Excessive debt can be fatal: Some key lessons from the fictional drama of Squid

Vimal Joshi
Updated: 13 Dec 2021, 05:40 PM IST
TL;DR.

One of the most popular fictional web series ‘Squid Game’ has a slew of personal finance lessons hidden in it. We uncover some of them for you.

The show Squid Game shows how an indebted person can take massive risks, including that of his life.  

The show Squid Game shows how an indebted person can take massive risks, including that of his life.  

It’s good to learn from your mistakes. And it is better to learn from someone else’s mistakes. Whether it’s life or personal finance, there are some key lessons which we can draw from the stark follies of people around us.

There would be a few urban millennials who have yet not watched one of the most popular web series Squid Game. Regardless of which category you fall under, we share some of the prominent mantras that you can learn from this South Korean drama.

Seong Gi-hun, the main character, is in deep debt because of gambling and personal loans. As a result, he goes to any extent – even to bet his life – to win a big prize money. Taking a risk of life is a massive risk which only a fatally desperate person can take. The series demonstrates the magnitude of catastrophe that badly managed finances can trigger.

Although the show is a work of imagination, and portrays an extreme vulnerability of indebted people — the desperation and helplessness that it shows is no alien to reality.

The series gives a number of personal finance lessons. We list out some of them here:

 

1. Solve your financial problems head on: Unless you solve your financial problems, they will keep mounting fast. They can be too big for you to handle in no time if left unaddressed. The show also depicts several characters who tend to live in denial of their financial situation.

So, instead of living in denial, one should make concerted efforts to come out of deep financial distress, for instance, paying off the debt as early as possible.

2. Gambling can destroy wealth: The lead character Seong is addicted to gambling. This is shown to be the chief reason for his debts and financial hardships. Another character Cho Sang-Woo loses a lot of money from his clients to a risky investment.

It is vital to remember that only those risks ought to be taken which you can endure. Warren Buffett, aptly, described the amount of risk one should take by stating, “Never test the depth of a river with both the feet.”

3. Spend wisely: You don't become rich by earning more money, but by saving more. You should save as much as you can. The lead character Seong loses his lottery money and he is left with a tiny amount which he had earlier given to a female cashier as a tip but later requests her to return it.

With this money, he again plays a claw machine game to win a gift for his daughter, instead of using the leftover money wisely.

4 Keep PINs that can’t be guessed: In the show, the lead character Seong steals his mother's ATM card and guesses the PIN as his daughter's birthday. And it turns out to be correct.

So, one can draw a lesson that one should refrain from keeping such predictable PINs. It should be easy to remember by the card user, but not by everyone else.

5. Inculcate a saving habit: Not saving small amounts is a bad habit that gradually leads to borrowing of loan which one takes to meet expenses that appear all of a sudden.

Inculcating little savings every month can lead to a sizable amount after a few years. So, when some emergency comes, you do not need to rush to borrow at a high rate of interest.

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One should solve financial problems proactively before they spiral out of control   

6. Diversify your investments: In episode 3, when the contestants were given an option to choose one of the four different shapes — circle, star, triangle and umbrella; banker Cho Sang-Woo who had stolen money of his clients advises the fellow contestants in his team to choose different shape each so that together they would be better off.

The same rule applies to investments also. There is an old adage which says, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

7. Don’t refrain from seeking financial help: Towards the end of the series, a character in the series Kang Sae-byeok shows that there is no harm in seeking help from those who are close to you.

Instead of waiting for things to get damaged beyond repair, you should seek help from people around you as soon as you can.

As we summarise, we can highlight that debt-taking is fraught with risk. One should take only as much as one can afford to repay. In real life, a huge debt may not be fatal, but it can certainly kill the peace of your mind.

First Published: 13 Dec 2021, 05:40 PM IST
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