Two Lessons on Frugality from Passover - Live Like a Mensch
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Two Lessons on Frugality from Passover

Photo courtesy of Claude Truong-Ngoc

Today is the last day of Pesach, and J and LO and I will be celebrating the end of my favorite holiday by enjoying a pizza that is not made of matza or matza meal for dinner.

Thinking about this holiday, I realized that there are actually several unexpected frugality lessons tucked into the holiday. Here are a two that I've been turning over in my mind:

1. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

While the seder is the big reason why I love Passover, I'm also a huge fan of Passover food--matza ball soup, charoset, gefilte fish, horseradish, macaroons, and, of course, plain old matza. I love butter and jam on matza, egg-salad sandwiches on matza, matza brei, tuna sandwiches on matza, matza pizza, and even matza sans toppings.

The thing about matza, however, is that it does not necessarily agree with one's digestive system. It tends to have a cumulative effect. Just about the same time you realize you're sick of the taste of matza, you also realize that your body is about to go on strike.

This happens to me every year. I'm so excited to be enjoying matza that I over-indulge and get sick of it when I still have three more days left to go before I can eat bread again.

This is much like frugal fatigue. If you jump into saving money with both feet, you may go on the momentum of saving for a while, but at some point you're going to feel sick of saving money and want to rebel against the rules you've given yourself. It's better to do a little at a time so you get used to being frugal by steps, rather than becoming an extreme frugalista all at once. 

And for Passover, I really ought to focus on the Kosher for Passover foods that are not matza based early on in the holiday so I can actually enjoy the matza for the full eight days.

2. Freedom tastes sweet

There are two reasons why we eat matza during Passover--because the Israelites did not have time to allow their bread to rise when they fled Egypt and because we need to remember that the plainest of food (matza) eaten in freedom tastes sweeter than the most decadent food eaten when you are enslaved.

I feel that living debt-free offers a similar sense of sweet freedom. By living debt-free, you may not be able to afford the luxuries and the decadence that others (seem to) enjoy, but your "plain" life is so much sweeter because you can afford it entirely on your own without owing anything to creditors. We should all strive to be free, even if it means giving up luxuries.

And on that note, I'm going to spend the rest of my day wiping drool off my chin as I imagine the taste of a real pizza. Come on, sundown!


What frugal lessons have you learned from your favorite holidays?



haverwench said:

Here's a Passover lesson: there's room for a bit of luxury within almost any set of strictures. Most people don't exactly think of matza as a treat; Eric Schwartz, aka Smooth-E, says it tastes "like the box it came in" (www.youtube.com/watch). But it's also the base of the most decadent dessert ever invented, matzo brickle. (There's a recipe at www.chow.com/.../28236-matzo-brittle, but I warn you, it's eeeeeevil.) Limitations are the root of creativity!

April 23, 2014 2:01 PM

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