Can you make it through the month?
Can you make it through the month? Photo by David Bachar
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Ligmor et hahodesh” refers to making ends meet, but literally means “finishing the month,” as in having enough money to get through each month. It’s usually used with a negative formulation, as in, “Her job pays so badly she has trouble finishing the month.”

This focus on living month by month is not restricted to people who are having a hard time stretching their paycheck, though. In Israel, people talk about salaries and day care tuition not in one-year units but as a monthly sum; when Israelis bluntly ask how much you make -- and they will -- the number you are expected to reveal is the one that appears on your paycheck every month.

This attitude can also be seen in the extensive reliance of average Israelis on paying grocery bills in installments and using their bank overdraft as a standard line of credit. Perhaps the high inflation of the early 1980s, which at one point rose to annual rates that peaked at more than 450 percent, left a lingering sense of financial insecurity imprinted on the collective unconscious. Or maybe it’s all just a cultural quirk that began donkey’s months ago.