Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Economics of Dating


Money matters because dating is a way of sizing someone up and assessing the value of their company.  Every decision on a date can be broken down on an economic level.  Which place did you choose, what clothes are you wearing, which beer did you order, what words did you use to describe your job, your living situation, your family?
Serial daters just want another person in their lives, one might say, at any cost.  And it’s true.  Dating does cost something.  Patience, time, vulnerability, and dollars and cents.  Long distance relationships have larger opportunity costs.  Plane or bus tickets might have been used to pay for a nicer apartment.
Fairy tales have an even steeper price.  Girls my age grew up on Disney movies and some attribute unrealistic expectations to them, but they should remember that Ariel sold her voice and Belle traded her freedom—Prince Charmings don’t come cheap and neither do plain, ordinary significant others.  Some might say that it’s all worth it.  It’s certainly good for the economy: every failed movie date provides capital to make yet another independent romantic dramedy.  Yet, I often hear people complaining about the complexity of dating and it might be because they aren’t thinking about it economically.
 Its interesting to think about dating that way. I hardly ever went to a restaurant on earlier dates because I did not think it was worth the money, especially since I paid for my own dates. But I think the final line of the article makes a lot of sense; people should not put a dollar sign on everything, but should not disregard the fact that they should look at how one chooses a partner from an economical standpoint (how much love, patience, and attention you are able to spread out over a dating period).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


(Hat tip: Mirie) This fundraising project on Kickstarter looks interesting:
Unorthodox is a feature documentary that follows three teenagers from the modern Orthodox community as they spend a post-high school year studying in Israel. Tzipi, an intellectually gifted young woman, travels with intentions of clarifying her problems with Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law. Jake, a musician, wants to follow the religion but doesn’t see how he can reconcile his faith with his professional ambitions. Chaim, a half-Dominican bad-boy, undertakes his year of study without thinking about the possibilities of religious growth; he goes to Israel because tuition is paid for by his rabbis. In addition to documentary cinematography shot in the US and Israel, Tzipi, Chaim and Jake film themselves throughout the year with video diaries, offering an incredibly vivid and intimate glimpse into their lives. Narration throughout the film weaves Anna’s own story—of leaving the modern Orthodox community—with that of the three subjects, lending a very personal glimpse into the world of Orthodox Judaism.
They're looking to gather many small donations to complete the project, which is most of the way there already (all filming was completed, etc.). If you're interested in seeing this, read about it and donate!

Speaking of unorthodox, Chana sums up the YU Beacon story best: Writing a (poor) weak erotica-style piece with some confusing details about a girl's first-or-not time having sex with a guy she is-or-isn't in a serious relationship with is about attention-seeking, not about discussing an issue seriously. If they wished to discuss the issue of pre-marital sex among Orthodox people seriously, they could have done so by actually discussing it as a serious piece [much as Chana did with other aspects of the subject, as she notes]. Yes, there would still be much objection to this - a reasonable argument could be made for or against YU's school newspapers being the proper forum for such discussions - but at least it would be defensible [I should disclose that I did not think even Chana's were all necessary/appropriate, but they were at least defensible]. Oh, and in case it wasn't clear this was about attention, leaking it to national media is rather immature as well: Deal with the fallout within the context you wrote a piece, don't seek media to try and force and/or embarrass your university. Kudos to YU and its students for standing strongly against this, and it seems that the general consensus even from media was "...that was crappy writing."

And finally, singer/rapper Matisyahu shaved his beard. He's also still Orthodox, not "Un-Orthodox" (and looks really tired). So... who cares?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

And Then There Were Three

Welcome to the world, Ariella Shalvah Goldish! Born 8 pounds, 12 ounces (3,970 grams it said, not that anyone knows what that means) at Mt. Sinai hospital yesterday afternoon.

Elianna and Kayla are incredibly excited to be big sisters! Serach and Ariella are doing great, bH.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

House Over Health = ...Hero?

(HT: Josh Yuter)

A lady named Spike Ward penned an op-ed yesterday in the LA Times discussing how she was formerly against ObamaCare, but now that she has cancer, she has changed her mind. In her words:
The time finally came when we had to make a choice between paying our mortgage or paying for health insurance. We chose to keep our house. We made a nerve-racking gamble, and we lost.
Now, she has discovered that ObamaCare has a provision which allows her to get insurance, and this may now help save her life.

From the comments on her op-ed and on Facebook, etc., it seems as if many people are hailing this as a proof that ObamaCare is wonderful. While certainly it is wonderful for Mrs. Ward that she can now be treated without going broke, isn't this absurd? Mr. and Mrs. Ward made a conscious decision to choose their house over their health insurance, and contrary to her statement that "We chose to keep our house. We made a nerve-racking gamble, and we lost", they in fact won: They got to keep their house, and their health insurance tab is now being picked up by the rest of the country (somewhat indirectly, as she is paying premiums, but that is not the point).

Contrast that with the decisions made by millions of people each day who consciously choose to keep their health insurance intact and sacrifice in other ways: Nobody is picking up the tab for their foreclosed (or sold at a loss) homes or their cars. They don't get to keep everything they had and then have the rest of the country cover anything they can't afford anymore. It is a horrible testament to this country that someone's irresponsible and selfish "gamble" is being guaranteed by the federal government* and that that burden is being carried by people who made responsible decisions.

* Note that this is no different than the bank bailouts in that sense, except that at least the argument there was (however much I may disagree) that despite their irresponsibility, a bailout was necessary to avoid others being hurt as well. Here, the only beneficiary is Mrs. Ward and her family, who get to keep their house and have her healthcare paid for by everyone else.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Jewish Economics Survey - Redux

A few years back, a number of friends kept asking me questions about finances, particularly when it came to getting married. "What does it cost to live for a young couple in their first few months? First year? First three years? With a kid? In a 2-bedroom apartment vs. a 1-bedroom?" ...You get the idea.

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 Please share any feedback you have so this can continually be improved upon, and thanks so much for your time and help!

~ Ezzie
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 or myself directly at 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. :)


"Boring is the new exciting." ~ Cymbaline
When we're young, we often tend to love chaos. Chaos is exciting! Disorganization makes life interesting! Being all over the place is fun!

...and then, it gets tiring. A friend who was dating a few years back had what seemed to some people a very "boring" life: He would get up, go to work, come home, learn, watch some TV shows on his computer, travel to date sometimes... some people didn't understand it. "That seems so... dull." But he was happy. Some of those people had "exciting" lives, but they often were not.

Stability and predictability (in any aspect of life) are often the key to allowing people to adjust to difficult times. If life is chaotic, then everything that doesn't go perfectly can sends things into disarray. When everything is going smoothly, if something goes wrong, it's far easier to handle and fix. This is true at home, at work, in school, and in life.

Amen, Cymbaline.