For some Singaporeans, the ghost month or the 7th Lunar Month is an unlucky time to do anything major. So if you’re not superstitious, you can score some good deals on major expenses.
The Hungry Ghost Festival (22 August in 2021) comes with plenty of taboos. The logic of some of these beliefs can disappear like joss smoke when held up to scrutiny. And it’s also true that not everyone in Singapore follows the traditional Chinese taboos that surround the Seventh Lunar Month.
But even if you don’t follow the taboos that surround the Hungry Ghost Festival, they can still affect you – but not necessarily how you think.
The sheer number of people who believe in certain superstitions around the 7th Lunar Month can affect the prices of goods and services in certain sectors. If you are brave, this means that you can get some bargains.
Here are five surprising ways the Hungry Ghost Festival can save you money. Provided you are not superstitious, and you remain sensitive to the beliefs of other people, you can bag a bargain.
1. Home prices can go down
Many people consider it unlucky to buy a home or move into a new residence during the 7th Lunar Moon. Making such a move during the Hungry Ghost Festival is believed to bring especially bad luck to the occupants.
Apparently, belief in this particular taboo is strong among homeowners in Singapore, strong enough to drive home prices down by as much as 10.89-percent on average for the 7th Lunar Month, from 2000 to 2009.
However, what the data didn’t show is a significant drop in transaction volume during the decade. This indicates that while some superstitious buyers shunned buying houses during the period, other non-superstitious (and savvy!) buyers took the chance to snap up homes at lower prices.
So if you’re the sort that rushes in where angels fear to tread, hunting for your next home at the start of the 7th Lunar Month may save you a significant sum.
2. Renovation packages are cheaper
Another big taboo around the Hungry Ghost Festival concerns major renovations or repairs to your residence. All that hammering and drilling is thought to disturb the roaming ghosts, who may then get angry and decide to cause mischief. Additionally, it’s thought that ghosts who are returning to visit their old haunts may be upset or confused to find a different layout, which again leads to dire consequences for the living.
Anyway, this results in a dip in business for interior design firms and renovation contractors – which translates to good news for brave, modern-minded homeowners like you.
Choose to renovate during the 7th Lunar Month and you’re likely to find cheaper packages, as the sheer amount of available contractors makes it easier for you to haggle. Even if you don’t get outright discounts, renovation firms may be more willing to throw in more work for free, giving you more mileage for your money. Do be prepared that some workers may be unwilling to stay late at work, because some people do not like to stay out after dark at this time.
3. Discounts on wedding banquets and packages
There’s another way the Hungry Ghost Festival can save you money, provided you’re willing to start your wedded life on what the more superstitious Aunties in your family would call an “inauspicious” foot.
You see, getting married during the 7th Lunar Month is considered a taboo, as the spirits lurking around might get jealous and decide to curse your union. But if you’re willing to risk it, your wallet may find some relief from the eye-wateringly high prices of wedding banquets and bridal packages in Singapore.
Once again, economics is at play. Lower demand for wedding services leads to lower prices. Hotels, restaurants and wedding providers are primed to expect poor business around this time of the year, so they are likely to offer greater discounts. This can equal serious savings for you.
Just be tactful in how you negotiate with vendors and hotels – you may not be superstitious, or believe in Hungry Ghost taboos. But their staff might.
4. Low-priced airfares are more available
We get it – travelling may not be on the top of your list now, but that doesn’t mean the option is forever closed. Keep this in mind for your future getaway and save yourself some precious dollars.
Traditionally-minded Chinese can be reluctant to travel during the Hungry Ghost Festival, or even to stay out after dark. This means airfares traditionally come down in August. So if you’ve been gritting your teeth waiting to fly, avoid the peak price months of June and July, and take your vacation during the 7th Lunar Month instead. You may save a good chunk on airfare.
5. Investments may be more affordable
Say what you will about the rationality of modern humans, but sometimes, centuries-old traditions win out. We’re not pointing to any supernatural causes, or making any claims of causality, but for the past five years, the STI Index closed lower in August (the traditional start of the seventh lunar month) than in July.
In all likelihood, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. However, we can’t help but be reminded that some Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Tibetans around the world may avoid signing any big business deals or making major financial decisions during the Hungry Ghost Festival, for fear of – you guessed it – being cursed with bad luck.
If you’re willing to be brave, you’ll have a slightly higher chance of scooping up some deals during this time of the year. Just be sure to do your financial homework before committing, lest the taboo turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
By Chip Chen, August 2019 / Last updated by Sabrina Ng