The Lessons Squid Game Taught Us About Money

Posted by Sheena Allen in DebtOctober 11, 2021(Last Updated November 26, 2022)5 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Netflix’s Squid Game has become #1 trending in all countries where Netflix provides its services. 
  • The show highlighted the extreme lengths people were willing to go to win the prize money and eliminate their debt.
  • To ensure that one’s debt doesn’t get tothe point similar to the participants, it is essential to budget your expenses, invest your money and live below your means.
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

The Netflix Original TV show Squid Game initially premiered on September 17, 2021. In four days, it became the #1 trending show in the U.S. It has also become the #1 show in over 90 countries, including Canada and England. Users all over social media are buzzing about it too. The South Korean show provided a series of nail-biters, plot twists, and lessons about money. 



Image credit: Rokas -


What is Squid Game?


Squid Game is a Netflix show produced in South Korea based around gathering 456 cash-strapped players in insurmountable debt and pitting them against each other in a king of the hill game mode. The participants are forced to partake in children's games with dark twists, such as whoever is eliminated will be killed instantly. However, whoever survives all of the games will walk away with a large sum of money that is more than enough to pay off their debt and live a comfortable life. 


What led the participants to partake in these drastic games?


Many of the participants have made very poor financial decisions throughout their lives, leading to them accumulating an excessive amount of debt that seems impossible to pay off. Therefore, between greed and the possibility of living a financially free life, many participants willingly continued playing the game.


For example, the main character Seong Gi-hun, portrayed by Lee Jung-Jae, accumulated a debt of over 400 million Won (337,234.96 USD) through excessive betting with loaned money from the bank and loan sharks. However, as he wished to pay off his debts as soon as possible, he decided to continue participating in the deathly game challenges for a chance to win the prize pool. 


How debt-to-income ratio mentally affects the average person.


Prior to accepting the invitation to play in the series of children's games, the participants continued to make irrational financial decisions. As a result, participants' debts kept increasing as they believed they could earn back the money lost by repeating their actions. Such behavior is known as the Gambler's Fallacy. The repeated poor decisions increased their debt-to-income ratio, heavily affecting their mental wellness.


When a person's financial situation affects their mental well-being, it can cause them to take extreme measures to ensure they become financially free. For example, the Squid Game's free for all mode had a grueling incentive; for every person eliminated, the amount of money the winner walked away with increased by 100 million Korean Won (84,160.91 USD). 



Image credit: Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo


As these greedy participants wished to increase their chances of taking the grand prize for themselves, they would resort to cold-blooded murder. These horrific and inhumane actions indicate that when people are financially stressed and feel their back is against the wall with no hope, they have a 'whatever it takes' mentality to ensure they can rid themselves of their debt. 


How to improve your financial situation.


The seriesThe series showed how a lack of awareness of spending habits could result in unbearable debt. Fortunately, people can use many different generally accepted methods to ensure they don’t end up like the participants on the show.


Don't Spend Money You Don't Have


One of the leading causes of debt is spending money that you don't have, especially with loans and credit cards. Keep in mind that the money is not yours when making a purchase with a credit card. Instead, it is borrowed funds on credit. Therefore, at the end of each month or billing cycle, you must repay the total amount charged to the credit card. If you cannot afford to pay off the credit card in full, you will have to pay interest on the funds used, making it even more challenging to get out of debt.


Recommended Read: Managing Credit Card Debt on a Tight Budget


Create a Spending Plan


One of the most common mistakes people make when budgeting or creating a spending plan is that they do not track how much money they are earning and spending. When there is no tracking of expenses, it is easy to overspend and cause the financial situation to worsen. However, it is easy to determine disposable income by budgeting earnings and expenses in an app or on a spreadsheet. Your disposable income determines the amount of money you can spend each month without negatively affecting your net worth


Recommended Read: Three Tips to Manage Your Money with Clear Intentions


Invest Now for a Financially Stable Future 


Now that your disposable income amount has been determined based on your spending plan, it is essential to use that money to multiply wealth in the long run. It is wise to invest a percentage of your disposable income instead of using it on short-term items, such as dining out, purchasing clothes, and other depreciating things. 




A primary purpose of investing is to make your life post-retirement enjoyable and financially stable. Therefore, it is essential to start investing as soon as possible because the sooner you invest, the longer your money will increase due to compound interest.  


Recommended Read: Investing for Beginners: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Live Below Your Means


You should enjoy the funds you work hard to earn. Treat yourself, and yes, you can treat yourself while not living above your means. Living below your means is a viable way to increase your money supply and use it elsewhere to accumulate wealth. The key to living below your means is ensuring your monthly expenses do not take up the majority of your monthly income when making the monthly payments. These payments could include rent or mortgage, car payments, fast food, or multiple subscriptions.


Another way to save money is to perform any services possible yourself instead of paying someone else to do it for you. Three examples of possible do-it-yourself services are doing your hair, painting your nails, and buying groceries to cook at home instead of always dining out.  


The Money Wrap-Up


Netflix’s production of Squid Game was well thought out, and it shows how desperate and greedy people become when they have nothing to lose and much to win. It also shows how people may believe money may solve everything, but as seen towards the end, Seong Gi-hun walks away with the prize money and remains unhappy, indicating that money can solve some but not all of our problems.  



Header image credit: Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo

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