70 Awesome Things about Israel’s Economy
In honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, I challenged the Living Financially Smarter in Israel community to list 70 ways that Israel’s economic and financial system works to our benefit. Despite the challenges that undoubtedly exist here in Israel, there is much to be thankful for. Here are 70 awesome things to appreciate:
- A strong economy with a stable shekel.
- Strong economic growth at 4.1%.
- Sal Klita (Absorption Basket) to help new immigrants acclimate and enjoy a financial cushion until they find work.
- Free ulpan for immigrants.
- Government savings plans for children.
- Excellent financial leadership, including Karnit Flug, governor of the Bank of Israel.
- Stellar Jewish communities all over the country, including in less expensive areas. No need to spend a lot to be near Jewish infrastructure.
- Monthly stipend from Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) for each child under the age of 18.
- Inexpensive health care, with doctors’ visits costing nothing or very little above the set Kupat Cholim payment.
- Free hospitalization, with none of the co-pays required in many other countries.
- Co-pays on medication are extremely low, with many only costing 15 NIS.
- A birth grant (maanak leidah) is deposited directly into the new mom’s bank account.
- Affordable dental care, including free dental treatments for children under age 16.
- Affordable orthodonture.
- Health care is highly digitized, increasing both efficiency and quality of care.
- Free health care from the fourth child onwards.
- Extremely inexpensive fertility treatments.
- Pet care is relatively inexpensive, with vets offering annual packages which include visits and vaccinations.Savings and Investments
- Mandatory pensions make it easier for people to retire and enjoy a higher quality of life once they stop working. Although some wealthy people don’t benefit much from these pensions, for the average Israeli, a pension fund is a godsend
- Tax-free Keren Hishtalmut for mid term savings, often offered as a work benefit.
- Kupot Gemel Lehashkaa are tax-deferred or tax-free investment plans.
- Low interest rates make buying an apartment or taking out a business loan more affordable.
- Low regulated fees have been implemented in recent years.
- More consumer-oriented services, such as choice of loans, online banking and investment opportunities.
Employment and Business
- An extremely low unemployment rate of approximately 3.7%.
- Paid maternity leave, recently extended to 15 weeks, and an option for paternal leave.
- Paid bedrest for pregnant women who are not able to continue working for medical reasons.
- Taxes are taken at source, so employees don’t have to expend time and money filing taxes.
- Jewish holidays are nationally celebrated, so employees don’t have to use vacation or unpaid leave days for them.
- An effective start-up incubation system with a huge network of investors, incubators, accelerators and light government involvement dedicated to helping entrepreneurs find funding and guidance to bring ideas to fruition.
- Many employees enjoy free meals through 10bis plans.
- Strong insurance regulations and oversight.
- Income tax back against life insurance policies.
- Inexpensive and high quality phone, cell phone and television plans.
- The pervasiveness of chesed organizations, such as Yad Sarah for medical equipment and Ezer Mitzion for feeding family members in hospitals.
- Organizations which provide free loans and community support to those who are struggling financially.
- Free financial consulting to families in need, through organizations like Paamonim and Mekimi.
- Income tax back against charity receipts.
- Inexpensive education, including religious education and dorm schools.
- Excellent and affordable universities.
- Inexpensive summer camps.
- Extended day options at schools and pre-schools are cheap and allow both parents to work a full day.
Shopping and Food
- No major premium on kosher food products.
- High quality, affordable locally grown produce.
- Healthy fast food, such as falafel or sabich, is available for a low price.
- Coffee for 5 NIS in places like Cofix.
- Discount supermarkets such as Rami Levy, Osher Ad and Hatzi Hinam.
- Relevant groceries go on sale before each Jewish holiday.
- Small, local stores (the makolet) make it easy to buy a few items without traveling far and spending on transportation.
- Sales and discounts are more celebrated than prohibitive brand names.
- Openness in talking about money means that people will announce when they have gotten a good deal and share tips with others.
- Bargaining is a legitimate consumer activity.
- Generous reduced prices and passes for senior citizens.
- A strong second-hand goods market enables people to buy items for a lower price and leads to less wastage.
- Membership cards at large chains gift loyal shoppers with free and discounted items.
- The shuks in Israel are a great source of inexpensive food, clothing and assorted products.
- Purchases made in Eilat are tax-free.
- The Rav Kav reform which took place a few years ago has contributed to the affordable price of public transportation.
- Taxis are both affordable and convenient.
- The fast lane to Tel Aviv cuts down on congestion, encourages carpooling and provides free shuttle buses into the city.
- Free roadside assistance on major highways, by calling *2120.
Entertainment and Leisure
- The National Parks membership makes day trips and vacations less expensive and more enjoyable.
- Beautiful free or low-fee beaches.
- Affordable art and cultural activities.
- Unions and consumer groups offer discounts on museums, theaters, children’s activities, theme parks and more.
- Special deals for large families.
- The culture of engaging with the land through hikes and nature provides for free or inexpensive entertainment for the whole family.
- Subsidized entry to certain sites and attractions on holidays.
- Solar heating makes heating water cheaper during the winter and even free in the summer.And the greatest of them all…
- The Living Financially Smarter in Israel group, where English-speakers can get advice about all things financial from a crowd of over 23,000 people who are dedicated to better understanding and management of their finances. It has been and continues to be a privilege to moderate this group and watch it grow and mature. Thanks to all the members who contributed their ideas to this post!