China’s Cash-Strapped Millennials Embrace a New Trend: Thrift

Many young Chinese developed lavish spending habits during an era of rapid economic growth. Now, they’re learning to cut back.

SHANGHAI — Song Lewen never used to worry about money. The 27-year-old lived paycheck to paycheck, spending most of her 7,000 yuan ($980) monthly income on meals and shopping sprees. For luxury purchases and foreign trips, she’d use one of her credit cards.

But all that changed when the coronavirus pandemic struck. An employee at a state-owned manufacturing firm in Shanghai, Song has been shielded from the layoffs and pay cuts that have affected millions in China. The crisis, however, has still been a profound wake-up call.

“I just thought, if I wasn’t at a state-owned enterprise, maybe I would have been unemployed for months with zero income,” Song tells Sixth Tone. “I wouldn’t have dared tell my parents, and I probably would have had a breakdown.”

The realization has turned the former spendthrift into an avid saver. While stuck indoors amid the outbreak, Song learned to cook from her mother. Now, she makes dinner for her parents every evening. Apart from the little she spends on groceries and other essentials, the rest of her salary goes straight into her savings account.

“In the past two months, I’ve saved 10,000 yuan, which brings me a sense of security,” says Song. “I’ve also lost 6 kilograms.”

Many Chinese millennials appear to be undergoing a similar shift in mindset, as a generation that grew up during a decadeslong economic boom adapts to a period of greater uncertainty. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.