Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Things Cost

Some of you out there may actually be considering moving to Israel, so I thought I'd be Mrs. Super Helpful and give you some idea of what things cost here, so you can, you know, budget correctly.

Ahem.  Here we go.

Things in Israel COST A LOT.

No, no, in all seriousness, let's have some practical lessons.

Thinking in shekel:
First of all, you have to change your mindset from dollars (or Euros, or Yen, or whatever) to shekel.  Right now each dollar nets you about 3.8 shekel.  Do not, please, I beg of you, ask me to explain how this works. My mind cannot handle it.  It's sort of like time differences - I keep having to calculate it in my head and that sometimes hurts.

So, let's say in your mind a kind of cheap thing in the US, like, let's say, a bottle of water, costs $1.  In Israel that would be almost 4 shekel.  But as someone who is used to thinking in dollars, when you look at the number 4 on the item, you don't immediately think, "Oh, 4 shekel, that's not a lot."  No no, instead you think, "Four somethings is a LOT for water."

Getting used to the prices:
Now let's take breakfast cereal.  It is still quite disconcerting for me to go into the supermarket and see the number "22" on the price sticker.  Immediately I divide by 4 and that means the box costs me almost $5.

What you really have to do is stop translating things into dollars and just work from ground zero.  My son in law Elie taught me this trick.  You look at an item that shouldn't cost a lot, like a pack of gum and see what it costs.  Then you use that as your point of reference.  Makes sense, I know, very smart.  Can't do it.

I can't stop my brain from turning the shekel amount into the dollar amount so that I can see if it is a decent price.  When we found out the cost of our car, I found myself saying witty little sayings like, "I could buy  BMW for that much in America." - things like that.

So I really should stop doing that because when I do that calculation, it is NEVER a decent price, it is always more, sometimes twice what I would pay in the US for the item.

Shoes!  Wow. Clothes!  Double wow. You get the idea.

But there are some solutions to this:

1. Deals:  Just like in the US, where every other day Macy's is having some kind of sale (Wednesday sale!  Third Tuesday of the month Sale!), here you have to get savvy about looking for sales.  For example, for the past couple of weeks the whole country has been celebrating books and the bookstores have some amazing deals. Or the supermarkets - if you have a "club card" you get special deals.  For example, the other day at the supermarket I got 5 packages of plastic cups for 10 shekel. Awesome.  Never mind that they are the super cheapo Israeli plastic cups that fall over if you look at them the wrong way. (I actually think it's a feat of Israeli technology that they can make plastic that flimsy.)

2. Live differently:  we are much more cognizant now of what we spend.  We started out with some "extras" and have since decided they weren't worth the cost so we got rid of them.  And you know what?  It is just fine. Really, I mean who needs water anyway.

3.  Learn about the things you are going to have to pay for:  Israelis love fees and clubs.  They love to offer you a club card but somehow often forget to mention the fee, or tell you in very rapid Hebrew, hoping you'll get that "oleh facial expression" that we have been able to perfect - the wide open, blank eyes, the head cocked just a bit, and the mouth hanging open, drool starting to emerge - then they know you won't ask a question.

4. Get some perspective:  Yes, it's a changed way of life, but all in all I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.

So just keep an open mind,  keep your hand on your wallet, and keep your moadon card in your hand and you'll be OK.

Gotta go - the peaches are 1/2 price today!

1 comment:

  1. Everything after #2 is formatted funny, you might want to fix.
    Ditto to the moadon card! I have an all-in-one ATM/credit card but I have 4 supermarket cards in my wallet!