Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

Zhang Long
China's Gen-Z is getting more frugal. A recent survey found that 76 percent of young people saved for emergencies rather than spending.
Zhang Long

It is widely assumed that new graduates at the workplace do not save much and are easily sucked into consumption traps, spending as much as they earn.

However, the reality may be quite different. Data show that the young workforce did not go on revenge spending as expected after the pandemic. Instead, many Chinese social media platforms dominated by China's Gen-Z have begun to promote "revenge saving."

In 2022, total renminbi savings increased by 26.26 trillion yuan (US$3.803 trillion), an increase of 6.59 percent over 2021. Young people aged 18 to 34 are paying more attention to their retirement pension savings. According to data released by the People's Bank of China in February, 76 percent of the 20,000 people surveyed are increasing their emergency savings.

On the video platform, some of the trending videos are ones in which young people are sharing money-saving tips.

Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

Videos on early retirement are becoming popular on

In one of the videos, a poster who goes by the sobriquet, "TenGuSan," admitted in one of his videos that he had no money management sense before the age of 30. He made a good living as a photographer when he first started out. And then he splurged his entire life savings on a car.

It only occurred to him one day, when he was applying for a visa to study in Japan and reviewing his bank statements, that he could not afford an apartment in Japan, even if he had saved half of his earnings.

Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

TenGuSan understood that he had to save to avoid fight risks and stalling his career.

The realization compelled him to take his earnings seriously. He devised strategies for investments and spending. The rest of his money was set aside for emergency purposes, such as paying medical bills.

Billie is a model agent who has been promoting the idea of saving as well. In one of her videos titled 'You don't know how happy it is to save' that in her line of work, she has met far too many aspiring young people in the modeling industry who become anxious because they don't save.

One piece of advice she always gives to new models is that no matter how much money they make, they must save because there is a slim chance they will still be models at the age of 60.

Adults get a sense of security from the balance in their bank account, as one user put it in a comment on Billie's video.

Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

Our sense of security comes from our bank balance.

'Saving without pain' is a popular tag in these videos. Many people have devised novel ways to save money without lowering their standard of living.

One user's 智慧少女派's money-saving tip is having her hair wave-permed and cut every few months. She tries out different hairstyles as the hair grows back again.

Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

Get a wave perm and save money, says one Bilibili user.

On special occasions, she compiles a list of what she needs and lets her partner choose what to buy for her, which saves both time and money.

Fashion blogger Alice saves by shopping at second-hand markets. She argues used books and electronics are fine.

Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

Alice recommends always looking for items on second-hand market apps like Xianyu first.

She has devised a money-saving drawing game. The goal of the game is to save 5,000 yuan in one month. Here's how you can play the game:

Take 30 pieces of paper and write down different small amounts of money on each piece of paper. For example, you could write down amounts like 10 yuan, 20 yuan, 50 yuan, or any other small amount that you can afford to save.

Put all the pieces of paper into a jar or a box.

Each day, randomly draw one piece of paper from the jar or box.

Whatever amount of money is written on the paper you draw, you must save that amount of money for that day. For example, if you draw a paper that says "10 yuan", you must save 10 yuan that day.

Keep doing this every day for a month, until you have saved a total of 5,000 yuan.

This game is designed to help you save money in small increments every day, without feeling overwhelmed.

Revenge spending? Not quite, the Gen-Z is discussing revenge saving

The 'saving game' suggestion that Alice came up with.

Opening a bank account and saving 20 percent of your monthly salary or giving the bank card to a family member are other suggestions. There is always a cheaper online purchase if we tweak our search terms. Pillows vs hotel pillows; custom memory foams vs mattresses; storage boxes vs logistic boxes.

Just how much money should we save?

The 4 percent retirement rule is a popular concept in the United States, according to user 有数研究所.

As per the rule, you should be able to live comfortably on 4 percent of your investments in your first year of retirement, then slightly increase or decrease that amount to account for inflation each year after that.

If one's annual spending is 100,000 yuan (US$14,474), divide it by 4 percent to get 2.5 million yuan (US$361,873). According to the video, this is the approximate amount one should save for a secure retirement.

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