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Stay Out or Speak Up?

Michal Eisikowitz

“Open your wallet and zip your mouth” is the blunt advice given to new mothers of marrieds. It seems straightforward — until life happens. Married children may be adults, but they’re inexperienced. When you see them making choices you’re sure are leading to disaster, are you meant to remain silent? We presented five common scenarios to seasoned experts. Each offers a valuable direction and perspective.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Financial Free fall

The Mother:

I wish I could enjoy it when my daughter Shani and Co. come for YomTov, but every time they visit, all I can think about is their unsustainable lifestyle. The five brand-name outfits for each child, the new custom sheitel, the array of new toys — practically a toy chest! — acquired for each of the kids eachYomTov. (“The kids need stimulation! I can’t have them making me crazy!”)

Can someone explain to me why four-year-old Shira needs Juicy sweatshirts and two pairs of Vennetini shoes — each season? Why Moishy needs to drive a high-end car? Why Shani can receive only Italian designer jewelry as her “YomTov” gift? Moishy’s in a real starter job; I doubt they can afford all this. They’re probably sliding into debt, and I can’t imagine they’re able to put away money for a down payment or a mortgage. Do they think they’ll be able to stay in that basement apartment forever? Avoid yeshivah tuitions for eternity? Where’s the plan, the common sense? I’m so worried about their financial future.


The Daughter:

My mother thinks we’re nuts, but I grew up with hand-me-downs and secondhand clothing, and I will not make my children endure that. Everyone in our community leases a car, wheels a luxury carriage, gets a new sheitel every two to three years, and buys quality clothing for their kids. It’s not fair to make my kids stand out, to have them look like they’re coming from the poorhouse!

I know firsthand what it feels like, being the “nebach” kids in town. True, my parents didn’t have much money, but even when their financial situation perked up, they remained ridiculously frugal: my mother still busy with her clothing gemachs, my father still driving his beyond-yeshivish car. What’s the point of money if you can’t enjoy it a little? It’s not okay to look frumpy. Plus, I work in a very professional environment. I don’t even have a choice — I have to look good.

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