Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Buy, or Not To Buy

To preface this post, I would like to say that thank G-d, I have a good income, and I live in a neighborhood that is far from being 'poor', with most families able to support themselves.

Luxuries, wants, and needs are very different here than anywhere I've lived before. ProfK speaks all the time about what our wants and needs should be, and how to explain fiscal economics to even young children (phenomenal post- thanks!), and she's right. There are major differences between these two things, and how to achieve the balance, without running into debt, is what the American public as a whole is struggling with.

But in Israel- it seems there is a different standard. With so much coming from the country itself- health care, transportation, child support, schooling- there are less major expenses to pay here. So people live on a different standard- they get paid less as well, because there isn't such a high standard of living. And people are OK with that.

I'm not saying that there aren't people living in the red. I'm also not saying that there are people who are making excellent livings here as well (try dealing with real estate agents!) .

So the idea of luxuries, wants, and needs falls slightly lower than America.
A car- that's a want, or a luxury, not a need- since in most places there is adequate bus transportation. After school activities- usually a want, sometimes a need, since the children get out of school between 1-3.
Designer clothing- luxury. American clothing- luxury. And basics- toys for the kids, a 10 speed bike, even Kellogg's cornflakes instead of the Israeli brand- all could become wants, instead of needs. Cleaning lady- definitely a luxury.

I almost get ashamed when I walk into the grocery store and pick up a 14 shekel bottle of Shoko. How many families in my neighborhood would stare at it, and just walk past- because it's a want not a need? Plenty.

Saving money by folding down a stroller on the bus- 5 shekel. That 5 shekel could be used to buy 5 lebens for your 5 kids. So- paying it to the bus company- luxury.

And you know- the kids are happy here, despite having less. Their parents budget adequately, shower the kids with love and affection instead of toys or games, and all seems to run happily.

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