Although the Hungry Ghost Festival comes with plenty of taboos, the logic contained therein tends to disappear like smoke when held up to scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean the superstitions surrounding the seventh lunar month can’t affect you.
Because old habits die hard, the sheer number of people who believe in certain Hungry Ghost Festival superstitions can result in real-world consequences, even affecting the prices of goods and services in certain sectors.
Here are five surprising ways the seventh lunar month can save you money, provided you’re willing to risk the wrath of restless spirits.
1. Home Prices Go Down
One of the most commonly held taboos is the warning not to buy or move into a new residence during the Seventh Lunar Moon. Making such a move during the Hungry Ghost Festival is believed to bring 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% on average between 2000 to 2009.
However, the data didn’t show a significant drop in transaction volume during the decade, indicating that while 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 Seventh Month could save you a significant sum. Hey, the money you saved can always be used to hire a professional ghostbuster. You know, if it becomes necessary.
2. Renovation Packages Become Cheaper and More Abundant
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 unseen, who may then get angry and decide to cause mischief. Additionally, ghosts returning to visit their old haunts (haha) may be upset or confused to find a different layout, which again may lead to dire consequences for the living.
(Sheesh, you’d think the HDB would burn a letter informing the previous occupants about the change in occupancy.)
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 seventh lunar month and you’re likely to find cheaper packages, as the glut of available contractors make it easy 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.
3. Bigger Discounts on Wedding Banquet and Packages
There’s another way the Hungry Ghost Festival can save you money, provided you’re willing to start your wedded life on an inauspicious foot.
You see, getting married during the seventh lunar month is considered a huge taboo, as the spirits lurking around may get jealous and decide to curse the union with all manner of misfortune. But if you’re willing to risk the bad luck, your wallet may find some relief from the eye-wateringly high prices of wedding banquets and bridal packages here.
Once again, its economics at play here. Lower demand for wedding services lead 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, or accept lower prices just to tide over the period. Which means some serious savings for you.
4. Low-priced Airfares are More Readily Available
While there is a taboo regarding travel during the Hungry Ghost Festival, we figure this one doesn’t really hold sway over wanderlust-filled Singaporeans. Just witness the spike in air fares around the National Day weekend.
(Maybe the giant flag we helicopter around those few days slaps all the restless spirits out of the sky, clearing the way for safe air travel?)
However, August traditionally is when airfares start to climb down to saner levels, perhaps in response to the tendency for competitive Singaporeans to forego daydreaming about Xin Fu Tang in Taipei and dig in for a last sprint towards the end of the year.
So if you’ve been gritting your teeth waiting out the travel peak months of June and July, taking your vacation during the Seventh Lunar Month — apart from the few days near National Day — can see you get away with a good chunk of savings on airfare.
5. Investments May be More Affordable
Say what you will about the rationality of modern, First World humans, but sometimes, centuries-old traditions simply win out. We’re not pointing to any supernatural causes, nor even 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 seeming pattern. However, we can’t help but be reminded that there are some pretty strong taboos about not signing any business deals or making major financial decisions during the Hungry Ghost Festival, for fear of — you guessed it — being cursed with bad luck.
What this means is, if you’re willing to be brave, you’ll have a slightly higher chance to scoop up some pretty solid deals during this time of the year. Just be sure to do your homework before committing, lest the taboo turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Written by Chip Chen.