Beijing families take on the financial crisis
As economies around the globe have slowed or fallen into recession, families in Beijing are reevaluating their budgets to prepare for potentially tough times ahead. Find out how different families make decisions about spending and saving money, whether they feel the effects of the financial crisis, and what their strategies are for making it through the downturn in one piece – or even ahead.
Tina Beeck’s expenses in Beijing have gone way up since leaving the rural life in La Grande, Oregon to move to China six months ago. “Maybe I’m doing something wrong because everyone says China is so cheap,” Beeck says, “but I’ve found we spend much more here than we did back in Oregon.” Her husband works as an environmental consultant at Valmont Industries, and the employer pays for the family’s four-bedroom apartment (RMB 23,000 a month) near Chaoyang Park, as well as tuition for their three children at Yew Chung International School (RMB 410,000 in total each year).
The family isn’t in saving mode at the moment. “We haven’t been big savers. For us, if there’s a trip to take, it’s ‘carpe diem,’” Beeck says. But they do try to save for short-term goals such as a three-week trip to Tibet next summer. The family usually camps or stays at backpacker-type lodges, forgoing five-star hotels. She admits that eating out and grocery shopping is where the money goes – to places like Chinese grocery chains Merry Mart, Jingkelong, and Western grocery store Jenny Lou’s and Schindler’s.
The current economic situation has caused the couples’ retirement fund to shrink, but Beeck believes they’re more sheltered from the financial crisis by living in China. Beeck works as a substitute teacher four days a week at Yew Chung to help out, and the family also has a steady cash flow from rent on farmland the family owns in the States. And every member of the family has a bike, so most family outings don’t involve taxi rides.
Before moving to China, Beeck spent USD 1,000 on clothes at Target and another USD 400 at JC Penney to avoid purchasing clothing abroad. The family’s biggest splurges in China? A refrigerator (RMB 6,800), a television (RMB 6,120) and a sofa (RMB 13,600). Jessica Pan
The Monthly Budget (RMB)
Part-time ayi 1,500
Chinese tutor 800
After-school activities 220
Cell phone service 150
Travel (per year) 122,400