Robin Lai Kwok-cheung does not believe in looking back to the days of feasting on shark's fin soup in five-star hotels and buying $5,000 suits. He gave up that lifestyle early last year when he quit as a property agent after six years, realising earnings would be slim no matter how hard he worked. He jumped at a job offer that paid $25,000 a month - half his average salary - working as a manager of food and beverage shops. On his new budget, Mr Lai still supports his wife and his son, 10, as well as helping out his parents. But to continue paying the mortgage on their home and another flat they rent out, major lifestyle changes were needed. They slashed their entertainment and optional spending budget from $18,000 to $5,000 a month. Mr Lai sold his car, rarely goes to the movies and mostly eats at home. Even so, he considers himself lucky. He saw the market downturn, realised it would last some time and acted fast. His former real estate colleagues left too late and discovered job openings were offering much lower salaries. But he does not miss his car or the shark's fin soup, saying: 'We made a lot of money, but we had to sacrifice time with our families.'