Originally Published on Matzav
“Frum Man Jumps to His Death Over Finances.”
That headline isn’t a real one – yet. But it may be soon. I am at the verge of either losing my mind or giving up my life as I struggle to support my family. The stress and pressure are unbearable. I earn upwards of $80,000 a year, but with a mishpacha and all the related expenses, there is no way I am able to cover my regular expenses.
Make the calculation: tuition, mortgage payments, car expenses, food bills to the sky, clothes, utilities, camp…
There are another dozen items I can add, and I am sure you can think of some too. What is a person like me supposed to do? How exactly am I supposed to survive while keeping my sanity?
I have a good job, but so what? Am I a Tomchei Shabbos candidate? No one thinks I am.
In the world out there, people say that the middle class always pays the price, because they are ineligible for assistance but don’t make enough money to truly cover their costs. Much of their money goes to taxes, and they struggle maybe even more than those who are classified as “poor.”
In our frum world, the decent-sized mishpacha earning $80,000-$100,000 and paying full tuition, in addition to countless other costs, is in this boat of the middle class. It sounds crazy, but it is true and it’s been said a million times before. The frum breadwinner earning what should be a respectable salary is so far behind balancing his personal budget that it is not even funny. It’s a true crisis.
Just wait till my kids reach shidduchim in a few years. If I didn’t commit suicide by then, that’ll probably be an appropriate time to do so when the bills start hitting my desk.
I am not exaggerating and I am not just writing this to get attention. This is all true.
I know. I know. You’ll tell me to be appreciative for my relatively decent health, healthy children, a wife and all that. But it is hard to appreciate the good things in life when you are sitting and staring at a bank account that is emptying out faster than it fills up. It is hard to smile when you have to tell your 12-year-old kid that he can’t go to the dentist this month even though his tooth is hurting because you don’t have the money for it. It is hard to be happy when your wife is frustrated that you are just not making ends meet no matter how hard you are working and how hard you are trying.
When you see me standing on the ledge, at least have the courtesy to wave.
Losing My Mind
Some of my thoughts: I feel deeply for the situation this man is in, because I grew up in a similar one, however, my father was straight with us – if he couldn’t afford it and he frequently couldn’t and still can’t, he told us, if he needed money he borrowed from us. I feel that many folks don’t have the balls or know how to admit that they are struggling to their children or wives and this causes them to doll out money that just isn’t there.
I noticed that the man mentions camp as one of his expenses, camp is a luxury to me, kids need to run wild and free and they should but, the family cannot afford it to the point that the breadwinner is contemplating suicide, that is just insane. How much must people keep up with their neighbors? The frum community (like any community) is rife with the conflict of keeping up with their neighbors, relatives of mine mortgaged their home over one daughters wedding and then lost their house when the next daughter had to get married – it seems ridiculous – but, when people are contemplating suicide (although I think the letter is just trying to make a point, it’s pretty insane)
Here’s another thing I don’t understand, if you’re contemplating suicide, wouldn’t it be better to just stop being frum. It’s pretty obvious that you would do well without having to fork over obscene amounts of money for a poor yeshiva education and poor quality meats which need 4 hashgachos because one isn’t frum enough anymore.
I don’t really have a solution, I just wish more people would realize the difference between a necessity and a luxury. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it and if you need to have a fancy wedding because everyone else is doing it – you need to get over our insecurities.
Let’s just say this was a non-c0nventional person who had balls:(I am not married and don’t have kids, and don’t feel the pressure to conform, but let’s just think of some quick money saving solutions)
Cutting out meat during the week saves loads of money (frummies would never think of such things)
Camp is a luxury
Have a non-Jewish style wedding with 30 people or just have it in your backyard (people never remember the average frum wedding they are all the same and mostly suck, but if you have a real cheap and fun wedding, it will be remembered)
Buy in bulk
Learn how to coupon (I am going to interview a friend of mine who does this, she spends absolutely nothing on food besides for kosher meat, in fact she makes money every time she goes shopping, all from learning the tricks of the coupon trade, she has it down to such a science that she is starting to give classes on the subject, she has a stockpile of food and store credits just from coupon collecting)
Get rid of your microwave, cooking all of your own food is way cheaper
Buy a used car (I think new cars are a waste of money)
Tell your wife it’s time to work (unless she has small kids at home or kids in shidduchim)
Ways to prevent suicide:
Make aliyah then you’l be just as poor as everyone else
Put your kids in public school, it seems like a better idea than having them grow up with the shame of a father who offed himself, suicide will probably make your kids go off the derech faster than public school
Eat rice, lots of rice
Stop drinking cholov yisroel (trust me Rav Moshe was holier than you)
Hire a meshulach to collect for you – your story is good enough for one of those crumpled pieces of laminate they shove into your face at 11pm at night.
Go off the derech, if you are thinking of suicide, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t really believe in the lord and it seems that all of your problems stem from being orthodox and trying to keep up.
Move out of the New York area, it’s way cheaper and less stressful (the south and southwest are cheapest)