How Keeping Shabbat Keeps Me Frugal

From a budgeting perspective, it’s all too easy to worry about how keeping Shabbat ADDS to the budget. What with all the chicken soup and brisket and dining rooms full of people.

But I’ve found that on a personal (dare I even say spiritual) level, keeping Shabbat actually has the opposite effect: It can make me more frugal and definitely more intentional about our spending.

(Of course this isn’t WHY I keep Shabbat, but it’s definitely a nice “fringe benefit”.)

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about the importance of having a “media fast” at least once a week – 24 hours without any screen time. Goodness knows our screen-saturated kids need it!

Now these articles are obviously targeting the non-Shabbat observant, since for those of us that keep Shabbat, we already have that day programmed into our week. (Even my three year old knows, “No Caillou on Shabbat. Caillou likes to rest on Shabbat!)

No media means no commercial interruptions. No consumption-driven images triggering our “I want, I wish, I need”. When I turn off the screen (and for me, that screen is the computer, not the TV), I am suddenly able to shut down the “if only’s”.

If only I had this kind of dining room or that kind of wardrobe… if only I could afford that house or that car (or that tech gadget)… I’d be happier (or prettier or skinnier).

Ever notice how much better you feel about yourself when you DON’T spend hours reading about how great everyone else’s life is on Facebook?

I find myself infinitely more appreciative of what we do have (and our blessings are tremendous) when I’m not comparing myself – consciously or sub-consciously – to anyone else.

The once-a-week, 25-hour media fast imposed by Shabbt goes a long way in ending those comparisons and fostering contentment – which for me, is the foundation of living a more simple, frugal life.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia


  1. Mary Ruth Andrews says

    And no commerce, no shopping, one day a week when we need not clutter up our mind with shopping decisions.

  2. I actually find it has the opposite effect. On Shabbat, I see the gorgeous clothes, fancy shoes, and amazing hair and hats that the other women wear to shul. On Shabbat, I am invited over to other people’s houses where the host serves elegant food on beautiful dishes. Shabbat makes me dream of getting beautiful serving dishes like my host’s or buying clothes (or hair!) like the ones I see in shul.

    • Julie – I think that’s so interesting… I guess my not feeling that way is another advantage of living in Kansas 😉 I really do see that down-to-earthness of where I live as a huge plus. I’m sorry you find it stressful and full of comparisons. 🙁

  3. Shabbos is also a very green construct. Imagine if the whole world unplugged the way we do on Shabbos. If they didn’t drive their cars, turn on their computers or tvs or laptops. Etc.

    • So true! You know, that reminds me – in Israel, we got a discount on our car insurance for being Shomer Shabbat, LOL. But you are so right, I bet we’d really reduce the carbon footprint!

  4. I find it keeps me frugal from a food shopping standpoint. We rarely eat fleishigs during the week and if I’m craving meat like crazy I know it’s just a few days away, rather than going to the store for one steak and then walking out with $50 worth of unnecessary food.

  5. I find it has opposite effect for me, for sure! Shabbat and keeping kosher in general makes food bills absolutely huge, probably a few times that of people who don’t keep Shabbat. Yes there’s no shopping on Shabbat itself but a ton of shopping before!

  6. what is a good suggestive menu for both fri night and shabbos day where Ione is not spendingI a ton of money but still making shabbos feel special. I do feel many times that my weekly shopping revolves around shabbos because imalways trying to figure how much my family will eat for shabbos and then what leftovers i have for during the week.

  7. Yes, the money put into Shabbos is expensive. But, I say ” Lkavod Shabbos” ( to honor Shabbos) for everything from cooking to new shoes /clothes etc. Everything you make that is so special ( I’ll buy expensive fruit for dessert for example) is especially for Shabbos so you will get your reward tenfold whether in this world or the world to come.
    Shabbos is a great gift for us in more than one way as Mara was saying.

  8. Shabbat can definitely be compatible with a frugal lifestyle. It’s a way we can spend some quality “family time” without spending a lot of money. I’m a single mom, and Shabbat is so important in giving my children a sense of stability, community, wholeness, and gratitude. I can’t imagine how we could manage without it!

    A key to keeping costs down is to plan ahead. We stock up on kosher grape juice when it goes on sale — especially before Pesach, when it’s often a loss-leader. We keep a bag of pita or challah rolls in the freezer, so we’re never caught short for lechem mishneh and don’t need to make more challah than we will eat. I’ve started making challah dough (in the bread machine) on Thursday night, and giving it to my kids to shape on Friday after school. (In the winter, we will need to bake on Thursday.) This is a project they really enjoy, that enhances their anticipation of the day — and the cost is minimal.

    We buy tea lights when we’re at the dollar store. The ritual objects my kids make in school are often more important and meaningful to them than polished silver. You can set a nice table, even if you don’t have fancy china. Kids can make decorations.

    We make tasty (not elaborate) meals using simple, inexpensive ingredients. I discovered that as long as we set the table, light candles, have challah and grape juice and the blessings, my kids think of it as a “real” Shabbat meal, even if we don’t have lots of courses or elaborate food. It also helps that we’re vegetarians.

    By all means, involve kids (boys and girls) in the preparations. I think those are their favorite part, and it doesn’t cost money!

    Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

    • Beautiful comment – thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    • I like your sentiments. Occasionally we have to have pasta on Friday night if money is short or there’s no time to drive 20 mins to the kosher market that week.If the candles are lit, there’s wine, juice and challah, dessert, which we don’t always have, , and the handkerchief challah covers the kids made in preschool, they’re happy.

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