My Financial Situation: I have approximately 6 months worth of savings plus a retirement account with approximately 6 months of savings in it. My income fluctuates. Without calculating maaser, I earn enough money to continue to put away the maximum allowable in my retirement account each year (19,500) while keeping my 6 months savings stable. Perhaps I can earn an additional 10k-20k/year depending on the year so my estimate is that if I take 10% maaser (approximately 20k/year) and give it all to aniyim, I will be able to keep my finances stable (6 months savings) while continuing to contribute 1 month savings to my retirement account each year. We live a happy, comfortable, but conservative lifestyle with no major luxuries, expensive vacations, expensive clothing, expensive food. My wife asked me years ago to stop buying flowers and Jewelry for her because she would rather save the money for the future.
Question # 1: My 2 oldest children are 13 (boy) & 11 (girl). Can I use some of the maaser money to start a fund now to save for their weddings?
Question # 2: About 5-10 years ago my brother in-law asked our yeshiva tuition administrator how much of his tuition is used to educate his children and how much is overage (used to help pay for other children who pay less than full tuition) which may be applied to maaser. He told him that it costs $5,000 per child. I asked the same question a few days ago and he told me $7,500. The cost for full tuition is approximately the same now as it was then. I don’t want to confront him with the discrepancy but I can’t imagine that the number grew by 50% since then. What number can I assume is correct?
- B”H it seems that you do have your needs, and even money to put away into savings, therefore at this time you should be giving maaser. Regarding putting savings away for future weddings. A number of poskim say that since maser is money that is meant to go to poor people, that we should not take the money that we are saving up from maser, however there is an opinion that is lenient with this, if you will not have the money to afford it then. Everyone agrees that when the child reaches marriageable age, that you can put away money for their basic wedding expenses, if one’s financial situation at the time requires it. What you can do is to put 1/3-1/2 of your maaser money into a gemach, to lend to poor people, which is considered tzedakah, and when you have to make a wedding, depending on your situation at that time.
- It is hard to answer you, when I don’t have any information with which to gauge what might be correct. The fact that he says that the cost per child went up by 50% in ten years is not outlandish, as I know that certain seminaries in E. Yisroel have gone up 25% in the last 5 years, so 50% in 5-10 years is not that bad. As a side point what is funny to me is why has the tuition not really gone up in the last 5-10 years. This you can ask the administrator, and he won’t feel confronted.
B’orach Tzedakah 11-81 in the name of R’ Eliyashiv, R’ Vosner, and R’ N. Kareitz zt”l who are strict on this matter, but R’ Moshe Feinstein Y:D 1- 144 was lenient about this. Even according to R’ Moshe one should not use all of his maser for such a purpose.