16th January 2023 - 9 min read
We’ve barely put away the party poppers used for New Year celebrations, and the Chinese community is already pulling out red lanterns, paper ornaments, and firecrackers for yet another occasion! That’s right, we’re talking about Chinese New Year, happening earlier this year on 22 January 2023.
Amidst the flurry of getting ready for the upcoming revelries – cleaning the house, buying new clothes, preparing the angpows – remember to also save the date for li chun, which falls on 4 February this year (almost two weeks after the first day of Chinese New Year)!
If you’re familiar with this tradition, then you know the drill! But if li chun is something new to you, then stick around to find out more about this one special day, which is said to be able to bless you with financial prosperity in the upcoming year if you take part in the tradition.
Simply put, li chun – with li (立) meaning to start, and chun (春) meaning springtime, youth, or joy – is a day in the lunar calendar that marks the first day of spring and the “official” start of the new lunar year (not the Chinese New Year celebrations, surprisingly!). On this day, farmers during bygone civilisations would pray in hopes of a bountiful harvest in the coming year, starting with the very first seeds sown in new year.
This ancient practice eventually evolved into a symbolic act of “sowing” cash into bank accounts instead, as societies became more advanced. But the intention remains the same; it is hoped that with this, your finances – like the crops – will also benefit from a good “reap”.
While the idea behind the tradition is relatively straightforward, the practice itself isn’t as simple as just depositing money into your bank account whenever you want during li chun! Depending on your Chinese zodiac, it is believed there are specific “auspicious hours” that you should take advantage of to make your deposits, and “inauspicious hours” that you should avoid to “preserve” your prosperity. Based on the lunar calendar, li chun is set to take place on 4 February 2023, starting from 10.47am to be precise – and each Chinese zodiac sign can deposit their money according to the following schedule (each zodiac’s auspicious hours are marked using its representations!)
For convenience, most of you should probably take advantage of the earliest timeslots of between 9am to 1pm on 4 February to perform your li chun deposits! In fact, some zodiac signs – such as the Ox and Monkey – lack good timeslots to make deposits if they miss that one window of opportunity, so remember to set your alarms!
Now that Malaysia has transitioned into the endemic phase of Covid-19 (since 1 April 2022), you can expect many individuals – especially those from the older generation – making their way once again to automated teller machines (ATMs) to uphold the tradition. After all, what’s a little wait in the queue for the prospect of a prosperous year, right? (Actually, no, it can be a really long wait…if you’re unlucky.)
So if you’re not so keen on queuing, there’s always the option to make instant online transfers via DuitNow instead, offering both convenience and flexibility for your schedule! While such transactions may have once been spurned by older folks – who typically did not consider them real “deposits” – there has been a growing acceptance of it since the pandemic, especially since digital payments and online/mobile banking have become such a big part of our lives today.
Another thing to think about when making your li chun deposits is where to deposit your money. Naturally, the most widespread practice is to deposit into your savings account, but why not also consider other avenues that can help you earn interest and actual monetary gains? These are some alternatives that are also open to you for your li chun deposits:
Go for FDs if you’re someone who prefers a straightforward savings option to earn interest, especially since several banks may also run special li chun FD campaigns with promotional interest rates closer to the date. Our Best Fixed Deposit Accounts article – which is updated on a monthly basis – also lists numerous FD promotions that you can tap into each month.
That said, one drawback to FDs is that your money must be locked in for a specific period to earn the interest offered, so make sure that you will not need your FD funds urgently in the immediate future. Additionally, some FD campaigns may require you to deposit quite a substantial amount to unlock the promotional rate – sometimes even up to RM10,000 – so do take this into consideration as well.
If you’re not too keen on locking your funds in for several months, then perhaps high-interest savings accounts may be better option for you instead! These accounts let you earn rates that are comparable than fixed deposits – or maybe even better, with some offering up to 4.15% p.a. – without giving up on the flexibility and convenience of savings accounts.
To earn these high interest rates, however, most high-interest savings accounts will require you to meet some extra conditions on top of depositing money. These could include spending a certain amount, or purchasing bancassurance/takaful products to earn bonus interest rates.
Generally speaking, cash management solutions are better known for being investment instruments rather than savings avenues, so they can be an unconventional option to park your li chun deposits – but many individuals have begun utilising these solutions for their savings during the Covid pandemic.
Cash management solutions essentially tap into money market funds (MMFs) to deliver returns that are on par or higher than FDs, and typically has a low entry requirement (with some starting from just RM1). It also offers high liquidity; unlike FDs, you can withdraw your funds at any time without incurring penalties – making it a pretty popular option for many individuals.
That said, most cash management solutions are contained within a robo advisor app, which means that individuals who are not exposed to robo advisors may take some persuading to get onboard with it. There is also no absolute guarantee on returns, although money market funds are generally considered to be a low-risk instrument.
If you’re open to even more unorthodox options to “plant” seeds for your future (in other words, retirement), consider making self-contributions to your Employees Provident Funds (EPF) account! EPF self-contributions can be done conveniently via online transfers, either through i-Akaun mobile app or internet banking. Otherwise, opt for assistance at EPF or bank agent counters if you require someone to guide you through the steps.
On top of that, another alternative is to invest in private retirement schemes (PRS), which you can access through your PRS account fund management platform, or third-party platforms like FSMOne. Given that both EPF self-contributions and PRS investments also offer tax deduction benefits, you’ll already be “reaping” some form of “returns” fairly quickly, on top of dividends that compound over the years. Just remember that both EPF and PRS deposits require you to lock your funds until retirement, so do ensure that the funds you deposit will not be needed for any emergency expenses.
To further stretch the concept of li chun, there is also the option to make investments via robo advisors. We’ve mentioned earlier that cash management solutions are often housed within a robo advisor app; most robo advisors also come with a separate investment feature that lets you invest in a portfolio as well. For instance, robo advisor StashAway – one of the better known in Malaysia – offers StashAway Simple as its cash management solution, but it also has a variety of other portfolios (such as General Investing, Responsible Investing, and Thematic Portfolios) available for those who wish to invest. Other robo advisors that you may have also come across in Malaysia include MYTHEO, Wahed Invest, KDI, and Raiz.
If you would like to find out more about robo advisors, here’s one of our articles to share some key things that you should know about these platforms. We also have more in-depth articles that discuss how robo advisors determine your risk appetite and whether you can trust them to make the best investment decisions for you.
If you’re a massive believer of feng shui and would like to go all out for this year’s li chun, here are some additional things that you can do to “magnify” your luck – or just add to the festivities in general!
Tip #1: Some feng shui masters say that you can improve your chance at prosperity by wearing clothes in your auspicious colours for the year when you make your deposits! Go ahead and check out the full list here if you’re interested.
Tip #2: Your li chun deposits should contain numbers with prosperous connotations, such as RM28, RM80, or RM88. These “lucky” numbers might just influence how lucky you get in 2023!
Tip #3: The 9am – 1pm timeslot on 4 February 2023 is considered to be the most auspicious li chun timeslot, so don’t miss out! Other timeslots (if you do have additional li chun timeslots) are said to be good too, but why should you settle for good if you can aim for most auspicious?
Tip #4: Only one li chun deposit per person, unfortunately. Making several li chun deposits during different timeslots won’t add to your ong…but good try (says the God of Prosperity).
Getting together with family and friends to observe the tradition of li chun can certainly be a fun occasion, allowing bonds to grow and memories to be made (especially since this year’s li chun falls on a weekend). But more importantly, let’s not forget the key lesson that underpins this tradition: the importance of saving and investing money (wisely). With that, we would like to wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year, and a prosperous year ahead!
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