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Lucky Money Management

There is a custom in China for parents and grandparents to give lucky money to their children and grandchildren on Lunar New Year’s Eve. It is a year-end bonus for each child.

I have two daughters. When the elder daughter was in fifth grade, we spent New Year’s Eve in their grandparents’ place. The children were very happy with the lucky money they received from their elders.

After returning home, I asked them to hand over their money. The elder daughter asked: “Why do you want to take my money away?” I told them: “It will be used to pay for their after-school talent classes.” 

The elder daughter said that she wanted to keep the money, and she would not ask me to pay for her talent classes later. She had several after-school classes at that time, including piano, calligraphy, taekwondo, etc. Actually, the lucky money would not be enough to pay for them. But I thought it was a chance for her money management training, so we reached an agreement. I would not take back the lucky money both daughters received, and they paid for their talents classes themselves.

The children were very happy with the lucky money they received from their elders. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Half a year later, I estimated that the money would be used up, and the elder daughter would certainly ask me for help. But she did not. When the elder daughter was away for her classes, I asked the younger daughter whether her sister had money to pay for the talent classes. She said that because she did not intend to go to any talent class herself, her sister borrowed her lucky money to pay for talent classes. She showed me the “bank book” her sister gave her, which recorded how much money was left, and that the money would be returned next year when they received lucky money again.  

I had a big laugh over the “bank book.” I said: “If she runs a bank she needs to pay interest.” “Yes, she does,” said the younger daughter. There were coupons for folding clothes, doing house chores, and “not getting mad.” The younger daughter could use the coupons to ask her sister to perform these duties at any time. So the “war of lucky money” became an opportunity for both girls to learn to manage their money.

Half a year later, I estimated that the money would be used up, and the elder daughter would certainly ask me for help. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The next year, I increased the sum of the lucky money so that the elder daughter did not have to borrow money to pay for her talent classes. In addition, they could receive money when helping with house chores, so that they learned how to better manage their money. The elder daughter made money by helping with more house chores and canceled talent classes that she felt did not benefit her. After a year, her savings increased substantially.  

When my daughters grew up, they both passed their examinations and became government employees. One day, my elder daughter told me that she bought a house in the northern district where she worked. Nowadays, it is quite difficult for a young person to buy a house in the northern district without the financial help of parents. Many people admired her for her independence. I told them that she could fish because I had given her a fishing rod when she was a child.

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  • Emma Lu is an author who specializes in Cultural and Historical myths and stories.

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