Five tips to trim spending on Chinese New Year

The festive season is a frenzy of buying as people add cheer to the already joyful ambiance

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by AFP

THE pursuit to celebrate a picture-perfect festival often burns a huge hole in the pocket.

“Chinese New Year (CNY) only comes once in a year, so why not spend more?”

One could not miss but repeatedly hear this overused excuse to lavish extravagantly on the oncea-year auspicious celebration. The festive season is a frenzy of buying as people add cheer to the already joyful ambiance. Nothing spells more important than cash that some companies exercise advance salary payment for employees — either a portion of their pay or full salary paid before their next normal payday.

But underneath these relentless spending lies the risks of overspending on items that serve no purpose beyond a few days of the celebration.

From hosting a costly reunion dinner, buying gifts to handing out red packets, or ang pows, it is the time where people fork out huge wads of cash for a one-time stint.

While welcoming such celebration comes only once a year, it is also equally imperative to have a comprehensive understanding of spending within means.

If you are prone to overspend, here are our five tips to trim your CNY spending.

1) Do your shopping online.

The festive season is the best time to shop online, as many online platforms such as Shopee, Lazada and Zalora will be offering discounts and promotions for their sales items.

Most online stores offer lower prices, compared to offline stores. Online shopping makes price comparison simpler and quicker. So make it a habit to compare prices before making purchases.

Have a list of things that you need and allocate a certain amount of budget. Make sure to list down all the things that you need, so it doesn’t incur any last-minute spending.

Before making any payment for your purchases, check if your bank’s credit card is offering any reward points for you to save some pennies.

2) Plan your travel smartly.

If you are planning to “balik kampung” for CNY, consider leaving a few days earlier or travel during the off-peak hours. This can spare you a fair amount of money, as you won’t be stuck in traffic congestion and will ensure fuel efficiency throughout your journey.

Reap the benefits of digital wallets such as Touch ‘n Go eWallet to enjoy toll rebates during the festive season.

For those flying to hometown, book airline tickets early to avoid any hefty cost that comes at last-minute booking. AirAsia Bhd and Malaysia Airlines Bhd are offering fixed low fares for flights in conjunction with the upcoming CNY celebration.

3) Keep an eye on dining deals.

Food plays such an integral part in celebrations. In fact, most local restaurants and hotels will be taking advantage of the CNY and charge exorbitant prices on dining packages compared to non-festival days. Apps such as Fave and Eatigo offer the best dining places with discounts of up to 50% for a variety of cuisines and more than 4,500 restaurants ranging from a five-star hotel, food chains to small-scale eateries in Kuala Lumpur.

4) Go easy on the snacks and decorations.

Of course, CNY is not the same without some traditional snacks and mandarin oranges. But that doesn’t mean you have to overspend on your snacks for the guests. Set a fixed budget and prepare some homemade snacks during your time off. This way, you are not only serving healthy snacks to the guests but also cutting costs on your snack purchases too.

The same goes to CNY decorations. You don’t have to go overboard with the extravagant lanterns, lights and cherry blossoms. Consider using items that you can reuse and check out some do-it-yourself YouTube videos for home decoration ideas. Use your extra ang pow packets to make some cool designs on your wall.

5) Give your ang pows wisely.

This goes especially for those who are married and have to give ang pows to their friends and family, as a token of good wishes during the auspicious season. Always pay off all your financial commitments and set aside your monthly savings, before you start counting on how much you need for ang pow money.

If necessary, you can also make a list and weigh in on which family member should get more or less. But, always remember to be realistic and make sure that you are keeping it within your budget.