by Baruch Labinsky
Recently I had the opportunity to get away for a little quiet time with the family in a rural setting in Northern Israel. To say that we appreciated the cooler weather and calmer, less manic pace of life, would be an understatement. Taking a vacation has many benefits for your physical and mental health including reducing stress, increasing motivation and avoiding burnout.
But I would like to focus on an additional financial benefit that getting away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life can provide. Taking a break and doing it away from our familiar environment with the associated cues and triggers gives us a chance to think and reset different elements of our lives. This time is especially valuable as it gives us the ability to get our bearings, reevaluate our priorities in life, our relationships with close family friends and with our relationship to Hashem.
The time away from home, when spent in more basic surroundings, also gives us insight into our financial needs and wants – to understand that we can also get by on a lot less than we are used to. We have our homes, our everyday comforts and by every objective standard, even an ordinary person in Western democracies lives in luxury compared to days of yore. So why do we have such a hard time getting by on what we earn? Why have we raised the bar so high that even though we earn good salaries we still don’t have enough? And in the current financial climate where prices are rising, our constant need to maintain our standard of living increases our feeling of struggling to keep up.
Maybe it’s because we get caught up in the busy society around us and are influenced by others without even realizing how much we are affected. We are impacted by those close to us, by our local community and society in general, even when the priorities can still be valid. If our friends are buying sefarim, taking trips, or even paying for that top notch simcha, it doesn’t mean that we can afford it, nor should we feel the need to spend the same way as other people.
When we are out of our environment we often get by on less. Less clothes, less comforts, a simpler lifestyle, and it suffices. The challenge is to try and take that feeling that we can live life more simply, and make an effort to integrate it into the rest of our year. That simplicity, I believe, will help us to learn to live on less and thus feel more financially secure with whatever we have, regardless of the actual amount.
This increased financial security then has the effect of reducing our stress levels and improving our quality of life both emotionally and physically. And isn’t that what we are striving for? Our reality is colored by our perception. Without any change in income, if we feel that we want to simplify our lives and act accordingly, we will suddenly have more savings.
It’s not a coincidence that Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, comes soon after the summer break. The perfect time to reassess where we are and make constructive and potentially life changing decisions is when we are feeling recharged and have clarity of thought. Take the time now at the beginning of the Jewish year to take stock of where you are holding physically, emotionally and financially.
Reset your financial priorities. When you reduce your current needs you will be in the enviable situation of having more disposable income. That then will allow you to save more for rainy days and times when you choose to work less and use your free time as you see fit.
Wishing you a simplified, uplifting and productive New Year. Ketiva vechatima tova.