Budgeting | Personal Finance | Article

CNY Ang Baos Feel Like Striking Lottery, So I Just Spend Them All

by The Simple Sum | 26 Feb 2024 | 2 mins read

What do you do when you get free money? You spend it right. 

I used to save every single red packet (ang bao) during Chinese New Year when I was a child. My parents would tell me to keep the money and learn to be responsible about it. 

I don’t know when this started, but I started to spend my ang bao money even on the actual day of receiving the red packets. Sometimes it would be used for a quick game of blackjack or mahjong with my relatives, or it would be to buy a cold drink while house visiting. The ang bao money felt like winning the lottery, or free money and it was all for me to spend at my whim. 

I then started treating the ang baos like a bonus payout even before every Chinese New Year came around. For instance, I wanted to buy a new handphone when I was still schooling and I thought that I could use the ang bao money to cover for a part of it even before I received them! 


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There were other years when I would shop for new clothes and bags even though I already owned new clothes for Chinese New Year. 

As I grew older and in my twenties I realised that I started feeling guilty about spending it all. Perhaps I should return some money to my parents or even save some of it in a short-term savings account with high interest rates. 

When I learn from friends and my partner about more sensible ways they use their ang bao money, I resolve to do better in the new year.