The Upsides vs. Downsides of Joining a Social Gathering (Arisan)


Arisan is a social activity that is quite popular in Indonesia. If we should find a definition for it, arisan is a group of people who collect money on a regular basis during a certain period of time. For example, social gatherings carried out in the office and around the neighborhood. Once all the money is collected, one of the group members will be declared as a “winner”. This is usually done by raffles – even though there are some groups that determine the winners by agreement. This activity will be repeated the next month, until all members get to be a winner.

Check out some of the advantages and disadvantages of joining arisan, based on the types of prize and the experience of people who have participated in it:

1. Arisan for Cash Prize

Lina, 66, actively joined arisan by placing Rp 100,000 a month. The members of the social gathering she belonged to are mostly middle-aged women in the neighborhood where she lives, approximately 42 people. Each month, they would take draw to select three winners, where every person would bring home Rp 1.4 million.

Meanwhile, Idi, 42, joined arisan because she feels obliged by the community. According to her, participating in arisan is a loss, because one has to deposit money every month without getting any interest. She currently joins a mandatory arisan where each participant must give Rp 50,000 a month, while the winner would get Rp 550,000 per round.

[Read: How to Trick Ourselves to Save Money]

2. Arisan for Goods

Knowing that arisan for cash will not generate interest like a regular saving, some communities choose to do arisan for goods – by providing various items, based on the interests and needs of their members.

Dessy Natalia Engel, 26, joined arisan to get children’s books for her toddler, by depositing Rp 200,000 for 10 months. When it is her turn to take away the prizes, she would get a package of children’s books which consists of 25 books for toddler, 1 guide book for parents, 3 hand puppets, 1 souvenir, and 1 game voucher. She joined this arisan because it would cost her a lot more money to buy the items herself.

Dee, a lifestyle blogger, 24, joined arisan to get bullions. By depositing a monthly fee along with 4 other members, one would get a bullion every 5 months. Dee says she is not interested in joining arisan to get cash, because it would be gone in no time. She chooses to join this type of arisan because, while the value of money is depreciating every year, the value of gold could increase over time. This social gathering with gold is done online via WhatsApp messenger group, making it more effective and efficient because it is purely for investment purpose.

In line with Dee, Eni Martini also participated in arisan to get gold, with fluctuating rates based on the price of gold at that time. For her, this type of arisan is beneficial, because one would have an investment saving, while at the same time exchanging news with fellow members who already know each other. According to her, the amount of Rp 500,000 to Rp 600,000 a month could be gone for shopping, but by taking part in this gathering, one would have an investment in gold.

Aprilia Ekasari, 31, opted to join arisan for items like cosmetics, kitchen appliances, and a sewing machine. According to her, by joining the arisan she could have expensive items by paying with installments, without having to take credit card loan.

That is also why Eka Putri, 30, participated in this type of arisan, by giving Rp 20,000 per week and get Rp 1.2 million in the form of household items – ranging from carpets, cabinets, a set of plates, et cetera. She joined this social gathering because she felt she was not able to save consistently to get those household items.

3. Arisan for Service

Anastasya Bee, 38, joined arisan not in the form of money or goods, but a unique service that sterilize stray cats that had been fed by the arisan members in her neighborhood. The purpose of this sterilization is to prevent overpopulation of cats.

“We know not everyone likes cats, so if the cat population within a neighborhood is too high, they would be considered as disturbing and the rate animal abuse would increase,” he explains.

When a participant received cash from arisan, the money will go to pay for sterilization at pet shops that are collaborating with the members. The monthly fee is Rp 20,000 per lot (person); if there are 10 lots within a group, a selected participant would receive Rp 200,000 at one draw.

Meanwhile, the cost of sterilizing a female cat is around Rp 175,000 and Rp 125,000 for a tomcat. The rest of the money will be collected to buy cat food, in collaboration with a pet shop to get a cheaper price.

As an animal lover, Anastasya joins this arisan to help reduce violence on animals, as well as to improve the welfare of stray cats. With controlled population, their competition in search for food and mates will decrease. In addition to control the population of cats, the arisan community could also distribute stray cats to animal lovers who want to adopt a pet.

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