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Gustavo Mirabal (eng)

Squid Game – Lessons for Personal Finance

Squid Game is the recent Netflix series that is causing a furor around the world. On the one hand, it explores a genre that is becoming common to all against all or Battle Royale.  On the other hand, it incorporates totally new and unexpected mechanics and narratives. Surprise is the key to this series, which also has a narrative background that does not untie its knot in its first season. Today we will know the […]

La entrada Squid Game – Lessons for Personal Finance se publicó primero en Gustavo Mirabal Castro.

Squid Game is the recent Netflix series that is causing a furor around the world. On the one hand, it explores a genre that is becoming common to all against all or Battle Royale.  On the other hand, it incorporates totally new and unexpected mechanics and narratives. Surprise is the key to this series, which also has a narrative background that does not untie its knot in its first season. Today we will know the lessons that the Squid Game leaves us applicable to our personal finance.

But without going into spoilers let’s see what this new series has to offer us, what are the elements that have made it so successful. Last but not least, let’s see what financial advice you have for us.

YouTube Video

Squid Game and personal finance?

The hit Netflix series again poses dilemmas that South Korean cinematography has recently brought to the fore. Parasite and Squid Game have shown the enormous social gap and discrimination of South Korean society.

Both show us people at both ends of the social spectrum. People who can barely survive, and on the other hand people who get bored of having so much money. With our own focus on each work, they place us in the position of reflecting deeply on elements of their society.

Its creator Hwang Dong-hyuk was also a producer, director, and writer of the series. Squid Game is a way to express part of your experiences as a child. He grew up in an environment full of economic difficulties. Hwang even lived in the same neighborhood where he locates the protagonist of the series and went to Seoul National University where he was the protagonist’s best friend.

Undoubtedly an intimate story that takes us to the most important point of history, the social gap.

In Parasite, another successful South Korean play, he focuses more on the social divide. However, in Squid Game he focuses on one of the elements that deepens that gap, income, and debt, with emphasis on the latter.

Players of Squid Game are people who have a great need for money to attend to a need. People who have gone into debt again and again, and therefore no longer have anyone to turn to.

Squid Game offers them a way out… But at what cost?

Squid Game and Personal Finance

The Cost of dreams and Personal Finances

For Hwang Dong-hyuk, its creator, producer, director and producer, Squid Game cost him 6 teeth… Stress took its toll on Hwang losing 6 teeth, and until the time of his last interview he had not yet taken the time to make the prostheses.

In addition, it is a project that has cost 10 years of life in planning for Hwang. The project was presented on several occasions being rejected, but he has insisted on his idea for a long time…

For Netflix the series had a cost close to 20 million euros, one of the most expensive North Korean series in history. About two million euros were spent on the salary of the actor who represents the protagonist Seong Gi Hun. The biggest expenses have been the sets they had to put together, the setting and the salary of actors.

For Jeong Ho Yeon, the actress who gives life to the North Korean Kang Sae Byeok represented, accept a salary of a few thousand euros per episode. But to be an actress who is starting this has given her an incredible imposed.

For the players of Squid Game, the cost of the game is their own life, and the reward is 45 billion won, almost 38 million euros. An attractive prize that makes everything questioned…

Some people pay with their lives for opportunities

Money and moral codes in Squid Game and personal finance.

Participants not only risk their lives, but also their moral integrity, because winning is sometimes deception and cheating. Although some of his characters try to respect their own morals, when confronted with death they tend to give up. This emphasizes that the struggle for survival in society jeopardizes society’s morale.

Some of the participants come into the Game with a questionable moral code, but full of justifications. And that’s what it’s all about, everyone has their own reasons for getting to the hole where they are.

How can we survive and stay attached to our moral code? Perhaps there are two keys that the series teaches us. The first is that we can avoid getting into life’s Squid Game if we control our finances. The second lesson is that we need to give up the idea that money is worth everything in order to get rid of its chains.

But when people go into debt, they find themselves chained to an obligation… How to let go of those chains and more importantly, how to avoid them? In the next section we will give you the tips so that you are not a “player”.

Squid Game and its lessons in personal finance

As we mentioned earlier, the characters in the series find themselves in a dilemma caused by huge debts incurred. They can die, go to jail or fall into misfortune in front of their families, if they do not find the money they need to pay.

In that context, they meet someone who offers them money in exchange for participating in a game. This offer is very similar to that made by loan sharks when people are in economic trouble. It only deepens the problems. So the first step is to reject financial options that only displace the problem and increase the weight of it.

The loan sharks not only act taking advantage of the need of the individual, but they put short deadlines and high interests, worsening the situation. The first step should be to reject these options.

On the other hand, to avoid falling into trouble, we must avoid impulsive decision-making and look to the future.

Both our protagonist and his friend made questionable financial decisions such as:

  • Invest in risk instruments without the necessary knowledge and using the money of others.
  • Make impulsive consumption or entertainment expenses with the money of others or at the cost of indebtedness
  • Not paying your debts and getting more and more indebted.
The loan shark offering a solution – Squid Game and Personal Finance

How to avoid becoming a player?

Additionally, our protagonist sacrifices his future for a present impulse when he decides to bet with his mother’s insurance money, which subsequently puts her at risk.

Without a doubt, not getting into debt, minimizing unnecessary expenses and paying debts are key to avoiding becoming a player of “Squid Game”

In future installments we will delve into these aspects thanks to the advice of Gustavo Mirabal.


The traps of false democracy, populism in the Squid Game and personal finance.

One of the elements that the plot revolves around is the need for the willingness to participate. At first it is an individual will that makes them enter. But then it is the will of the group that makes them stay or be able to dissolve their commitment.

In this way there is a metaphor about the dangers of populism in which the will of the majority can lead to an upside to individuals who disagree. However, the decisive vote is held by someone with a little more experience…

An example of this can be seen in the economic crises where banks were helped instead of helping people. We can also see it in authoritarian regimes that come to power by electoral means exploiting social resentment, as was the case with Hilter in Germany or other more recent ones.

The same situation occurs in the economy. There are countries that do not solve their economic problems because difficult decisions are postponed based on short-termism. Politicians choose to evade tough decisions with the population using electoral criteria. They choose to increase their vote in the upcoming elections rather than think about the long-term well-being of the country.

This is the case in countries like Argentina where the adjustments of the economy are in the background against the political game of the elections. We can see it both in the electoral promises and in the day-to-day government decisions.

Maintaining a bloated public payroll that permanently grows to please the unions and the issuance of inorganic money are the result of this policy. This also applies to personal finance as we will see below.

Populism in Squid Game and Personal Finance

How to get out of the “short-termism” of populism in personal finance?

In the Squid Game some win in the short term, but eventually lose the game. This is what happens to us in personal finance as well. In the case of the Squid Game some change their alliances or decide to take actions that in the long term damage them. In this same way our actions in personal finances can do us long-term damage. It is important to be aware of this. In this the Squid Game and personal finances are very similar.

When we borrow for current expenses, we are putting our future at stake on a whim. This is the case for people who pay for a coffee, a glass of wine or a meal at a restaurant with a credit card. This would not be a problem if one pays the entire debit balance on the credit card. However, this is generally not true.

The reality is that borrowing for current spending is the worst way to collapse our personal economy. The satisfaction of short-term whims can doom our long-term dreams. It is the same thing that happens in many economies consumed by populism. If we decide to spend money on consumer and use goods that are not indispensable, we are putting our ability to save and invest at risk.

In the article on World Savings Day, we talked about the importance of identifying and reducing “ant expenses”. This is the type of small expense that we do without thinking, but that due to its frequency can acquire a very important weight in our budget.

One of the tools against populism in any of its forms is rational thinking. To apply rational thinking in our personal finances we must make our decisions consciously. But let’s dig deeper into this aspect.

The Price of a Cup of Coffee Worldwide

Planning: Key to winning the squid game of personal finance

In the Squid Game series, knowing the game, strategy, and our actions are very important, just as they are in personal finance. It’s not all about who has the most strength. Cunning and strategies are key. With the risk of generating spoilers, let’s analyze the game of pulling the rope. This game seems to be based exclusively on brute force. However, teamwork and cunning play a fundamental role. Even the psychology of the winner can be a differentiating element in this case.

In personal finance, our greatest allies are planning tools. Among them the most important is usually the budget of expenses. That is why it is not all about “making more money”, which would be the equivalent of brute force. Making our spending wisely can also play a key factor in personal finance. And here the budget is the tool par excellence to spend intelligently.

The budget can show us which expenses we can do without and which we can reduce substantially. Many people cling to the idea of “I make money and I deserve this little taste”. Small daily pleasures can have a significant impact on our personal finances.

For example, a coffee lover can justify in this way a daily coffee on the street. But that daily coffee can mean in many cases between 10% and 20% of our income. When we see it this way it seems that a daily coffee is unjustifiable. Rewarding ourselves is important but we cannot fall into the populism of personal finance, where our short-term strategies sabotage our long-term dreams.

Thinking long-term is the key to our financial freedom.

La entrada Squid Game – Lessons for Personal Finance se publicó primero en Gustavo Mirabal Castro.

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