Personal Finance Tips from the Year of the Ox

With Chinese New Year upon us, it’s time to reflect on money and career lessons we could learn from 2021’s animal: the ox. Oxen are honest, diligent and dependable.

A Chinese New Year display of a red ceramic ox, red tassels and red envelops.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve survived 2020, and people are hoping to put aside the struggles of a global pandemic, a contentious election, civil unrest and destruction. The effects of 2020 are still being felt by everyone, but there are ways to channel good energy.

On the 2021 Western calendar, Feb. 12 corresponds to the first day of the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar and marks the start of the Chinese New Year, also known as “Spring Festival” – the longest and the most significant celebration for Chinese families across the world.

The Chinese calendar is based on lunar and solar cycles, with New Year’s celebrated on different dates every year. The lunar calendar outlines the 12-year repeating cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Each year is named after an animal: 2021 is the Year of the Ox.

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According to Chinese culture, oxen are a sign of honesty, diligence, strength and dependability. On the negative side, oxen are opinionated; they hate challenges and failure and believe strongly in themselves.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, when the Jade Emperor held a race across the river, the Ox was predicted to win first place, as he was a talented swimmer. However, out of kindness, he agreed to carry the Rat during the race. Just before they reached the finish line, the Rat jumped off and landed in first place, and the Ox had to settle for second place.

How to Use the Personality of the Ox to Be Successful in Finances and Life

Think Outside the Box

The pandemic has taught us to engage in anything that helps us to be creative in problem solving. Oxen tend to be stubborn and follow all the rules in the book. They aren’t easily influenced. So, when faced with a challenge, think about other solutions. For example, if you need to work but can’t meet people face-to-face, try online solutions. Most people are working from home and are available online. People are getting hired on JobVite and on social media platforms; use this opportunity to increase your visibility.

Dependability Is a Good Thing

2020 was an unpredictable year, and 2021 has been volatile so far as well. People crave stability, and this is the time for the Ox to shine. For example, given the pandemic effects, most workplaces are understaffed. You can develop another task or responsibility that demonstrates your value in the workplace.

In personal finances, being dependable does not mean saying yes. Think about the benefits and consequences of making an investment or purchase. According to the Associated Press, 69% of households have less than $1,000 in emergency savings. Talk with your partner about reducing any superfluous expenses in your household budget. For example, if you have a gym membership but you haven’t been there due to the pandemic, think about cutting that cost. Another example is evaluating your monthly subscription services.

Don’t Be a Bull

Oxen can be stubborn and their tempers can flare, causing conflicts. With everything going on in the world, people are on edge. Always think about self-care. Relax and take care of yourself; you can try breathing exercises or yoga classes. Don’t be stuck at home the whole day — get out and walk around with your pet or by yourself. Change your scenery and take the opportunity to wind down. All will be well.

70% of married couples argue about money – ahead of fights about household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring and what's for dinner. Think about the best time to talk money, maybe right after a rough day is not a good idea. Make notes about what you want to discuss, problem-solving strategies and why it is important to discuss. If tempers flare, stop the conversation and go for a walk or write down your thoughts in a journal. If you find you can’t discuss finances, seek a counselor or another impartial third party to help mediate the situation.

Here’s to a new year and a new you!


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP® & RICP®
CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ and a Retirement Income Certified Professional. She helps educate the public, policymakers and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.