Financial Lessons We Can Learn from Netflix’s Squid Game
What happens when you take desperate individuals trapped in debt and place them in a situation where they have to compete in a series of deadly children’s games? The reward for surviving all games is a life-changing grand prize amounting to billions. That’s essentially the premise of the latest Netflix hit that’s taking the country by storm.
This show features relatable characters who suffer from the consequences of bad financial decisions. Here are some money lessons we can learn from Squid Game…
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Focus on paying off your debts
The first episode introduced Seong Gi-hun as an unemployed father who relies on his elderly mother for financial support. He then steals his mother’s ATM card and withdraws money just so he can gamble on horse races. After luckily winning in the end, he decided to run away from his creditors instead of paying off his debt.
If you’re in the same boat as Gi-hun, focus your efforts on paying off your debt before splurging your money on other things. You won’t be able to focus on building your wealth if you keep running away from your financial obligations.
Don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose
This leads us to the next point that you shouldn’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose. Gi-hun may have luckily won once after losing the previous game but what if he continues to lose? It’s not even his money and he still has debts to pay.
Just imagine how worse his situation will be if he loses that round.
Create strong and unique passwords for your bank accounts
The ATM scene should also be your reminder to improve your passwords, especially for your financial accounts. Make it harder for hackers to steal your money. Use passwords that only you can decipher and avoid poor cybersecurity practices like using names and birthdays as passwords. In addition, avoid sharing your passwords to someone else.
Be wary of loan sharks
The series wants to hammer the point that we should always be wary of loan sharks. Loan sharks are illegal in the Philippines. It is wise to avoid them at all costs because their debt collection practices are considered unfair and criminal. They also give unreasonable interest rates. Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a public advisory against online loan providers who illegally harass their clients for payments. Know that there are legitimate loan providers you can run to in these hard times.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Cho Sang-woo shared a lesson he learned straight from business school right before the dreaded Honeycomb Game: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” And while Gi-hun and Il-nam ended up with the shape that’s more challenging to carve, Sang-woo’s cunning mindset increased the team’s chances of survival by a lot.
You can also use this mantra when it comes to your investment decisions. Diversification reduces risk. Look for ways to grow your money in other investment options.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
As early as Episode 1, Gi-hun should’ve realized that the Squid Game salesman’s pitch was too good to be true. But perhaps the worst example of believing something too good to be true happened in Episode 6 when the lovable but gullible, Ali Abdul, believed hung on to Sang-woo’s every word, resulting in Ali’s death, courtesy of the man he trusted the most.
You’ve probably heard people promise you all the riches in just a short amount of time. If you were smart enough not to fall for these tricks, congratulations! Before agreeing to anything, always make sure you do your research before you trust the people or company you’re planning to do business with. This is the best way to avoid all forms of scams out there.
Always compare and analyze your options
In the heart-stopping Episode 7, players were tasked to cross a bridge from a dizzying height by jumping on platforms that are either made of fragile glass or sturdy tempered glass. While the others plummeted to the concrete floor below for choosing the wrong platform, Player 017 was able to use his experience as a glassmaker to choose the right platform to jump on.
What you can take away from this is the importance of an informed decision. So when you’re faced with a decision (choosing a credit card, starting a business, etc.), it’s important to do your research first before taking any financial responsibility. Don’t leap to your financial death without checking the financial glass first.
Never underestimate the importance of insurance
After Gi-hun suggests to his mother that she stay in the hospital, and let the insurance pay for the medical expenses, her mother revealed that he canceled the insurance just so that he can spend the money on himself. Had Gi-hun kept paying for insurance, he could’ve helped his mother get the medical help she needed. This is why having insurance is important.
You might think you’re healthy today but when an emergency strikes, a health or life insurance policy can help pay off expensive medical services. You probably ignored getting car insurance because you think you’re a safe driver. Remember that you’re just one bad day away from the worst-case scenario. Consider protecting yourself financially with an insurance policy.
Know when to ask for financial help
The secretive Kang Sae-byeok had a tough time trusting people around her for the majority of the show. But in Episode 8, Sae-byeok finally learned to ask for help by entrusting her younger brother to Gi-hun after she received a fatal wound from the previous round. It was a sad yet eye-opening episode that will make you realize that there’s no shame in asking for help from the people you love or from financial establishments.
Most people don’t share their financial hardships before it’s too late. Instead, they try to solve their problems on their own without knowing that they’re digging themselves a deeper hole. If you need any kind of help—financial or not—you should know when and how to ask for help from the people around you. And if it’s financial, you should know you have options like getting a personal loan or applying for a debt consolidation plan.
The series pretty much showed us how our choices ultimately determine our future, no matter how small or insignificant. So if you don’t want to be that desperate, consider changing your bad financial habits and start leading a healthy and debt-free financial life as early as now.