Top Five Lunar New Year Traditions and its relevance to financial planning.

Let me first wish you a Happy Lunar New Year filled with good health & plenty of wealth!

As we approach the Year of the Tiger, let us look at some superstitions and traditions for CNY that were practiced for centuries which I think is still applicable today.

  1. Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning for CNY can start as early as the 23rd day of December of the lunar calendar.

Thoroughly cleaning your home rids it of the bad luck of the past year and gets it ready to fill with the good luck sure to follow in the new one. Today, we still actively practice Spring Cleaning for our home.

However, did we “spring clean” our finance? We have our fair share of savings and investment. Have we spring clean the low interest rate instrument that are eaten by inflation? What about those investments that we had held for years and waiting for it to bounce back? And are those insurance policies bought years back still serving its purpose? Maybe it is time to spring clean our financial portfolios too.

2. Reunion Dinner

Reunion dinner takes place on the eve of Lunar New Year. 

Ancestor worshipping takes place before the dinner. Afterwhich, the family gathers around the dinner table filled with auspicious dishes.

The young ones will have to greet the senior members of the family before the commencing the dinner.

Personally, I feel the pace of life is so fast today that not many question about our own existence and our history. Regardless of religion, I think ancestor worshipping(remembrance) help us to remember our roots. While I think it should be a 365 days activity to remind the young to respect the seniors, this is one day that will not be missed. Filial piety can solve many retirement issues.

This is also a moment for family members to sit down and have a good chat with each other.

Of course, in today context, remember to stay safe…. 5 pax to a table if you are dining out!

In financial planning, it is important to know the reason why an investment or insurance was purchased like we know our roots. It is also helpful to have a good communication with your financial planner to ensure your financial goals are on track.

3. Ang Pow (Red packets)

This tradition must be the favorite among children.  It is a tradition to give red packets to your friends and family. The red color symbolizes good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture.

This tradition teaches us to give and receive generously. When we give the red packet, regardless of amount, we learnt that it is a blessing to be able to gift. The receiver will usually say auspicious greetings to the giver and this, we learnt not to receive and take things for granted.

In reality, there are children who says such sweet greetings to the elderly and the Ang Pow contains very little money. I remember I had a relative who gave $2 from as young as I can count money to my working life. Let’s say it is the sincerity that counts and three lessons in today’s society:

  1. Not everyone is having a easy time.
  2. Hard work don’t always reap the due rewards.
  3. Inflation exist!

4. Opening of red packet

This is similar to ‘boxing day’. It is one of the strictest tradition but it is the least practiced ironically. The red packets collected are supposed to be put under the pillow and opened only on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year.

Very few can resist the temptation to open their red envelopes straight away. Personally, I still practice this for my children. I think this tradition teaches delayed gratification i.e. the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future. That is also why I would prefer to avoid digital ang pows.

Just to add that it is extremely rude to open your envelope in front of the giver.

5. Pay back your debts before the new year starts

Traditionally, we have to clear any debts before the 1st day of Lunar New Year. The superstitious is you will have bad luck if you carry over it to the next year. One such bad luck is you will get into more debts. Now, how true it is today?

In my humble opinion, this is still a good practice. In fact, we should clear the debt as early as possible! Compound interest is scary!


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