One of the most exciting aspects about being multicultural is that the New Year celebration does not end on January 1. According to the Western calendar, February 8 marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year – also known as “Spring Festival” – the longest and most important celebration for Chinese families across the globe.
Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, meaning it is based on both lunar and solar cycles, it is celebrated on a different date each year. The lunar calendar also defines the 12-year repeating cycle of Chinese zodiac with each year named after an animal. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. Monkeys are charming and energetic. Monkeys are definitely party animals because they crave fun, activity and excitement.
What can monkeys teach us about finance?
· Lose the financial fat. The cost of living continues to increase and it is hard to stay on a money strict diet. Start off easy, but stop going bananas on items that you could do without, such as premium cable or the fanciest tech gadgets. Cable bills vary depending on provider and services; most bills run a few hundred a month. Technology now allows people to view television online, and Netflix provides ample opportunity to binge watch.
Try This: Be a creative monkey and analyze your spending habits to discover ways to save and invest for your future. For example, prepare your own lunch from home, and resist the urges to shop when you’re bored or upgrade your phone when the latest model hits the shelves. Redirect your “found” money to your Roth IRA or 401(k) to build wealth for your financial independence.
· Make a commitment to your wallet. Many of us are prone to reaching for the credit card instead of using cash. That’s like throwing a monkey wrench into your budgeting. It is easy to lose track of our spending because we don’t realize how frequently we swipe when our credit card is readily accessible. To our shock and horror, we soon discover how much we really spent during the course of the month when our statement arrives. Interest rates and credit card fees accumulate and we are soon over our heads. This is an example of compound interest working against us!
Try Try this: Only have one extra credit card for emergency uses only. Determine what constitutes an emergency; such as health care expenses, car repairs, or utilities. Place the card in a secure place and let a trusted person know where it is located.
· Gifts should come from the heart. Dao De Jing states that the greatest resources a person can have are love, generosity and frugality. It feels better to create a homemade gift than spend tons of money. Think of the return on investment: a few dollars to make something special means more to the recipient.
Try This: Donating money in someone’s name is a way to make both you and the gift recipient feel as though you are supporting a worthy cause.
· Leave your ego at the door. The weaknesses of the monkeys are being egotistical, arrogant, crafty, restless and snobbish. These negative characteristics may cost a person his financial success. There is no harm in seeking help from an expert. Ego often clouds judgment and choices, leaving a person with a less than ideal outcome.
Try This: Consult with a CFP® professional when dealing with serious financial matters, such as preparing for retirement, going through a divorce or becoming a caregiver to an aging parent. An expert is unbiased and doesn’t have that strong emotional connection to the situation. Through talking with an adviser, monkeys may glean financial confidence.
To derive the greatest benefit from the Year of the Monkey, plan to use your talents wisely.
Don’t fritter away the opportunity that a new year gives us to plan. What you write down now, you can make come true. Time to stop monkeying around. Time to establish your financial goals.
A version of this article originally appeared on
Kiplinger Wealth Creation Channel