massive snowball effect and you find yourself able to make so much more progress than you ever imagined.

Our frum lifestyle is very expensive, and it’s exacerbated by recent inflation and increased cost of living. On top of that is the perceived or real need to keep up with ever-increasing standards, putting a huge strain on families, affecting marriages, parenting, and quality of life. By educating families about money from both a knowledge and relationship perspective, it’s more likely that a couple will make financial goals and keep to them long term, benefiting not only themselves and their children, but future generations and the community at large.


Making Lifestyle Changes

Our Four Pillar Money System™ combines skill set and mindset:

Money Knowledge: This is basic financial literacy, and it’s mostly things they don’t teach in school: budgeting; mortgages; credit cards and other forms of debt; investing; and financial goals. Building the Money Knowledge pillar means investing time and energy into building knowledge and learning how to increase earning and saving potential. This knowledge is critical to winning money.

Money Habits: This pillar creates long-term behaviors that support our financial goals and dreams. For example, we advise women to check their accounts regularly so they know how much is in the bank. Another behavior we encourage might be to use a money management app to understand spending habits. It might include blocking out your calendar for taxes, money conversations, and tzedakah. You might create a system where money is separated into categories in your bank account, or automatically pay your bills. You decide what kinds of habits will work for your family based on your goals and personality types.

Money Relationship: Many of us don’t realize how much our money reality is informed by our childhood experiences, our perceptions, emotions around money, beliefs about money, and more. Some people feel like failures, some people feel confused, some feel overconfident; all of this leads to the actions we take (or don’t take) with our money. (See sidebar for some of the questions we ask to uncover our money relationship.)

Money Values: This pillar includes understanding the role of hishtadlus in making and spending money. How much and what type of hishtadlus should we do? This pillar includes tefillah: how to talk to Hashem and put out our desires; how to be a vessel to receive, how to trust enough to give tzedakah, what to do when the numbers don’t make sense….


Combining mindset, skillset, spirituality, and relationships leads to a holistic, successful journey to financial peace.


So what can you do?

Whether or not you’ve been following our series, if you’re reading this article, this is an opportunity for you to get started! All you have to do is take one step. Whether that means journaling about some of the questions that stood out for you, picking up a book about money, signing up for an emunah and bitachon group, booking a meeting with a financial planner, talking with your spouse about your money goals, making a five-year or a 30-day plan, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to do something. That first baby step should lead you to your next step, and you’ll begin to identify what you need to reach results. Whether it’s more knowledge, more accountability, emotional support, marriage help, or tefillah, the most important question to ask yourself is, “What is my next step?” And then take it. The decision to get started is what will determine your success, and we’re here to cheer for you!

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.


Playing Catch-Up

Have you been following our participants’ journey toward financial peace? We reached out to Russy, Tamar, Elisheva, and Kayla to find out how what their main takeaway was and what their money journeys look like five months later.


I loved learning about the power of compound interest. I was always responsible and had a retirement account, but I didn’t really appreciate it or love the idea of the money being untouchable. Then we went through it using the calculator, and I really understood the benefits. Ashir also helped me understand other things like CDs, car loans/mortgage better, and benefits to paying principal early and saving on the interest (my husband is really into it!) Thank you!

Rivky responds:

I am so glad to hear that this helped you! It’s interesting that the lessons didn’t necessarily change your behavior, because you were already doing some proactive things like saving for retirement, but the shift is that now you appreciate it and value it. I’ve found for others that if they understand more about money and the way it works, it helps them make better choices about money (rather than just having a budget to follow). When you feel forced to do something it’s hard to be motivated. Going forward I would recommend picking one action item (a small one!) that will continue to propel you forward to financial success. Maybe that means pushing yourself to set aside a little bit more than you already are (now that you’re even more motivated to do it!).


Recently I was out with my kids, and I needed to stop at the bank to take out some cash. I used it as an opportunity to teach them about what an ATM is, that if you want to take money out, you have to put it in. I would never have thought to make this a teaching moment before our sessions.

Also, in a good way, I’ve been thinking twice before making purchases. Even if I’m still going to make the purchase, it’s been good to go through the thought process.

Rivky responds:

I love that you were an active role model to your kids about money — you’re giving them such a gift of awareness of money in a healthy way! I also love that you’re being intentional. Spending money is not a bad thing, but it can become bad if we don’t put thought into it. I’d recommend tracking one spending category to see if you notice any patterns or ways you can be even more intentional about your spending. For example, just track grocery spending (and you can even just pick one store to start with). You don’t have to make decisions off a budget just yet, but becoming aware of your patterns will help you in the long run. And keep up those conversations with your kids to make it natural for them to be open to learning about money and coming to you with their questions.


Unfortunately, I have not kept up with reading my money book. I still struggle with a plan on how to be comfortable and confident with my spending habits. I need a concrete plan that is not overwhelming, but I don’t think that exists. In theory my husband and I want to do a monthly check-in to see where we’re holding, but it just doesn’t happen. I wish there was a quick fix but it’s hard work!

Tsippi responds: 

You’ve discovered something very valuable and very common, which is that accountability is so important. Whenever a program ends, it can be harder to keep things going, especially if you’re working on something you don’t enjoy very much. When we were working together, it was easy to stay motivated. I suggest people use this to their advantage. It is not a weakness, it’s a hack! This is why the entire coaching industry exists, and why every athlete has a coach — that external push and support can truly bring out our best and keep us moving forward, even when we lack our own motivation or don’t have the time! 

For some couples, signing up for an online program with built-in deadlines works great; for others, 1-1 accountability is important, and still for others, a peer or check-in buddy keeps the momentum going.

In your case, I would advise discussing with your husband:

  1. What is our number one goal with our finances?
  2. What would help us get there? Let’s be realistic, knowing our time constraints and personalities.
  3. What obstacles might come up that would prevent this from happening, and how do we want to deal with them when they arise? (Because they will!)

My husband and I have been advancing our education, so we haven’t had as much time to spend on our finances. But we are speaking a lot more openly about money on a regular basis. Being in this group allowed us to start adjusting things in our life or asking more questions on how we can maximize our money and time. We recently started watching financial interviews together. We’ve also been open to the idea of me staying home and starting a business, which would be good for us in a number of ways. So I would say we are still actively looking to improve and find ways to get better with money.

Tsippi responds:

I love that instead of feeling stuck in a certain financial situation, you’ve started asking, “How can I make my desired lifestyle happen, how can I change my script?” So often we stay in default mode, the path we find ourselves in, and the two of you are thinking about what you actually want and how to get there.

I’m also excited about the open conversation, and spending time getting educated about money together. Having the knowledge of the financial landscape is a huge advantage and helps us make great decisions throughout our life.

I would love to see the two of you set a specific money goal you’d like to accomplish (something small!) because I really believe you will do it and any action will give you tremendous momentum.


Money Relationships

Want to rewrite your money script? Start by asking yourself these questions to discover your current mindset:

Do you feel tense every time you spend, or resentful when you can’t spend more?

Do you have debt?

Are you an emotional spender?

What if there just isn’t enough money in the budget to cover the month?

What if you’re going through a tough time?

What about unexpected expenses?

What if you feel you’re depriving your kids?

What if you just don’t feel comfortable dealing with money and rather just let your husband do what he does?

What if you have a business and don’t have a reliable income, and never know what you’ll make?

What if your budget says “$100/month for eating out,” and all your friends are going out to eat; you want to join, but you already spent $100 on a date night with your spouse?

What if you feel jealous of your friend’s house or car or income or vacation? What if you feel “I deserve it because I work so hard?”

What if you HATE spending and have a difficult time spending money on important expenses?

What if you feel G-d will take care of you as long as you just spend on what’s appropriate, regardless of what’s in the bank?


Now, ask yourself what it’ll take to empower your money relationship:

Where do I want to be financially? Why am I not there? How will I get there?

Which part of me is coming to the table? My adult, smart self? My scared, young self? My overwhelmed, uninterested self?

What are my beliefs and stories around money? Do I feel I can succeed? What are the subconscious blockages and traumas I might have around money?

What are the values I have around money?

What do I teach my kids about money?

What are the differences my spouse and I have around money? How can we get on the same page?

What are my main emotions around money and how do I rewire the emotions I want?

How do I treat my money?

What are my emotions around living inside my means?


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 877)

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