How to deal with Awkward Money Questions this Chinese New Year


It’s the new year again!

With red packets, comes great responsibility.

It’s time to dodge awkward questions from nosy relatives again. 

This article was written by a Guest Contributor. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the Guest Contributor.

1. How much money do you earn?

The classic nosy question from relatives – how much money do you earn?

What exactly is the appropriate response to this?

Do you actually disclose your salary?

If you are pressed for answer, you could give a ballpark range by talking about your industry generally.

Or general responses such as “good enough to get by” or “not as much as your son/daughter”…

When in doubt, deflect!

Shoot the question back to your relatives, how much did they earn when they were your age?

Or more daringly, how much are they earning now?

Lament about existing cost of living – this is always a sure winner to distract relatives.

Allow them to tell you about the good old days where chicken rice cost x amount….

2. Why aren’t you getting married/ buying a house?

Whether or not you bring a signficant other to CNY gatherings, you are bound to be asked about your marriage plans.

Whether you applied for a BTO, or whether you plan to get a resale/EC/condo etc.

Again, the best strategy is to get them talking instead.

Ask their opinions on choice of housing, discuss rising housing prices and the pros/cons of different residential areas.

The key is to get them talking, and you just smile and nod.

3. How much did your house/ renovations cost?

If you did purchase a house recently, kaypoh relatives will bound to ask about your house, the cost and details about your renovation.

Again, you could give ballpark estimates, or perhaps PSF. 

Another strategy is to bring up some current events to distract them – or stories from “friends”. 

  • Did they hear about the latest million dollar HDB sale? 
  • How are the housing prices in their area? 
  • Did they hear about this horror story about a shoddy contractor?

Ask them for advice, and you may even learn something valuable! 

4. Can I borrow money from you?

Sometimes these nosy questions are just lead ups to get something from you.

They may wish to borrow money or see #5 get you to “invest” in something. 

In that case, things can get awkward fast.

You could circle back to #2 and #3, you are saving for your wedding/ house, you need to save money, finances are tight.

If you are up for a challenge, discuss your top budgeting strategies with them. 

Cultivate an extreme kiam-siap reputation, and you’ll never be asked this question again!

5. Do you want to invest in this get-rich-quick scheme with me?

In this kind of situations, you could pretend to listen and find an opportunity to make your exit. 

Otherwise reject firmly but politely, and change the topic. 

If you are up for a challenge, you could talk about investment scams and how much your “friend” has lost. Warning, this conversation can easily go sideways. 

In desperate situations, perhaps grab a Bak Kwa nearby and offer it to them as a peace offering. 

Our local version of an olive branch.

And ask them to read Financial Horse for better investing tips ;D

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