Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where Does That Item Get Budgeted?

ProfK has a post up called Delineating the Costs of Pesach which reminded me about a topic I wanted to address. A lot of people talk about just how much Pesach costs, but I see a lot of the costs less as costs of the yom tov, and more issues of timing or distribution.

In my opinion, just because you are spending the money during the Pesach season, doesn't make the cost a Pesach cost. A few examples, in the weeks before I Pesach I will drop large amounts of money on grape juice. We use Kedem Grape Juice year round. I can get the grape juice at over 50% retail cost right now, so I will buy for many months to come. My March or April grocery budget might be a bit large, but I will buy enough to help us make it through a minimum of 6 months. The Pesach cost is only a sliver of the cost. Another cost people site is the cost of cleaning your rugs. Now most people get their rugs cleaned from time to time, but there are people who like to clean their rugs annually (like my non-Jewish neighbor who seemed to perform this task, well, right about now!). A vacuum should suffice for getting the chometz off your rugs, but if you so choose to clean the rugs prior to Pesach, I don't think it is fair to blame Pesach for the cost of the rug cleaning. You could have your rugs cleaned prior to Rosh Hashana, which is, in fact my plan because we have some more pressing yard work. Hair cuts are another example that people site. I will be paying for a haircut this coming week, but it isn't a Pesach cost. Had I cut my hair two months ago, I wouldn't bother. But if I plan to make it through the omer without a large headache, I need to get a trim. Detailing the car is another example. Some people like their car upholstery fresh, but this too could be done earlier and a simple vacuum job would suffice pre-Pesach.

So long as a family has ample reserves to cover a month of inflated costs, I see no reason not to send a closet full of clothing to the cleaners, hire a rug cleaning service and someone to detail the car, and take the whole family to the salon/barber shop. Going into Pesach there is a certain momentum. But, just because you are spending the money between Purim and Pesach doesn't make it a Pesach cost.

As for distribution of costs, the family that joins their parents/children/siblings for Seder should be saving a good deal of groceries, whereas the hosts will often end up spending a good deal more. I do think it is perfectly reasonable for families that find hosting to be an expenditure that is too much to bite off to ask their family members to join them to share in some of the expense, be it bringing their own wine and matzah or putting their name on a chore chart so that extra cleaning help need not be hired.


Anonymous said...

My guess would be that the vast majority of Ortho households in the US are spending between 700 - 2500 exta for pesach.

This would be above what it normally would cost during this time if these were regular days.

Anonymous said...

To your last paragraph: my wonderful parents, who join us for the first days of yom tov, buy many of our nonperishables and refuse reimbursement. I appreciate the financial savings, but I appreciate the time savings even more.

Critically Observant Jew said...

Which brings me to the topic of local yeshiva/bochurim cleaning cars for Pesach. There's a very big difference between "Chametz-free" and "Detailing" that some car detailing places do.

ProfK said...

Thanks for the link SL.

RTJ said...

What's the problem? We have a line item for "Religious Expenses".

After all, it's not just Pesach. There's sukkah expenses and arba minim on Sukkos, oil/wicks/etc. for Chanukah, mishloach manos/costumes for Purim and tzitzis, yarmulkas, black hats, mezuzah/tefillin checking all year round (not to mention tefillin buying at bar mitzvah time).

rosie said...

I paid $129 today for a sewer service to clear the plumbing in advance of the extra use that occurs during Pesach when the family is home and the diet is different. Most homes in my neighborhood have plumbing difficulties on Pesach due to tree roots because the city planted trees on the tree lawns years ago that develop lots of twisted roots. These roots block sewers and when Pesach comes with the extra people and water use and toilet use, there are lots of back-ups. I also bought industrial toilet paper because tissues and soft toilet tissue does not dissolve and cannot be used in the quantity that having the family home for Pesach entails. The plumber's office advised telling family members about a courtesy flush (flushing several times while using the bathroom) to avoid stuffed toilets. All this is an added expense indirectly related to Pesach.

miriamp said...

The living room carpet can just be vacuumed, but our house came with carpeting in the dining room (NOT my idea, but less expensive to just leave it) and I'm sure we were told that our upholstered chairs (that we sit on to eat) and the carpet in the dining room all need to be shampooed to be considered Kasher L'Pesach. I have little kids and even adults have been known to drop a fork on the floor, so this is a real issue.

We do have a carpet shampooer, so we'll either use that or have it done professionally (I'm leaning towards doing it ourselves this year, but it takes us much longer than it takes the professionals) -- but either way, it is actually a Pesach requirement for us.

Otherwise, I have to agree -- we have a YomTov: Groceries line item in the budget, and we try to break down what we're buying so that only what we plan to actually use on Pesach goes in that way instead of as normal Groceries.

Orthonomics said...

Miriam-I don't know what bozo thought it a good idea to put carpet in the dining room. We have removed carpet before. I you have hardwood flooring underneath it is worth doing and not terribly difficult. But, you have to get the little ones out of the house because there are lots of nails to pull up and, while they might want to help, this isn't a matter of letting them stir a brownie mix. I've never installed the strip between the carpet and the rug, but I can't imagine it is too hard.

Shoshana Z. said...

When we signed a new lease last fall, we negotiated a free carpet clean from them. Saved the coupon until now and will enjoy clean carpets for Pesach.

In terms of saving, our budget is too tight to fit in a lot of the things wanted/required on yom tov. So last spring, my husband took a job as mashgiach once Shabbos each month in our local senior care center. He also ramped up his work with private psychotherapy clients. This was hard for him as he already works 40 hours each week. But he did what it took and we now have a nice yom tov account with a small savings cushion that we never had before. Bottom line: whatever we want in this life will have to be earned (usually!) so we have to decide what we are willing to do in order to make it happen.