7 Extravagant Ways to Part With Money in China

September 15, 2013 8:02 pm Last Updated: September 15, 2013 7:51 pm

There is a saying that Americans know how to spend money and Chinese know how to save it. However, this is rapidly changing. Many Chinese are now spending extravagant amounts in some surprising ways. Here are seven ways to spend big.

1. A Frantic Rush for Real Estate

Modern Chinese have developed a taste for buying apartments. Even kids fresh out of college will quickly snap one up when they can, calling themselves “apartment slaves”— taking a lifetime to pay off the loan.

A recent report released by the U.S. National Association of Realtors indicates that Chinese investors infused $9 billion into real estate in America between March 2011 and March 2012, making them the second largest group among foreign investors.

They will often buy several units at once, with cash up front.

2. Walnuts are Not Just for Eating

In ancient times in China, walnuts were prized as playthings. Rolling them around in the palm of the hand was said to improve circulation.

Today, a pair of identical gigantic walnut can fetch tens of thousands of dollars, making them a collector’s item for wealthy Chinese. Owning a rare pair is considered to be a status symbol.

3. Crazy Raw Jadeite Gambling

The Chinese jewelry industry is worth a staggering $32 billion, with their jadeite market the largest in the world. Betting on the value of the weathered-looking raw jadeite before it is cut to reveal its value can turn speculators into overnight millionaires, or instant paupers. There are many famous rock betting markets scattered throughout China. It’s an expensive pass-time that is little understood by Westerners.

4. Moon Cakes Baked to Perfection

Moon cakes made of pure gold or silver? Don’t bite into these little beauties, or you may end up at the dentist. A set of “Guobao Chongqiu” will set you back around $8,000. Only 2,000 sets are produced, with most of these sparkling moon cakes going to government officials.

5. A Fondness for Hoarding Supplies

Chinese people stockpiled salt when nuclear contamination occurred in Japan, and when doomsday rumors started circulating they hoarded water, cookies, candles, matches and other commodities, paying very inflated prices for the goods.

6. Overabundance of Prepaid Cards

In addition to credits cards, prepaid cards flood China’s financial market. Last year, the face value of pre-paid cards issued in China was in excess of $326.7 billion, with retailers spending $3.43 trillion in total, indicating the scale of use of prepaid cards is approaching 10 percent of total retail spending.

7. Buying Counterfeit Products is Fashionable

Many Chinese are now familiar with counterfeit products. Some even buy fake products as a fashion statement. “Huaqiang North” in Shenzhen City is the hub for buying phony mobile phones, adding to a wave of “Counterfeit Culture” spreading across the country.

Written in English by Christine Ford.