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The Best Of Hong Kong
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By Andrea Lo | September 18th, 2017

All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo. 

I was forwarded this article on HK01 debating how much 家用 ka yung, literally “home use” — or “family stipend” — young people should be giving their family.

A family stipend is the practice of grown-up children giving their parents a portion of their earnings every month as a way of paying gratitude, and also as a contribution towards household costs.

While not all parents depend on family stipend from their offspring, the gesture is almost always appreciated. In some cases, it is expected.

Through vox pop, the article listed out the different rates young workers in Hong Kong are currently contributing as family stipend — which was anywhere between $500 to $15,000 per month.

I was floored by the guy paying a five-figure sum. How do we know if we’re giving enough? Because of the crazy range of figures — and also, guilt — I decided to conduct an informal survey with friends.

The acceptable amount generally lands between 10 to 30 percent of our income. “It’s 20 percent if you don’t live with your family — and 30 percent if you do,” a sensible friend said.

The idea of a family stipend comes from filial piety: or essentially, appreciation of parents. It also stems from the fact that having children was, and is, seen as a way of retirement preparation in Chinese culture.

In a culture where so much emphasis is placed on respect towards elders and taking care of family, ka yung could only be a good thing. Or could it?

Reading through comments from interviewees and netizens, some people seem to feel that the family stipend prevents them from having proper savings, making dreams of throwing a lavish wedding or owning property difficult. It also takes away from your disposable income.

Aside from forbidding property prices in Hong Kong and the traditional belief that young people should live with their parents until they marry (that’s a story for another day), I think the family stipend could be one of the reasons why independence for young Hong Kong Chinese people can be difficult.

“But I’ve never felt resentful about paying a family stipend,” another friend said.

Later on, the article also provided crafty calculations on how the amount can be measured, from household spending per head in the family to how much it cost parents to raise a child ($4 million, according to the article).

It has inspired discussions online of ways to work out how much exactly to contribute. Some based their calculations on things like their repaying their parents for giving them pocket money as a kid, and sending them to extracurricular classes while at school.

Many people also take into consideration things like being able to live at home instead of paying rent; having meals at home; housework being taken care of by parents; and not needing to pay for wifi and electricity.

I came away feeling more conflicted, because on the one hand I want to show my appreciation for my family — I could never truly repay them, whichever way you look at it — yet I understand some of the more negative aspects these payments can have on personal finances.

How much family stipend do you think young Hongkongers should pay?

 

Love it? Hate it? Tell Andrea all about it: andrea@theloophk.com.