Women tighten their belts in downturn
by Ha Nguyen
Like women all around the world, Vietnamese women have had to economise to deal with the global economic crisis.
Nguyen Thi Hoai in Ha Noi's Hai Ba Trung District saves money by waking up early in the morning to cook breakfast and lunch for her four-member family rather than giving them money to eat outside.
Hoai's husband Hoang Hanh, says thanks to his wife, the entire family enjoys a tasty breakfast and lunch. She often puts food in a box for them to take along to school and the office complete with different dishes than before.
"My dishes are healthy and nutritious, and more importantly we save VND3-4 million (US$140-190) per month," Hoai said, adding that she also tries to visit her parents in law's native village in the northern province of Hai Duong once a week to get organic vegetables planted by her parents to bring home.
In addition, Hoai also cuts spending by no longer getting her hair or nails done at a shop.
"I save at least VND250,000 ($120) a week," said Hoai, adding that she also encourages her children to save money by putting small change into a piggy bank.
In this way, the children saved VND5.3 million ($260) last year, said Hoai.
She now discusses purchases with her husband that previously she wouldn't even think twice about.
Like Hoai, young office women have also cut their spending on luxury goods, imported cosmetics and travelling costs.
Although working for a foreign-invested company, Bui My Dung in Ha Noi's Dong Da District said she has to try to save money by not going to the spa or shopping as often as before because her company has also been threatened by the economic crisis.
"My friends and I now often look for sales in supermarkets and cut down our spending on luxury clothing and bags," she said, adding that by doing this, she has saved a lot of money.
In addition, her family this year took a two-day tour to Dai Lai, 40km from Ha Noi as opposed to the long distance trips to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy that they have taken in the past.
Dung said many of her friends have to change their habits and ways of living to deal with increasing prices.
Dung's mother Luong Thuy Hong, who lives separately from her daughter's family, said she often asks her children and grandchildren to go to bed early and wake up early.
"This habit change helps to save money and benefit the health by saving electricity and allowing more rest time," Hong said.
She reveals her secret of saving money by not bringing grand children to the market very often as they add on unplanned purchases.
Recent research conducted by US scientists showed that 90 per cent of purchases bought at the demand of children have little or no use.
Hong said housewives should have a small book to write down what they spend in a month to look back on and plan out the next month.
Hong also said that people should remember to turn off lamps, heaters, and microwaves after use.
Vo Van Nam of the HCM City's Teachers University's Psychology Department placed importance on education, saying that luxury spending practices should be changed and children should be educated to have a simple lifestyle including affordable clothing and home-made goods. Parents should teach about saving money and respecting their parent's work.
"Despite the economy being up and down, we should always be aware of the need to save money. Don't buy things you don't really need," said Nam. — VNS