This is something I've been wanting to write about for a while, but somehow never got around to. I mean the reduced child allowance the Israeli government has implemented. Some economists have hailed this reform as a sign of a new era, some frazzled parents bemoaned it and said it will lead their families into a financial crisis, and others have said that no one is really in the loss, because most of the money saved by reducing child allowance will be channeled into government-funded daycare and preschool, after-school programs, dental care for children, etc.
I am no economist and so perhaps what I'm going to say is too simplistic, but as far as I'm concerned, I would prefer a reduced income tax to an increased child allowance. Let us keep more of our own money, and we will be able to take far better care of ourselves!
Another point is that this new policy makes a statement which, at least to me, is quite plain: We used to give you money to help you raise your children, but now we no longer trust you to make good use of that money. We will therefore take it away and instead give you what WE think your child needs.
The government wants us all to be working as much as possible, so that we pay more income tax, and so we buy more, thus "boosting the economy".
The government wants our children to be in daycare at as young an age as possible, and it wants our school-aged children to spend as many hours as possible in school. It is interested in "working women", not mothers who keep their young children at home with them.
* Don't forget that the elite of Israel's founders were kibbutznik communists, and some of them still speak of kibbutz communal child rearing with nostalgia. Don't forget that Israel is, as far as I know, the only country in the world which enforces compulsory military service for women. A victory of equality or a national disgrace?
The government isn't interested in frugal housewives who save their families money by being economically savvy. It doesn't want us to save, it wants us to earn and spend.
This, together with the lowering of compulsory education age in Israel to 3 years, makes a worrying trend of government interference with our children's upbringing and education. Thankfully, we can follow the famous slogan and "Just Say No" to manipulations from up above which are supposed to dictate to us how we must live our lives.
My personal bit of financial advice is, try to avoid relying on any government benefits if you possibly can - you never know it, a revolutionary minister of finances might pop up any time and take these benefits away from you, to replace with something you need like a fish needs a bicycle (free daycare for babies who stay at home, free dental care for children who don't need any, etc). In our case, child benefits go into an account which is solely used for savings. We don't even know exactly how much we get each month, and we never see it in our "everyday use" account so we don't come to rely on it.