Tuesday 22 June 2021

Low Desire Generation - Surviving on $520 per month

Shared an article on the concept of 躺平, Lie Flat recently and to further talk about it, I came across a video on Hong Kong where they call a group of people low desire generation where they don't buy a house, don't get married and don't have kids.

It starts with a professor explaining the rise of the low desire generation where he explains it as, "We are not able to see a future and everyone's mentality is very panicky or low not like during the earlier years where people are willing to work hard, climb the ranks and have a better tomorrow. From the year of desires dropping to low desires, it could be due to the sudden shrinking in terms of financials or the surroundings."

This professor himself is now a full-time volunteer now and also lives a low desire life with his expenses per month not exceeding HKD3000 which is around SGD520. He thinks the main rise of the low desire generation is because the young people or youths are unable to see their future eg. how will a young person ever be able to purchase a property in Hong Kong currently? Almost zero chance as the prices are so high.

Read more: The Art of Frugal Hedonism | Positioning your life the right way

Desire to buy and spend

What's interesting in the video is that the reporter, Sam also tries surviving with HKD3000 a month however he lives pay cheque to pay cheque and normally doesn't think twice before making his purchases. He finds that he is spending money to turn it into something he likes through purchasing items. The video shows his spending habits, from buying 2 afternoon tea sets to having bubble tea 3 or 4 times a week and even getting an expensive pen as a gift, you guess it, he couldn't keep to the HKD3000 budget. He ends it off by saying he has huge desires and only after spending is he able to think about saving.

Low Desire Generation - Andy

Andy, age 24 who identifies as having a low desire for things where similarly he spends about HKD3000 monthly. For the last 24 years, he hasn't travelled, dated, didn't go to university because he finds that in the society whether you work hard or cruise through, the ending is the same.

He doesn't like to trouble others and tries to do things by himself, he also finds himself having a low desire for possession of items compared to others. After graduating from secondary school, he started working with a starting salary of HKD11,000 (roughly SGD1906) and after 6 years, he is currently earning HKD 15,000 (roughly SGD2600). He goes on to share that the older generation might see him as being not motivated but honestly if he is not amazing/special, whatever he does is difficult to change his current situation. With his low desire habits and high savings rate, he has managed to saved about HKD 800,000 (roughly SGD 139,000). That is quite a substantial amount however the money was used to help a family member's business and wiped off just like that. Of course, during festive seasons like Christmas, he feels lonely and bored. He has one primary goal which is to get a property in HK but he knows it's tough.

Low Desire Generation - Wallace

Wallace, born in the 1970s chose to quit his well-paying job and move to Cheung Chau, an island 10 kilometres southwest of Hong Kong Island. He is a baker now and earns lesser but his work life balance currently is what he enjoys. His previous jobs had odd hours leading him to being unhealthy and after he moved to the island, he is feeling much healthier.

Read more: The more you earn, the happier you are? | Does your salary determine your happiness level?

My thoughts

I think having low desires can be seen as a phenomena happening especially so in Asia like Japan and Hong Kong as minimalism is also catching on. Physical possessions don't seem to matter as much, it could partly be due to the rising cost of living. Of course, there is a huge difference between Andy and Wallace, Andy seems to not interact much and only travels around his neighbourhood for food, work and leisure. In the long term, it might not be good for him mentally as he might feel lonely and not fulfilled. On the hand, Wallace seems to interact well with his neighbours and the community loves his bread which he also mentions is a bridge between him and the people.

Physical possessions don't matter much but emotionally, we need to have a support system and cutting out gatherings or interactions shouldn't be the case even if you are aiming for minimalism or low desire. There are also definitely a huge proportion of youths who have a high desire for purchases, there is definitely a spectrum ranging from low to high desires but I do feel the rise of low desire among my friends as essentials are purchased and other than that, they occasionally indulge during special occasions. It is a really good video as we catch a glimpse of those living in Hong Kong although the video only presents us with 3 examples. The low desire generation might also have been created because of the effects of the pandemic and there is no choice but to gravitate towards it. What are some of your thoughts after watching the video? Hope you guys found this informative.

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References: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPdpjtJJA9E

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