Hands up if you’ve already binge-watched Squid Game? I can’t be the only one…
Having wasted far too much time watching the popular Netflix show, I started considering whether there were any lessons to take from it – aside from avoiding getting involved in games where death is the penalty!
Believe it or not, there are some important money lessons to learn from the show. Here’s a list of five lessons Squid Game can teach you about personal finance.
1. Prioritise paying off debt
This is arguably the most obvious money lesson in Squid Game. All the players get involved in the game because of their dire financial situations.
When the players do get money, whether by legitimate means or not, it shows them squandering it, sending them back into the same financial situation as before.
For example, Seong Gi-hun won ₩4,560,000 (around £2,300) betting on horses. Instead of paying off his debt, he decided to run away and had his money stolen by an unassuming Kang Sae-byeok.
Paying off debt should always be a priority because it’s very hard to achieve financial security while you’re in debt.
2. Seek independent advice
The show offers a stark warning about using loan sharks. Episode 1 sees Seong Gi-hun’s loan shark creditors portrayed as intimidating and immoral.
Avoiding loan sharks is good practice both in Squid Game and in real life. Instead, it’s best to look for independent advice when making big financial decisions. When it comes to debt, there are a number of charities that will offer you independent, impartial advice for free.
Squid Game also shows the importance of asking for help when you need it.
In episode 8, Kang Sae-byeok finally learns to ask for help by entrusting her younger brother to Seong Gi-hun after receiving a fatal wound in the previous round.
When it comes to finance, it’s easy to leave it too late to ask for help. Where possible, it’s always better to ask for help early on to avoid digging a deeper hole for yourself.
3. Protect yourself from fraud
While being trusting is often considered a good characteristic, in finance you should be suspicious. Fraud is hugely prevalent and has only increased during the pandemic.
In Squid Game, fraud and dishonesty also run rife. Seong Gi-hun steals from his ageing mother, for example.
This shows the lengths people will go to when they need or want money. Treating everyone with caution and not sharing bank card details, passwords or PINs with anyone could help protect you from this.
Seong Gi-hun’s PIN is very obvious when he checks his balance at the end of Squid Game – 0456. Firstly, always cover your PIN when you enter it on a machine, this will help stop opportunists from noticing it and subsequently using your card.
It’s also worth avoiding using personal information, like birthdays, as your PIN. The same goes for your passwords. It is good practice to change your passwords for online banking regularly – and make them hard to guess.
4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
This lesson is shared in episode 3 of Squid Game. Cho Sang-woo shared the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” lesson he learned straight from business school right before the Honeycomb Game.
This lesson can apply to all aspects of personal finance. When investing, it’s better to diversify your portfolio rather than put all your money into one company.
This can also apply to savings accounts. Splitting your savings across multiple accounts may allow you to take advantage of extra benefits. It also protects you if you can’t access one account for a while, whether this is due to technical problems, fraud or theft.
5. If it’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is
In episode 1, the Squid Game salesman’s pitch sounded amazing. Seong Gi-hun should have realised this was far too good to be true at the outset. Of course, that wouldn’t make a very good TV show!
In finance, if something sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is too.
For example, if someone promises you guaranteed, huge returns on a particular investment opportunity, it is very unlikely to be true. At best, they’ll be lying about the benefits and at worst, it will be a scam.
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