Money Buys More Happiness If You Save It

Have you ever purchased something spontaneously and then the next day had buyer’s remorse? You are not alone. Many times we are either stressed and want to feel better with a shopping spree or overspend on a brand name just for the sake of having an impressive status symbol. And with the convenience of internet shopping it’s too tempting to buy unnecessary things. We all have different spending habits, however, and understanding our spending habits could change the way we spend money in the future. In this article we will look at why we want to spend money and different ways to talk about pointless spending.

冤枉钱 (Yuānwang qián)

Let’s break it down:

冤枉 (Yuānwang): v., treat unjustly; wrongful treatment; not worthwhile.

钱 (Qián): n., money; currency; coins.

冤枉钱 (Yuānwang qián): n., pointless expense; undeserved money; imprudent spending.

We can express working hard for money by saying that we earn money through blood, sweat, and tears. But once you have your “血汗钱 (Xuèhàn qián) hard earned money” lets learn how not to spend it. We can use this phrase, “花冤枉钱 (Huā yuānwang qián) throw money away” to describe wasteful spending habits. Or if you are really good about how you spend money we can use the phrase “不花一分冤枉钱 (Bù huā yìfēn yuānwang qián) don’t spend a penny”, which is similar in English “pinch your pennies.” Understanding which spending habit you have can lead to more savings in the future.

Common Phrases:

花冤枉钱 (Huā yuānwang qián) Throw money away; spend money to no avail.

不花冤枉钱 (Bù huā yuānwang qián) Never overpay.

不花一分冤枉钱 (Bù huā yìfēn yuānwang qián) Don’t spend a penny.

It is said that money can’t buy happiness. But did you know that bad money spending habits lead to even less happiness? This is especially true if you feel regret spending money afterward or if mom gets upset over the wasteful spending. Try to use it in a sentence by using this structure.


Somebody + 花 (huā) + 冤枉钱 (yuānwang qián).


Tā shìhòu zǒng shì hòuhuǐ, juédé zìjǐ huāle xǔduō yuānwang qián.
She always regrets it afterwards and feels that she has spent a lot of money.

Tā māma hěn shēngqì, shuō shì wèi tā huā le bù shǎo yuānwang qián.
His mother was very angry and said that he cost her a lot of pointless expense.

Yet, it’s not always our fault when we spend too much money! There are many ways in which companies get us to spend money as well. Companies themselves invest a lot of money to think of these clever marketing campaigns and promotions to encourage consumers to part with their money easier. Our psychology is our enemy when it comes to how much we decide to spend sometimes. Take the following situations for example.

Common Situations for Chinese People “花冤枉钱 (Huā yuānwang qián)”

1. 节约运费 (Jiéyuē yùnfèi) To save on the shipping fee

HSK 3 quiz

It is typical that a company will offer a promotion for shipping fees. For instance, if you buy a certain amount of money on a Chinese site called Taobao, you don’t need to pay for the shipping. Then you will end up buying extra things that you don’t need. Though you save on postage, you in fact, spend much more money. This is one of the clever ways companies convince consumers to spend more.

2. 购物欲望膨胀 (Gòuwù yùwàng péngzhàng) Shopping desire inflation

HSK 3 quiz

In scenic tourist destinations, you may have the urge to buy everything you see. The price may not be very expensive, but the items are not practical either. For instance if you buy a resort t-shirt with the logo on it you would probably only wear it in the local area and once you go home, you would lose the desire to wear it. This is a phenomena we call “购物欲望膨胀 (Gòuwù yùwàng péngzhàng) Shopping desire inflation.” The desire to take home a piece of the experience inflates and causes you to want to spend money you wouldn’t otherwise spend at home. If you still insist on having an item but want it at a cheaper rate, at least learn the art of bargaining.

3. 盲目攀比 (Mángmù pānbǐ) Blind comparison

HSK 3 quiz

One spending habit is to live above your means. Regardless how much something costs and how much you can afford within your budget, living above your means causes you to blindly pursue material possessions. This style of spending doesn’t match with your income and can lead to accruing debt. It often comes from comparing your lifestyle to other’s and wanting to display an impressive status symbol. Learning to live within your own budget and ignore what other people have is the best way to avoid this style spending habit.

4. 夸张的广告(Kuāzhāng de guǎnggào) Exaggerated advertising

HSK 3 quiz

Products that are heavily advertised have an effect on people’s mentality and can easily convince them to crave a product. They are then willing to pay for a marketing concept, even if they are several times more expensive than ordinary goods. Take ipods for example. In every ad it shows people dancing in public and everybody having fun. Consumers love that feeling and buy ipods hoping to obtain the same concept in the advertisement.

5. 贪小便宜 (Tān xiǎo piányi) Accumulating cheap possessions

HSK 3 quiz

Everyone always thinks that 5 yuan and 10 yuan are small amounts of money. Over time, the house will be stuffed with some cheap jewelry, skin care products, socks and so on. Looking at these, you will comfort yourself by reflecting, they are not expensive, it will not be a pity for throw them away. This spending habit is greedily buying cheap things just to fill space in your home.

By now we have looked at quite a few spending habits and their effects. Are you enticed by free shipping or perhaps the desire to shop more while traveling? Now that you understand your style of spending you can resist wasting it and put your money away safely by learning how to deposit it in the bank. Take the quiz below to see how well you understand the content.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following expressions is correct in Chinese?
Wǒ huā le bù shǎo yuānwang qián.
A. 我花了不少冤枉钱。

Wǒ huā bù shǎo le yuānwang qián.
B. 我花不少了冤枉钱。

Wǒ bù shǎo huā le yuānwang qián.
C. 我不少花了冤枉钱。

See Answer Analysis

—Written by Julia Liu—
Julia Liu teaches Chinese with eChineseLearning. She has been successfully teaching for 5 years and loves reading and practices her passion of drawing in her free time.
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