Survive Chinese New Year Without Breaking The Bank


Are you ready to usher in the Year of the Monkey? While some actually love warm and fuzzy gatherings with family and friends and exchanging Chinese New Year goodies, others simply loathe being with less-than-enjoyable company. Add on to that the red packets (argh!), decorations, and a ton of feasting; the Lunar New Year can be a taxing affair.

Here’s how you can welcome the Year of the Monkey without going bananas with your spending.

cny shop

Chinese New Year Shopping

Shopping for Chinese New Year can be a very daunting affair.  Of course, this depends on how many friends you have, and if your long lost cousins and distant uncles manage to track you down.  Also, if you want to bring some of those prosperity vibes into your home, you may consider dressing it up with CNY decorations.

Before you head to Cold Storage and wonder for the umpteenth time why does everything cost so much, check out these tips that may just save you a chunk.

Wholesale Shopping at Woodlands

One of the only reasons why you’d visit Woodlands this year is probably to hunt down some CNY bargains.

Woodlands Terrace and the industrial area is a haven, albeit a crowded one, for CNY food shopping.  You can find distributors selling anything from baked goodies and seafood, to sausages and barbequed meats (yes, including Bee Cheng Hiang). Prices are about 10-20% lower than that in the supermarkets, so you do save a significant amount if you’re buying in bulk.  Another plus is the possibility of getting all your CNY food in one trip.

In recent years, word has gone around so expect crowds and possibly difficult parking.

Crossing the Causeway

If you’re willing to go up north to Woodlands, why not take it farther and cross the border to Johor Bahru?

Needless to say, with the exchange rate at an all-time low, the savings you enjoy will be significant enough to justify the trip, if you’re planning to stock up enough to feed your entire extended clan and ex classmates whose names you may have forgotten.

Whether you’re looking for brand new clothes, hair, or CNY food, the malls in JB are probably going to offer you a better bang for your buck than Orchard Road. Check out our tips on what to do across the causeway to make your CNY shopping trip an even more fulfilling one.

Do you really need new clothes?

We’re not quite sure about this.  Tradition has it that we should all start the New Year with new clothes. This was sensible at a time when people weren’t shopping for new clothes all year round, fast fashion hasn’t come into existence, and the world wasn’t dying from holding too much waste. Think about clothes that you had bought but have rarely worn, or even those that still have their price tags on.

If you’re not much of a shopper and do like to start the new year with fresh clothes, then shop online to save some precious dollars. The blogshops, which have always been the key to cheap fashion, have now evolved to become decent stylish clothes that don’t fall apart after the third wash. While prices aren’t quite the same as before (nothing is), they are still great alternative to hitting the malls in town.

Remember to use your shopping credit cards if you’re going on a spree!

cny dinner

CNY Dinners

Having a CNY dinner in a typical Chinese restaurant can be an expensive affair that costs hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, traditional CNY delicacies can be a very complex affair, or even expensive to make in your own kitchen.

One way to beat this dilemma is to have the best of both worlds.  Many Chinese restaurants, especially the chain outlets (e.g. Crystal Jade) offer takeaway delicacies, so you can add a special dish or two to your homemade reunion dinners.  If you shop around early, you may find that some even offer early bird promos if you book in advance.

Another way to have a meaningful dinner with friends and extended family is to do it pot-luck or steamboat style.  That would absolutely reduce the amount of hours labouring over menu planning and shopping,

If there’s no way you’re going near the wok, then be sure to check out the credit card promotions that many restaurants would have for CNY. Or, use one of these great foodie credit cards and soften the blow to your wallet.

At the end of the day, Chinese New Year is all about togetherness, reunions, and joy. So don’t miss out on the bigger picture of this festive season and stress out over the material must-haves.


For more financial tips and tricks to optimise your financial lifestyle, visit and learn all the best moves to make with your money.

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