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A sound family budget?

  1. #1
    HK2008 is offline Registered User
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    Red face A sound family budget?

    Hello ladies,
    We've been in HK for three months or so and I'm interested to know how other people are running their household. I've found that it's very true about HK being a shopping paradise and if we are not careful, we could be saying goodbye to thousands of dollars every day. Since I dare not count on hubby getting a pay-rise etc in the near future, I'd like to control the 'outgoings' a bit in order to stay more flexible during the present tough times. Here are some questions and thank you all in advance for sharing your thoughts. This is not at all a survey on people's earning power or spending behaviour. I'm merely seeking some great advice:

    1. Rent: how many percentages of income should it be to be considered a sensible amount?
    2. Dining out: how many times should we dine out each week? The less the better I know. :Butbut I do get bored and out of ideas after cooking similar meals again and again;
    3. Grocery shopping: where do we go for shopping for groceries? Some people suggested wet market. But I can't seem to find anything that is cheaper than PnS, eg, meat and sea food. And veges? They are so cheap everywere anyway;
    4. Clothing: unfortunately I have a very bad uncontrollable urge of buying new clothes for a family of four. Especially for my three year old DD. Most of her pretty dresses were only worn once or twice and some even had the tag on when they were declared too small. I know I'm being too greedy...Should I just stop shopping? But it's my only favorite thing to do to help pass the time...Any suggestions how I can cure this disease of mine?
    5. Any other great saving ideas? Does anyone know how local people live their lives on $10,000 a month and still manage to have savings(I do know some live in public housing so please leave the accommodation aside).
    Many thanks from the bottom of my heart...

  2. #2
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    when your helper finally arrives you'll find it easier to save $ as she can do the cooking.

    instead of spending the $ on going out, buy some cookbooks and mark anything you think might be interesting... then have her experiment. that's what we did and it's worked a treat! some of the things she's made have been better than others, but we found some new things to add to our normal possibilities and it's much easier when she can decide for you. for dining out... we try to limit it to one nice dinner and one nice lunch per month. of course there are days that we get KFC or mcd's or even pizza hut, but they don't happen often. (it's still too much for my liking!)


    STOP SHOPPING NOW! you will ALWAYS find things to buy. keep your credit cards at home. that way, if you see something you think you might like, you have to go all the way home to get the card before you make the purchase.

    Go with the "one thing in, one thing out" for clothes. both for yourself and for your daughter. otherwise, you are wasting so much money that you could use on a trip to thailand or a holiday in italy!

    if you think everytime before you buy, what else could i do with this money, it might help you stop needless shopping.

    for groceries, there is a small wet market in FU TUNG in Tung chung, seafood is cheaper as are fruit and veg.

  3. #3
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
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    Just wanted to add to Cara's post...

    When out shopping, ask yourself --

    Do I really need this or or I just want it? Get it if you do need it, but leave it if you don't.

  4. #4
    carang's Avatar
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    the thing i forgot is.... ONLY USE CASH or DEBIT cards!

    the LAST thing you want in this economic climate is to be adding to credit card debt.

  5. #5
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    Hi

    Rent is horrific on the Island (I know it doesn't have to be and ours is actually comparitively cheap for where we live in Pokfulam) but it's 40% of my salary and I can barely stand to think about the fact we owned our own zone 2 flat in London for less than half the rent here..

    My husband and I meet for lunch a lot now as you get some phenomenal deals around Soho, Wyndham street and big hotels and top notch restaurants. We've (tried) to pull right back on evening dining out but if we can't, then we keep a lid on the wine list at least! If you read up you can find some great little places (e.g the freshest seafood place ever in Spring Garden Lane Wanchai - doesn't look like much but is GREAT)

    My helper is invaluable at saving us money and constantly berates me for buying things at PnS when she can get them cheaper at local shops in Kennedy Town (dispensary pharmacies for nappies, baby wipes, toiletries etc.).

    Clothes: I love outlet stores (Tung Chung is the best, plus there is also Horizon plaza in Ap Lei Chau) or if I am in the mood, Fa Yuen Street Market (the stores down the sides of the actual market have seconds / lots of designer brands super cheap). Stanley for children's stuff also (although for things that go next to the skin on small babies I tend to avoid fakes). For adults, I've just had some clothes done at the tailor in Shenzhen - sometimes hit and miss, but if you're copying something it's safer. You can browse the fabric market and really have some fun (at a good price). It also fits which is not always easy for me.. in particular when heavily pregnant....

    Hope that helps!

  6. #6
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    Cara you are hardline - but good for you! I'm totally hopeless so my points should be read with that in mind......

  7. #7
    carang's Avatar
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    i'm hardline, because i'm paying off debts....i have to be!
    also, i would MUCH rather spend my $$$ on travel than on useless stuff.

    but i still have some "luxuries". i LOVE my massage chair! i also go for the occasional massage at a little place in tsing yi during my lunch hour. she usually does 45 minutes for $148, but i can only do 30 minutes (i want it ALL on my back anyway) and she's agree to charg $100 for it. gives her business and me a much better afternoon!

    also, hubby and i are both self-employed. we never know what we will have for income each month (although my playgroup is now going so well, i know i can count on a certain amount). if we are sick... NO PAY! we don't have much choice but to be a little frugal.

    my daughter wears all the pj's that my son outgrows. i've not bought her any pjs at all. she also wears his old t-shirts etc around the house and puts on nicer, girlier stuff when we go out.

    i buy almost all of my kids clothes in the markets. i have to be VERY careful in stanley or i go overboard. i ONLY buy stuff that my kids NEED. VERY occasionally what i WANT for them. i also have certain standards. i would NEVER spend more for an article of clothing for my kids that would be more than i'd spend for myself. i think the most expensive thing in my kid's closet is a pair fo trousers for my son. i bought them when he was 18 months old. i bought them at size 3. we rolled up the bottoms. he's now 4 years old AND STILL WEARING THEM! i don't mind paying a little more, IF i'm going to get the use out of them. and i figure $200 for a pair of good quality trousers VS 2.5 years... NOT BAD! lol!

    the one thing i don't skimp on for my kids is shoes. i buy them good quality shoes. but they dont' ahve many pairs. the each have one pair of sports shoes and one pair of sandals. my son also has shoes for school.

    i don't buy a lot of toys for them either. i didn't even get them birthday presents earlier this month. i told them that we were going to canada and their present was getting to see their grandma and their cousins. they were happy with that. i also baked my own cakes for them and they helped me decorate them. they LOVE doing it adn it costs 1/10 what it would have if i'd bought the cake in a fancy cake shop.

    for my own clothing... i go for trousers and a few tops at H & M, and then a few more costly tops in M & S.

    we dont' have the latest and the best of almost anything. i did go overboard with my latest mobile phone though. i'd had the cheapest one on the market for such a long time, i decided to treat myself to an iphone.

    we only JUST got an LCD tv when our old one died. we got the cheapest one in fortress. we still have the old style tv downstairs in the living room so the kids won't break the new one.

    like i said, it's born of necessity. funny thing... you would never guess the number of times i've argued with my mum about money and how she thinks i love to spend it! LOL!
    Last edited by carang; 02-25-2009 at 10:43 PM.

  8. #8
    carang's Avatar
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    as for what we pay rent....
    hard to work out a percentage as our income varies so drastically.

    when we signed the lease, it was probably about 40%. but now, things are looking VERY good for us and it's probably about 20%....(no change in rent... only in income!)

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