2 Feb - 6 min read
Chinese New Year will be a very different experience this year, given the onslaught of Covid-19 cases and a stricter enforcement of a second movement control order (MCO 2.0). But that doesn’t mean the Chinese community will forego its traditions, especially as these are intended to invite better luck for 2021! One such tradition is the custom of depositing money into your bank account during li chun.
Li chun is a date in the lunar calendar that marks the beginning of spring. Over time, feng shui masters have tied it to the idea of financial prosperity, saying that it is a particularly auspicious day for putting money into your bank account. In return, it ensures financial prosperity in the following year.
In 2021, li chun falls nine days before Chinese New Year: on 3 February (that’s tomorrow!).
This practice of depositing money during li chun is attributed to its significance as the beginning of spring; it is the renewal of life after a period of barren winter. Ancient Chinese societies – which were mostly agriculture-oriented – would take this time to pray for bountiful harvest in the new year.
As cultures and civilisations advanced, the tradition too evolved into a symbolic act of “planting” cash into bank accounts during li chun – just like how you’d plant a seed at the start of spring. Once “planted”, it is hoped that your finances will grow, offering prosperity and steady income throughout the year. In fact, there’s even a Chinese saying to encapsulate this whole practice: “the entire year’s work depends on a good start in spring.”
Cool tradition, no harm trying – right? Just one thing, though: li chun is also time and zodiac-specific. In other words, each zodiac sign will have a certain window of time during which it is auspicious for them to deposit their money; do so during a different hour and you may lose out on your “wealth luck” instead.
This year, li chun is believed to start on 3 February (10.08pm), and will continue until 4 February (10.58pm). When is the best time for you to make your deposits? Here’s a simple chart indicating the auspicious (or inauspicious) hours for each zodiac sign to deposit money tomorrow:
If you’d like to give this custom a try, remember to set an alarm or reminder to help you out – especially if you need to make a deposit in the wee hours of the morning!
Prior to Covid-19, it would not be surprising to see long queues at the banks during li chun. But with the implementation of MCO 2.0, banks now close their branches earlier as well as restrict the use of their automated teller machines (ATMs) from 6am to 10pm – which means that some of you may have trouble making deposits in person. On top of that, strict SOPs can also make your trip to the bank a tedious task.
As such, it would be wise to consider using instant transfers (better known as DuitNow transfers now) for your li chun deposits instead – especially with more Malaysians now adopting digital and mobile banking! Not only does it keep you safe (#dudukrumah, guys!), it is also instant, free, and accessible at your convenience. Minimum effort for maximum luck!
Do these transfers count as real “deposits” though, you ask? Well, considering the fact that most banks do take these as “fresh funds”, we’d say that the symbolism is (technically) the same!
While the li chun practice calls for a simple act of depositing money into your bank account, why not also take some time to check out options that let you maximise the benefits of doing so?
For instance, consider putting your li chun deposits into a high-interest savings accounts. Many of these high-interest accounts will give you rates that are comparable (or even higher!) than those of fixed deposits (FD). You will, however, need to take some extra steps – such as meeting a spend or save requirement – to earn them. Meanwhile, if you prefer a more straightforward method of saving your money, then the fixed deposit is your best choice. Several banks have monthly FD promotions that you can take advantage of.
Some banks also run targeted campaigns to cater to their customers’ li chun needs (or for Chinese New Year in general); it’d be worth your while to look around before deciding on where to deposit your money. For instance, Hong Leong Bank is running the Let’s ONG Together On Li Chun campaign and Deposits CNY Promotions 2021 campaign (which are both part of a bigger Renew Together Prosper Together CNY campaign) to give you special privileges and special interest rates when you make money deposits with them. Affin Bank, too, has a one-day li chun campaign that entitles you to a lucky draw, letting you win a cash prize of up to RM8,888. OCBC is also offering special rates for li chun deposits.
Aside from that, some of you may also want to consider other less conventional options for your li chun deposits this year! Rather than placing your money into a savings account or fixed deposit, you may opt to “seed” their investments. From robo advisors to investment-linked insurance plans, to unit trust funds and even digital investing – there is a range of options to meet varying investment profiles and risk appetites. If you’re part of these new minds, just make sure to arm yourself with all the necessary knowledge before taking the plunge!
Like many other Chinese New Year traditions, the li chun custom was conceived to symbolically usher in a better year, but beyond that, it promotes a very important lesson: the merit of saving (and even investing) money. No matter how you choose to interpret the traditions of li chun, take care to always do your research and make informed decisions with regard to your finances. A little financial literacy will go a long way, and who knows, 2021 might just reward you with some extra moo-lah.