Thursday, October 29, 2009

Meet the blogger

On Saturday night, October 17th, I attended a blogger's night out that was organized by Hannah who blogs at A Mother in Israel and Cooking Manager (ooh, ambitious) and hosted by Mimi of Israeli Kitchen. You can read Hannah's account of the evening here and Mimi's account here, as well as read what One Tired Ema, Risa (aka Isramom), Baila of I'll call Baila (note the apostrophe please), Commenter Abbi (who brings you Confessions of a startup wife), and Robin from Around the Island had to say about the evening. Others who attended but did not blog about the event are the Baroness Tapuzina, Sarah from Food Bridge, Pesky Settler who's In the middle. On the right, Sarah of Oh so arty, and the xy chromosomed representatives, David of the Terror Finance blog, and Jonathan of Shomer Shekalim

Hannah said something which gave me the idea to showcase some of the blogs I follow. If you look to the right you'll see my blogroll  divided by theme and though it seems incredibly long, those are only some of the 175 (!) blogs I actually follow in my Google reader. I know though that you can't really look at that long list and easily say, hm this one looks interesting, so I decided to choose some of my favorites and highlight them for you. If possible, I'll try to include a short interview with the person behind the blog.

I can't remember how I first became aware of Jonathan Degani's blog, Shomer Shekalim,  but it was  most likely a link from another blog I read. Jonathan is an American oleh who blogs about budgeting and living within your means in Israel and is highly recommended for anyone living in Israel (or planning to make aliyah), no matter how long you've been here.

Jonathan graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions so without further ado,Heeere's Johnny!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. 
I am an American Oleh from NY and Chicago. When I made Aliyah, I decided to go to business school and was met with a financial crash 20 minutes after graduating. Since then I have been building a system of budgeting that has helped me budget my way through this recession. I am now following my new calling to help others learn to live within their means and find happiness in moderation in life.

2.  How long have you been blogging?
Back in high school, my friends and I would blog in a livejournal group.  I left blogging for several years until I used it once again to document my time in the IDF.  I only started blogging about finance and budgeting about 5 months ago.

3. Why did you start blogging about finance and budgeting?
The idea originally came when I asked my Rav if I could give ma’aser with my own professional time if I could not afford to give money.  He said “yes” and so I dedicated 4 hours a week to trying to help others with money issues in Israel.  Since then I have used blogging as a wonderful tool to use to interact with others.  I enjoy talking with other American Olim.

4. What are your goals for your blog?
 When I came to Yeshiva in Israel years ago, I noticed something strange. Most items in Israel cost about the same as they do in the US, yet Israelis live on a lot less.  How could they do it?  It is not a simple answer, and in my mind, it is one of the issues that American Olim struggle with the most.  My goal is to try to help Olim adjust to life here and break out of a “consumerism” mentality that American put them in. 

5. What goes into the preparation of a typical post?
Depends on the post.  When I make a list (how to save on shopping, vacations, holidays) I write a list as a document and leave it on my desktop for a few days to add to it when I have the time or when I think of something.  When I write an argument or economic analysis, I go through the old essay style of preparation and research.  Alternatively, some posts are just off the cuff stories of economic survival that came across my eye that I try to use to illustrate a point.

6. What blog post are you proudest of and why?
I have two favorites:
How to pay less for your purchases despite the increase in VAT and How to save 1000 NIS on your next vacation.  I think that these two posts exemplify my goal in blogging.  They are simple ways to learn how to switch to a more frugal mindset.

7. What have been some of the highlights of blogging for you?
Arutz Sheva did a cover story about my blog when I wrote about saving money for Rosh Hashannah; I guess every blogger likes to be noticed.  But by far the greatest highlights come from interactive talkback and encouraging feedback from the readers.  It makes me feel like I am making a difference and serves as a major source of encouragement. 

8. Anything else you want to share with readers?
The most important thing you do in life is interact with people you care about.  At the core of frugality is reallocating time and money to what is important.  We often get caught up in the technological buzz of only approaching one another via e-mail and checking on one another through status updates and twitter.  These tools are nice, but without seeing a person, hearing a voice, and regular interaction, the internet becomes a cold world.  When you value what is truly important, you may find that you are richer than you thought.  

I just want to add that I enjoyed Jonathan's posts on celebrating the holidays on a low budget, including Rosh Hashana and Sukkot, and look forward to what he has to say about Chanuka (no pressure, Jonathan!). And since both Arthur and I are job hunting (not fun!) I've appreciated Jonathan's series on job searching in Israel - part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4

Although I hope the economy improves I hope Jonathan will continue to supply us with tips on managing financially in Israel. You should definitely add Shomer Shekalim to the blogs you follow, and if you don't read blogs, Shomer Shekalim is the place to start!

Money Grab 2, by Steve Wampler, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license



Baila said...

Love the collage. My only beef with Jonathan's blog is that he doesn't post more often.

mother in israel said...

Love your collage, how long did it take you? Great idea to interview Jonathan, looking forward to more.

Fern Chasida said...

well, i wasted a lot of time trying to do the collage in photoshop but couldn't and then i googled around and finally discovered that picasa would do it for me.

Risa said...

Great idea! Picasa is really a fantastic tool. The evening was also a nice way to discover new blogs.