No hongbao cutback


When it comes to the Chinese New Year red packet, Singaporeans are planning to give as generously as last year, despite the uncertain economic outlook.

A street poll of more than 50 people found that the majority of respondents are planning to give the same amount as last year in their hongbao, as they ring in the Year of the Rooster.

Among the reasons was that they had already set aside the amount for the annual celebration, and that everyone in their family gave the same amount.

Madam Yeong, 61, a part-time customer service agent and tutor, said she would continue what she has been doing for several years and give $10 to relatives and friends' children as it made things simpler.

"I don't adjust the amount whether times are bad or not," she added.

According to those who were polled, for relatives like nieces and nephews, the most common amount was $20 while the average was about $30.

Almost half of those polled said they would give their friends' children a $10 hongbao. The average amount was between $8 and $10 - the reported "going rate" for hongbao last year.

The majority of those polled said the smallest amount they would be giving this year is $4.

A housewife, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Tong, said her smallest hongbao will be $6.

For her relatives, she will give a $10 red packet, like she has done in recent years.

While nearly 20 per cent said they expected fellow Singaporeans to give less because of the economy, there were also more personal reasons for adjusting hongbao amounts.

Mrs Tong, 61, said: "We used to give more when we were younger. My husband and I will be retiring so there will be no more income."

Her husband is a former businessman who now drives a taxi.

Secretary Christina Lee, 52, used to give $4 across the board but will be giving family and close friends' children $6 to $10 this year. She said: "I'm giving more because everything is more expensive."

Abigail Ng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'No hongbao cutback'. Print Edition | Subscribe