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SMART INSIGHTS FROM PROFESSIONAL ADVISERS

Financial Lessons from the Year of the Dog

As we ring in the Chinese New Year, take a moment to reflect on what the Year of the Dog might mean for your finances.

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With festivities kicking off to celebrate the beginning of the Chinese New Year, it could be insightful for us all to reflect on what the Year of the Dog means, both personally and financially.

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In the Chinese culture, the new year is the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. According to the Western calendar, Feb. 16 will mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year — also known as Spring Festival — the longest and most important celebration for Chinese families across the globe.

2018 marks the year of the dog. Chinese astrology describes the canine symbol as independent, sincere, loyal and decisive. The dog does not shy away from difficulties and is responsible. Just like man's best friend, the dog is loyal, clever and brave.

However, people with this symbol (those born in 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946 and 1934) are often characterized as sensitive, stubborn and emotional at times. So how do those traits fit in with people’s financial lives? And what can they do to take advantage of their positive attributes and work around the not-so-positive ones that might trip them up?

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The dog can teach us a trick or two on how to advance in our careers and improve our finances.

Be hands-on

With anything in life, you need to dig in and really be hands-on to achieve great success. It could mean taking on an extra side job or project to earn extra money or going the extra mile at your job to earn a nice promotion or raise. This is an area where people born under the sign of the dog should excel, considering their responsible side and dogged determination.

Network

In the Chinese culture, guanxi means relationships or connections. Relationships are built on trust and giving and receiving. However, you can't just have connections in order to be successful in money or other areas of life. You need to complement your networking prowess with a proven system that includes strategy, goal setting and people.

Use your talents

More and more people are not only working a full-time job but doing side work to earn extra pocket change. Dogs are clever and smart and can use these attributes to their advantage. Is there a skill you excel at, such as are you an artist or a math whiz? Create a side business or offer services, such as being a math tutor or creating sketches for a design company.

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Do some problem-solving

Dogs also use their intelligence to solve problems. Do you have a hard time saving money? The cost of living continues to increase, and maintaining a budget can be challenging. Do you find yourself burying a financial bone only to lose sight of its location? Think about those items that you could do without, such as premium cable or the latest and greatest tech gadgets.

Cable bills vary depending on provider and services; most bills run a few hundred a month. Technology now allows people to view television online, and Netflix provides ample opportunity to binge watch.

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Don't let finances 'go to the dogs'

Be clever and come up with different ways to reduce costs. Visit consignment shops instead of specialty stores. You might be surprised at the deals you could sniff out just by looking around. Make your own meals instead of heading to a restaurant. Not only will you save by preparing meals at home, it can be healthier for you in the long run.

Leave a paw print

As bills from the holidays are barking at the door, do you scratch your head wondering how you spent that much money? Without thinking, we often wander and stray. Being a dog means being responsible. Keep track of your expenses and monitor your spending. Do you tend to splurge? Or do you have excess monthly cash flow? Don’t dog out. Commit your extra money for a Roth IRA or 401(k) to build wealth for your financial independence.

Utilize your talents and strengths in the coming year to make 2018 the best year ever.

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

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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.