Back when you were young enough to pay 55 cents for bus rides, Chinese New Year (CNY) was like a goldmine. You’d show up at your relatives’ homes with one of those little purses you could sling around your body, inside of which you stashed all your ang baos.
These days, even if you’re a married person who’s forced to dole out ang baos to random kids, CNY is still a huge money sink. If you haven’t found a cheap way to escape this year’s CNY onslaught, here are some costs to beware of.
Booking staycations late
Hordes of Singaporeans used to flock to Changi Airport the evening before CNY, desperate to make the most of the long weekend and escape their nosy relatives back home.
In today’s context… if you haven’t already booked your staycation hotel tickets to get outta home, we’re sorry to say this but you’re going to end up paying several times the usual price, since most staycays are now ridiculously priced.
If you’re determined to go AWOL this CNY weekend, in order to avoid paying exorbitant hotel fares, your best bet is to opt for a daycation or opt for a two- or three-star hotel.
Good news: with shipping restrictions loosening up, we’ll finally be seeing more varieties of our favourite blooms supplied from overseas.
Not so good news: these seasonal plants are carrying higher price tags of up to 10 per cent more this year. Weather conditions are bad, and transportation and labour costs are rising, reports Channel NewsAsia.
We know you were looking forward to the kumquat and peonies, but a couple of pots can really add up.
So here’s a thought—plant swapping. Check if your community or neighbourhood has a gardening interest group. Many of them exchange plants for free. Here are some active Facebook groups to check out:
- Home Gardening Singapore
- Swapping of plants (Free) in Singapore
- Plants trade Singapore
- Plant Swap Singapore (SG)
- Rare and Unique Plants. Trade done in Singapore “Only”
You might just walk away with a new plant friend too.
One of the plus points of CNY is getting to stuff your face with goodies like bak kwa and pineapple tarts.
Well, guess what, you could have bought those snacks any time of year, and indeed you should have, because retailers of CNY goodies jack up the price without fail every year. The closer you get to CNY, the more you can expect to pay.
That means if you haven’t bought your pineapple tarts, cornflake cookies, nian gao or bak kwa and are sure your family’s ang bao haul is going to depend on how well you feed your relatives, you’d best rush out and do it now.
Next year, you’d do well to place your orders with the various sellers weeks or even months in advance. One pineapple tart seller we spoke to claims they reached their order quota during the Mid Autumn Festival a year ahead.
Throwing dinner banquets
Best case scenario: you’ve got a relative who has a house big enough to accommodate the entire clan.
Otherwise, good luck trying to book a few tables at a Chinese restaurant without being made to pay ridiculously inflated prices.
If these banquets are a yearly affair, you’d do well to start booking way in advance. And by way in advance, we mean the year before.
We’ve got your back though. Check out our list of Chinese restaurants you can dine at for under $60/pax. Yep, Michelin joints included.
Buying new red clothes
Some people treat CNY as an excuse to fuel that shopping addiction, all in the name of being a good, traditional Chinese boy/girl.
Others buy all those ridiculous red clothes mainly because they think it’ll give them better luck during the yearly gambling sessions with the uncles and aunties.
But anyone who knows how to shop for clothes in Singapore knows that waiting for sales to hit is the best strategy.
But with just one or two weeks to go before CNY hits and the possibility of a year of bad luck awaiting if you wear don’t wear new clothes to ring in the new year, you’re likely to buy red outfits that make you look more like a tomato than a rose.
Seriously guys, there’s nothing wrong with eating bak kwa or wearing red, if that’s your colour. But waiting until a few days before CNY to do all of the above is a surefire way to pay more for something that would cost you less other times of year.
In case you’re wondering, I’m just going to be waiting in a bomb shelter till CNY is over.
How else does CNY cost you unreasonable amounts of money?