In recent times, the popular Netflix South Korean drama, Squid Game, has taken the world by storm, clicking rising to the #1 position as the most popular show in the United States, Singapore, and many other countries.
The show portrays a dark and compelling game of survival, as it depicts 456 individuals, all of whom are seemingly cash-strapped and heavily in debt, providing them with an invitation to compete against others through 6 rounds of children’s games with the chance to win more than A$50 million. Many viewers of the popular drama series are kept on the edge of their seats as the show explores the darker sides of humanity, but what can the show teach us about money and the way that we approach it.
This week our team at Ally Wealth Management is exploring some of the key personal finance lessons that we’ve picked up from watching the show to share with you.
- Personal insurances are often the foundation of every financial plan
In the second episode of the series, Gi Hun’s mother is discovered to be a diabetic and requires hospital treatment. Unfortunately, Gi Hun wasn’t able to keep up with the insurance payments, and despite the fact that the insurance would have covered all of his mother’s treatments, she chose to leave the hospital instead to reduce the financial burden.
Having life and other personal insurances such as trauma and disability cover are often not financial decisions that we make with the hope that we’ll get a financial return on this money, but they provide us with peace of mind and something to turn to in the event that the unexpected occurs to ensure our family and loved ones are protected. In simple terms, the best time to put insurance in place is when we don’t need to call on it yet.
- Gambling is often not the answer
Throughout the series, we see characters who become addicted to gambling, resulting in quickly escalating debts, loans from dangerous characters, and the expected outcomes of being deeper in the hole of financial despair. Shortcuts such as gambling are often turned to by people faced with tough personal financial circumstances, however, this often only makes matters worse. Addiction can be a slippery slope, and gambling is no exception here as we see throughout the series.
In the event that you’re faced with such challenges, consider reaching out to a financial counselor, or financial planner, to start exploring what might be possible for you to get back on track and on top of your financial situation.
- If you’re not moving forward, you may be moving backward
Throughout some of the challenges in the series, the contestants are faced with a 5-minute time limit. Unfortunately, due to fear of the unknown, a number of players did not move forward and progress in the challenges, and ultimately ended up losing when the time ran out. While it’s important to develop strategies and think through your actions, often in life we are faced with situations of paralysis by analysis, and instead of moving forward, we remain in the same place through indecision.
- Life is a series of trade-off decisions
Throughout the series, the players are faced with decisions such as choosing the four shapes, which will ultimately impact their chances of success at winning the A$50+ million. In life, we are often faced with such choices as starting a new business, changing our jobs, buying a house, repatriating to Australia, or relocating elsewhere, spending more today on a holiday at the expense of saving more for our retirement.
The decisions we make today could ultimately impact our future, and it’s important to think about these trade-offs that we’re faced with. As financial planners, this is a common discussion with our clients, to explore with them how they can ultimately live their best life by understanding the impacts of the decisions that they make today on achieving their overall financial goals.
- Holding the right cards doesn’t guarantee success in life
Having a great team in football, or a strong hand in a game of poker doesn’t guarantee a win if the game isn’t played with a sensible strategy. This is illustrated in the series through the ‘tug of war’ game, where one team has all of the strongest players, but ultimately ends up losing to the weaker team who demonstrate their skills of executing the strategy in a smarter manner.
This is also very true in life. We may have been given a head-start in life by being gifted money from parents, awarded a scholarship, or being born into a wealthy family, however, none of these things are going to guarantee you success in life unless a proper plan is in place and its executed. Success comes in many shapes and forms, and will differ from one person to the next, so it’s important to explore what it means to you and to work with your Adviser to explore how you can develop an appropriate plan to achieve it.
- If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur
In one of the challenges, there is a glass bridge challenge involving mirrors. There are two players involved that claim to be able to see the difference between the mirrors, while the other players can’t, however, the contestants can not be sure who to trust in this instance.
We are often faced with similar challenges in life, and it’s important to ensure that you’re making an informed decision, as after all, hiring an amateur who has no idea what they’re doing can be an incredibly expensive mistake. When it comes to selecting the right Financial Planner for you and your family, consider asking for references, check that they’re appropriately licensed, what areas of advice they can provide you with, what their own personal financial situation is, and any other aspects that will help you to make a fully informed decision.
There are many other lessons that can be drawn from the series, and we’d certainly recommend that you check it out if you’re running out of shows to watch on Netflix. If you have any other money lessons you’d like to add, feel free to drop them in the comments below.
Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.
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General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.