Almost half of Israelis in the red

Friday, December 01, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Israelis have become accustomed to living in the shadow of an overdraft with at least 42 percent of the population in the minus, according to a poll. The New Wave survey found that the average Israeli is 5,080 shekels (nearly $1,200) in overdraft, which for many people is more than a month’s salary.

The cost of living in Israel is quite high while salaries are low. A cup of coffee here costs about $3, but the average Israeli makes just over $1,000 a month. In addition, many items, from shampoo to cars, are imported, so the prices are higher than in most Western countries. For example, a bottle of Pantene shampoo costs about $5 in Israel while it can be found as cheap as $1.50 in the United States.

The poll revealed that with higher salaries, people have higher overdrafts, averaging 8,030 shekels—nearly $2,000.

Orthodox Jews have the lowest overdraft while secular Jews the highest. Therefore Jerusalem, where many residents are religious, has the smallest average overdraft, while the secular and affluent Tel Aviv area has the highest. People from 35 to 44 year olds have the highest overdraft compared to other age groups.

Financial advisor Boaz Aloni believes the financial situation is actually worse than the poll revealed. “My sense, in reality, is that there are a lot more people who find themselves in minus,” he said.

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