By David Skid | email@example.com
Mazel tov! Your child has been given a date for a bar or bat mitzvah weekend. Many of us feel conflicting feelings of absolute joy and sheer fear.
What kind of event will my child want? Will we be able to afford it without dipping into our retirement funds?These are normal feelings. As a father and a financial adviser who just celebrated a daughter’s bat mitzvah, I can offer some advice that might be helpful.
To our family, Isabelle’s bat mitzvah was a magical weekend, a culmination of an incredible journey, including her Jewish studies and her maturing into a Jewish woman. While there are many ways to have a bar or bat mitzvah celebration, it was important to my wife and me that Isabelle had input into the event.
No matter what you choose for your mitzvah weekend, there is one universal truth: It requires planning. The decisions and details appear overwhelming, but planning and getting your finances in order will help you feel more in control.
- Start early. Two simchas require planning in the life of a Jewish child: a bar or bat mitzvah and a wedding. You do not need to begin saving immediately after the bris or baby naming. However, the earlier you start, the more comfortable you will be dealing with them financially.
Even though you will not know the exact goal amount when you begin saving, you know the event will happen at a certain point in the future. Giving yourself time to be financially prepared will be helpful in making the decisions when the big days approach.
- Decide what suits your family. The type of mitzvah weekend your family desires and the associated cost are inextricably linked. Many celebrations are child-focused, while others include friends of the parents. Expenses can vary dramatically if your celebration is only for your child’s friends or if you target the party to include adults.
The number of children you have may also affect your decisions. Will you have multiple b’nai mitzvah? Depending on their ages, will any of them celebrate their weekends together?
Some families tie their mitzvah weekend to a destination trip, perhaps to Israel, to commemorate the occasion. Ultimately, it is important to do what feels both special and comfortable for your family.
- Invest your money strategically. Depending on your timeline and your appetite for risk, consider investing some of your mitzvah savings in growth-related investments and begin shifting toward more secure assets as the event draws near.
By the time you are three to five years away, a majority of the money should be fairly safe and secure. Within a two-year timeframe, keeping the money in a money market fund will likely provide the most security and liquidity.
- Ask the pros. Consider working with an event planner. With their years of experience, event planners can decrease your party planning stress and save you money as a result of their relationships with vendors. Additionally, having someone with your family to assist during the actual weekend will allow you to be fully engaged in the moment with your family.
For our family, we would not have changed a thing. All of the time and energy spent planning Isabelle’s weekend were worth it. We felt in control of the process and were able to fully immerse ourselves in the simcha.
While her party was everything we wanted it to be, shared with our family and friends, my wife and I will forever remember the pride we shared while watching our daughter be called to the Torah.
David Skid, a Chartered Financial Analyst® and Certified Financial Planner®, is the executive director and financial adviser at Vantage Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, Atlanta. He has a bachelor of accountancy from George Washington University and a master of taxation and an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from Georgia State University. The views expressed here are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or its affiliates.