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 2019 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 2019. That happens to be the day before Chinese New Year on 5 Feb 2019, but that's a coincidence.
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.
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 2019 date & time slots
It's not good enough to simply deposit cash at the ATM at any random time on 4 Feb 2019. 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.
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: HUAT AH! = most auspicious time to deposit cash. GOOD = also acceptable time)
Here's another chart for Li Chun 2019, this time from Way Fengshui. Notice that the best time for almost everyone happens to be lunch hour.
Also, according to Way Fengshui, Li Chun actually starts on 11.16am on 4 Feb and lasts till 11.16am on 5 Feb, which is why it's still possible to huat if you do your cash deposit in the wee hours the next morning. See their Li Chun calendar for details on time slots after 11pm.
Anyway, my point is that there's no single best cash deposit time, unless there's a particular fengshui master you believe in.
Best savings accounts to open for Li Chun 2019
If you do plan to join the ATM queues on Chinese New Year eve, the least you can do in the meantime is to open 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 recommendations, depending on how much you plan to deposit.
Also, banks often roll out Li Chun promotions closer to Chinese New Year.
Other than deposit money, what else can you do for Li Chun 2019?
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.
Open a fixed deposit account - interest rates are as high as 1.9 per cent p.a. these days
Put some money in a Singapore Savings Bond - interest rates now 2 per cent p.a. and up
Start a regular savings plan - beginner-friendly investment, sort of a "monthly subscription" instead of a big lump sum
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 some 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.
Will you be participating in the Li Chun 2019 madness?
This article was first published in MoneySmart.