In this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance, Blogging Away Debt wrote about using feng shui to improve attitudes and possibly your finances. Personally, neither I nor my immediate family believe in feng shui even though we’re Chinese, but I admire Tricia for writing about a controversial subject and putting her experiences with it out there.
Feng Shui (literally, feng=wind and shui=water) is an ancient type of geomancy practiced by many Asians. Rearranging, cleaning, or organizing your home or work area can definitely make you feel better, but feng shui takes things many steps further. Though I don’t believe in it, I have many friends who do. Let me describe an example of how seriously feng shui is taken in some families:
One day during high school, I went over to visit friend Mei at her house. Upon knocking at the front door, she peeked through the curtain of a side window and said, “Hey, glad you came! You need to enter through the door in the garage.” I headed over there, went into the house, said hello to everyone, and then, stepping into the living room, couldn’t help but notice that a large upright piano had been set against the front door.
I asked Mei what the piano was doing there. She explained to me that it’s bad feng shui for the layout of a house to have the main entrance (usually the front door) to be juxtaposed in front of a back door. For example, if you open up the front door of your house and look across the room, you shouldn’t see your sliding door to the patio, or really any door that leads to the outside. This is supposed to be a bad layout because any money that comes into the house (symbolically, from the front entrance) will immediately flow through the back door, so that you’ll never be able to accumulate wealth.
To remedy this problem, Mei’s family blocked off the front door and made the garage the (very large) main entrance, so that, symbolically, lots of money flows in. Having the garage as the main entrance also forces it to go through the kitchen and living room before it even encounters a (much smaller) back door from which to flow out.
This story might sound odd, but there are real ramifications for non-believers, particularly if you’re in the market to sell your house. For many Chinese, buying a house with good feng shui is very important, as many realtors have no doubt discovered. The father of one of my friends is a realtor, and he was surprised when some prospective Chinese clients came to visit a new subdivision and asked if the staircase in a house could be moved 10 feet to the left. Staircases that lead down to the front door are bad for money, certain numbers, the orientation of the house, the slope of the ceiling in the rooms, the “flow” of a house are all examples of factors that are taken into consideration by many Asian buyers.
All this having been said, if anyone out there’s willing to experiment with rearranging their house to build wealth, let me know how it works out!