Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Tips to avoid getting scammed

Have you gotten an email or text about "an order" of yours that's waiting for payment of some trivial amount? Or that has to clear customes?

Maybe you've received a text message telling you that your account is in danger of suspension and you must verify your details? Or maybe an email asking you to click a link?

Or one of the many other messages that people are getting out there?

scam texts I've received


BE CAREFUL. Many Israelis are getting scammed and find their credit cards compromised after clicking one of these messages!

How can you tell if that message is a scam/phishing message? Here are some tips:


Spelling mistakes in the URL - don't click! 

Look carefully at the picture above with screenshots of actual text messages I've received - that link that is supposedly from Israel Post is from "Israeilpost.com" - which is NOT the Israel Post URL!


Don't trust short links or unofficial-looking links:

Always go through official websites when you need customer service, tech support, or to authorize changes to your account. This applies to your bank, credit cards, postal services, and even websites you shop on. Look in the picture above - at least one link is "tinyurl" link, another is a "rebrand.ly" link. Big Red Flag.
 

Verify links first:

Legitimate websites use the url you know for that site. The post office does not send out short links! Neither does your bank. When in doubt, go directly to the website (or app) you think the message came from, and log in on your own. A legitimate request will show up when you log in. If you got a text message telling you to pay a customs fee, but you can't see the fee and information about it when you track your package, it's a scam. Same goes for resetting your bank account password. If you log in to your account and there's no message there, the text/email you got was almost certainly a scam!

Urgent messages should make you wary:

Scammers will often try to get you to act quickly. They'll tell you that you must pay within X number of hours, or that your account will be closed in X amount of time if you don't act quickly. If they manage to make you feel panicked, you're more likely to give out sensitive information. So always take the time to double and triple check before you click on that link or agree to reset your account. If the message seems out of the blue AND urgent, be wary! See the picture above - one of the messages says that your package will be returned to sender if you don't pay! If you really owe taxes, this won't be the way you get this message.

Same goes for phone calls!
If someone calls you and urges you to pay a fee over the phone with your credit card, even if they seem to know who you are, don't pay! Call the number you have for the contact person you work with at that company (it's often an insurance scam, so call your insurance agent, or whichever company they claim to be from) and speak with them directly so you know you're speaking to a legitimate person and not a scammer.

A friend called asking you to wire money because they're stuck overseas without money? 
Phone numbers and voices can be cloned. If your friend is truly overseas and stuck, chances are they won't be calling you. If you're concerned about a friend overseas and you can't reach them when you call them, you can get in touch with the embassy in that country or a trusted contact there, who can check on your friend. DON'T WIRE MONEY because of a phone call. Always find a way to verify the person is who you think they are before you agree to send any money! It's really truly rare that any request for you to urgently wire money is actually legit. So my bottom line is BE WARY!

Did someone you've got saved into your contacts reach out to you and ask for a verification code for WhatsApp (or any other app) that was sent to YOUR phone? DON'T answer. They've likely been hacked and the hacker is not trying to take control of YOUR whatsapp! NEVER share codes like this. There is no reason someone else needs YOUR verification code, unless you've authorized them to access your account (but why would you?). So be very, very wary.  


My thoughts about scammers:
Scammers are theives. They prey on people in whatever way they think they'll get you to part with your money or your sensitive information! That doesn't mean you can't still help a friend in need, or give tzedaka! Just be sure to do this in a way that you're sure your money will get where you intend it to go. 


Hope you found this helpful! I'd love to hear from you! Be sure to join my Facebook group and we can be in touch there! 

 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Great deals for you!

this post contains affiliate links, so if you click on a link and then make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. 




Here are some great deals I just found:

If you need a food processor, check out this awesome sale:
3.9 L 1250W Bosch food processor, regular price 849 NIS, on sale now for 579 NIS!

Need a laptop for under 1000 NIS? Check out this Asus laptop deal 

Here's a drip-filter 12-cup coffee maker (for those of us who think capsules are pods produce too much waste!) for under 100 NIS 

Here's a set of 2 fridge odor absorbers for 28 NIS instead of 34!

Thermoses in all sizes are on sale right now, too! Some of them are really large - 8 liters! These are great!

Things to keep in mind when you shop at KSP: Shipping will be free if you meet the minimum order amount. If you don't, you can choose a store near you for pickup to avoid shipping fees. These items ship from within Israel, so you'll never be hit with a surprise tax or import fee!

Feel free to comment below or in my public shopping group on FB and let me know what you're looking for!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Save on your Expat tax preparation!




If you're an American ex-pat like me, you know all about the yearly headache of filing your overseas tax return. Currently, this is something most of us MUST do, even if we don't like it. There's just no getting around it for now - no matter how much we complain (maybe one day it will change!). And because of the complexity of navigating tax documents issued to comply with Israeli tax law (as opposed to US tax law), it is usually NOT recommended to use automated software for filing your overseas tax return.

Or so we thought. But as of last year, there's SimpleTax – the first ever U.S. tax software for Americans living in Israel. I've had a long chat with the founder of the company, and they've worked so hard to make this service available (it's designed to work in a way that standard tax software doesn't) and I'm super excited about this development. 

SimpleTax will walk you through a friendly and intuitive interface to prepare your U.S. taxes on your own, find your highest possible refund and save money on fees - starting as low as 299₪ for a tax return + FBAR.
If your taxes are more complicated, you will most likely pay a higher rate, but still MUCH lower than the quotes I've gotten from accountants recently.
This is going to change our lives. Mostly because staying tax compliant will now be so much simpler and cheaper!

I invite you to find more details at SimpleTax. If you use my referral link (the links to SimpleTax on this site are referral links), you'll get 10% off your first tax return! If for some reason you can't open the link, simply copy-paste this link to go to their site: https://simpletax.co.il/register?referral=KOFRU. Or go to their site on your own and be sure to enter my referral code (KOFRU)


SimpleTax is also on Facebook and has plans to help US citizens in Israel navigate financial issues better. You can be sure I'll be following them and waiting for more helpful developments.

So spread the word that in 2024 we'll be doing our taxes smarter and cheaper! Use my referral code to get a great 10% discount: 
MY-CODE: KOFRU

מידע חשוב עבור אזרחים אמריקאים שגרים בארץ: הגיע פתרון שיחסוך לנו הרבה כסך!

החל מהשנה, אפשר למלא דו"ח מס אמריקני עם חברת סימפלטקס - ותראו חסכון אמיתי!

אפשר לחסוך עוד יותר עם מכניסים את הקוד שלי בעת ההרשמה. ההרשמה ללא עלות - רק תצטרכו לשלם עם משתמשים במערכת לדווח. השתמשו בקוד KOFRU ותקבלו 10% הנחה.

או הקליקו כאן: https://simpletax.co.il/register?referral=KOFRU


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Price Controlled Foods (Updated)

I realize it's been a while since I posted an update about price-controlled food items. As you may know, the Ministry of the Economy regulates some food prices in Israel. This means that certain consumer goods cannot be sold for a price higher than the price set by the government. A few prices have even changed since my last post about this, so here's the latest update. Maximum prices on this list were verified on February 14, 2024.

Make sure you're not overpaying for anything on this list:

1. BREADS

Note: The breads on this list are very specific types of breads, and the challah is a very specific kind of challah. 

2. SALT



 3. DAIRY PRODUCTS




    Note: I've also seen packages of sliced 28% yellow cheese that are pre-packaged, 400g, labeled "price controlled 13.20 ILS"

4. EGGS




There's always talk of adding items to the list (like fresh vegetables) or making changes (like swapping whole wheat bread for the white bread), but for now, this is the list of price-regulated foods.

If your store is overcharging for any of these items (check to be sure they are in fact the price-regulated item and not a premium version) - you can report the store to the proper authority using this online form.

Hope this helps you save more money, and don't forget to follow me on Facebook and join my Kosher Frugal group for more tips!

UPDATED: Buy Blue & White from Overseas (with the convenience of Amazon)

This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at NO additional cost to you! Thanks for your support!

Today's post is for my friends and followers outside of Israel, who love Israel and want to support the people here, i.e. "Buy Blue & White".

It's become SUPER easy to support some Israeli businesses from outside of Israel! So I'd like to help everyone stand in solidarity with Israel with this "Buy Blue & White" guide.

So many companies make it easy to buy their products from the USA - especially those with Amazon storefronts (and many ship to other countries too)!

I'm happy to share some options with you - all of the items listed below are a great way to support an Israeli-owned business and still have the convenience of shopping online! I'm sure there are lots more options, but in the meantime - here are the ones that I know of: 

(I hope to keep adding to this list)

Buy Israeli wines (free shipping on 12 or more bottles and $15 off your $200 order with code KW15)

Many Israeli products - art, jewelry, etc - are available at judaica.com (use the link to begin your purchase AND use code SHOP10 for an extra discount)

You can make your own seltzer (carbonated water) using the iconic Sodastream machine. 

Or buy beautiful Judaica items, like an Emanuel mezuzah case or chanukiyah, or even a great Havdallah travel set! Also from Emmanuel: Chanukah Kippot, Jerusalem Kippot, painted wooden kiddush cup and coaster, "Yeled Tov/Yaldah Tovah" hammered stainless steel kiddush cups, hammered nickel kiddush cups, and colorful candlesticks.

Buy beautiful jewelry from Paz Creations. Also NanoStyle and Happy Lolli.

Refael Jewelry Designer sells handmade jewelry from Israel.

Also check out embroidered jewelry boxes.

Nurture your plants with a LeGrow planter set

Display your love of Israel with these Jerusalem-themed ArtTrivets.

Display beautiful Israel on your wall with an Israel Photo Art Calendar!

Decorate your home with beautiful wooden Wall Art from Tohar Design Store, or a fun Chanukah table runner, or a painted washing cup.

If you love music, check out Day of Rest for something different.

Buy Israeli spices from Izrael Zaatar Ltd and bring the flavor of the shuk into your kitchen (BBQ Grill mix, Galilee Stir Fry Seasoning mix).

Try out Israeli herbal/fruit teas: Golan blend or Louisina make great choices.

Get your kids moving and exploring with Israeli-owned Nona Kid pretend play, outdoor play, and fitness equipment for kids.

Check out the whole line of Qurious educational toys and games.

You can even support an Israeli business when you buy non-Israeli products from an Israeli reseller. They buy items wholesale and list them for competitive prices on Amazon. For example, handbags from BSD Merchant.

And on another note, you can always support Israeli businesses directly: For an interactive Israel-themed online escape room experience, be sure to check out the games at bagelsandlocks.com!

And if you love to read, check out books by these Israeli authors:

101 Treasures from the National Library of Israel, by Raquel Ukeles (Author), Hezi Amiur (Author), Yoel Finkelman (Author)

By Light of Hidden Candles, by Daniella Levy (Author)



The 36: A Modern Quest in the Ancient Holy Land, by Josh Even-Chen (Author) (a long-time friend of mine!)

The Scrolls of Deborah (Desert Songs Trilogy), by Esther Goldenberg (Author)

The House of Lost Spirits, by Einat Shimshoni 

Harei At M'guyeset Li, by Segulah Levi (Hebrew novel)

Tully and the Pellmells (Tully Grows Up), by Leona Samson (Author), Idan Ben Simon (Illustrator)

Tales of Brooklyn, by Stan Fischler (Author)



Organized Jewish Life: The Essential Guide for Planning Jewish Holidays, Events and Every Dayby Rebekah Chaifetz Saltzman

Organized Jewish Life Shabbat and Holiday Planner: The Ultimate Organizational Shabbat and Jewish Holiday Checklist and Planning Workbookby Rebekah Chaifetz Saltzman

A Warrior's Guide to Fibromyalgiaby Sara Halevi 

Everything Tracker - The Ultimate Comprehensive CBT Tool Kitby Sara Halevi MA (Author), Liora Sophie (Illustrator)

The Breast Cancer Checklistby Fern Reiss

The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Daysby Fern Reiss

30 Jewish Superheroes: An Amazing Collection of Jewish Superheroes (Coloring book)by Hillel Penrod (Author), Ayelet Hashachar Penrod (Editor)

15 B'nei Noah Superheroes Coloring & Activity Book: Heroes from Around the World! | Color, Read, and Learn to Draw Your Own Hero, Torah Comics Paperback by Hillel Penrod (Author), Ayelet HaShachar Penrod (Editor)

Inner World (Kindle book) by Hillel Penrod (Author, Illustrator), Ayelet HaShachar Penrod (Editor) 

Israel 201: Your Next-Level Guide to the Magic, Mystery, and Chaos of Life in the Holy Landby Joel Chasnoff & Benji Lovitt

Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar (Modern Jewish Lives)by Yael Unterman

The Hidden of Things: Twelve Stories of Love & Longingby Yael Unterman

The Street Cats of Nahariya by Jennifer Pyatt (Author), Aya Navot (Illustrator)

White Zion, by Gila Green (see all of her books here, and pre-order the newest one!)

Iconic Jewish Women: Fifty-Nine Inspiring, Courageous, Revolutionary Role Models for Young Girlsby Aliza Lavie (Author)

Getting Ready for Shabbat! Let's Make Soup! (Getting Ready for Jewish Holy Days), by Chaya Bluma Gadenyan

Girls' Names from the Hebrew Bible: A Children's Bilingual (Hebrew-English) Coloring Bookby Chaya Bluma Gadenyan

The Adventures of Incredi-Wheels & Triple S: The Mysterious Missing Bookby Rebecca Rubin Seligson

Storky's Journey Homeby Nachshon Meir Spiegelman

The Lazy Investor: How to Set a Profitable & Hassle-free Investment Portfolioby David Mann (Author)

Tribal Lands: The Twelve Tribes of Israel in Their Ancestral Territoriesby Tamar Weissman (Author)

The Koren Tanakh: Esther (English and Hebrew Edition) (Graphic Novel Format) by Jordan Gorfinkel (Creator), Yael Nathan (Illustrator), Jessica Sacks (Translator)

If you want to be added to this list, please email me at ester@kosherfrugal.com!

Thanks for supporting Israeli businesses! Let me know if you found this list helpful, and feel free to share it with all of your friends!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Making Travel Plans?

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you! Thanks for your support! 

--- Retrieved from https://www.kosherfrugal.com/ ---

Who wants a getaway deal? 

I can't possibly be the only one. Life's been pretty stressful lately, and I'm not getting much sleep these days. And I know I'm not alone in dreaming of a vacation...


Of course, my dreams may or may not come true, but if you have the freedom to make travel plans right now, read on...

If you're here, you know Israelis love to travel - it's a great way to take a break from the local stress, if you have the freedom to get away!

So today, I'm sharing some links to companies that will help you plan the perfect trip, hopefully for a great price.

Look for Low-Cost flights if you can! These can be last-minute (check HERE or HERE for last minute deals) or sometimes great deals must be booked FAR IN ADVANCE - click to see deals.

Hotels can be booked together with flights, or check out Booking.com, they guarantee the best prices for any type of property and no booking fees! However, I recommend you check the cancellation policy carefully before you book anything on booking.

Rental Cars - if you're renting a car outside of Israel but driving on your Israeli license, be sure you get a rental package that insures you with your Israeli license. This is best done via an Israeli agent. I shopped around a bit and found that Issta Car Rental offered slightly lower prices than some of the others - let me know if you've found the same to be true!

Be sure to check if your credit card has any offers for you in their rewards section for overseas travel/transactions. I've even seen deals that waive foreign currency transaction fees - be sure to activate any deals they offer you before you go!

(Don't forget to get traveler's insurance that will cover you in case of a medical emergency.)

And, last thing you need to do (super important, obviously!) - pick up a new-to-you book to read during the flight or other down-time, from Eva's Used Books, based right here in Israel! And if you use code KOSHERFRUGAL, you'll get extra savings!

Hope you found this post helpful! Don't forget to follow this blog (see the sidebar on the right) and like and follow my FB page!


Check out KSP online shopping!

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you! Thanks for your support! 

Today's Aliyah Tip: Sometimes the best price is at the most unexpected of places!

I like to keep my eyes open when I venture out - did a new store open near me? Which store sells random things you wouldn't really expect? Is there a place to pick up food super cheap? I take note of things I see around town so I can always try to get a deal when I can!

The same applies to online shopping. Sometimes the best deal is at a really random place.

Like KSP online!

I just discovered that they sell TONS of items online, besides computers and electronics - which is what you find if you go to their physical locations.

Right now, they're selling Adidas deodorant sprays for far less than I see them for at Rami Levy and pharmacy-type places. And that's even without a sale!

I also found a 6-pack of Orbitol toothbrushes for 10 NIS, which is less than I found them for at discount stores (think "stock" stores)!
They even make it easy to buy eco-friendly and "natural" products, like these:

Listerine Naturals Enamel Protect for 15 NIS

Listerine Naturals Gum Protect for 15 NIS

Also, this is a great way to be sure you're paying low prices for every day items:

Pack of 200 cotton swabs for 3 NIS

Pack of 50 sanitizing wipes for 5 NIS

Or buy great gifts and household goods for a great price!

They even sell Melissa and Doug toys. And Sodastream products - the 3-pack of bottles for your sodastream is priced lower than almost every place I've seen them.

Isn't this super-convenient? I love that they deliver from within Israel so there's no waiting for shipments from overseas.

If you're looking for something else, let me know, maybe I've already stumbled across a deal!

Get all the deals in my groups: Israel Deals Made Easy and Live in Israel. Shop Online, and Kosher Frugal)!



Sunday, February 4, 2024

Making the most of your credit card



Did you know that most Israeli credit cards offer "rewards and benefits" to cardholders?

For a long time, I ignored mine.

And then one day, I realized that I might be missing out on some big savings. For things I might be buying anyway! 

For example, for a while, my Isracard offered a discount for purchases over a certain amount at IKEA once or twice a year, though I haven't seen this deal lately. 

You can check your Isracard offers by logging in to your account and checking the הטבות/benefits section!

I discovered that my CAL card gives me access to a number of discount vouchers, too:

like a 50 NIS Steimatzky voucher for 39 NIS!


And 100 NIS Nizat HaDuvdevan vouchers for 92 NIS!
They actually have dozens of discount vouchers, it's worth checking before you shop!

There are also MAX credit cards, and those have rewards and deals as well. So if you have one of those - be sure to check!

So go ahead, log into your credit card account - either via the app or their website and take the time to poke around. Some credit cards have access to the "regular" rewards and benefits via the app and are also part of a membership club, and you'll find additional rewards via the "club" (moadon) site. Be sure to check them all - you'll be happy to find ways to save on things you were going to buy anyway!

Happy savings!

Let me know what deals you find!