Temple Israel – Weekly Newsletter – 12/28/17

With the New Year approaching, many of us are taking time this week to reflect upon 2017, its highs and lows, its challenges and opportunities. It’s a time when we reflect on ourselves, on how we grew or changed or evolved. Were we the best versions of ourselves?  Did we give enough attention to our own health, or enough attention to those in need around us? As someone with a background in psychology, I don’t often place a great deal on the concept of New Year’s resolutions. There’s just too much evidence that people struggle to keep them, that they bring guilt rather than relief, and that, too often, they are made at a time or in a way that makes them almost impossible to keep. For that reason, rather than think about resolutions, I like to think about SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. What’s the difference between a SMART goal and a resolution? Well for that, let me talk about one of the SMART goals my wife and I have planned for this year, based on a common resolution we all hear this time of year.

How many of us start the New Year thinking that this year, we will stick to a budget? Or we will be smarter about how we spend our money? Or we will try and save a little bit more each month? Or what about this one: This year, I will be a better person? Or, this year, I will give more to charity? These are noble goals, wonderful resolutions. But what will this look like in practice? How will you achieve this? That’s where SMART goals come in, and to illustrate the difference, consider this SMART goal that Barrie and I have made, and which we believe helps to accomplish the money, charity, and better people resolutions:

This year, the Harvey family will spend X dollars a month on groceries. On the first of each month, we will notify Beca at Temple Israel that we wish to buy X dollars in Scrip gifts cards to Payless. We will use these gift cards to support Temple Israel in charitable giving and to make sure that we do not overspend at the grocery store.

Okay, so what are we talking about here? First, let’s go over why this is a SMART goal and not a resolution. First, notice how specific it is. We have allocated a dollar amount (X) to be spent each month on groceries. It is measurable because at the end of the year (or month), we will have tangible evidence of what we’ve spent and how much we have donated to the synagogue. It is achievable because this is money we have decided to set aside for groceries already, and doesn’t change that we are spending money, but rather the mechanism through which that money is spent (Scrip instead of cash or a debit/credit card). It is results-focused because we are clear about what should be happening each month (X dollars used to buy Scrip to buy groceries) as opposed to action-focused, which would have simply talked about spending less. Finally, it is time-bound because we have been specific about when to contact Beca for gift cards and how often this will occur throughout the year. In other words, yes, our resolution is to be smarter about money and more consistent in our charitable giving. But that looks a whole lot easier and manageable as a SMART goal, doesn’t it?

Which brings me to the idea of Scrip. I know that you see Scrip reminders every month in the newsletter, but do you really know what Scrip means? In a nutshell, Scrip is the ability to buy gift cards to places we shop with a percentage of that purchase going to the synagogue. Let me be clear: If you spend $100 at Payless with a Scrip gift card, the gift card only costs you $100. But Scrip kicks back a percentage of that $100 to the Temple.  with a certain percentage going to the Temple.  This is an incredibly powerful and effective method of fundraising for our congregation… but only if we participate.

Let’s face it, we all buy groceries.  We shop at Meijer, or Payless every month.  And most of us spend about the same amount on groceries every month as part of a budget.   If we budget a certain amount of groceries every month, and we shop at the same stores for groceries each month, then it makes sense for us to buy a certain amount of Scrip gift cards for the month.  The rebates given to the Temple from the stores participating in Scrip (between 3% and 15%) might not seem like much, but they add up!

On average, Temple Israel has about 4-5 families that order Scrip each month, which adds up to about $35 per month or $420 per year.  But, and this is a super important but, if every one of our 112 families spent, on average, $400 on groceries per month using Scrip, that would be $1,344 going to the Temple every month, or about $16,000 per year!  And that’s just on groceries! Places like Arni’s, Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, and Chipotle give the Temple between 10% and 15% rebates!  Can you imagine a less labor-intensive fundraiser? It doesn’t require you to give away any of your money and it doesn’t take away a great deal of your time. All you have to do is either mail the Scrip request in with a check for the amount or simply turn it into the Temple office with their check.  You can also use the Scrip mobile site http://www.myscripwallet.com which allows you to pay with credit card, debit card, or bank transfer.

$16,000 per year folks! That’s exciting new programming, dynamic new materials, consecration trips for our teenagers, visiting scholars and musicians for adult education, infrastructure updates, and the list goes on! All for basically doing what you already do. Now I’ll be honest, in the last six months, Barrie and I have used Scrip once and know we can do better. That’s why it’s one of our big SMART goals going into the New Year. We hope that our commitment to using Scrip in 2018 can inspire you to do the same. Each month, you’ll see me or Barrie getting Meijer or Payless Scrip cards not only to keep us on our grocery budget, but also to provide an easy way to help out the Temple we have grown to love!  Please join us!

Wishing you a wonderful New Years, and a very successful, happy, and healthy 2018!




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