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What Squid Game Teaches Us About Money

by Lesley Tao about a month ago in personal finance

Life Gamble, Money and Debt Management

Pictures are from Deposit Photo

Spoiler Alert: This article contains some major spoilers

Squid Game is the latest South Korean Netflix hit which everyone is raving about. It was so intense; I binge-watched the whole series in 4 days with literally a gaping mouth. This was especially so when a giant robot doll started blowing out the brains of losing players in a simple game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’.

There are 456 players in total, each with their individual and unique story, but the common theme is that they are all cash strapped, debt-ridden and in a desperate situation. A well-groomed man appears out of the blue and entices them to play a children’s game in exchange for cash. After winning and pocketing the money, they are invited to participate in a more considerable competition with ₩45.6 billion (roughly $38,460,271.20) at stake.

Question 1: ‘Curiosity Killed The Cat’

The main character of Squid Games ‘Gi-Hun’ found himself in this situation where he was forced to sign over a kidney for a loan he couldn’t repay after being beaten up by a gang of loan shark thugs. Let me pose this question to you now — what would you do if you were drowning in debt and in a life and death situation and some strange man offered you a lifeline by participating in some children’s games?

At this point, we can relate to Gi-Hun, in so far as being curious about what this life-changing opportunity under the guise of playing children’s games is about. Comment on what you would have done at this point in the comment section below.

All players are put to sleep before reaching the location of the game on an undisclosed island. They are stripped of all personal items and put into green tracksuits with their player numbers. Gi-Hun wakes up on a bunk bed in a large hall with all the other players and realises that he is player number 456, the last participant.

Question 2: Return Of The Mac

All Players are guarded by masked men in pink uniforms carrying guns headed by a frontman in black. It becomes apparent after the shooting massacre of many losing players during the Robot ‘Red Light, Green Light’ game that the death of each player equates to ₩100 million (roughly $84,342), and only one player can win.

Given this knowledge and a chance to leave, the majority of surviving players (by one vote) agreed to end the games and were allowed to leave the island. After being stripped, bound and chucked onto the road from a moving van, they all return to their everyday lives, and reality hits them hard.

The majority of players then opt back for the second round of brutal games, which sees them trying to survive the physical and psychological twists of each challenge – ultimately resulting in the death of all but one.

So back to that question, armed with all the facts now, would you have gone back the second time to partake in the games?

I had a deep think about this question, and ultimately, my answer is ‘no’, but that is because I have had experience with getting out of debt and also creating money through real estate and investments. So I am relatively confident I could start again even if I lost everything (touch wood!). On the other hand, I am also convinced that if I went back to the games, I would have definitely ended up in that coffin dressed like a gift box.

What would you have done at this stage? Please drop a comment in the commentary section below.

8 Tips On How To Get Out Of Debt Now

In case, you find yourself in a desperate situation where you are drowning in debt, here are some tips:

1) Don’t bury your head in the sand and reach out to people you are comfortable talking to who will provide you with moral support and perhaps be an accountability buddy. Do not bottle this up by yourself or be too proud or ashamed to face the reality of the situation.

2) Get in touch with a debt consolidation company or consultant, or even an accountant. You need someone who can help you put an actionable repayment plan together and assist with re-negotiating some of the debts.

3) If your debt includes high-interest elements such as credit cards, set all credit cards to minimum monthly payments and start paying off the card with the highest interest first. Once the debt amount on that credit card is paid off, get rid of that credit card. Repeat this process after the repayment of each credit card. It is good to have a few credit cards (I have 2) as it can also positively impact your credit score, and you can collect points that can be used towards flights and other purchases. However, the golden rule is to pay off the credit card every month in full. If you cannot stick to this rule, it is probably best not to have a credit card until you master the discipline of paying it off every month as it attracts high-interest rates (20%+).

4) If you have loans due, go back and re-negotiate with the lender and work out a repayment plan with reduced interest rates (if possible) which will allow you to repay something every month instead of one big chunk.

5) Your results will accelerate if you increase your income. This may take form in either working overtime, taking a higher paid job or working a second job. There are also other ways to make more money, including selling your skills, services or homemade products but stay away from any forms of investing which involves a risk or having to put more money down. The additional funds received from your increased income should go towards paying off your debts (starting with the highest interest ones) to enable you to get them paid off faster.

6) If something seems too good to be true, most likely it is too good to be true and more likely to be a scam. Don’t fall for any get quick rich schemes as a lot of marketing is on the internet to entice vulnerable people.

7) Don’t expect a miracle overnight, and it’s also not the end of the world, although it may feel like it. You need to have a debt repayment plan in place, which you need to follow consistently. It will create great money-saving and management habits in the future when all the debt is paid off.

8) Never agree for anyone to sign away any of your organs to repay your debt!

Real Life Case Study

I was able to help someone using the above techniques who initially came to me to get some help with starting an Airbnb property business. Alex had over 20 maxed-out credit cards, personal loans, bank loans, and every family member had the same debt issues and money habits. He was in every sense over leveraged and hanging by the last thread.

I stopped him from starting an Airbnb business as it is not a get rich quick scheme, and there are risks involved, including start-up costs, which he could not afford. Instead, we worked on reducing his debt and bettering his financial habits. Two and a half years on, the majority of high-interest debts have now been consolidated. He has increased his income by getting a higher paid job and has invested in 2 property deals which cash flow positive just under $1,400 (roughly under £1000) net each month. In addition, he is just about to extract some monies out of his house via a remortgage to put as a down payment/deposit on an investment property purchase.

Alex is a great example, showing that you don’t need to lose your moral compass and sell your soul for quick-fix money solutions. The Squid Game is about gambling with your life for money and has been an entertaining watch. However, let’s implement some more practical money solutions in real life.

Last Words

Although Gi-Hun ends up winning the Squid Game, he couldn’t enjoy his victory and didn’t end up touching any of the prize money. He was traumatised and racked with guilt that he won this money at the cost of 455 human lives. Yes, money is probably one of the most essential tools in life, but can you enjoy using the money you exchanged for your moral compass or soul? Instead, focus on how you can become an alchemist to create more money which you can use in abundance with a clear and happy conscience.

Hoping not to see you in Series 2 of the Squid Games!

personal finance

Lesley Tao

Ex-Lawyer turned Property Investor, Airbnb Specialist, Writer and YouTuber. Feel free to connect with me on YouTube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCkWFNzJ7rBw2bFAJ3rmfjIw

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