Chinese people used to describe those whose wages did not cover their living expenses as yueguang zu or the “moonlight clan” – meaning people who lived from paycheck to paycheck. Now, with new financial products like payday loans which can be accessed through smartphone apps and bank overdrafts, this group of people are living beyond their means, which in Chinese is called yinxing pinkun.
With yinxing meaning “invisible” and pinkun “poverty,” yinxing pinkun indicates that people are not actually penniless, and they wear brand-name clothing and regularly eat out and visit entertainment venues. People buy high-end products such as cosmetics, sneakers and handbags, even though they know it costs many times their monthly or even annual salary. To satisfy their demands, they apply for multiple credit cards, real and virtual, and even borrow money from loan companies.
Some accuse those suffering from yinxing pinkun as being obsessed with consumption out of vanity – people are trying to show a sense of superiority through their dazzling appearance and luxurious lifestyle. Others argue that today's consumption-led society should bear some responsibility for yinxing pinkun, because it seduces people with myriad temptations, and constantly brings up the cost of keeping people's social contacts and place in society.
yǐn xìng pín kùn