It is possible that excitement over the government's HK$6,000 payout to adult Hong Kong residents has not reached fever pitch in the household of Li Ka-shing, but elsewhere in Hong Kong, people have started submitting their applications for this largesse and are thinking about what to do with the money. Away from the world of tycoons, HK$6,000 is a lot of money and windfalls of this kind don't come round every day. For some there is every reason to think carefully about what to do with the money. Should the unexpected bonus be a great excuse for frivolous spending, should it be ferreted away in sound investment or will it simply get lost somewhere in daily expenses? Here on the Money pages, you would probably expect some sage advice about a sound investment, but this may be one of those occasions for daring not to be dull. So, some of our suggestions about ways of using this money might at first be regarded as frivolous, but actually are not. But let's start at the investment end of things and quickly acknowledge that, these days, HK$6,000 does not go far in the traditional world of investment. It is, for example, roughly enough for gold fanatics to go out and buy three gold Krugerrand or Canadian gold coins. The play-it-safe investor who likes equities might fancy a flutter on the Tracker Fund of Hong Kong, which, as the name suggests, tracks share price values on the Hong Kong stock market. Alas, HK$6,000 is not enough, even at today's reduced prices, to buy a single 500-share lot, although a husband and wife could put their handouts together and make the purchase, with a few dollars to spare. There are, of course, much cheaper share lots that could be bought for HK$6,000, but we are in a bear market, where it really makes sense to focus on only quality stocks at bargain prices and, as ever, quality costs a bit more. Lamentably, most people will simply put the money in the bank and, given the current rate of inflation, they have no hope of getting back what they deposited in inflation-adjusted terms, even after opting for a fixed deposit. On the other hand, many people owe money, and with HK$6,000 in hand, they might think the most sensible thing in the world is to cut their debt (especially credit card holders who are liable for horrendous interest rate charges). This makes sense if the alternative is putting money on deposit at rates well below the interest payment on the debts. Elsewhere in the world of investment, there is the usual motley collection of mutual funds, some of which will no doubt be trying to lure in new investors. But most continue to underperform in the markets they are supposed to represent. Then there are bonds, but buying small quantities of bonds is problematic. It is also near to impossible for investors to look towards overseas equity markets with a mere HK$6,000 in hand, because this is far too small an amount to open an account in a foreign market. However, in the volatile world we live in, it is feasible to have a punt on foreign currencies and the Chinese yuan. This prevailing volatility offers the prospect of short-term gains, alongside a more solid, longer-term investment. Hong Kong banks do a great job of offering platforms for foreign currency investment, ranging from simple foreign currency accounts to time deposits and more complex money funds. However, there are, arguably, better investment options, which have a more immediate practical benefit and look better by the day as Hong Kong's inflation mounts. Maybe the time has come to invest in what businesses would call a piece of capital equipment but what households describe as big-ticket items of considerable utility. With HK$6,000 there is enough, for example, to buy a decent laptop computer, maybe not top of the range but certainly of reasonable quality. Or for more practical folk, there is just about enough cash to buy both a top-loading washing machine and a good brand name refrigerator with a reasonably sized freezer compartment. And what about renewing that rather lumpy old sofa or buying a new bed with a firm mattress to help provide the kind of sleep that really refreshes? The inflationary outlook is such that it is a near certainty that all these products will be going up in price, and although in most cases these are what economists call 'discretionary purchases' (as opposed to those that are unavoidable), these are good investments. Unlike paper investments, they yield tangible benefits from day one. Talk of tangible investments brings us to the subject of paying for a holiday. Comparisons show that Hongkongers take fewer holidays than people in other developed economies, and many local people merely take a break from work. They do not or cannot afford to go away. That is a great pity because out there in empirical study-land there is also evidence showing that a real break, taken away from home, is more than a mere self-indulgence, as it can make a considerable contribution to a person's well-being. Or to put it another way that will appeal to practical, hard-headed Hongkongers, it is likely that the holiday returnee will be more productive. Hong Kong is close to a number of Asian destinations where an all-inclusive week's holiday is a distinct possibility. While HK$6,000 will not buy the fanciest hotel and you will definitely be sitting at the back of the plane, on landing there is the lure of a pristine beach, an array of sightseeing and, yes, shopping, another option to attract the practically minded who will find bargains not available in Hong Kong. One local tour operator is offering a HK$6,690 package tour for the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, Germany. No doubt the final price will be closer to HK$7,000 and so involve a top-up, but here's a real opportunity for something different, and experts will tell you German beer has wonderfully beneficial effects. Among the beneficiaries of this windfall are certain to be people who are uncomfortable with its very existence and are loath to be party to its benefits. Their obvious alternative is to give the money to charity. In so doing, it should be noted that not only is the choice of charity highly subjective, but there are glaring differences in the way funds are distributed. It is worth looking at charity websites to check how much of the money collected actually goes to the specified cause as opposed to administrative expenses and the like. One of Hong Kong's biggest charities, Po Leung Kuk, makes it very hard indeed to discover how much of its income is reserved for internal purposes and how much goes directly to charitable causes. Oxfam Hong Kong, on the other hand, is very clear about how much money it spends on administration (less than 3 per cent) and gives full details of how money raised is distributed. Potential donors will draw their own conclusions about charities that are not wholly transparent in providing this information. It is also worth noting, however, that donations to registered charities are tax deductible. Meanwhile, it is a pretty safe bet - excuse the pun - to assume that quite a large number of windfall beneficiaries will see this as a perfect reason to invest the money in a gamble, possibly on the Mark Six, or at the horse races or on a mahjong table. Although many earnest people will point out that the odds of winning a gamble are poor in the extreme, this will do little to persuade avid gamblers that they cannot beat the house. However, there is at least one form of gambling, with admittedly terrible odds, that at least entitles the gambler to the return of their principal investment. It is the boring, old, state-run British Premium Bond scheme, available online and open to overseas punters. These misnamed 'bonds' pay out monthly prizes of up to GBP1 million (HK$12.8 million) and holders can always cash in their original investment. One calculation suggests that there is a one in 41 billion chance of winning the GBP1 million jackpot, but the odds are a great deal better for small prizes. For Hong Kong dollar holders, this involves a currency risk and some inconvenience if they do not possess a sterling bank account; however, it might be worth a try. The bottom line of this government giveaway is that the government is doing nothing more than giving away money to the people who gave it to them in the first place. As Virgil warned more than 2,000 years ago: 'Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,' which is loosely and inaccurately translated as, 'Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.'