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Can’t Make Ends Meet

Can’t Make Ends Meet

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Dear Rachel,

I don’t know if you can help me, but we are having so many problems that I’m seriously overwhelmed. My husband takes a detour to catch the bus to work to avoid going by the grocery store where we’ve run up a colossal food bill, which we can barely make a dent in. We’re three months late on tuition payments for each of our children’s schools. I am seriously overwhelmedWe both work full-time and live modestly, but it’s just not enough. We’ve had notices from the bank about our late mortgage payments twice this year, and I don’t even have money to buy a new dress for my niece’s wedding. I’m constantly tense and I feel like I can’t breathe. What can I do?

Over My Head


Dear Over,

First of all, definitely breathe! What you’re experiencing is something many people today are facing, unfortunately—but that’s small comfort, I know.

You say you have “so many problems,” but it seems like you have only one problem—not enough money—althoughMoney is very fluid this one problem manifests in many different ways. And it appears that you have many blessings in your life, thank G‑d—a husband, jobs for both of you, healthy children learning in good schools, your own home, family, weddings. That’s a lot to be grateful for! Focus on what you do have, and this will give you some perspective and restore your life’s joy.

G‑d commands us to be happy. But how can we be commanded to feel happy when we’re going through difficulties? The answer is that most of our misery doesn’t come from our circumstances, but from the meaning we attribute to them. If you’re having money problems, you may think you’ve failed in some way—and you haven’t, because money comes from G‑d. He decides how much each person will receive and when they will receive it. As long as you’re making reasonable efforts to earn your livelihood (and it sounds like you are), then you’re creating a conduit for G‑d to supply you with your needs.

Earning a livelihood should also not be some form of drudgery. We need to use our G‑d-given talents in the world and find joy in what we do. Doing this will also increase the flow of abundance to us.

Money is very fluid. It moves from one person to another as the wheel of fortune turns. Although you might be financially strapped right now, you may find that very soon you will be blessed with more financial success. The fact that you’re currently in a rut doesn’t mean you will always be there. If you thought you would win the lottery tomorrow, you wouldn’t be anxious, would you? G‑d can bring you wealth at a moment’s notice, and putting your needs in His hands is better than buying a lottery ticket.

Having said that, each one of us has an area in our lives that we seem to constantly have to work on, a “theme” problem. G‑d gives us this challengeG‑d can bring you wealth at a moment’s notice to help us grow, just as G‑d tested the patriarchs and matriarchs because He wanted them to discover their spiritual strengths.

In the great school of life, your money problems are your “major.” But your test isn’t how you balance your budget. It’s how you work on things like gratitude, integrity, faith, kindness and generosity, despite all your financial pressures. And G‑d believes you can succeed, the same way a professor creates tests knowing his students can pass them.

Realizing it’s all a test makes it easier to sit the class.

May you merit the honor roll and have much success!

Rachel

Rosally Saltsman is a freelance writer originally from Montreal living in Israel.
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Lisa Koffler Providence, RI July 28, 2015

Serious Money Problems This is NOT a problem you and your husband can solve yourselves. You'll need financial counseling and even look for higher-paying jobs. Reply

Raymond Bastarache Canada September 17, 2014

Money is very fluid...runs through our fingers......then...... gone! Love your article? Rosally ..third comment?

My lovely niece ran up a big bill at Sears outlet on credit? Mom , don't worry! G-d going to pay it! I have Faith..... well, guess what? G-d didn't. first month, second month, third month....oh! now the interest on the first bill was showing nearly 30%.. added on ...? the second monthly bill ? growing interest? and so on to the third? Wow! she taught "my faith must be small "? G-d is no where to be had? so the end result? her mother agreed to pay off the huge debt to save further interest? on the condition her daughter would pay monthly to her mom till the debt is paid in full.. where did she go wrong? she took G-d presumptuously(for granted) that He would pay her bills. "Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy G-d."....you made the bills you pay the bills! it is that simple...it wasn't a "need" but a "want" to obtain it upon her own lust..... isn't this the case of most of us, as humans? I have also learned this lesson the hard way....Shalom. Reply

Raymond Bastarache Canada September 17, 2014

make ends meet.... Yes, I believe God can supply us with all needs ,wants desires ..but often it is with His help and strength.....,food and clothing(heat) for our bodies are all are needed to survive ..all else are "Blessings" richly to enjoy from our Creator. Now, he did provide us with hands, feet, mouth for to speak for our living. For an example: I have an electric guitar , and I would like the sound to come out my electric amplifier.. tell me now "is G-d" going to plug in that cord for me? so I can play? I should say not! He gave us a brain, hands and feet to go and do it ourselves.. I will go and plug it.. into the electric socket on the wall . Like the old saying :G-d helps those who help themselves. I will say this. I should pray for direction and when G-d tells me "Go To" certain place or do a certain thing I should obey and do it.. yet ,all the glory should be to HIM for answering me. (Psalms 77:1) I cried unto G-d with my voice, even unto G-d with my voice; and He gave ear unto me. Shalom Reply

Leah Oak Park September 17, 2014

new dress is the easiest part of the issue to address I agree with Robin that buying a new dress may not be the economically feasible solution and that of all the problems that the letter writer addresses, the clothing issue may be the easiest to solve. Lots of women would loan a dress to a friend and some thrift stores have beautiful dresses. If she lives in the NY area, she should check out the Sloan Kettering Memorial thrift store. They have upscale items for a great price. Reply

robyn kissimmee September 16, 2014

practical help all very nice but if you do not avail yourself of the help out there you are not letting G-d help you. maybe the house can be refinanced. maybe there is a public program [SNAP] that will help with the food bills. maybe they can apply for a scholarship for the kids. maybe they can get utility bill help by calling the utility company. as for a new dress, that would be great and lift her spirits, perhaps she can get a 'new old' dress from the clearance rack or from a friend. keep yourself open to new ideas, it will get better. Reply

Lisa Long Beach, CA September 14, 2014

miracles come Sometimes miracles come because of attitude and gratefulness kept before G-d regardless how extreme the situation is. It's so easy to go cursing and get revengeful at a wrong done to you. And you have every right to be so angry, to be so bitter and to lose all hope. And yet G-d will never leave you or forsake you, HE made that promise. HE is not a liar. And I do believe HE takes care of all needs, wants, and desires as well. I don't believe in limited G-d by my own reasoning. HE is far too vast for that. HE is Ein Sof! One has to make time with G-d to see Him in all things and situations. Reply

Anonymous September 12, 2014

This is EXCELLENT! Thank you so much for posting this! Reply

Anonymous Earlysville VA September 11, 2014

Perhaps the Kosher on a budget blog would be helpful? Reply

Mary September 11, 2014

Miracles come.. There is a real difference between short and lack. I've been in many a pickle and I've been short but never in lack. Let me explain. A girl my son was living with came to my house and she stole my house payment. I didn't know what I was going to do. It seemed like short was falling into lack. I couldn't make my house payment that month, but right before the end of the month I got paid and made the payment. This went on for around eleven months, there was nothing I could do but pay the late payment every month. Then I got a call from the mortgage company and they asked if I wanted to refinance my house with no upfront cost, no inspection, nothing, and oh yea they'd lower my interest too. I said yes of course and poof I was no longer late. It was indeed a miracle. it isn't that God doesn't know or that He doesn't understand, but He wants us to know and understand that this too is for our good. There have been many miracles since then and sometimes I'm still short but never in lack. Reply

Elizabeth Boyd September 11, 2014

Praise HaShem for this message. I needed to read this as we have been struggling in this area for some time as well. We too have many things to be thankful for and can forget to think on them. It is important to make plans, access the situation as well. More important is to thank Hashem for His supply in all things. Reply

Raymond Bastarache Canada September 11, 2014

be encouraged..debt free..yet making a lower income? G-d will meet your needs not your wants....like everything else you have to work at it. I, with G-d's grace...tackled the smallest debt first and foremost, that encouraged me to pay off the next and so on.........downsized in living accommodation...we are now renting. We buy most of our clothes at a thrift second hand outlet, only on special occasion do we buy new, such as our daughter's private school uniforms. Everyone pitches in. My wife work's part time and yet always volunteers for the work of G-d. My daughter babysits. I work at sales, part time. We make under 20k per year....15% go for our daughter's private Christian school plus 100.00 a month for her computer's rental at school and another 100.00 for internet at home plus field trips money on and on it goes. Yet we do not owe anybody we live within our means and are 100% percent a happy family. All the other comments were good advice....every case is a little different, but if you make it a priority, you'll succeed... Shalom Reply

Anonymous September 9, 2014

Can't make ends meet The questioner may need much more help than this, but it does help to set goals/budget in each area of your household spending and have an idea of where the money is going and what you can and can't spend each week. Some Governments have a budgeting website where you can download the forms to help you calculate this easily. It is amazing how much money we lose cumulatively , e.g on that coffee we buy daily or when we go to grocery stores without a weekly list/menu plan. Trimming down on unplanned spending can be the first step.
But I also agree that the other side (spiritual) is necessary too, because things like perseverance, self restraint and gratitude, and watchfulness does help us in managing our finances too. I hope it all works out for this family. Reply

Barry Solomon Redondo Beach, CA via jccmb.com September 9, 2014

Having enough money I worked 55 years and am not close to 80
I cam from a family where we had enough money
but still I never saw the full picture.

Now I am doing better in retirement actually and do not have to work

Living today and paying for everything is not a challenge
but a problem. And there are solutions including friends who not only are
knowledgeable but willing to help. I suspect this individual has not " maxed out"
those who can help in many ways aside from areas religious Reply

Kathy Akron OH September 9, 2014

More ideas The rabbi helps with awesome spiritual advice; we commenters are pitching in with some practical tips. Please consider the aforementioned suggestions, esp. The one about school tuition. Here's more:

Food is a major budget buster, and most people can save a ton (and yes, those keeping Kosher, too) , freeing up over a $100 (seriously) a month. Check these blogs: Kosher on a Budget, The Prudent Homemaker, Coupon Mom.

Can you occasionally babysit in your home on Sunday or an evening? Your kids can provide the entertainment!

Consignment stores can be amazing sources of good clothes. Don't be too proud - when I complimented one of the pillars of our shul on her outfit and asked where she got it - she smilled and said a consignment store.

Best of luck Reply

Michele AR September 8, 2014

Oh My! Miss Over needs both, Rachel's encouragement and some practical advice. I'm a AVP/Mortgage Loan Originator with a bank. Please find a loan officer that you can talk to and they may be able to help you get your mortgage modified or refinanced to lower your payments. If that's not an option, sell the house! It's better than going into default which can have long term ramifications. The same with your other debt...get some advice and help from an expert. I do FREE credit counseling with clients all the time. You don't need to pay for that service. Just keep asking around and find someone who is willing to use their expertise to help you. I consider that my gift from G-d and I am so happy to share. You can get through this with prayer and some practical assistance. May G-d bless your family. Reply

Leah Oak Park September 8, 2014

not so sure that she was looking for solutions she may have been looking for a new frame of mind Reply

Anonymous Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel September 8, 2014

I agree with the first writer, who gave good, sound advice. Sometimes when you're stressed out it's hard to see the forest from the trees. The spiritual side is nice too, but this lady needs to get into a better position financially! Reply

Daniel Masri Modiin September 8, 2014

Low Hanging fruit Begin with the Low Hanging fruit. Tuition...Explain ...they will NOT dismiss your children unless they have been seeking cause.Next MTG.. bank does not want your home back!!! Upon resolve immediately pay down the grocer!!! Show actual effort..Reward will follow.. I know!!! Reply

Anonymous September 8, 2014

Real solutions not platitudes If you are in debt, your mortgage is in default and your tuition is too much here is real advice:
1. Rent a smaller place. No where does it say you have to own a house and have a huge mortgage. Renting has many advantages over ownership for the frum family. You can always upgrade if things get better but living smaller is always more affordable. Once our family downsized from a larger home to a smaller apt for example, our ac bill dropped by &300 per month.
2. Consider homeschooling your kids for secular studies or both for 1 year to rebuild your finances.
3. Stop avoiding your grocer. Meet with him and discuss a payment plan and at the same time use community tomchei Shabbes programs for food. Research food banks and consider volunteering for school tuition credit.
4. Realize that gemachs and many other community services are not for 'other people', they are for anyone who needs them!

Good luck and don't be ashamed or embarrassed to live outside the status quo box! Reply

Anonymous mi September 7, 2014

to crying out loud I dont think so. If she was looking for advice for the bank or the store she would turn to a consultant. If she came here that means she came for the warm words that were given to her in the answer. That's what rabbis are for. And warm words DO help! they give you the courage to move on by yourself. Reply

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