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2-Cent Rant

CNY “Ang Pow Guides”? Here’s Why We Think People Need To Stop Relying On Them

Give what you are comfortable giving, not what some “Ang Pow Guides” tell you to do so.


Over the past few years, we would, without fail, see a few media sites publishing “Ang Pow Guides” for Chinese New Year (CNY). Last year, the Straits Times themselves published an article claiming that the going rate for red packets for 2016 was $8 to $10, based on a 60-person street poll it conducted.

It appears that the trend of trying to stay relevant during CNY by publishing “Ang Pow Guides” have continued into 2017. Thus far, we have seen at least two websites in Singapore publishing their own “Ang Pow Guides”

Guide 1: Ang Pow Guide From A Popular Singapore Website

Guide 2: Ang Pow Guide From Another Singapore Website

Even between the two guides shown above, there isn’t consensus. Guide 1 recommends that you give 50% less to your parent-in-laws while Guide 2 recommends that you give the same amount.

Guide number 2 was also shared by a shopping mall on Facebook. They have since apologised for sharing the post. If you don’t know what happen, you can read this article from

First, The Reason Why We Celebrate Chinese New Year

Most Chinese believe that the colour red symbolises good luck. The act of giving red packets during CNY filled with new notes is a way to wish recipients a good and prosperous year ahead. Red packets are also given during other celebrations such as weddings and birthdays.

Most of us would agree that CNY should be a time for families and friends to come together and catch up over food and drinks. The last thing we want is for people to feel judged based on how much they are giving, or stressed out by the thought that they are giving less compared to everyone else.

Guides For CNY Red Packet?

Guides are meant to help people make better decisions when information flow is limited. For example, a restaurant guide may be published to help customers know how much they should expect to spend when they dine.

Salary guides are sometimes relied on for workers to know how much to ask for when applying for a job in a particular sector (though we are not entirely convinced about them). Even wedding Ang Pow guides are useful because they help wedding attendees know how much a meal in the wedding costs for the married couple.

While many of the guides mentioned above are created based on actual information gathered, a CNY Red Packet guide is based simply from the arbitrary number that the editorial team thinks. There is no actual cost incurred, unlike attending a wedding or having a meal at a restaurant.

When it comes to CNY red packet, people should be giving based on what they can comfortably afford, and the amount that they are happy to give. They should not feel pressured or judged by the amount they give.

The presence of CNY Guides contradicts this. It suggests that there is a “socially acceptable” amount to give, and that people who do not give that amount are giving too little. It’s like having a guidebook on how much you should give during a donation drive.

We Should Not Be Teaching Our Children To Judge Others By How Much They Give

It’s disheartening to see a guide being produced not only to provide a recommendation on how much to give during CNY, but also for the amount to be based on individual income. This suggests that kids should expect to get more money from their richer relatives and less from the poorer ones. It also directly equates the amount given in red packets to a person’s financial well-being.

CNY can be a great time to teach your children about the right value about money. Children can be taught to use the money they received wisely. They can use some of it to buy something they like, and to save up the rest for the future.

At the same time, we must remind them that money isn’t everything. And that we should never judge the worth of others based on how much they give.

Do you agree with us that “Ang Pow Guides” do more harm than good? Share with us your thoughts on Facebook.


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