While I would try to answer as best as I could, at the end of the day, everybody's expenses are different. I decided to try e-mailing some questions to friends, and as friends and I thought of more and more questions, it was decided to make it into a Google form. From there, it turned into a questionnaire, and finally, the Jewish Economics Survey was born. Thanks to the help of many individuals (particularly Tamar Snyder Chaitovsky) and through much discussion, the data gathered was formally presented to extremely engaging crowds, and the knowledge gained has impacted many people tremendously - including myself. For example, it was only after creating the survey that we finally took to heart how important having life insurance is. My favorite letter has always been this one:
Right when you came out with the survey, I took it. I also emailed you to say thank you for giving me the nudge to speak to my chasan. I am happy to announce that one year into our marriage, we are DEBT FREE and even have savings (two-months of salary!).
What's truly great (besides this couple) is that this was a completely side benefit of the survey, one which admittedly wasn't realized until after a number of people had already taken it. The primary purpose of the survey was to have information for people to utilize while preparing for different stages of life, whether sharing a singles apartment in Washington Heights, being a newly married couple in Baltimore, having two kids in Brooklyn, raising three teenagers in Cleveland, or surviving five tuition payments in Houston. What people have taken out of the survey for themselves has been nothing short of incredible.
It's now about to be 2012, and with some tweaks, I'd like to give the survey another go-round. A number of organizations have expressed serious interest in the survey and its potential utilities, and it would be incredible if we had the resources to do this in a more formal fashion - but first, let's see what can be done just like this. To have at least some understanding of what the cost of living is in various Orthodox communities in the country is would be fantastic; and to be able to identify just what people are struggling with most - and to what extent - is incredibly important.
The Jewish Economics Survey is completely anonymous and takes most people about 10-15 minutes to complete*. Please take the time to fill out the survey and help us all have a more clear picture of both our present and our future.
Please also pass along and share the survey with friends and family, spouses and Facebook friends at http://tinyurl.com/jeconomics. Please share any feedback you have so this can continually be improved upon, and thanks so much for your time and help!
P.S. If you have formal survey training, actuarial skills, and/or programming skills and would like to help, we would love to improve upon both the survey itself and its presentation via a dedicated website which would present information for members of the community to prepare themselves for various changes, from a move to a marriage, from a birth to a child entering high school. If you are interested, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or myself directly at email@example.com. Thank you very much.
* If you find that it takes longer, a) please let me know! and b) it's probably good that you took it. :)