A Jewish lifestyle comes along with a lot of extra expenses. But there’s a financial plus side to the Jewish lifestyle, and with careful attention, budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated.

Jewish Finances and Making a Parnassah

Living a Jewish lifestyle brings a lot of expenses along with it. Some of these expenses are used to fund budget items that are real priorities, like tuition for Jewish schools. Other expenses pay for celebration of Jewish occasions, such as food for Shabbat and holidays, or the many Jewish life milestones.

These expenses are often multiplied a couple of times over, since many Jewish households include more children than the average household. 

In addition to the extra costs for many basics, there may also be a higher standard of living that Jewish people opt for. Many Jews live in dominantly Jewish communities, with a diversity of people from many economic levels, including very wealthy people. The standard of living and of simchas (milestone celebrations) often goes up. This social pressure often raises the standards, creating parnassah problems even for people whose income is middle-class.

A Deeper Look at Parnassah Problems

Sometimes, Jewish budgeting for lifestyle finances doesn’t seem to add up on paper. The average median household income in the U.S. is $60,000 a year, as measured by the Social Security Administration in 2021. Although that may seem low for the general population, for a Jewish budgeting household, it’s nowhere near enough. Experts estimate that an average Jewish Orthodox household needs to earn in the area of $150,000 a year to cover their expenses, more than double the norm.


However, these overwhelming expenses in Jewish budgeting don’t need to seem impossible. Impossible has never been a word that relates to the Jewish people. Jewish tradition teaches that the Jewish nation is above mazel, or luck. This means that even when the laws of nature state that something is statistically or logically impossible, Hashem makes it possible for us.


Just as Hashem has made it possible for us to survive as Jews, Hashem can give us all the money we need to fund a Jewish life. To gain more insight about trusting Hashem for parnassah, see here.

The Financial Plus Side of a Jewish Lifestyle

There are many Jewish organizations that help Jewish people with their finances. There are organizations and businesses

servicing those looking for a job, as well as for those seeking to open a business. And there are organizations that offer services

like financial planning and budgeting help.


If you’re looking for a job but need more education in marketplace skills, there are many options in the Jewish world. Living in a Jewish community may give you some local options to look into, but there are also online education courses tailored for the Jewish community.


Some offer short courses that quickly teach you marketable skills, while others provide certification in industries such as bookkeeping. You can take advantage of Jewish platforms or the Jewish Agudah’s offerings through PCS and Cope Institute. Agudah also offers job placement and counseling. And another Jewish resource for those looking for a job is Parnassah Anchor, a resource that helps guide job applicants to job placement.


Entrepreneurship is a growing culture within the frum Orthodox Jewish community. Being a successful entrepreneur, according to some studies, means an income 50% higher than a traditional employee. As living costs for the Orthodox community goes up, branching out as an entrepreneur helps you supplement your growing needs.


If you are a potential entrepreneur, there are many Jewish organizations that can help you get started in business. Look for a local interest-free loan, often called a gemach, which can give you the financing you need to get started in business. You may qualify for a loan of $25,000 from societies like the Hebrew Free Loan Society, or the EPI Business Loan program. Loan societies can often offer interest-free loans for business growth as well.


Another Jewish entrepreneur resource is called simply The Jewish Entrepreneur, and their main service is matching up small business owners with mentors. These mentors help an aspiring entrepreneur build a flourishing business through helpful advice.


With all these resources to help someone with parnassah problems, it’s easy to see the plus side to Jewish finances. But even without formal organizational help, the frum Jewish community supports each other financially through tzedakah (charity), and through informally helping each other in business.


Although a Jewish lifestyle in a Jewish community may be more expensive and on a higher standard, there is also a financial plus to being part of the Jewish community. It’s a strong network that offers support in multiple ways, with real financial benefits. Having a strong network can help you find jobs, and connect to potential business clients. It might mean finding the perfect career mentor in your community, getting advice and answers when you need it, as well as serving as a financial safety net in times of challenge.

How to Improve Parnassah

The most important form of hishtadlus for parnassah is tefillah (prayer). Parnassah prayers are a legitimate form of hishtadlus, and should be said every day, whether in formal prayer or in your own words.

Aside from prayer, there are two forms of hishtadlus to consider if you are looking to balance a Jewish budget: increase your income, or decrease your expenses. Both of these strategies can be utilized by anyone to improve their parnassah.

Some organizations offer financial planning that is specifically tailored to the Jewish community’s needs. Mesila provides affordable coaching for households to create a budget that makes sense even for struggling families, and is specifically designed for Jewish budgeting needs.

Even without expert help, you can begin to create a financial plan by sitting down and making a list of your monthly income and a list of your recurring expenses. Then, see how you can increase the income side of the list and decrease the expenses side of the list. For each idea you come up with, create a doable goal and a deadline by which you’ll have achieved this goal, moving you closer to the ultimate goal of balancing your budget.


Here are some general ideas for ways to help balance your budget.

Ideas That Can Help to Increase Your Income

As a business owner, you can use the following tips to increase your revenue:

  • Invest in marketing with a proven solid ROI
  • Work on free or cheap customer retention tactics, through e-newsletters or social media updates to your customer base
  • Introduce new products or services
  • Reach out to a new market
  • Switch to cheaper vendors
As an employed worker, you can also work to increase your income:
  • Invest in education to become a more valuable employee
  • Request a raise based on contributing value to the company
  • Actively look for higher paying positions as your experience level increases

Ideas That Can Help to Decrease Your Expenses

These are tips you can use to decrease the expenses side of your budget for a large family, which is typical for Jewish budgeting.

  • Move to a cheaper neighborhood
  • Apply for scholarships, tuition assistance, or legal tax breaks for tuition
  • Save on food expenses by skipping takeout and keeping meals simple
  • Join a carpool to save on gas expenses
  • Try handing down clothing, toys, or other child needs
  • Use credit card points for vacations, or plan economical getaways
  • Save on utility costs by switching to efficient energy options and reducing use
By budgeting smartly, we do our hishtadlus to ensure that we can cover our expenses. 

Reasons for Parnassah Problems

Once we’ve done our best to balance our budget properly, and to plan for financial health, it’s  important to remember that parnassah struggles are given to us in the context of our larger life goal. Sometimes, Hashem decrees that we have a difficult time making ends meet because that very struggle will help us fulfill our mission in life.


Having a hard time financially can make us into more humble people, and force us to realize that we must rely on Hashem for everything. Building our bitachon in this way is a valuable outcome of such a struggle. It’s actually the best way to overcome the difficulty and create a situation where we no longer need that specific hardship in our lives.


No matter what our finances look like at any given moment, we can always work on our reliance on Hashem and our recognition that ultimately He is the One in charge of parnassah. This recognition becomes the conduit for us to merit a flow of wealth and blessing into our lives.


One way to tangibly acknowledge Hashem’s control of our finances is the mitzvah (commandment) of maaser (giving a tenth of our income to charity.) The Torah tells us, “Aser bishvil shetisasher,” if we give a tenth of our income to charity, we will see wealth. Through fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedakah, which shows that we realize we are not in sole control of our wealth, we merit to see even more wealth.


This is the true way to successfully pass any test in parnassah: through the realization that ultimately Hashem is in control of our finances. This realization is the merit that brings abundance of Bracha into our lives.


To fulfill the mitzvah of maaser through donating to RMBH Charities, you can donate to the worthy causes that RMBH supports, including donating for poor families in Israel, or helping a poor bride get married. Any cause that supports the poverty-stricken is a wonderful fulfillment of the obligation of maaser and tzedakah. This kind of donation brings you merit and bountiful rewards.

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