Many say that it’s better to make money rather than count your pennies and cents. But it’s not so easy making big bucks in a competitive Hong Kong still recovering from Covid. So, as inflation is on the run, here are some tried-and-tested money saving tips.
First step, assess your financial health.
Take a financial health test and look your expenses in the eye. Be honest with yourself and don’t do this in front of your spouse or your banker. A quick test can be found on The Chin Family website: https://www.thechinfamily.hk/tools/fhc/en/main/index.jsp
This test is based on a methodology developed by the non-profit Financial Health Network to measure financial well-being. It will help you understand where you stand financially, and which actions you need to focus on.
Second step, keep in mind the 50/30/20 rule.
Some use an App or a budget worksheet to monitor their spendings. A good resolution which is however difficult to keep for long.
So, what about using the simple 50/30/20 rule developed by US Senator Elizabeth Warren? She proposes to divide after-tax income into just 3 categories: 50% on what you need, 30% on what you want and 20% for savings.
The 50% of “needs” include housing, food, education, transportation and utilities.
The 30% of “wants” are for most of us needed! :) They include entertainment, travels, dining-out…
The most important number is of course the smallest, dedicated to savings. Once these 20% are earmarked, it is up to you to adjust the 50% and 30% parameters.
The positioning of debt payments may vary: a saving if they finance the build-up of your assets, a “need” or a “want” if they relate to day-to-day expenses.
Now that you know where you stand, it is time to take actions!
A recent study confirmed that Hong Kong is the only city where the average person actually pays more for their rent that all the rest of their living costs combined (i.e. excluding savings). Not a surprised for all of us Hongkongers. But a clear wake-up call in terms of savings: the most efficient way to reduce our expenses is to cut on our rent.
And now could be the right time to do so!
Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash
Make a habit of checking the rental trends in your estate or nearby buildings when it comes time to re-negotiate the rent with your landlord. You can check by looking at the rental advertisements on estate agency window fronts or online via Centadata (https://hk.centanet.com/findproperty/en/centadata).
The arrival of an increasing number of Mainlanders combined with the expected large in-flow of expats from the West this summer is widely expected to push rents up after four years of decline. The turning point is about to arrive. So now is the time to renegotiate rental levels with your landlord and get a significative cut on your monthly expenses.
Revisit your current debts
Interest rates have been rising quickly and to high levels in the past couple of years. This has a direct and significative impact on the expenses of many. No rate cut in the horizon, so this is the right time to revisit your current debts.
If you are one of the lucky ones with fixed rate loans, not much for you to do. The cost of this debt has remained unchanged at a low level, which means that you banker is landing you cheap money. Better keeping this unchanged.
But if you have floating rate loans, ask you these simple questions: Do I have any unused cash which I could use to repay now my expensive loan? Do I know any unrisky investment which would pay me more than the cost of my debt? Would I be able to get a loan tomorrow if I needed to? From your answers to these questions, you will know if it is time to repay your floating rate loans.
So much to save with your day-to-day purchases
Beyond the big items like rents and bank debts, there are many ways to save money.
Buy Local: Get groceries from the local wet market and shop at the local pharmacies for daily necessities like diapers, toilet paper etc. Get shoes and handbags repaired and cleaned in a good repair shop.
Salad veggies on sale in Graham Street wet market.
Shoe Repair Shops: Don’t say bye-bye to your beloved pair of shoes too quickly. We have all taken the habit of throwing things as soon as they don’t match the latest fashion or when they are slightly damaged. Never forget that Hong Kong counts numerous small shops, generally founded several decades ago, which are ready for a small amount to revive those shoes (and bags!). For instance: Andersen Shoes, Handbags Repair (Shop B, 2/F, Shun Tak Centre. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10 am-7:30 pm, Sat 10 am-6pm, Sun closed) or Luxury Repair Centre (32 Graham Street, Central. Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 11 am-7 pm, Fri and Sat 9 am-7 pm, Sun 12 noon-6 pm).
Save on your transport fare: MTR launched in 2019 a new Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme. Under this scheme, commuters with monthly public transport expenses exceeding $400 are eligible for a transport fare subsidy. You can even include your Airport Express ticket as part of your monthly public transport expenses! But this is valid until end of April 2023 only. So rush there and don’t miss this!
Save on your ride to the Airport: We are back on overseas holiday mode! And back to the so convenient Airport Express.
Still, if paying $115 for a singly trip ($205 for a round trip) doesn’t bother us when on business trip, this is not the same story when it comes to going on holidays.
Why not switching to the bus then? Many city buses will bring you safely and timely to the airport at a much lower cost (40HKD/one way). For more information, look at: Public Buses, To and From Airport - Hong Kong International Airport (hongkongairport.com)
Too Lazy to Cook Days: Have breakfast at the cooked food market or cha chaan tengs (HK style fast food restaurant ). Breakfast only served before 11 am and order anything other than instant coffee. Some good ones in the neighborhood include:
- Hoi On Café (17 Connaught Road West, Sheung Wan. Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs 7:30 am-4:30 pm, Fri 7:30 am-3pm, Sat 7:30 am-4:30 pm, Sun closed). Try there the freshly baked bread;
- Wing Wah Southeast Asian Café (1a Upper Station St, Sheung Wan. Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs 8 am-5 pm, Fri 8 am-9 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am-9 pm).
We hope that the above will be useful to you!
Want to complete the list with other tips? Write to us at email@example.com