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Calculate savings with Golan Telecom, HOT Mobile, Rami Levy, Home Cellular

Use the No Fryers calculator to find out whether Golan Telecom, Home Cellular, HOT Mobile, or Rami Levy Communications are right for you!

In December 2011, Rami Levy was the first new player to debut.  Now, they have been joined by Home Cellular, HOT Mobile, and Golan Telecom.  Each offer straight-forward pricing, with some including “unlimited” plans.

How do you decide which is best for you and if any are a better deal than what you current have?  We’ll take a look at pricing and other factors which you should take into consideration.

Which is the best price?
Get your last couple of bills together, and figure out what your average use of minutes (all types – in network, other cellular, and landline), SMSs, and internet.  You’ll get your results in just three easy steps!

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more than just food: items you can and should buy in the shuk

Back in the old country, I would search websites and stores in order to find a bargain, but here things are different.  In a country where means nothing and price tags are only a suggestion, shopping is less about making an informed decision and more about finding your prey and going in for the kill.  As any Israeli knows, the best place for aggressive energetic shopping is the shuk.    But while most people think of the shuk when buying food, there are tons of bargains to be had on other items as well.  For example:

(1) Children’s toys:  I know, I spoil my child, after all, everything I ever bought for my son was imported all the way from China and/or Vietnam.  Lead paint and child labor jokes aside, if you’re looking for something simple like a toy truck or a doll for a young child, there is no reason to spend 5 times as much on an identical item in a toy store.  There may be some toys which are worthwhile to get in the store, but the overwhelming majority of toys for your children (and their friends’ birthdays) can be bought in the shuk.

(2) Linens and clothes:  If you’re looking for a nice suit, I wouldn’t recommend beginning with the shuk; but if you’re looking for socks, undergarments, towels, sheets, t-shirts and shorts, there is no point in spending tons of money in the mall when the shuk offers the same thing for less than half the price.

(3) Electronics and Kitchen utensils:  While fancier electronics should be bought at a place with a suitable warranty, simpler household items such as an iron, kettle, space heater, toaster oven, bug zapper, hair curler and telephone are significantly cheaper in the shuk.  Also, common kitchen utensils such as pots, pans, knives, tenderizers, silicon tins and more are usually available in the shuk for very cheap.

Alternatively, these items can be found at bargain prices in Haredi neighborhoods as well.

What other items do you buy at the shuk?  Is there an alternative place you go to buy some of the items mentioned above for cheaper prices?

the best time to buy

Sometimes getting the best deal isn’t just about where you go, but when you go as well.  Once a year, puts together a list of the best time of the year to buy everything.

I think most of the items in this article apply here as well.

What items do you think have a different best time to buy in Israel?

yad2 – another man’s treasure

A few months before we got married, my wife and I began searching for some furniture for our new home.  Luckily, we had friends and family with an extra computer table and even a dining room table.  The only thing we had to pay for was our bed.  Unfortunately, the only decent bed we could afford was a child’s bed with a second pull out high-riser.

Or so I thought.  Like most Americans of my generation, I was taught that giving your old stuff to charity is a great thing, but buying second hand is just not done.  So we bought a new bed, even if it was bottom of the line.  I didn’t have the ₪ 3,000 for a brand new pair of beds, and certainly not enough to get actual mattresses.

As the years began to pass, a lot of the furniture we received broke, fell apart, and even just wore itself out.  The first to go was our computer chair which, due to a pipe bursting, got wet inside of the material and began to fill up with mold.  I looked around the internet for a chair until I somehow came across and saw that someone was selling a brand new black computer chair for only ₪ 100.

And so, my love for yad2 began.  When my dining room table broke, I found a second hand dinning room table and chairs for ₪ 200.  When my son’s stroller was stolen, I got the upgraded version of the same stroller for only ₪ 250.  And when my son celebrated his first birthday, I got him a full sized bean bag (פוף) for only ₪ 20.

Yad2 has more than just second hand bargains; it has a section for stuff being offered for free as well.  It was through yad2 that I found a feeding chair for my son, as well as several toys and books (in English and Hebrew).

After 4 years of slowly learning that second hand was okay, my wife and I came full circle and decided to get a normal bed.  After searching for a couple of weeks, we found a slightly used pair of beds (with הפרדה יהודית) and mattresses for ₪ 550, a little more than a third of the original price we paid for our new bed 4 years ago.

If you need any furniture, I highly recommend using yad2.  Whether you are a student, a couple just starting out, or simply someone who likes to find a bargain, yad2 has a ton to offer.  The most important thing when using this site is patience.  You may not find your ideal dining room table the second you look, but it will very likely appear within 6 weeks.

PS – June through August is an especially good time to buy second hand items, as it is the time of year when many people move.  You can also check Janglo for lists of second hand goods from people moving back to the United States.

Do you know of another good site for second hand goods?  If so, please mention it in the comments below.

coupons in Israel


A few weeks ago, a reader asked me about coupons in Israel.  In particular, the reader wanted to know why coupons do not exist here the way they do in the USA and what alternative steps can be taken to reduce the cost of shopping.

To begin, I’d like to take a look at the reasons that companies offer coupons and see which apply in Israel:

(1) store bait – Many companies use coupons to bait you to come to the store.  Super Pharm is probably the best Israeli company at using this tactic; their coupons keep people coming as often as possible selling not only the items on sale, but the entire range of their products as well.  Many supermarkets such as Mega Bool and Shufersal take this even further, only offering their promotions if you spend beyond some a particular amount.  This more primitive method of coupon strategy is alive in Israel just as much, if not more, than in the USA.

(2) promotion – Another common marketing strategy is for a company to use a coupon in order to get you to notice or try something new.  When Muller brought all of their yogurts and cheeses into Israel, they kept a high price in order to market themselves as a high end product, but sent a number of coupons all over Israel, offering cheaper and even free yogurt and cheese.  The more extreme case of this is yoplait, which prefers giving out samples in the store for customers to eat on the spot.  The promotional coupon does exist in Israel, but is much more common in the United States, where more new products are introduced on a more regular basis.

(3) price discrimination.  Just like authors sell their books in hardcover to get money from the die-hard fans and then sell a softcover to other readers who would only be willing to pay a lower price, so too, coupons allow for regular shoppers to pay more and those who plan in advance to pay less.  A planned dollar (and shekel) gets you more; companies know it, and they want to make sure they can still benefit from it.

In my opinion, and I have only observation and speculation to back this up, it is in this area that Israel differs greatly from the US.  In the US, consumers tend to hunt for a good price; in Israel, they go to the shuk and bargain for it.  This explans why the Israeli businesses that I have seen offer the most coupons are the ones where people tend to bargain least – hotels, restaurants, spas and attractions.

How to get coupons:  Unlike the Sunday circulars of yesteryear, nowadays coupons are all about the internet.  In Israel, before going out to dinner or even ordering a pizza, a quick google search is likely to bring up a site with some sort of coupon.  Below is a list of sites that offer coupons for hotels, zimmers, attractions, and restaurants. 

Regular coupon sites:  (1) couponim, (2) coups, (3) coupon424, (4) rest, (5) cuponofesh, (5),  

Group coupons sites:  (1), (2) dealhayom, (3) baligam

In addition, lots of coupons are offered on the website of a particular restaurant or attraction, so the best thing is to google the attraction, find its site and see what they offer.

Unfortunately, this does not help very much with food shopping.  In my opinion, when foodshopping, it’s more about where you shop, not how you shop (see this previous post about where to go foodshopping).

Do you have any additional places where you look to find coupons in Israel?  If so, please mention it in the comments below.

sweating the small things; sweating the big things


A while ago, I was a guest at a home where the hostess was very strict about using water.  The hostess made sure her family was careful with every single drop of water with only one exception, showers.  “I cut back on water in every way possible, so I earned my nice long American showers,” she reasoned.

But the numbers disagree.  The shower is a huge chunk of the water bill and with a large family, cutting back on the showers would probably have done more than everything else combined.

Economically speaking, certain things we do just have a bigger impact than others.  A gain is not correlated to a specific pain; rather, it can be the result of a carefully chosen tactic.  While it is important to focus on the small stuff (small stuff adds up quickly), to make a huge difference in a short amount of time, there must be a focus on the big stuff as well.

The following is a list of some of the small and big things to consider:

Cutting back on water:

Small things:

– look for leaks

– use the small handle for a half a flush (when applicable)

– when washing dishes: close the tap to soap all the dishes together (or as much as can fit on your counter), then open the tap and clean them all off

Big things:

– Take a short shower (this also means turning off the water when soaping up)

– If you have a garden, water at night or in the morning and when there is the least amount of wind

Cutting back on electricity:

Small things:

– unplug appliances

– turn off lights

– change to energy efficient light bulbs

Big things:

– cut back on heating and air conditioning

– use your dryer less

–  if you have an electric heater for your water (דוד חשמל), take shorter showers

Making more money:

Small things:

– get a second job

– cut back on household expenses

Big things:

– change your career to something that pays more

– have both spouses work


What are some of the decisions or steps that you took that made the biggest difference in the shortest time?

that’s not good enough

Last month my annual contracts for my internet finally expired.  But just in case I would forget, HOT and 012 called me about 100 times to try remind me that there are some limited time deals – act now! – that I had to sign up for in order to get a good deal for my next year’s contract.

But getting a deal is never about “acting now” or closing any kind of deal before doing a proper comparison.  So I had to tell the people at HOT and 012 to lay off for a while until I could get all the facts and numbers straight.

After calling a couple of internet providers, I decided that I wanted to pay ₪ 50 NIS for HOT and ₪ 25 a month for 012 (I used to pay ₪ 70 and ₪ 50 respectively).  So I waited for HOT to call back and asked the salesman about the offer.  I was offered the regular sale they had going (₪ 59 a month, one year obligation) and advised strongly to act now because (1) it was less than I was paying now and (2) the salesman was not sure for how long the offer would last.  I tried bargaining him down, but when we reached a stalemate, I suddenly remembered Dave Ramsey’s strategy and decided to give it a try.

“That’s not good enough.”  I said.  “If that is your final offer then I will have to hang up the phone and call Bezeq.”

“Let me speak to my manager” the salesman said.  After waiting for about 30 seconds, the salesman reappeared with another offer of one month free and a year of obligation. 

As a side note, the salesman wanted to begin the free month immediately, even though I already paid full price for this month.  I had to get him to agree to reimburse me for the outstanding amount of the month I already paid for (alternatively we could have started the free month next month – either way, the salesman’s original intent was very deceptive).

Next stop was 012, a much simpler company to deal with.  I called 012 and was offered ₪ 40 a month (one year obligation).  I remembered Dave Ramsey’s line and gave it a shot:

“That’s not good enough.”

She spoke to a manager and I was immediately offered one mofree month

“That’s still not good enough.”

 She spoke to a manager again and got me a second free month.

“That’s not good enough.”

“Sir,” she finally answered, “how much do you want to pay?”

“I want to pay ₪ 30 a month and get 2 free months (average of ₪ 25).

So after speaking to a manager, she came back with a final offer of ₪ 25 a month, with one free month (average ₪ 23 a month).  It’s cute how some companies do not use math when they negotiate.

A look at my saving using the “that’s not good enough” approach:

Previous internet price: ₪ 120 a month for HOT and 012 combined

Offered price: ₪ 99 (₪ 59 from HOT, ₪ 40 from 012): A savings of ₪ 21 x 12 months = ₪ 252

Bargained price: ₪ 77 (average of 54 from HOT and 23 from 012):  An additional savings of ₪ 22 per month x 12 months = ₪ 264

Total savings:  ₪ 516