How to have a Chinese ‘New Normal’ Year (#CNNY)
This article was produced in partnership with MoneySmart to help young families make smarter money decisions in this new Ox year.
Chinese New Year 2021 will indeed be one for the books. While we celebrate with family over reunion dinner, it’s another celebration of sorts — that we have emerged from 2020 in one piece.
Given the Covid-19 safety restrictions, so much may change this year — but exactly how so?
And how about CNY spending? How can we be more moneysmart about our finances this Year of the Ox and survive what is now Chinese “New Normal'' Year (CNNY)?
How is CNNY different?
New Covid-19 restrictions were announced on 22 Jan, in light of a recent rise in community cases and the possible risk of transmission during the festive period.
What’s new? There’s an 8 pax limit on visitors a day in a household and it's advised that we should also limit ourselves to visiting a maximum of 2 other households a day if possible. For those with huge multi-generational families, that poses a bit of a challenge.
And while tossing yusheng we’re told to don our face masks and stay silence (because shouting spreads our droplets further mah)... but wait! We can pre-record these sayings or use a nifty app to “shout” in our stead.
Stay safe, people!
Here’s what else we think will change:
- Less visiting = less weight gain? No more snacking on another household’s pineapple tarts
- Less visiting = more eco-friendly? Save the trees by gifting digital ang baos, cut down on CO2 emissions because you won’t be stuck in traffic jams
- From unlimited reunion dinners to ‘restricted-union’ dinners
- One shot “settle” all your visiting, but virtually — organise a Zoom call with all the 20 households you usually visit instead
- Shopping goes online — you probably bought all of your new clothes, goodies and even home furnishings online, of course using a credit card that gives you rebates for online spend
- ZooMahjong — a virtual game of mahjong over Zoom? Anything is possible!
- Spending — depending on how we weathered 2020, during a season when our spending goes up, this might result in smaller ang baos and less lavish reunion dinners (or less goodies/decor)
- #ootd was so last season — instead of outfit of the day (#ootd), we now have #motd, mask of the day. Totally coordinated with each CNY outfit, of course!
Parents especially, will have a different kind of CNY — a CNNY — this year. While so many things will change, we can still go on with our usual traditions, but with a digital twist. Here’s how you can survive this CNNY and ride the Ox by the horns in 2021:
Survival tip 1: Try digital gifting
Ang baos, or red packets, are filled with money and given by married elders to their children. These symbolise good wishes and luck for the new year ahead — so we shouldn’t do away with this CNY tradition!
Instead, why not consider digital ang baos? These are an alternative way to dole out good luck even with restrictions on the number of visitors in place, family based overseas who aren’t able to come home for CNY, and generally a more sanitary way of handling money. Plus you don’t need to go to the bank to queue up for new notes, or return to the bank to deposit notes after.
It’s so easy to transfer money now. Here are 2 ways to send out these digital gifts:
QR Gift (QR Hong Bao)
What is it?
An electronic gift which you can send over PayLah! to send money and personalised greetings.
A physical gift card which you can load money into via a QR code on PayLah! and recipients can scan to redeem.
How to use it?
Tap on “eGift” on PayLah! to start.
Choose your recipient, indicate the amount you wish to send, pick a festive animation to accompany your greeting, and write a personalised note.
Hit “send!” and voila, you are done.
Scan the card to load your gift value. You can load multiple cards at once. Indicate your preferred validity period for the redemption to be made, and you are done!
Anyone with PayLah! or PayNow can receive the money, even kids!
Available to all DBS PayLah! users
With cashless giving, comes cashless receiving. Check out how to register your kids for a PayLah! wallet so they can receive blessings safely at home, and there’s no need to make a trip to deposit the money.
From now till 11 February, you can collect DBS QR Gift (QR Hong Baos) for free at any DBS branch or pop-up ATM.
You can also pick up from any Sheng Siong outlet between 30 January to 11 February 2021.
While stocks last!
By going digital, you also contribute to sustainability efforts. You see, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, e-gifting helps to reduce the queues at banks, and also helps to reduce the carbon emissions generated by the production of new notes for each Lunar New Year, estimated to be about 330 tonnes currently. This is equivalent to emissions from charging 5.7 million smart phones or one smart phone for every Singaporean resident for 5 days.
Bring your used QR Gift cards to any full-service DBS branches for recycling after you are done!
Survival tip 2: Online shopping for CNY
Every CNY, it’s tradition to spring clean one’s home, spruce it up (with new furniture?) and decorate it with motifs of the Chinese Zodiac animal (aka Ox). There’s also the mad rush to buy all the CNY goodies, groceries and other essentials for the home.
This CNNY, let’s kick off our shoes and make all our purchases from the comfort of our sofa, okay?
I mean, who wants to make a trip to the store, squeeze with the crowd, try to look for your stuff (no Control+F function in a physical store), and lug a trolley-load of CNY shopping (groceries, essentials, etc) back home? It’s much easier to shop online and have it delivered, plus you get to earn cashback on your debit/credit cards (yay).
Pro-tip: Make sure you use the right credit/debit card to maximise your rebates, points and more. Here are some debit/credit cards to consider for your online shopping:
- Up to 5% cash rebates for online shopping on Amazon.sg, Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee
|PAssion POSB Debit Card||
- 4% rebate at all Dairy Farm Group online stores (Cold Storage / Giant / Guardian)
- Promo alert: From 17 Jan 2021, shop with DBS/POSB Cards or PayLah! on Lazada to get up to S$30 off.
Survival tip 3: Reunion dinner
This is a big night for many families. This CNNY, let the food delivery services help you enjoy your reunion dinner in a cosier and smarter way.
Even with social gathering restrictions in place, it’s a must to make this night of togetherness a special one for your loved ones while still saving money.
If you’re planning to dine out, book ahead and you might score some early bird deals at your favourite restaurant. For example, with DBS PayLah! on Chope, you can get deals from over 800 restaurants.
Maximise your debit/credit card spend when dining out:
- Up to 5% cash rebates on dining (promotion ends 31 May 2021)
|PAssion POSB Debit Card||
- 10% cashback on dining for new cardmembers
Alternatively, prepare a home-cooked feast at home or look for online food delivery deals on Deliveroo or foodpanda. Opt for a potluck perhaps? Or just call a vote when everyone’s arrived. POSB credit/debit cards often have merchant offers, so it’s always good to keep your eyes peeled.
Maximise your debit/credit card spend when eating in:
- Up to 10% cash rebate via foodpanda and Deliveroo (promotion ends 31 May 2021)
- 5% cash rebate on groceries (i.e. Sheng Siong)
|PAssion POSB Debit Card||
- New cardmembers: 10% cashback on dining and groceries (first 2 months)
- Existing cardmembers: 4% rebate at Cold Storage, Market Place, Jasons and Giant (online and in-store)
Dine out or eat in, no matter what you prefer, keep in mind that you can save more when you use the right card for your purchases.
Survival tip 4: Grow your ang bao monies
CNNY will also be one of the best teachers to school your kids about money matters early in life (or yourself). Instead of telling you to save the money like your naggy parent and, we’ll instead implore you to grow it.
Avoid spending your ang bao monies. Instead, plop them into a deposit account to earn interest (and we know how the magic of compound interest works, right?). It’s the perfect opportunity to get kids started on saving money too.
Tip: Open a POSB My Account for Kids (no fees, available to all ages, can be converted to a Multiplier Account later). With this deposit account, you can use it to grow their future education fund through the POSB My Account for Kids.
For yourself though, it’s the perfect time to grow your emergency fund.
Bonus: This CNNY, go on POSB’s Virtual Zodiac Hunt
Since we’re on the topic of going digital this CNNY, why not try your hand at POSB’s Virtual Zodiac Hunt? This 2nd edition of POSB #HuntYourZodiac runs from 10 to 14 February, and this digital game is playable islandwide (last year’s was on the Floating Platform) — you can hunt virtual for zodiac animals which may come with an ang bao for you to redeem anywhere.
Look for the “Golden Gates” wherever you are; have fun and remember to hunt while observing safe distancing measures!
Here’s how to play:
- On your mobile phone, log on to the game's web application here
- Look for the different Zodiac animals (60 in all, because each animal has an element) and “catch” them using your mobile phone
- Each Zodiac animal “caught” will reward you with a New Year prediction specific to each element of the 12 zodiac animals — and if it is holding onto an ang bao*, this means you’ll bag extra money!
*Ang bao rewards will be transferred to your DBS PayLah! account later. Register for an “Ang Bao Bag” using your mobile number, which must be linked to DBS PayLah! account.
- You can “catch” and redeem up to 12 ang baos over 5 days
- Take part in the daily combination challenge: Catch the specified combination of Zodiac animals and win anything from $0.88 to $88
Gotta catch them all! Collect all 60 Zodiac animals in your inventory to complete the Golden Challenge… BUT these animals can escape. Use power-ups (obtained by making a purchase with DBS PayLah! to pay for your food/bubble tea/etc). No min amount required. You can use the power-ups to keep the zodiac animals you have caught for escaping, attract a certain zodiac animal, or catch an animal quicker.
CNY is just around the corner, so while you celebrate with your family with these survival tips and more, go forth and ride the Ox by the horns this year.