「最好的」定義


讀到有關香港中產家庭月入七萬不夠用,按其收支表各項:供樓、養育孩子及雙方父母、重保險和交稅之後,實在沒多剩餘滋養精神生活。網民覺得事主曬命,不開車可以去搭巴士,沒能飛東京也可去香港迪士尼。我慨歎,「睇餸食飯」難免屬紙上談兵,誰個父母不想把最好的供給孩子?然而這個「最好的」定義,也太容易讓同儕、讓社交網頁的上傳生活照給磨擦得越見模糊。中產級父母如何將該條起跑線看通看破,仿佛跟個人定力再無直接關係了。

作為三女之母,我想像假如我們在現時的香港生活,七萬月入一家五口會夠用嗎?我能放手讓家傭甚至家中長輩幫忙照顧孩子嗎?我們在瑞典的生活模式有可能在香港實現嗎?

在瑞典十多年的生活跟香港的南轅北轍,帶孩子做飯打掃這些都得自己來,周末很少外出娛樂,冬天去散步,夏天去公園和海邊野餐。我在瑞典沒有全職工作,一家五口一份穩定收入,一樣有銀行貸款,另一半一樣需要加班。

瑞典的福利制度並非你想像的安全網,我們都要為退休生活積蓄。屋子和汽車有基本的保險,丈夫的工作福利包括每周兩小時健身運動,全家身體算健康,孩子普通傷風咳嗽不會看醫生,去看醫生也不會開藥,沒發燒就照上學,連幼稚園也是。大人感冒就留在家休息三五七天,有需要才吃頭痛丸,病好再上班,自己安排好工作便行。

小學免學費包午飯,幼稚園每月學費港幣1300元,政府的孩子津貼共每月約3700。女兒課餘去得最多的地方是小區圖書館,參加市政府鋼琴課和戲劇班,每學期只是220元,柔道課更是免費。我習慣到二手店找衣服甚至鞋子給孩子,平日密切留意城裡的免費文化活動,例如上周末的哥德堡兒童電影節,戲票港幣42元就很便宜。瑞典國內火車和歐洲廉價航空一有特價,就是我和女兒外遊的機會,旅費來自我慢慢儲下的稿費。

我們每天必需的芝士和鮮奶售價是香港的一半,再數下去的話,我們家的每月支出隨時比香港一般中產家庭低許多。或許我們的身體和精神比你的健康得多,但是你的娛樂生活質素一定比我們的多姿多彩。我沒有結論,天下父母都是辛勞的一群。常說孩子是人生中最大的快樂,幾年前我還會鼓勵香港朋友生養孩子,現在我不會,也不敢了。

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圖:瑞典學童課餘參加市政府舉辦的各項文化興趣班,每學期學費只需港幣220元,不少私營運動協會更有提供免費學童班,我的大女兒上柔道課就是完全免費。圖:Martin Björklund

/刊登於2014-02-06明報副刊Nordic Living專欄(逢周四刊出)。

9 thoughts on “「最好的」定義

  1. Did you read this article: http://hk.news.yahoo.com/36%E6%AD%B2%E4%B8%AD%E7%94%A2-%E8%B3%BA9%E8%90%AC%E5%84%B24%E8%90%AC-225236701.html

    I agree with 問題取決於生活態度. My husband has high income and I stay home as full time mom. With my husband’s salary, having a porsche or benz is totally not a problem. But we rather not to invest in something depreciate, we still drive our 10 yrs old Toyota car. His friend who earn as much as he did (owe a 100k usd car) always think that old car doesn’t fit his profession. I still shop with coupons, buy second hand things.

    I guess if we don’t care how people look at you, you will spend less and carefree more.

    1. Thanks for the article!

      Though I believe that Matthew belongs to a rare middle class group in HK, who has the privilege quit a full time job and still can enjoy a stable financial gain through investment. Smart guy.

      I am curious how it is for the average middle class families in the US? Do most parents tend to spend relatively too much on their children?

      1. I don’t really know how much a US middle class family earn. But by looking at my friend (mostly Asian), they are able to owe a home (around $500k usd), 2 Japanese car, 2 kids who goes to public school and at least 3 fee-based activities, high end cell phone and tablets & travel. Haha, but don’t forget American like to spend and having debt (car, home, credit card) became a ordinary thing. Among the Asian parents here, they are similar to those in HK: school score, activities are important. Housing here is “fried” up by Chinese because of the good school district. I’m not sure about area with less Asian, but friends who lived in other area with less Asian doesn’t have this kind of problem.

  2. 香港也有很多社福機構舉辦平價興趣班,200銀包學識結他基本CHORD,不過家庭月入七萬的家庭不會睇得上眼。畢業前曾任某連鎖興趣班/補習社,一個月盛惠三千銀的PLAYGROUP的師資不會比小童群揪會的好。

    1. 「家庭月入七萬的家庭不會睇得上眼」,我也開始感到模糊了。七萬收入的生活選擇究竟多不多?

  3. Childcare is way more expensive in the States. From daycare to preschool, US$1500@ month is average. Swimming class is about $25 per class, piano class is about $50 per hour… not to mention the housing cost is freaking high here!

    1. That is a huge sum! My impression is the American parents are also required to engage much more in the kids’ school activities than us in Europe/Scandinavia. I could imagine that the preparation of school lunch boxes is a big workload for the (generally stressful) mornings.

      1. yes, we need to do family project at least once a month. My kid need to explain to the whole class what do all family members contribute to the project. School lunch is 2.5 per meal. I let my child to eat once a week and I cook the rest. I cook simple food such as sushi, sandwich or the dinner from previous night.

  4. 真的沒有結論,朋友的一句「我俾多個選擇個小朋友啫」我便無言!不是不明白,而是選擇問題?還是真的贏在起跑線?香港真的很納悶!

    簡單溫飽就是快樂!^_^

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