Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Making It

Chaia Frishman

In a monthly series, Mishpacha speaks to real people in our communities who are struggling — and succeeding — to “make it.” Learn their strategies, secrets, fears, and dreams as they share the wealth of their hard-earned experience

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

making

Photo: Shutterstock

It seemed like only yesterday that they began their lives and began to raise their families. Yet soon enough, the day finally came when they were liberated from tuition, high grocery bills, and co-payments for more pediatrician visits than they could count. How odd to be responsible for only two. Or are they? Meet three couples who prove that parenting doesn’t end just because everyone flew the coop. 

While everyone goes through different stages in life, I never realized that life could also have sub-stages. Sure, childhood, adolescence, and marriage follow a projected trajectory. But when more than one marriage is thrown into the loop, the results are more unpredictable. 

When I got married for the first time, my husband and I were living simply on a small stipend in graduate-school housing. By the time we had three kids, we were both working, lucky not to have any loans to repay at that point. We made aliyah right after graduate school and rented out our house. When living in Israel didn’t work out, we came back to find out that all our belongings were stolen by our tenant and we literally had to refurnish our life from scratch, in more ways than one. We got divorced soon after. 

Life didn’t get easier after that: My second marriage dissolved quickly, although, luckily, my finances remained intact. 

Then, 22 years ago, I met my soul mate. Keith was devoted to taking care of me while I took care of my children. Today I’m a freelancer but then I worked as a bookkeeper until my last kid graduated. I paid every college tuition on my own and then got a job working for Keith in his plumbing supplies business. 

At that point we had one joint account where we put all our investments and another joint account for bills. I still kept a separate account to use to buy gifts for my kids and for “mad money.” To this day, while Keith loves my kids and buys them things (and my grandchildren call him Grandpa), I like to use my own money to spoil them — especially since we have such different spending styles. It’s just easier not to consult with him on every purchase. For example, I think a birthday gift for a grandchild should cost about $50, while he would be happy if I just bought a token item for $10. 

We never supported our kids once they got married, but gave them a nice stipend for two years until they got on their feet. If we went for Yom Tov, we would pitch in a few hundred dollars to pay for food. We were also always available to lend them money, even going as far as to forgiving a loan, especially when it was for tuition for their children.

Photo: Shutterstock

At one point we were on the verge of retiring. Keith is a fabulous money manager and the money from the sale of his plumbing supplies business went straight into our investment portfolio. 

At that point, he paid a certain amount for his mother’s eldercare so that she would always be well cared for. He needed to commit $100,000 for her to get the best care before Medicare kicked in, and I asked him whether that amount of money would make a difference to our future. Baruch Hashem, at that point it didn’t make a difference, so we paid. We were in a great place financially. We traveled a lot — kosher cruises, months in Israel, Pesach at Gateways — and enjoyed the prospect of a beautiful retirement. 

That is until the day we joined many other Americans in discovering that our retirement funds weren’t as secure as we had hoped. The call came Erev Shabbos. 

We always had a nice nest egg earning a great return. Our financial advisor was a close friend who we trusted implicitly. 

And unfortunately, he also trusted Bernie Madoff. The Ponzi scheme that robbed so many people took a huge bite out of our comfort zone. Our advisor had given a bulk of our retirement money to another investment company, which in turn gave it to Madoff to invest. 

I have to say that Keith was amazingly calm. Till then, he would frequently check online to see what his net worth was for that day. After that, he had one mantra. 

“This is Hashem’s way of saying ‘you will get what you are supposed to get.’ ”

Related Stories

Making It: Self-Supporting Singles

Chaia Frishman

Not everyone is given a “cookie cutter, one-life-fits-all” plan. These self-supporting singles inspi...

“Dream Business” Nightmare

Naomi Elbinger

Don’t let dollars and cents kill your passion

Castles in the Air

Rachel Bachrach

A skyscraper and your dream house all start with the right design

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you