What We Grew up Learning about Money in Asian Households
For Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, we wanted to spotlight our Asian employees and celebrate their rich cultural backgrounds. How is money perceived in their homeland? What are some special traditions regarding money in Asia? Let’s hear some interesting stories from India, Hong Kong, South Korea, and the Philippines!
🇮🇳 The Gods are watching
“Treat money with respect, it’s Lakshmi!” I remember my mom scolding me as I was shoving a few crumpled Rupee bills into my pocket.
In Indian culture, everything is sacred and deified. Everything you can think of is probably associated with a deity. Money, as an important aspect of any society, is treated with great reverence in India. Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, is an important deity in Hindu culture. We believe that by treating money with respect, Lakshmi will be pleased and bestow more prosperity upon us.
Moreover, it is frowned upon if you crumple up bills, step on them, throw them, have them lying around your apartment, or have them stained or defiled in any way. Sometimes, people will offer money to a specific deity, hoping for their prayers to be answered. It may be something as little as passing your school exams or something life-changing like your Mom’s heart surgery!” — Bala, Product UX Copywriter
🇭🇰 Money is food and food is money!
“Like the Indian culture, we also have a God of Wealth in the Chinese culture. He’s called Choi Sun and you’ll see versions of him everywhere during Chinese New Year celebrations. This time of the year is the most festive and loved by kids because that’s when they receive lucky red envelopes from their parents and grandparents! We always use new bills for red envelopes for good luck.
Chinese people are in love with the number eight because it shares a similar sound with the word ‘fortune’ in Chinese. Not only that, many of the foods we eat during Chinese New Year also share similar pronunciations or meanings with fortune, such as fish, fat choy, dumplings, and glutinous rice cake.
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At funerals, we burn joss paper to make sure that our beloved deceased ones have enough money to live a comfortable life in the afterworld. I’m not sure if bitcoin’s going to change this tradition, but that’s what we’ve been doing for generations!” — Cara, Junior Copywriter
🇰🇷 What will the baby pick up?
“In the old days, not many babies could live past 100 days. That’s why we have a tradition called doljabi where a 100-day-old baby picks up an item that is believed to foretell the future. Popular items that are up for grabs usually include money, rice, books, pencils, and thread. This may go without saying, but money and rice are signs for a wealthy life ahead.
When I was growing up, my parents opened a bank account for me and taught me how to withdraw money. They also gave me a credit card that’s linked to their accounts. Since then, I’ve always been interested in how payments work and looked for alternatives to save more money. My dad also taught me the importance of investing for my retirement. That’s actually what sparked my interest in bitcoin!” — Calvin, Technical Recruiter
🇵🇭 Save for the future!
“Growing up, I remember watching my parents save and spend in the best ways possible to make sure I am properly taken care of and able to have everything I need in life. Since then, I learned to be prepared for what’s ahead of me financially. I also want to provide for my parents because I wouldn’t understand the importance of saving without them.
I started saving with piggy banks and as I grew older, got into investing through life insurance and buying a house. In the Philippines, it’s always wise to invest in land because the value appreciates greatly over time. Moreover, now that I’m working at a fintech company, I’ve tried to trade and invest in bitcoin. There’s just so much to learn about cryptocurrency! I can’t wait to accomplish my financial goals and see what my future holds.” — Lar, Office Manager