Seeing that his wife was about to go to the market to buy breakfast, Tien told him to only buy four onions, enough to cook four bowls of noodles.
Ms. Minh heard but did not answer, quietly went straight. “Sometimes I’m embarrassed with my neighbors, but I know your character so I don’t argue,” she explained.
Not only breakfast, other meals of the day, Mr. Ngoc Tien, 40 years old, in Hanoi has a detailed menu for the family tray of rice including a soup, vegetables and two savory dishes. Familiar foods are eggs, tofu, peanuts, dried fish and meat, but it is required that each meal for four people should not cost more than 50,000 VND. The meals were so repetitive that the youngest son in 3rd grade always complained: “The day meal at school is better than at home”. But Mr. Tien talked about when he was a teenager, he had to eat rice with corn and potatoes, so that he knew “I am living a prosperous life”.
In addition to eating, he asked each member not to buy more than two new clothes in a year. Once, Ms. Minh asked to buy a new dress to travel with the company, her husband complained for a whole week because “there are four in the closet”.
Each month, Ms. Minh and her husband receive a salary of about 40 million VND, which is not low compared to 7.2 million VND for a worker in Hanoi, according to a report by the General Statistics Office in 2021. Neither side had any problems.
“I want my wife and children to spend scientifically, to prevent risks. Eating too much is also harmful to health,” explained Mr. Tien. He stipulates that the child’s school fees and the family’s living expenses should not exceed 10 million VND per month. The rest is for savings.
“People only save about 30% of their home, but this house saves up to 75%, which is too extreme”, Ms. Minh admitted.
Not admitting that he is extremely thrifty, Mr. Dong Hung, from Hai Duong, explains that his family is oriented towards the minimalist Japanese way of life. Earning 18 million dong per month, excluding his wife’s salary, he established a “3 no” rule for the whole family: No eating at restaurants – no going out – no shopping. And yet, he also forbids turning on the lights during the day, after 9 pm must turn off the power, only let the children turn on the school lights, only turn on the air conditioner on hot days of 39 degrees Celsius or more and household items must be purchased. discount or liquidation.
The 45-year-old also saves money even in extreme situations. Once, he had a fever of 39 degrees, his stomach was tight, his face was pale, but he refused to go to the doctor. Only when he fainted, his family was able to take him to the ambulance to the hospital because of acute stomach bleeding. Having just woken up from surgery, he insisted on going home for fear of spending money on hospital fees.
“He even regrets the money to visit his parents,” sighed Hong Nhung, 40, Hung’s wife. His hometown is about 300 km from where he lives, but he only takes his wife and children back to his hometown once every two years, mostly on weekdays, avoiding the holidays to avoid money and gifts.
“But don’t confuse a minimalist lifestyle with austerity to the point of austerity,” cultural doctor Nguyen Anh Hong commented on the lifestyle of Mr. Tuan’s family, Mr. Hung. According to Ms. Hong, thrift is reasonable and scientific spending, avoiding waste, while “measurement of fish sauce, counting onions and cucumbers” is miserliness.
“The miserliness has always existed, in the past it was normal because life was difficult. But in modern society, their living standards have been raised, this is no longer reasonable,” Ms. Hong said.
The calculation and balance in spending caused the Hung and his wife to constantly clash. No less than three times, Ms. Nhung proposed a divorce because of her frugal lifestyle, even a glass of sugarcane juice the couple had to drink together. After 15 years of marriage, they had never traveled. Every time her husband promised to change, but then still the same.
Experts warn that oppressing and inhibiting a spouse economically is actually a form of domestic violence, causing great harm to the mental life and health of spouses and children. Even financial conflicts, money is one of the leading causes of friction, causing broken happiness.
Vietnam has no statistics on the number of conflicts and divorces due to their spouses being too frugal, but a study by a group of scientists from Vietnam National University in Hanoi in 2021 said that financial disagreements are the second leading cause. two lead to divorce cases.
“Super thrifty in men easily causes fatigue and inhibition, but this in women is even more terrible, many women even save their smiles,” commented Anh Hong.
This case is happening in the family of Ms. Hai An, 50 years old, Phu Tho. Her and her husband’s total salary is 15 million VND per month, three times higher than the average income in the countryside (2.7 million VND), but having to raise three children to attend school, making her thrifty “day becomes more and more difficult to accept.”
The whole family lives in a three-storey house, 90 m2 wide, but the most valuable furniture is a TV bought for 5 million VND. Friends who came to visit advised her to buy more appliances for life, but she refused, because “a lot of modern things consume electricity”.
In order to control the money, all revenues and expenditures of Ms. An are recorded in the book. “If last month used up a pack of soup powder, the next month should be the same or less. But it’s gone by the end of the month, need to review,” the 50-year-old woman showed off her method of controlling family expenses and said For more information, this calculation applies to rice, salt, electricity, water and other items. In addition, she often asked for old things, causing her three daughters to express their displeasure many times when they were mocked by friends as “beggar children”.
Even food with signs of rancidity, moldy and partially rotten fruit in the refrigerator, she still cuts and peels it off to eat because of regret. “Eat it, but leave it fee too,” explained An.
Knowing his wife’s pressure when making a key box, many times, Phong, her husband, advised his wife to try to change her lifestyle, and her children escaped from austere eating and calculating every penny. But Ms. An replied: “Many families of four spend 3 million a month, my family is nearly 6 million dong a month. It’s too comfortable.”
Dr. Pham Khanh Nam, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics, said that saving a part of income to prevent risks and avoid falling into difficult situations is what families should do. Expenditures and savings depend on living environment, education level, religion, consumption needs, beneficiary views and total income of each family.
“It is not possible to set a standard savings rate for each case. People with high incomes and rich lives will spend a lot, while middle or low income earners only need to spend enough to live,” said Mr. Nam. speak. According to this expert, there are two measures of a household’s spending, either by GDP (average income) or by well-being (life satisfaction). “If measured by GDP, it is easy to compare, but if it is measured by happiness, it is very likely that the amount of savings increases, the satisfaction index decreases and vice versa,” said Mr. Nam.
Living with her husband counting each onion stalk, Kim Minh admits her children suffer from food cravings. Whenever she is invited by friends and colleagues to eat out, she also takes her two children with her to eat comfortably. “The frugal way of life is like seeping into her husband’s blood and cannot be changed. I’m powerless”, Ms. Minh sighed.
According to expert Anh Hong, the reason why spouses save money and live a tight life may be influenced by poor families, struggling lives, so it becomes a habit that is hard to break. For this type of person, the partner should not hate, but help them understand “excessively frugal lifestyle that damages the quality of life, affects family happiness, disadvantaged wives and children”.
“Especially relatives and friends should also do ideological work, even using the way of provoking and comparing with others, so that they can realize their mistakes and change,” Ms. Hong said.
Told by friends, Hai An’s husband often asks his wife’s colleagues to advise her, hoping to change her mind. He also confided in his wife to find a reasonable way to manage finances. “I just hope she has a more open view of spending, even though it takes a long time and it’s not easy,” Phong confided.
* Character names in the post have been changed.