Sunday, September 10, 2023

Updated Post: Some Money Saving Tips

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This is a repost of an old post with updates - hope you find it helpful.

In trying to help a few friends find ways to reduce their monthly expenses, I discovered a few things that may seem obvious to native Israelis, but for the immigrant (oleh) community, they may not be obvious:

1. If you get hurt or sick and think you need to go to urgent care or the ER, if you're conscious, call your kupat cholim first and get a referral. This will keep your copays and fees to a minimum (there are exceptions. Some ER visits are always fully covered but it's not a long list - see the list here). You might still have a copay (especially for urgent care), but at least you won't be stuck with huge fees. You can also try to see a doctor online via your kupat cholim and save yourself a trip sometimes.

2. You can save money on non-prescription medications by buying them at your kupat cholim pharmacy, and getting a script from your doctor will sometimes save you even more! So if your doctor says you should take a supplement - ask for it to be put in your prescription list. Or, buy supplements from iHerb, where many of them are about 1/3 of the cost of the local options.

3. Negotiate your credit card fees. Often, credit card companies will waive your monthly fee if you ask. Sometimes they'll waive it if you spend a minimum amount on the card - but it's definitely worth asking.

4. Negotiate your bank fees. Instead of paying a fee per transaction, see if you can get your fees waived, or at least pay a small flat rate monthly fee that covers all of your transactions. They call these options a "maslool".

5. Use an app (like Moovit) to pay for public transportation, but be sure to register before you get started. The apps will then calculate your monthly payment based upon the cheapest option. If you travel a lot, you'll likely see a charge for a chofshi chodshi. We have one child who pays less than 50 shekels each month to travel all over the region we live in. And another who travels further, so their bill is for a chofshi chodshi artzi. The advantage to this is if your travel habits change, you'll always just pay the best rate. So one month the one who normally pays for a chofshi chodshi artzi (country-wide pass) stayed local, so they only paid for a regional monthly pass. If you qualify for a discount fare, the app can do that too. Just give it a day or 2 to process your paperwork (you'll need to upload some proof of qualifaction for the discount). If you're a senior citizen and eligible for free public transportation, I believe you must go get a Gold Rav Kav instead of using the app.

6. Renew your passport using the online form, during the winter months. Misrad Hapnim discounts passport fees for people who do this during non-peak season. The online part is just the first step - you'll still need to make an appointment and go in. But this will save you money.

7. If you need to renew your US Passport: you will be required to do so via the mail or dropbox if you are able to do that. If you need an in-person appointment, those slots open up every Wednesday at about 3PM Israel time. Go to the Embassy website for full info. DON'T PAY someone to get you a slot. The embassy advises against using these services. You can get an appointment for FREE.

8. If you're out and about and need a quick snack, buying a single fruit (like a banana/apple/orange) from a makolet is almost always the least expensive option, and will give you a healthy burst of energy to help you get thru your errands so you can eat when you get home. 

9. Always carry a water bottle instead of planning to buy a cold drink while you're out. Best if you freeze your water bottle half full the night before, and fill it as you head out. This, and an insulated holder, will help you stay hydrated!

10. Check which day of the week your local store has "shuk day" and buy your produce that day instead of paying full price on the other days! Often, shuk day will be Tuesday, but sometimes it's Wednesday. The makolet near me has shuk day on Mondays and Thursdays, but they generally only discount a small selection - but it's still convenient.

11. If you're going to a movie, check if you can get a buy 1 get 1 free ticket deal via your credit card! Most credit cards have deals like this - some are available to anyone, others require a minimum spend in the month prior in order to activate it. Just be sure to log into your credit card app and check out the "Hatavot".

12. If you're going out to eat, it's worth checking if you can get a discount. Discount vouchers for restaurants are a great way to live it up without draining your bank account.

13. See if you can earn free things or gift cards from your kupat cholim (healthcare company)! I know Clalit has a fitness app that lets you accrue points to redeem for various prizes, including fitness equipment and giftcards to a variety of places. If you're also on Clalit, and have Mushlam coverage, just click this link from your phone to get it! And be sure to add in referral code JPAJKYK for a sign-up bonus - there's a section called מישוש קוד מתנה where you can put the code in for a 600-point bonus! You have to put the code in the day you activate the app in order to get the bonus.

Hope you found this list helpful! Do you have more tips? I'd LOVE to hear tips you want to add to this list!

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