This blog offers Enrich’s tips for migrant domestic workers for a money-wise new year. If you are an employer of a domestic worker, small steps can support your worker to have a financially successful 2017 – read more: here.
In Hong Kong, the Lunar New Year celebrations are noticeably more festive and vibrant compared to the New Year festivities.
This year’s Lunar New Year includes three Statutory Holiday days: Lunar New Year’s Day (28 January), The third day of Lunar New Year (30 January), and The fourth day of Lunar New Year (31 January), as well as a Sunday (29 January). This means migrant domestic workers are entitled 3 days off or 4 days off if their usual day off is a Sunday.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian countries that also follow the lunar calendar. Because the Lunar calendar is based on the moon cycles and not coordinated with the Gregorian calendar, a solar calendar, the Lunar New Year always falls at a different time of year each year.
Whilst many banks, business and shops are closed, many restaurants and shops remain open and even extend hours during this holiday. It is a time for families to get together and honour ancestors. The customs and traditions vary by region and often involve reunion meals with family, spring-cleaning of the house, and wishing good luck on each other.The giving of red packets or “lai-see packets” is a prominent custom in Hong Kong. These packets of money are given out by married couples or elderly to the youth. Often, red packets are also given by families to domestic workers with their year’s bonus or a gift of gratitude for their work.
With the possibility of receiving a bonus, this is a great opportunity for domestic workers to grow their savings, add to certain funds that they have budgeted for, or make an important payment. On the other hand, with multiple days of holidays that might be spent out, there is much more temptation to spend money on restaurant meals, treats, and Lunar New Year sales!
To enjoy the Lunar New Year whilst keeping your finances on track, preparation and planning is key.
If you receive a bonus or lai see packets, ask yourself: how would I benefit from not spending this cash?
- Could you save up towards long-term goals, such as your children’s education or a large purchase for your home or business?
- It could go towards an emergency fund which would save you a lot of trouble and heart if ever a surprise payment or an unfortunate accident were to happen.
- If you have any outstanding debts to pay, prioritise paying off your debts first with this money and reward yourself to freedom from these debts.
During your days off over Lunar New Year, try to avoid the temptation of spending the holidays in shopping malls or restaurants.
- Instead, join free activities, such as hiking or visiting Hong Kong many public parks.
- Prepare and pack your meals and snacks ahead of time so that you won’t need to pay for marked up restaurant meals during this peak season.
- Enrich is running workshops during the Lunar New Year period, so please check with us to sign up for workshops!
We wish you all a wonderful Lunar New Year!
by Lucinda Pike, Senior Programme Manager, Enrich HK
Read our previous blog post “How far will the $131 salary and food allowance increase go?” to learn about how spending, saving, or investing extra cash leads to different outcomes.