February 16th, 2018 marks Chinese New Year. While the Chinese have many traditional superstitions involving gifts of money at this time, some of the ancient Chinese wisdom and cultural attitudes to money can help all of us to enjoy more balanced, enriched lives. Here are five Chinese money beliefs to ponder…
1 – Be frugal but generous.
The classic Chinese text Dao De Jing states that the three greatest treasures one can have are love, frugality, and generosity. It’s an interesting saying because it urges us to be both frugal and generous. How can this be done? The saying suggests that we are careful not to waste money, but equally supports the idea that it is still good to spend it in acts of kindness.
2 – Happy is the man without sickness. Rich is the man with no debts.
An ancient Chinese proverb, this saying still resonates with many Chinese people today and the level of average household debt reflects this. Recent figures show that outstanding household loans were the equivalent of 44.4 per cent of China’s gross domestic output last year, far lower than in most advanced economies. The ratio is 87 per cent in the UK.
3 – The emperor is rich, but he cannot buy one extra year.
While being frugal and avoiding debt are strong cultural beliefs in China, ancient wisdom also reminds everyone that our time is a far more precious and finite resource. Hopefully a belief which inspires us all to consider that time well spent with family and loved ones is worth trading for a few extra pounds in the bank.
4 – The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Of course if many of us could travel back in time, we would advise our younger selves to start saving and investing for the future, with a view to balancing that investment with living a rich and fulfilled life. Your future self would no doubt say exactly the same words to you now.
5 – If you save the green mountain, you will not worry about having no firewood to burn.
What sounds like a solid argument for sustainability and saving our planet’s resources, also reminds us that if you pay attention to your ability to generate new wealth, you will not have to worry so much about counting the pennies. This could mean anything from learning skills that help you to earn income, to renovating property that can be rented out or a clever investment.
Here’s hoping these Chinese money beliefs make your 2018 even better. Happy Chinese new year!