Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Attitudes to Money and Gifts

As I've mentioned we're going to China later this year. Yesterday Snork Maiden's mother told her she wants to give her or us a total of RMB20,000 (almost $US3,000, which is a lot of money for the average person in China ) when we visit. Snork Maiden is then meant to give several thousand RMB to her grandfather and we also will pay for two family get together meals that are estimated to cost RMB2,000 a piece. What's left over - more than RMB10,000 - is for "spending money" when we are in China. From my perspective the arrangement is rather odd and I feel uncomfortable with receiving the "spending money". I don't understand the point of the gift to the grandfather - seems like fooling him that the money is coming from us rather than his daughter - though I'm sure that's not the intent. But anyway, if they want to do that, it's fine with me. Also I'd be happy if my parents-in-law paid for a wedding/get together celebration meal in China. Seems odd to give us the money to pay for it. But again if they want to do things that way it's OK with me.

I told Snork Maiden that I'm not so comfortable with the spending money arrangement. We've got the money to spend whatever we want in China. When I said that I think her parents may need the money, she said "my mother will spend it soon anyway, she can't have money lying around". Snorkmama and her husband receive government pensions - they both worked for government - which seem to cover all their costs and they own an apartment that the husband received when he retired.

Snork Maiden's parents already gave her a gift of money for "getting married" and we spent a lot less than that on the wedding, though more than that on setting up our apartment when we moved to Australia to live together. My mother also gave us a monetary gift for our wedding (as well as paying for herself and my brother to come to the other side of the world for the ceremony). So I have no problems with monetary gifts for specific events or regarding inheriting money. There's something though that I find culturally difficult with the "spending money" thing. I guess one thing is it makes me feel like they see us as children who need "pocket money".

The flipside to this, is that if and when Snork Maiden's parents visit us here will be spending money on them. I wouldn't think to give them cash to spend though. That would feel very peculiar for some reason whereas giving in kind does not for some reason.

My family have obviously different attitudes to money, gifts etc. which are result of both our cultural background, life experiences, and personalities.

Link to Snork Maiden's aka Yoyo's blogpost on this.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mate

It is a horrible feeling when people treat you like that.

But the most important thing is that you don't let it bring you down. Until today you didn't know that you should have got that money so there is no point in getting angry and ruining your mood over the money.

Im sure you will get it in the end.

Best of Luck!


Banjo Smyth

mOOm said...

Thanks Banjo - I'm not particularly upset about this - it seems they're planning on coming here and when they do, us giving them "pocket money" to spend. They all think very much in terms of cash and not wanting to exchange it across international boundaries etc. It all makes sense given their background in communist China. My family thinks completely differently about these things, which also makes sense given their backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

Wait! You got married? Congratulations! I have not caught this until now!

I would pretty much be totally ok with anyone who wants to give me money! :-)

But as long as no baggage attached I suppose.

mOOm said...

Thanks, Finance Girl! "How much does it cost to get married?" is one of my most visited posts :) We got married 24th February. There's usually baggage involved with people giving people money...