Li Chun on Feb 4 - When is the best date & time to deposit money?

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

You might not know it by its name, but surely you've noticed snaking queues at cash deposit machines on a particular day around Chinese New Year. This date is called Li Chun (立春), and depositing cash has become quite a Singaporean tradition in the past few years.

According to some fengshui master or other, Li Chun is supposedly an auspicious day for you to deposit money in your bank account.

If you're wondering when, where and why Li Chun 2020 is all about, here's a dummies' guide. (Read all the way to the bottom for advice on how you can ACTUALLY make money with your money for Li Chun!)

NOW WAIT JUST A MINUTE, WHAT IN THE BLAZES IS LI CHUN (立春)?

For the benefit of anyone who isn't Chinese, is Chinese but studied in ACS, or is simply a potato, I'll briefly explain Li Chun (Chinese: 立春) in this section.

Li Chun is a date on the Chinese calendar that signifies the beginning of spring. This date often falls around Chinese New Year, although the date of CNY can actually be before or after Li Chun.

This year, Li Chun falls on 4 Feb 2020. That's 10 days after Chinese New Year on 25 Jan 2020.

Okay, so now you're wondering what this date has to do with depositing money at the ATM, right?

I don't have any answer for you, other than that fengshui works in mysterious ways.

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I mean, I can get why Li Chun is celebrated in China, since agriculture was a significant part of the country's history. But in Singapore, there are no seasons and our agriculture is limited to preschoolers planting bean sprouts in cotton wool.

Guess you could say we celebrate Li Chun by "planting" money in our bank accounts.

By the way, this whole queueing up at the ATM to deposit money is a totally new thing. It's only been around for a few years. Don't believe me, go ask your parents if they ever did such a thing when they were younger.

WHEN SHOULD YOU DEPOSIT MONEY? LI CHUN 2020 DATE & TIME SLOTS

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

It's not good enough to simply deposit cash at the ATM at any random time on 4 Feb 2020. You need to time your cash deposit endeavour in order to maximise your chances of "good fortune".

For that reason, every publication in Singapore - whether it's Lianhe Zaobao or International Fengshui Herald - will publish a cute chart showing you when, exactly, on 4 Feb you should deposit cash, based on your Chinese zodiac sign. Apparently, this year Li Chun starts at 5.18pm on 4 Feb and ends at 4.59pm the next day.

Unfortunately, there's no consensus on the best timing (probably because the entire thing is totally fabricated?).

Here's a Li Chun chart grabbed off the totally legit Fengshui Beginner. (Legend: $$ = most auspicious time to deposit cash. $ = also acceptable time. X = inauspicious time, avoid.)

  Li Chun Day 1 — 4 Feb 2020 (5.18pm onwards) Li Chun Day 2 — 5 Feb 2020 (before 5pm)
  5.18pm to 7.59pm 8pm to 9.59pm 10pm to 10.59pm 7am to 8.59am 9am to 10.59am 11am to 12.59pm 1pm to 2.59pm 3pm to 4.59pm
Rat X $ $ $$ $ X X $$
Ox $$ X $ $ $ X X $
Tiger $ $$ $$ $ X $$ $ X
Rabbit X $$ $$ $$ $ $ $ $
Dragon $$ X $ X $ $ $$ $$
Snake $$ $ X $$ X $ $ $$
Horse $ $$ X $ $$ X $ $$
Sheep $ X $$ $$ $$ $$ $ $
Monkey $ $ X $$ X $ $ $
Rooster $ X $ $$ $ $$ $ $
Dog $ $$ $ X $ $ X $
Pig $ $ X $ X $$ $ X

Here's another chart for Li Chun 2020, this time from Way Fengshui. Notice that the best and worst times for almost everyone is the same.

  Li Chun Day 1 — 4 Feb 2020 (5.18pm onwards) Li Chun Day 2 — 5 Feb 2020 (before 5pm)
  5.18pm to 7pm 7pm to 9pm 9pm to 11pm 11pm to 1am (next day) 1am to 3am 3am to 5am 5am to 7am 7am to 9am 9am to 11am 11am to 1pm 1pm to 3pm 3pm to 5pm
Rat 鼠 $ $ $$ X X
Ox 牛 $ $     $$ X X
Tiger 虎 $ $ $$ X X
Rabbit 兔 $ $ $$ X $ X
Dragon 龙 $ $ $$ X X
Snake 蛇 $ $ $$ X X
Horse 马 $ $ $$ X $ X
Sheep 羊 $ $ $$ X X
Monkey 猴 $ $ $$ X X
Rooster 鸡 $ $ $$ X X
Dog 狗 $ $ $$ X X
Pig 猪 $ $ $$ X $ X

There seems to be no single best cash deposit time, unless there's a particular fengshui master you believe in.

BEST SAVINGS ACCOUNTS TO OPEN FOR LI CHUN 2020

Since you're doing a bit of banking, you might as well review your present savings account to see if there are any better and/or more suitable ones to keep your cash.

That means to make sure you're depositing the money in a bank account that gives you a better interest rate than your old POSB savings account (0.05 per cent p.a.).

Here are a few account recommendations, as well as how to maximise yield:

Savings account in Singapore Realistic interest rates How to maximise interest rate
UOB One account 1.5% to 1.85% p.a. Credit card spend + salary credit OR bill payment
OCBC 360 account 1.55% to 2.45% p.a. Credit card spend + salary credit + increase monthly balance + invest $20,000
DBS Multiplier account 1.55% to 2.2% p.a. Salary credit + credit card spend + invest
POSB SAYE account 2% p.a. Save fixed amount every month + don’t touch for 2 years
Standard Chartered BonusSaver account 1.1% to 2.13% p.a. Salary credit (>$3,000) + credit card spend + bill payment
Bank of China SmartSaver 1.45% to 3.4% p.a. Salary credit (>$6,000) + credit card spend + bill payment
Maybank Save Up programme 2.94% p.a. Pick 3 banking categories (loans, credit card spending, etc.)
Citi MaxiGain Savings Account 0.89% to 1.49% p.a Stash away at least $15,000 ($70,000 for higher interest) + don’t touch for 1 year
CIMB FastSaver account 1% p.a. to 1.5% p.a. Stash away spare cash (any amount)

Notice that these are labelled as "realistic interest rates" - that's because many banks advertise super high rates, but many times, they're not realistic for plebs like you and me. Read the fine print!

OTHER THAN DEPOSIT MONEY, WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO FOR LI CHUN 2020?

If you don't want to burn your CNY eve queueing at the ATM with the entire population of Sengkang and Buangkok combined, you can still take part in the symbolic "seed sowing" ritual by putting your money into a foolproof investment rather a savings account.

Some suggestions:

  • Open a fixed deposit account
  • Put some money in a Singapore Savings Bond
  • Start a regular savings plan

Note that fixed deposits and Singapore Savings Bonds interest rates change every month, so you do need to check what the rates are in February for Li Chun.

In any case, since even fengshui masters aren't convinced that Li Chun really works, these investments or a high-interest savings account might give you better odds of, you know, actually making money.

ALSO READ: How to save money (it's not about how much you make, but how much you keep)

This article was first published in MoneySmart