Financial Lessons From The Squid Game

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game
Financial Lessons From The Squid Game

This show from Netflix needs no introduction. Amidst the games, the show highlighted the Korea Economy. One with highly-skewed income disparity, worsening household debt and survival of the fittest amid fierce competition.

South Korea is the 12th biggest economy in the world with a GDP of $1.6T. Singapore is trailing behind at 36th with a GDP of $364.2B. Though they are larger in GDP, it seems like the struggles they have with money is the same as Singapore or even worse.

While watching the show, I keep feeling that the characters behave very badly when it comes to money (or the lack of money). Just a few days after, I can’t help but think that it is an representation of what is happening in real life. (That’s probably why the show resonates to us on some level).

To avoid going down the slippery slope, I decided to consolidate the lessons we can learn from this so that we will NEVER have a situation like this EVER.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Spoiler Alerts: Please do not read this as it contains spoilers on the show. We invite you to come back after you finish the series.


We Have Emotions

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Emotion Greed Fear
Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Emotion Greed Fear (Source: Distractify)

I feel that this is something that isn’t acknowledged much in the financial world. It is often thought that most financial decision can be made logically easily. The basic assumption in most economic literature is that humans are rational in nature. However, behaviour economics proven time over time that this couldn’t be more wrong.

Starbucks Behaviour Economics Financial Lessons
Starbucks Behaviour Economics Financial Lessons (Source: S-Retech)

Consider this, you walk into Starbucks (or any other coffee places) to get your daily small dose of coffee. After looking at the prices, most people end up getting the big cup not because they wanted it but because it is a “much better price” than the medium. If you have also chosen the big cup, congratulations, you have experienced the Decoy Effect.

The Decoy Effects explains how an inclusion of an inferior 3rd choice (medium cup) will affect your consideration of between the initial 2 choices (large and small). When there is a decoy alternative, most people makes decision based less on what suits their needs and what we considered as a more beneficial alternative. This results in people spending more as a result at Starbucks.

This is just one of the many cognitive bias that we experience.

This is why it is not easy to invest in the long run, buying term and invest the rest is bad advice or why buy low and sell high is useless advice. I’m not denying that those are rational. It is logical. But we are humans. We experience fear, greed, anger, denial, lost, guilt, shame, hope, envy etc.

These makes it very tough to be rational in a body where we feel so much. Today, most people only focus on the rational side which makes it tough to have a good conversation on finances. I hope that more and more people can come to acknowledgement with their emotions in future.

You Can Win With The Right Strategy

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Right Strategy
Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Right Strategy

In this very epic game of tug of war, strength is very important. In the team of 10 people, the protagonist team have 3 ladies, 1 weak elderly and 6 men. They faces off a stronger team consisting of all men.

While it feels like the protagonists team have a clear disadvantage in this game, the weak elderly share his wisdom and experience on how to strategize and win against teams that are bigger and stronger than them.

The protagonists team barely escape death by execute the strategy and winning against a team far stronger than them.

In the financial world, you can consider the 10 people the resources that we have. Some of my peers have rich parents, some are left properties under their names, some have good networks and have parents financially independent. But, they may not be financially as well off.

I also have friends who have siblings who depend on them, a study loan, parents who believes that children is the ultimate retirement plan. In spite of this, some of them do succeed in their financial goals by having a right strategy and executing it well.

Having a strong 10 people/resource is important. It is as important as having the right strategy and executing it well.

Learn From Others Mistakes

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Learning From Mistakes
Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Learning From Mistakes

In another nerve wreaking game called the glass stepping game, participants are made to cross a glass bridge. Participants are presented 2 choices. Stepping on the right choice would mean safety, stepping on the wrong one would meant death. In any event the participant chooses the wrong one and dies, the one after him/her can choose the right one and proceed with the game.

In this game, it is awful being the first one.

In the financial world, money was first originated some where as early as 5000 B.C., in which tons of literature has already been written. One of the classics of financial books is The Richest Man in Babylon. Many important clues have been record and it is up to us to follow that roadmap presented to us.

Another way is to learn from the people around us. If our parents have achieve a certain level of financial freedom, we can learn from it. If our parents have not achieve any, we can also learn from that too.

In whichever case, there is always something to learn.

People Can Behave Badly When It Comes To Money

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Bad Behaviour
Financial Lessons From The Squid Game Bad Behaviour

In the final game of the series, Squid game, the 2 protagonists face off in a brutal, savage and barbaric fight. As their lives and the prize money was on the line, they really had a lot to fight for.

I was reminded of estate planning stories and divorce stories that were shared during my recent IBF Certification for Private Banking. Most of the stories were very unfortunate. In almost all cases, humans behaves very badly when it comes to money issues.

A old example happened in 2013 when a Singapore based couple committed “financial suicide”. Both have spend SGD$1.7 million on legal costs – just to decide where the divorce should be heard as well as litigation costs linked to the child. You can find the article from multimedia stations from NLB Libraries. It is written in The Straits Times dated Friday, 2 Aug 2013 by Senior Law Correspondent K.C. Vijayan.

Divorce Case Financial Suicide
Divorce Case Financial Suicide

In a more recent example, siblings are suing their elder brother over 2 properties worth SGD$3.1 million. As the estate planning was not poorly set up, it has resulted in a messy inheritance battle of which relationship will be ruined. Though it is not known what the legal costs are, I believe their relationship will never be the same again.

The Financial Journey

Financial Lessons From The Squid Game The Journey
Financial Lessons From The Squid Game The Journey

In the most iconic game called Green Light, Red Light, participants win by making their way towards the end of the line in a given time limit. They can only move when it is Green Light (when the doll is not facing them) and they have to stop any movement during Red Light (when the doll is facing them).

At the start, the participants don’t really understand what to do. 2 brave souls started the journey but ended up dead. This causes panic to everyone and people scrambled towards the “exit”. Unfortunately, they were all shot dead.

The cooler headed participants began their journey again. Unfortunately, some tripped either because they were moving too fast or just unlucky to bump into themselves. They died in their attempt to reach the end.

As some participants crossed the line and won the game, there were others that couldn’t cross the line and died as well.

In this game, it closely symbolizes our journey with money. In a given period of time (working years), we want to reach the end (retirement). Some people panic when they see others lost money in the investment and ran towards the exit (panic selling). Some people overleverage (move too fast), some people suffers from critical illness (bump into themselves), some people start too late (couldn’t reach the end). In all these cases, it resulted in people having a less than ideal lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this show was a dark, ghastful and yet awfully realistic in showcasing the behaviour of humans put in those desperate situations.

I recommend watching a comedy after the show.

What other financial lessons have you learn from this show? Let me know in the comments below.

Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.  

Feel Free To Reach Out To Share Your Thoughts.

Contact: 94316449 (Whatsapp) (Email)
Telegram: Wealthdojo [Continuous Learning Channel]
Reviews: About Me

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.

Jack Ma's 5 Best Quotes On Life, Business and Relationship

Jack Ma’s 5 Best Quotes On Life, Business and Relationship

It is amazing how a man’s destiny can be changed in one year. Jack Ma, more famously known as the Founder of Alibaba (BABA) has disappeared from the public eye around the time when Ant Group was unable to list on the US stock exchange. China stocks are not having a good year ever since the CCP started to have impose regulations on various sectors. There might be times where you might think dollar cost averaging is not working on Chinese stocks.

That being said, Jack Ma has spoken wisdom on life, business and relationship. I have compiled Top 5 quotes which I particularly enjoy.

Hope that Chinese stocks turn around soon.

Jack Ma's 5 Best Quotes On Life, Business and Relationship
Jack Ma’s 5 Best Quotes On Life, Business and Relationship (Photo Source)

#1: On the path to success, you will notice the successful ones are not whiners, nor do they complain often.

After thinking for a long time, I personally felt that this should be the first one on the list (or on any list). If you ask someone what are the ingredients of success, you might get answers like family background, intelligence, the amount of money they have, the school they come from or being hardworking.

I believe that one point stands above all of those listed above. I’m not undermining any of them but without this one point, the rest might fall short.

The Right Positive Attitude.

In my industry and in the previous companies that I worked for, I noticed a similar pattern. The top performers are usually silent (of course they will be loud performers too) and they do what they are suppose to do diligently. Most of them look at the bright side and are often grateful for what they receive or accomplish in their work. Don’t be mistaken though. They do complaint (they are not saints). After releasing the negative energy, they will pick themselves up again and continue preserving in what they do. In time, most of them find success.

Observe the “more successful” colleagues that you have. Are they like what I have described? Do you want to be like that too?


#2: You need the right people, not the best people.

I was inspired by this book called Good To Great by Jim Collins. Jim Collins put together 5 years of research to explain how a company can grow from good to great. In one of the chapter, Jim Collins writes about “getting the right people on the bus“. He didn’t say the best people, but the right people.

The right people or team will figure out how to drive the bus to the direction they want. I believe that everyone gives out a different kind of energy and it is your job (as a leader) to manage that energy. In the world, there are really smart people/best people out there. But if they won’t be able to have the right resonance with the team, they are not right at all. The bus might be driven in a different direction or be broken down entirely.

The right culture takes time to build up and seconds to be broken down. You might have friends who “overstayed” in a role because they enjoyed their colleagues company too much. You probably might have heard of friends who quit their jobs immediately because of a bad manager.

The book Good To Great will give a different dimension in explaining this.


#3: When people think too highly of you, you have the responsibility to calm down and be yourself.

One word can summarise this entire sentence: Ego. This comes as a bad joke because I felt that ego might have gotten better of Jack in the last few years.

As we become more successful and people start looking up to you, I believe it is important to remember our roots and how we get there. I have met people who got successful very quickly and (very quickly as well) became arrogant. I like this quote from Will Smith: Money and success don’t change who we are; they merely amplify what is already there. People will see how you treat people and that is an indication on who you are as a person whether successful or not.

The price of ego could be a heavy one and it is up to us to have humility whether successful or not.

What kind of person do you want to be?


#4: When doing sales, the first people who will trust you will be strangers. Friends will be shielding against you, fair weather friends will distance from you. Family will look down upon you. The day you finally succeeded, paying the bills for every get-together dinner, entertainment, you will realised: everyone else is present except strangers.

I don’t blame them. As Walter Bradford Cannon once said fight or flight is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. A sale may seem like a harmful attack to their wallets (whether or not the product/service is useful for them or not). Any and every exposure to a sale person might seem daunting for some.

I know of some friends who put down everything to start a business. It isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Behind the nice Facebook post lies hard work, sweat and tears (not exaggerating). There are also countless heart aches that they (myself inclusive) have experienced in the course of running a business.

  • Working well beyond 9am to 5pm. Some quit their jobs and suddenly they are working 24/7
  • Some might face discouragement from family or their close ones. Some very hurtful sentences include “You have a degree, why do you want to do this?”, “Why don’t you find a proper job?”, “Why are you not setting aside time for the family, is money that important?”, “Why are you not working hard enough (when things are not going well), do you know we have a family to support?”, “I can get this cheaper from Taobao”, “I can do this myself by reading up” etc

Yet, the day you succeeded in the world eyes. Suddenly, the applause comes in. Comments like “I knew you could do it all this time”. I heard this first hand from a friend who successful sold away his business for millions of dollar. However, I would have to say it is not easy. It is hard to suddenly trust someone to buy something straight away. It is even harder to refer them to someone that you know. But for those of you who did, a big thank you.

Do you know someone who is running a business or a practice? Lend them a helping hand. Here are some from I know run great business and I would like to extend to them a helping hand.

Disclaimer: I do not get any referral fees for promoting them. I personally feel that their products and services are great.

Platter With Love: Luxurious Handcrafted Artisanal Gourmet Platters with a Social Mission

OlaBakes: Sweets Made Fresh

Oriental Remedies Group: Bilingual TCM Physicians You Can Trust – #FeelBetterFaster with TCM x Technology


#5: Buying Life Insurance cannot change your life; instead it prevents your lifestyle from being changed. After tolling for decades, an illness can wipe out an entire family’s saving by medical bills incurred.

You will not turn bankrupt because of buying insurance but you will cause your loved ones to turn bankrupt if you don’t.

There are certain things we want to happen and certain things we don’t want to happen. In the 21st century, humanity is facing one of the greatest war ever: the war against critical illness. Mortality has improved over the years because of medical innovation. At the very same time, the cost of medical provision has also increase. What seems to be like a death sentence decades ago can now be cured.. but you need money to have access to that treatment.

After chatting with past critical illness survivors, I realised that concern of falling ill runs deeper than just the cost. At the end, affording the treatment is the start. Recovering from the illness is the end game. Give yourself a chance to win this game by having the adequate insurance.


Final Thoughts

Let’s all thrive in our lives, business and relationships.

Stay Safe.

Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.  

Feel Free To Reach Out To Share Your Thoughts.

Contact: 94316449 (Whatsapp) (Email)
Telegram: Wealthdojo [Continuous Learning Channel]
Reviews: About Me

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.