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By now, most of us have watched or heard of the wildly popular, South Korean survival-themed drama, Squid Game! Whether you’re a fan or not, there are 5 financial lessons we can learn from its unexpectedly relatable story and characters:

Theres always a catch

At the beginning of the plot, the players were told that they can win millions of dollars, by just playing a series of simple games. Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is! The catch is that if they lose, they’ll lose their lives too. None of the players were told upfront about the (literally) deadly price to pay, until they realised too late what was really happening.


Similarly, in life, when someone offers you a reward too easily, or a deal that sounds too good to be true, you may only realise that there’s a catch when it’s too late to back out.


Be super wary of fishy emails, phone calls and messages too – because these might be scammers luring you into their scams! With many new sophisticated scam tactics nowadays, many people have fallen prey without even realising it. So as much as we love rewards and perks, always stay sharp – it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Don’t be so hasty by a job offer or a career move that you’re not 100% certain too. Do more research and find out the company’s culture, job expectations and salary range before you commit to something that you might regret later on. 

Always be prepared for the worst case scenario

The main character was retrenched after his company went bust, then he spiraled into gambling and debts. While we can’t predict what will happen in the future, this reminds us to never get complacent and to always have a plan B – even when it comes to our jobs.


If the lead character had set aside some money for rainy days, he could have an easier time and not turn towards gambling, or even risk his life in the dangerous game. Similarly, it’s wise to build an emergency fund that can support our living expenses (and dependents) for 3-6 months so that we won’t be overly stressed if something unfortunate happens and put ourselves at risk of excessive debts to cover our commitments.


Always keep your spending in check, and try your best to not splurge more than what you earn in a month. 

Set a limit and stick to it

Investing your money is a savvy move, but never invest more than you can afford to lose. After losing his job, the lead character invested more than he could handle in failed businesses, making his money matters worse.   


There will always be “great” investment opportunities that you shouldn’t miss out on, but that doesn’t mean you should invest all your money in every opportunity. Everyone has a different risk appetite. Always determine the limits which you can afford, instead of being trapped by the sunken ship fallacy of “But I’ve already invested so much”, and end up losing everything.  

Be strategic with your money

During the Tug-of-War game, one of the groups weren’t as strong as their opponents, but together as a team, and with a little strategy, they won.


Similarly, whether we earn a little or a lot now, if we are smart and resourceful with however much money we have, we can still reap positive returns.

For instance, if we earn RM2,500 and save 20% of our salary every month, we’ll be able to save RM6,000 in 1 year! As we continue saving and investing, this amount will snowball.


Someone who’s earning the highest salary today may not be the richest in five years’ time if they don’t know how to manage their money and have a habit of spending rather than saving. Know the power of compounding interest and use it well!

Needs are necessary, wants are not

Despite the grave cost to pay if any players lose the game, they still chose to participate because they were in desperate need of money. The lead was no different, joining because he needed the prize money for his mother, who couldn’t afford the medical bills for her treatment. However, if he hadn’t spent his money recklessly, and bought medical or retirement insurance for his aging mother instead, his mother would’ve been able to receive treatment and could’ve survived.


That’s why we should always remember to prioritise the needs in our lives first, such as paying for monthly commitments, saving up or getting ourselves insured in case of emergencies. Prioritising your needs will protect you and your loved ones in the future, and your future self will thank you for it. 


Remember, you are the main character of your life. How would you want your story to be? Be savvy with your money to avoid stress down the road and to always plan ahead whenever possible. Get more helpful tips on Life Goals to level up your personal finance knowledge!



This article is for informational purposes only and CIMB does not make any representation and warranty as to the accuracy, completeness and fairness of any information contained in this article. As this article is general in nature, it is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. You are advised to consult a financial advisor or investment professional before making any decisions based on the information contained in this article. CIMB assumes no liability for any consequences arising from your reliance on the information presented here.