Monday, December 12, 2011

Kozukai - When Men earn an Allowance

There is an interesting custom in Japan. Salaried men bring home their salary and hand it over to their wives. She then hands him over a fixed sum of money as his allowance for the month. This allowance is known as “Kozukai”. A survey in 2010 ( by Shinsei Financial Co Ltd) quotes the average monthly allowance amount to Yen 40,600. In some cases the men retain a fixed percentage of salary as allowance and handover the rest to their wives.

This allowance is for men to meet their personal expenses during the month while the wife takes care of the living expenses. The man uses his allowance for meeting his expenses of eating out with co workers and friends, drinking, smoking and lunch. All other expenses for the family are taken care of by the wife, who manages the family’s finances. If the woman manages to save any amount after meeting the expenses, it is an allowance for her. This allowance is called “hesokuri” and was generally kept aside for emergency needs.

When I first heard about this custom, I thought it was a custom in few households. I even joked about how I envied the Japanese women. The custom reminds me of the pocket money or allowance that parents gave us when we were kids. 

Recently I picked up an old copy of “Hiragana times” from the library which carried an article about this custom. It said that due to the current economic situation in Japan, the allowance for men had decreased in the recent years. The article also said that because of the decrease in allowance, more men have started carrying lunch boxes to work or eating in the company cafetarias.

While this might have changed in households where both partners are working, the system continues in households with single earning member. 

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