Sharon Levin

A New Year’s resolution for smart consumers

Will we manage to save any money this year?

No doubt this question comes to mind when virtually everything is costing more and there is still talk of climbing prices.

Most of us have resolutions upon entering the Jewish new year, some likely to address family spending. For that reason, I have rounded up a few ideas to help cut back on expenses, take ownership of your money matters and still save:

Negotiate– When dealing with banks, don’t take interest rates or service charges as a done deal. We Israeli’s love to bargain and this is an extremely common practice. Use the same technique at your bank. You’ll be surprised just how much you may save.

Read the small print –Does the purchase include delivery? Is the discount only valid on specified dates, is it only for club members, is it conditional on spending a particular amount, or if purchased with other items? Always inspect the returns policy. Likewise, check government sites to determine eligibility for further savings and be sure to explore pension and insurance plans to ensure funds are adequately managed, and match current status.

Compare –Calculate how much you spend on weekly groceries. Compare prices by purchasing elsewhere. Non-branded items are typically cheaper (without compromising on quality), as are items displayed on lower or higher shelves. To help determine price variation compare items by equal quantity.

Check the simple math –Is the sale totally worthwhile? Sales signs are extremely tempting, especially when proposing free gifts. Make a habit to check receipts, bank and credit card statements to ensure you haven’t been overcharged. Do you really need the items on sale, or a second item for half price?

Recycle –Sustainability is the name of the game. Re-use furniture, buy second-hand and use hand-me-downs. A recycled picnic set will last many family vacations. Earn and save by recycling bottles, selling unwanted items online, hosting a garage sale or clothes-swapping event, all good for the planet and our wallet.

Exercising Rights– Proactively invest time in dealing with bureaucracy. If applicable claim for end of fiscal year entitlements from Israel Tax Authorities or National Insurance. Check whether are eligible to claim for authorized care.

Buy less –Many of us buy far more food, clothes and shoes than needed. Did you know that approx. 30% of food we buy goes to waste? We should consume only essentials and not have to dispose of expired or rotten goods. Be attentive to spontaneous spending’s often bought impulsively, or as means to make ourselves feel better.

The objective is to reduce consumption, find the best deals and be at peace with our choices. A smart consumer learns what works best and improves with practice.      For more ideas, consumer tips, and money management tools visit Paamonim’s website.

About the Author
Sharon Levin has an M.A. in Public Policy and is a certified Group Facilitator. She has worked for Paamonim since 2009, lead roles include Regional Director responsible for Paamonim's volunteers who provide free one-on-one financial counseling. As Director of Group Activities, she headed the establishment of Paamonim College for Financial Education, offering courses, programs, and lectures teaching financial fundamentals to participants, all geared towards helping people acquire financial education for better living.