Have you ever wondered why Chinoys save so much? Imagine this: It’s your birthday and you will be treating your friends for lunch today. Very much craving Asado, you and two of your friends walk into the nearest restaurant and take a look at their menu. On that menu, the Asado with Rice is ₱300 while the À la carte Asado dish is priced at ₱500 that is good for 3 persons. Instead of ordering 3 meals of the same kind, you opt to choose an À la carte Asado dish and order extra rice for an additional of ₱20 each only. Now, instead of spending ₱900, you only spent ₱560 with you and your friends’ bellies full at a lower price!
So why do the Chinese save so much? Some believe that it is a Chinese virtue while others believe that it is a practice carried on from their ancestors. Either way, Chinoys are very strict when it comes to saving and spending money. Thus, they typically live below their means. For the majority, being frugal has already been instilled to them at a very young age that it is already second nature to them. Parents would even often limit on how much their children would spend on toys for them to learn that money should not be spent impulsively. For the Chinese, every penny counts and most would only spend on things that they deem worth for every last cent.
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There is a popular Chinese saying that goes,
“The first generation makes the money, the second generation spends it, and the third one blows it.”
This proverb serves not only as a warning, but also a reminder that they should learn to save for the rainy days, as well as to secure their family’s future. The Chinese are raised to be financially responsible just in case something goes wrong. Although the Chinese are seen as money-oriented, most of them surprisingly lead a simple life due to the fact that their idea on being frugal is all for a good reason which is to save it for emergencies and not spend it on trivial wants. In a video in CGTN, Zhao Zhanliang (a private museum owner), believes that the idea of living a simple life and why the Chinese love saving was because of the harsh life conditions of their ancestors that were not exactly ideal, which was why the elders lectures the following generations on how hard life can be and why they should treasure the fruits of hard work.
With this, we now know that the frugal mindset that the Chinese are passing on from one generation to another is because of the influence and constant teachings of their elders that it already seemed as though it is part of the Chinese tradition. It also helped the Chinese preserve this virtue since the younger generations usually always have high regard for their elders.
“When rich, think of poverty, but do not think of riches when you are poor.”
To end, this proverb tells us that even if we have the capacity to spend (“When rich”), we should always think of saving more than we spend (“think of poverty”). Especially in hard times (“when you are poor”), we shouldn’t spend more than what we can afford (“do not think of riches”). We must always remember that the greatest wealth is when we learn to be contented with a simple life.