The Great Big Word 财 (Money): 财经/财务/财物/理财/财运


Who wants to be rich? Ask a random person on the street this question, and their response would almost certainly be yes. We have an inner craving for affluence, to be free of financial insecurity and to do what we want with no thought for the cost.

财 (Cái) is the Chinese character that refers to the money and other supplies one has. Although it is usually used to refer to money, it historically also refers to items of the household such as rice and other necessities. Scroll down to see some examples of words with the character 财:


财经 Cáijīng

An amalgamation of finance (财政/Cáizhèng)and economics (经济/Jīngjì), 财经 refers to operations related to the economy, such as the stock market, qualitative easing and changes to interest rates. It is often used as a general term in news reports when pivoting to any economic topic.

财务 Cáiwù

财 and 务, translated literally, mean ‘finance’ and ‘matters’ respectively. Put back together, 财务 can refer to anything from your budget for the month (if you have one) to the state of your bank account. For companies, it includes processes like capital flow and profits and loss.


财物 Cáiwù

Remember how I mentioned that 财 is not only about money at the start of the article? 财物 is a good example of that. 物 means ‘items’, so the phrase can, therefore, be loosely translated as ‘property’. That encompasses a wide variety of items as long as they belong to you.

理财 Lǐcái

While 财务can refer to your bank account, 理财 is the phrase that means actually managing your account. It is the management of finances, where 理 is short for the phrase 管理 (Guǎnlǐ) or ‘management’. Actions including investments in stocks for profit or interest, repaying loans and saving money for future use.

财运 Cáiyùn

财运 generally refers to one’s fortunes in investment, whether in stocks or other ventures such as raffle tickets or Mark Six. Since these all have an element of chance to them (you could win big or lose your investment), some people tend to attribute successes to luck, specifically 财运 or ‘financial luck’. Ironically, good financial luck can be seen as a double-edged sword: some people believe that although you made a large profit in your investment because you were lucky, you might have ‘used up’ your luck, meaning you would have bad luck in the future.

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