Many parents agonise over what toys to buy their children, and regret the cost when the children lose interest, but not Su Lijun , the father of an inquisitive two-year-old boy. 'For 980 yuan [HK$1,150] for six months, I can rent many toys for my boy - usually quite large toys, like a toy car or a trumpet,' the Beijinger said. 'The rental fee is cheaper than it would be to buy. Kids often get bored with one type of toy quickly. Renting is a good way to give him a variety of choices at a reasonable price.' Su is one of the hundreds of thousands of young adults on the mainland who are in the 'hire clan', or hazuzu, a phrase coined in early 2007. The philosophy of the group's members is to spend less money, have fun and improve living standards while avoiding waste, allowing them to save for necessities. This is quite a departure from the traditional Chinese mentality of ownership. With an average income for new university graduates of about 2,300 yuan a month - only slightly more than a migrant worker earns and a lot less than the average rent for a flat in big cities - the young adults of the hazuzu have no choice but to follow the advice Premier Wen Jiabao gave last month in Macau: 'If buying an apartment is not an option, renting is worth considering.' But the group is renting not just flats and cars, but products that are only occasionally used - fine clothes and accessories for parties, and photographic and sports and camping equipment for holidays. This way, they can have fun and pursue a trendy lifestyle even though they cannot afford to buy these things. A small survey by China Central Television that did not specify the number of participants found 80 per cent of respondents preferred to rent when the items were for mid- and short-term use. Sixty per cent did it to save money and 15 per cent to satisfy their curiosity about the item, which might be new to the market or something they had never used. While the nation's gross domestic product has been growing by at least 7 per cent per year for 20 years and its economy ranks second in the world only to the United States, university graduates from last year reported their monthly incomes were less than those of 2006 graduates, according to statistics revealed on December 15 in the annual Bluebook of China's Society by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Instead of earning triple the average urban individual's income, now it is down to double. To cope, the generation born since 1980 has learned penny-pinching techniques from experts - their grandparents. Xia Xueluan, a professor of sociology at Peking University, said that because of the economic downturn, worsening inflation and their low starting pay, it made sense for young graduates to adopt a renting frame of mind. 'Young people have been kind of forced to adopt this more rational way of spending and living a practical lifestyle,' Xia said. 'It's a reflection that they have gradually been influenced by realism rather than idealism.' So, how much cheaper is renting over buying? If you want to go camping, for example, renting a tent costs about 30 yuan a day, plus a 300 yuan deposit). A sleeping bag costs 10 to 15 yuan a day (100 yuan deposit). Usually the rental fee is about 10 per cent of the purchase price. For occasional campers, the attraction is clear. Wang Xiaoxiao, a marketing manager in Beijing, spent 1,200 yuan renting photographic equipment - lenses, tripod, camera and bag - for 10 days for her trip to Tibet in October. If she were to buy the same equipment, it would cost about 50,000 yuan. 'It isn't worth it if I spend tens of thousands of yuan on a high-end camera that I use only one or two weeks a year and leave it unused for the rest of the year,' Wang said. 'But renting a good camera for a trip to Tibet is worth every penny.' Tang Yun, a 29-year-old employee for a website in Zibo, Shandong, said renting saved money for necessities. She rented outdoor equipment in 2008 to go hiking with her boyfriend. 'Renting saved us loads of time and money in selecting and buying outdoor gear,' Tang said. 'And we also didn't have to worry about where to store it in our small flat or leave it unused.' Some things available for rent might sound surprising. People rent musical instruments when they start lessons because they are not sure whether they will continue. People rent plants because they don't know how to care for them. They even rent pets if they don't want to take responsibility for caring for them or become emotionally tied to them. It is not uncommon for someone to rent a boyfriend or girlfriend to take home for Lunar New Year to stop their family from nagging them. These days people also rent parents and bridesmaids for their weddings - parents, because they might be ashamed of their backward, rural real ones, and bridesmaids because instead of bringing in friends and having to teach them what to do and how to act, the rented pros already know. People rent membership cards to such places as beauty salons, bowling alleys, karaoke bars or massage parlours because the discount they give is more than the 10 yuan rental fee. Su rents his son's toys from the Beijing Yufengchun Children's Toys chain, founded by Wu Fang , 40, a former doctor. Wu opened her first shop in 2000 and has expanded to eight. 'The first two weeks after my first shop opened, I had no customers at all,' Wu said. 'And then, through advertising and word of mouth, business slowly picked up. The consumption mindset has changed to a much wiser type of consumption. My customers were born in the '70s and '80s, mostly the 'post-80s generation'. They share some obvious characteristics. They are usually confident in their knowledge of parenting [in choosing toys to rent] and are very easy to communicate with.' Online agents have sprung up to act as go-betweens, helping both those with products to rent and customers looking to rent. Liu Ping , a 39-year-old Shandong native, founded a hazuzu website in 2008 and has built a lucrative business with hundreds of thousands of registered members. 'Most young people are still getting used to the idea and there is still a long way to go compared with the Western mindset of renting,' Liu said. 'Many still hold that renting sounds a bit unreasonable, but actually the business has a very promising future.' Sometimes people even rent 'emotion'. Shi Nana , a 25-year-old employee of a real estate company in Zibo, is one. 'I was lonely living on my own when I started working just after graduation,' she said. 'My parents lived quite far from town. I saw a post on a website by a lady in her 50s offering a family-like atmosphere, so I gave it a try. I paid 1,300 yuan a month to rent a family - a mother, a bedroom, food and bills.' Shi did it for more than six months until she found a boyfriend - unrented - and moved out. But she said she really loved the experience and coming home to her 'rent-a-mum'. Xia, the sociology professor, said: 'As long as it's based on a good motive and both sides follow their contracts, renting people for emotional reasons is just another option in life.'