Ahhh “money” and “saving” in the same sentence. I know! Trust me, it’s not exactly my area of expertise (or enjoyment for that matter)! Just ask my husband and he’ll tell you how (for want of a better word) hopeless I used to be at “saving!”
But! Yes, there’s a but….
When American Express asked if Mint Mocha Musings would like to collaborate and come up with some surefire tips for saving cash, admittedly I thought, while I’ve largely improved on the money front, I could probably do with some sage advice myself.
You too? Read on.
Let’s face it, while it’s not exactly the time of year to hold back on the spending (at least that’s what I’m telling myself) it would be handy to have some extra cash up my sleeve once the jingle bells have rung out and Santa’s skipped town.
From where I stand, it’s pretty easy for the festive merriment to hinder that normally sane judgement and hijack your hip pocket! Or is that just me convincing myself the carefree spending is all in the name of gallant gift giving and ‘so and so’ really needs that gorgeous handbag to go with that scarf and those earrings you’ve already bought!
By Christmas Day I’m sure I’ll be ready to quietly dip my head in the egg nog in a bid to while away the damage! January could be a lean month.
So….I guess, the obvious thing here is to try and save money all year round, so by the time Santa’s knocking on your door, asking for a list, well, you won’t need to check it twice and cross off those expensive items.
While this post is specifically talking about Hong Kong today, don’t be thinking you can stick your head in the sand, my friends. Most of these savvy saving tips can apply to all and sundry, wherever you might be tucking into Christmas pud. So before you hit delete on this post, do yourself a favour and have a quick scan ahead!
Ok so here goes….. five fab tips for making sure your Christmas (next year) is not fraught with a hefty price tag hangover!
1) GO PUBLIC
Let’s face it, in the sophisticated urban sprawl of Hong Kong, public transport is pretty remarkable. No arguments there right?
For most people having a car is a luxury as opposed to a necessity. Taxis are (on a global scale) comparatively cheap but even better, there is the MTR, which is super clean, runs like clockwork and costs under $20 for a basic round trip.
But you know what’s even more cost effective? Yep, get out your brolly! Hong Kong’s busses. Ok so the driving can be a little on the hairy side, tearing through the Kong in a 16 seater mini bus. But, at a fraction of the price of a cab, it’s worth the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ ride! Hong Kong’s City Bus company is also pretty cost efficient for a longer journey across the city and out to the ‘burbs.
So next time you flag down an all too convenient taxi, give yourself a stern talking to and run to the nearest bus stop (just don’t forget your brolly)!
Ok, there are some exceptions like high heels, so if (like me) you still prefer the more convenient and comfort of a roaring red taxi here’s my hot tip – rumour has it, there are ‘discount taxis’ with 20 per cent off the metered fares if you call ahead and spend a minimum of HK$50. Try it.
Note: If you haven’t purchased yourself an Octopus card you should be very ashamed!! Kidding, just hurry up and get one, pronto! It will save you money on both train and bus fares plus various other expenses like the 7-Eleven and Starbucks. (Not to mention its super convenient! You’ll wonder how you EVER got along without one.)
2) GET WET
Ok, so this applies to almost anywhere in the world, but particularly Asia, where Wet Markets are a way of life for locals. If you don’t already shop like this, perhaps it’s time to grab your shopping cart and get on board for some serious local action!
(I’m assured the fruit and veges are equally as tasty and healthy as any you’d buy in the supermarket and at a third of the price.)
There are Wet Markets all over town from Sheung Wan to Central, Wanchai, Kowloon and beyond….find your nearest spot and start stocking up. Hot tip — Kwun Tong Wet Market is regarded as the cheapest in town.
For a comprehensive list of where to get all your produce at rock bottom prices, check out this popular post by Mango Menus. And for a complete guide to what you can get at the markets and more importantly, what you can do with it, look no further than the fabulous Jasmine & Ginger! Sharon’s got you covered from Dried Mushrooms to Lotus Root, Snake Beans and everything in between.
3) SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
Yes! Sometimes the last thing you feel like is heading to more than one place for your weekly groceries, but your budget will thank you for it. Shopping around is always a smart start to savvy savings. As well as getting your fruit, veg and meat at a reduced price, think outside the box and visit places like JUSCO for great for home ware; Prizemart for a great selection of cheaply priced toiletries…..take trips out to Sham Shui Po for party favors, arts and crafts and all your technical delights. Head to Sneaker Street and Sim City in Mongkok for all your electronic needs.
Check in on chemists which often sell toilet rolls, wipes and the like at a cheaper price.
4) PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT
You know the drill… you get an offer for a gazillion points or a chance to redeem cash back and well, it all seems too hard and far too unlikely to ever eventuate into anything meaningful. But, this is what you need to do… throw out that laissez faire attitude and start collecting your money’s worth, because these card offers can turn some simple procedures into pure gold!
Just to name a few, ParknShop.com has money back offers including gift coupons and awards. City Super offers a loyalty program and Mannings Chemist currently has a MannCard with points which can surprisingly add up very quickly!
The Cathay Pacfic credit card enables you to collect points enables you to collect points shopping/wining and dining which can later be used to purchase flights around Asia.
So, next time you get asked to sign up for a loyalty program, I urge you (and myself) to take the time and do it.
5) OWN IT ONLINE
Yes! We all spend far too much time online, trawling our way through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but how about we put that finger tapping to good use?
There are a myriad of online forums to buy, swap and sell just about anything your heart desires. You need to find these forums and follow them with vigor!
Here are some that you should be on top of!
BuySellSwap – Facebook
HK Bargains – Facebook
HK Mommy Marketplace – Facebook
Hardly Worn It – Facebook
Buy Sell Trade HK – Facebook
HK Swap Toys – Facebook
Free Hong Kong – Facebook
Asia Xpat – Super Mondays
Budgeting and Saving – Facebook
NB: No matter where you are there’s bound to be a few online groups singing to a similar tune.
And with that, I bid you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year, where you are free to spend up large!!
*Sponsored by American Express….all ideas and words are my own.*