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A sound family budget?

  1. #17
    MilkMonster is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by carang View Post
    as for the credit cards, it doesn't work for US because we never know how much is coming in. it can be VERY difficult to pay it off in it's entirety at the end of the month.... hence why we're working our butts off now to pay them off! LOL!
    That is tough! Hubby and I used to both be self-employed but that was before we had kids. It must be hard not to be able to plan and know how much income will come in with a family to support.

  2. #18
    HK2008 is offline Registered User
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    Hello ladies again, what you have said here so deeply touched my heart. I'd be completely a fool if I didn't take them all in and make changes from TODAY. This morning when I looked at my DD's wardrobe, I felt like crying because I had accumulated so much clothes for her that even she does three changes a day, she won't be able to go through them all by the end of the season...What have I done??? And there I was-still pushing hubby(who's on business trip in Sydney) to buy more dresses for her!

    I had thought a lot last night and here is a list of things I'd like to do('with immediate effect'):

    First of all I'll stop going into the shops. I know I don't need ANYTHING but most of the times I just feel like going in and saying hello to the staff there, who are always so friendly and helpful then I'll end up buying as if the kids had no clothes yet for the new season;

    I'll buy cookbooks and plan our menu ahead. This way I don't have to wait and do nothing till hubby gets home then there is nothing on the table so we have to go out to eat. I'm aiming at eating out only once a week for now(Gee it's gonna be hard);

    Grocery shopping: I'll limit the consumption of imported stuff especially if they are not good to health, eg. aussie bacon, margarine, cheese, Demark cookies, all brands of chocolate etc. Aussie milk is still a daily necessity so I cannot compomise on the quality for the kids' sake; I'll spend some time getting a few tips on how to shop in a wet market from the girl working in the concierge;

    Credit cards: we do pay off the balance each month; but it's always a pretty big amount to pay. I'll set up a family budget for each category(food, travel, dining out, clothes, holidaying, gifts, fixed assets like camera) and stick to the budgeted amount;

    And aussiegal, I want everything you'd mentioned in your post. Early retirement, finacial security...Actually I was initally planning to pay off the home loan back in Australia. Now I'll put aside a set amount and transfer it back home at the end of each month;

    I'll also set up some goals too. One can feel lost here in this busy city! I'll start doing something meaningful...and stop being purely a consumer.

    Carang, you are such a role model to me. I'd be so much better off if only I could achieve 1/3 of what you said...

    I am very grateful to all of you ladies who cared enough to help me out. I don't feel so lonely any more and also swear that I won't let you down!

  3. #19
    MilkMonster is offline Registered User
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    When we first started budgeting, we found it helpful to collect all our receipts and write down exactly where and how we were spending our money for 3 months first. We then had a very realistic picture of our spending habits and worked out a budget with the information we collected that would actually work for us. budgeting is hard to stick to sometimes, best be sure to make a realistic one that also helps you reach your financial goals. Good luck!!

  4. #20
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
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    HK2008, i also wanted to say that I can completely understand the being new to HK, feeling a bit lost and bored and using shopping as an activity. I did it for awhile but thankfully realised what I was doing. I think it's important to invest some time in getting to meet people. I have made some good friends from this forum so don't be shy when people suggest meeting up etc.

    It also helps if you hang out with people who are here for the same reasons. (financial freedom etc) I know some people who just spend and spend and only want to go shopping. That's not for me. I'm happy to spend money but on the things that are important to me. Am a sucker for luxury holidays! I just can't stay in budget hotels.

    HK is such a consumer society. I think it can take some effort to remove yourself from that mentality. When we first arrived we spent two months at Four Seasons place. I remember going to the IFC mall and thinking, oh my god, i'm going to have to start wearing designer t-shirts to fit into this world! When we moved out we were relieved to realise that not everyone lives in luxury stores...

  5. #21
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    think of it this way... i had friends here, a YOUNG couple...a little younger than i am...
    they were here for 5 years.

    at the end of that, they went back to canada, bought a $350,000 home with $300,000 CASH!!! they did get a small $50,000 mortgage so that they didn't have to take the first jobs they were offered. they bought 2 NEW vehicles as well.

    THAT is my eventual goal.... if you keep that in mind, maybe find a photo of your dream home and post it on your fridge door AND keep a small copy in your wallet, you may find yourself less likely to spend needlessly than you would otherwise.

  6. #22
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    ps> my mother would have a total fit if she found out I was a "role-model"!

    i have a very bad rap in my family. they all think i'm terrible with $$$. i admit that used to be the case, but not so much anymore...at least i really try for it not to be the case!

  7. #23
    MLBW Guest
    For our family, it is all about priorities. I think that is so helpful to sit down at as a family (husband and wife, for us as our child is too small to contribute) and talk about priorities and goals.
    About accomidation, it's a huge expense (or can be). Land prices are high here. So, that is a definite priority issue. So, it's good to know what you want and what you are willing to pay for it and compromise to get there. I don't think you can exclude that from the equation. How do locals live for under 10K--I can tell you from experience that families live together (that means living with the in-laws)--and they find ways to make things go further and last longer--that is how the survive--that's how we have survived here. They buy from the local merchants who reward their customer loyalty with price cuts or extras--those sorts of things. They also barter. For transportation--they rarely take taxis--taking a taxi is a luxury item for us and especially since the fares have gone up, we take taxis late at night (never over $20 HKD/ride) so it's more safe (so I don't have to walk home in the dark) or if we have a lot of groceries and our son with us--otherwise it's very, very rare. We walk a lot--so we have to budget more time to get to the MTR station (20-minute walk for us) and we take buses and the MTR and sometimes mini-buses. My husband is so much better than me at comparing costs in his mind--so sometimes we'll opt to take a different bus just because the fare is a bit cheaper.
    Us? We live in a small place (probably less than 600-square feet) but not as small as the places we looked at while we were shopping for a place (we saw some under 300-square feet!). But for us, size is not the main priority (although, who wouldn't want more space, right?)--but location is a priority--we don't want to live in the middle of a congested urban area although it might be more convenient (closer to public transport, stores and entertainment). So, being able to see green and hear birds outside is really a priority for us--but for others the higher priority might be to have easier access to certain things (I have a friend who likes living in the city for the access to the nightlife--that sort of thing)--neither are wrong or right--it's just a priority thing.
    Also, we choose not to spend a lot on our housing--our rent is less than 1/6 of my husband's monthly income--yes, we could spend more but we prefer to save money because we plan to buy a home in the near future. It took a lot of searching (6 months worth or more!) as well as inquiring and looking for a "lucky break" to find the house we live in now--then we had to convince the landlord to actually rent it to us!
    For us, we find that finding ways to save money is a sort of game. I am actually very proud if I can find a nice shirt for 30 HKD or less or trousers for less than 100 HKD--and I have found these before. For my work, I splurge a little on clothing (most expensive trousers I've bought were 500 HKD) because I want to look professional and nice but otherwise, I love to go to local market streets (Fa Yuen Gai--Flower Market Street or Li Yuen Gai--across from H & M) and look for bargains and use my creativity with clothing. Like, Carang, I believe in spending a bit more on shoes--especially shoes that are healthy for my feet and back (otherwise I suffer)--but honestly, I have never spent more than 600 HKD on a pair of shoes in my life and I look for deals and get the most out of what I buy.
    For my son's clothing--well, I've got friends and he gets their kids' hand-me-downs and the rest I buy at local outlet stores (sample clothing)--he outgrows clothes so fast that I just don't want to spend tons of money on clothes. For his trousers the average I spend is 10-20 HKD and shirts are anywhere for 5-15 HKD/each. So...then I don't feel bad if he outgrows them before they get much wear--and then I can pass those clothes along to friends as well.
    Food...it such an easy way for me to really lose track of the budget. So, I just decide what foods I'm willing to splurge on and what I'll "go local" for--and most of our food is simple and local. I really use a lot of veggies in our food because it's healthier, simpler and cheaper. We bought an small oven so I can bake things I want. And if we shop at Wellcome or Park n' Shop for groceries and think carefully about what we buy (as in, "do I really need this or just want it a lot?") we can spend only a few thousand dollars/month on food. When we eat out we very, very, very rarely eat at "Western Restaurants"--we eat local food and for a set-meal, we rarely pay over $50 HKD/person. We eat noodles, rice, meat and veggies--just basic stuff. For birthdays, we usually have a nice dinner out.
    And for entertainment, my husband and I each choose a sort of personal focus--for him, he spends a bit of money on sports (equipment and use fees)--and goes golfing at a public golf course in Shenzhen (where he works) once a week (100 HKD for 9 holes). Me? I, like Carang love my massages and go to the same local place at least once a week--because I have some back problems, this keeps me from having to go to a more expensive doctor and just makes my life more comfortable--this is my big spend--I also get a discount because I'm a loyal customer.
    For toys for our son--we buy one or two quality toys every few months--usually something that suits his age--right now he's really into balls and puzzles. We use some of his birthday or CNY lai see for this but not much.
    For family entertainment? We go to parks which my son loves and are free. We go to the beach which is also free (except for transport). At home we watch VCDs, not DVDs and usually pay under 30 HKD for a VCD. We don't get cable or satelite TV but watch the local channels here. We really don't go on any holidays--except this year, for the first time my husband and I went to Taiwan because we got a free voucher from his parents to do so. For our holidays we go to a place like Lantau Island and stay in a moderate hotel and just go on hikes and enjoy being together. I read. My husband bought a second-hand PS2 and plays games on it. I scrap book but I don't buy the expensive pre-fabricated stuff--I invest in equipment and then use magazines or my own materials to do it. I blog. I spend time with friends just doing things like drinking tea in a local tea shop. We keep it simple and it works for us.

  8. #24
    Portia is offline Registered User
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    Can I ask how much you are paying for food every month? I know it depends very much on where you are buying the food (eg, 360, Olivers, supermarket, wet market etc), but my helper has been planning our menus and doing the shopping. For a family of 4 adults and a baby, she has been spending around $8000-9,000 per month for shopping for 3 meals a day. It seems like a lot to me.

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