Financial consultant Rifka Lebowitz has written the ultimate insider’s guide to banking in Israel, to help you navigate the process from opening an account to closing one, and everything in between. This book will help you get a grip on:
• How to choose a bank
• Writing checks and what to watch out for
• How Israeli credit cards work
• The mysteries of overdraft
• Accounts for kids
• Saving money on fees
• Understanding Hebrew banking terms
And much, much more!
This approachable, reader-friendly guide demystifies the Israeli banking system. It’s a must-read for anyone living and banking in Israel!
Join me to celebrate the publication of Smarter Israeli Banking at one of my upcoming Book Launch & Signing events:
Hub Etzion – 7 Nachal Neemanim, Gush Etzion Industrial Park
Wednesday, November 15th, 7:30 – 10:30 PM
SUBS – 5 Hauman street, Beit-Shemesh, Israel
Thursday, November 16th, 8:30 PM
Temech – 216 Jaffa Street, 9th Fl Jerusalem, Israel
Thursday, November 23rd, 8 – 9:30 PM
I’d love to see you there and meet you face to face, so drop by and say hello!
When you live in Israel you feel each holiday in the air, regardless of your personal observance. Work and school days are scheduled around them, grocery stores follow the needs and themes of each holiday and even the buses include a happy holiday message in their digital display. Of course, Pesach is no exception.
From the day purim ends, the grocery stores start cleaning their shelves and displaying kosher for pesach items while eliminating the chametz items. School ends the week before pesach begins and camps are offered to solve the childcare issues many parents face. And while this holiday is meant to be a festival of freedom the extra expenses that come along with it can feel quite burdensome. For many it’s the most expensive two weeks of the year!
As a financial consultant with a passion for helping Olim make financially smarter choices, I asked my Facebook group how much extra Pesach cost them above their usual monthly expenses. I asked them to take into account the extras for the week before including child care, food, outings, and lost income.
The average response was 3,000NIS and for some the costs easily went up to 15,000NIS, which is a big chunk of a normal monthly income for many when their expenses included sending multiple children or grandchildren to camp or on youth trips, hiring extra cleaning help, holiday outings, food and more.
So how can we manage to get back to the root of what this holiday is meant to be about instead of drowning in a sea of debt? As in most things of life, the first step to solving a problem is to figure out what the issue is and make a plan to manage it.
Here are some tips when it comes to pesach spending and saving:
DO make a plan
If you don’t yet have a pesach plan drawn up start now. Include EVERYTHING extra: childcare, babysitters, cleaning help, transportation, menus, grocery shopping, trips… anything you need done along with its cost over the next two weeks should be noted. Once you have all this listed go over the list and see if there is anywhere you want to cut back.
Then transfer the info over to a budgeting program or an organized spreadsheet (there are many downloadable templates available which you can adjust to fit your needs). Make a column with expected cost and one to note the actual amount so that you can prepare for next year as well.
DON’T split payments
While it may be tempting to split payments over the course of a few months, DON’T! This is not a financially sound plan. Two if you need, but not six!!! If you take 6 payments you will still be paying for Pesach when it comes to Rosh hashana and then succot! This is where many fall into the deep end and start to drown in debt. Better to stick to a smaller budget and start planning for next year instead.
DO plan for next year
Add what you spend on pesach into your annual budget. Try to set aside as much as you need each month so that when you get to Pesach next year you’ll have the resources to cope.
Yes, you have a plan and if you stick to it you’ll be fine. But as in all things in life, plans can change and surprise expenses can come up. If that does happen, don’t stress over it. You may have to budget more carefully for the following months to make sure you get out back on track soon.
DO give to others
“All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy come and celebrate Passover.”
Can you share with others? Make giving part of your budget by giving those less fortunate the ability to celebrate the Chag, while you can enjoy the freedom and value found in giving.
Wishing you a chag kosher v’sameach!
The banking system and day to day Banking in Israel are very different to elsewhere and it can take time to get used to banking – Israeli style. Here is some important information and tips for making the most of your bank account in Israel.
1. Find a bank worker who can help you out. Many banks have someone who has good or even excellent English, and they can help explain many of the banking terms to you. It is important to have someone in your bank who knows you- this is very useful if for example you forget your ID.
2. Credit cards actually function as debit cards, most credit cards in Israel will charge your bank account once a month making them easier to track than cheques or cash, make sure you have money available in your account on the date they are charged.
3. Banks are usually open during the morning hours and 2 afternoons a week, although the days and times will vary. – Some branches are closed on either Friday or Sunday – so take note of the specific opening hours of your bank. You can use internet banking 24 hours a day.
4. You are charged for everything you do – including withdrawing money – so withdraw for a fortnight rather than every few days. Each transaction or “line” on your statement costs you money.
5. In order to save yourself money deposit money via the special envelopes,or machines and withdraw money from an ATM The bank charges are higher if your transaction was done with a teller.
6. Foreign Currency can be kept in your normal account, but it is in a different section. Some bank branches hardly deal with Foreign currency cheques, if you will need this service frequently, make sure your bank will process the cheques in a reasonable time frame. There is a fee for having a foreign currency section, so if you only have a small amount it might be better to change the money into shekels.
7. It is your responsibility (in most cases) to make sure you have the funds available in the right compartment of your account.For example when you write a cheque you will need to make sure there are funds available to cover the cheque in your current account. If your money is in a savings section you will need to move it to the current account to ensure the cheque clears.