FIRE,  Life

Financial Lessons From “Crazy Rich Asians”

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Howdy all!

Earlier, I finally managed to properly sit and watch “Crazy Rich Asians” for the second time seeing as I missed half of it initially.

If you haven’t watched the movie – it’s boy (Nick) meets girl (Rachel), girl meets boy’s family, boy’s family (mother) rejects girl, girl plays out game theory with boy’s mother.

Or something like that.

Of course, as the name suggests, this is set in the background of Crazy. Rich. Asians.

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Cray cray!

Like me, you may have been puzzled by many of the questions which were left unanswered.

Why is cousin Astrid so sad all the time? How come Tan Huas only blossom at night? Where is Nick’s Dad? How come my family didn’t build Singapore?

So many questions, so little time.

I mean, I still can’t believe Rachel just got up and left the mahjong table after letting Elanor win – doesn’t she know that the game hasn’t finished! The nerve of that woman.

And how she dismisses the two other old ladies at the table “Don’t worry, they are half deaf and only speak Hokkien”… HA! Americans!

Still, the main point from the movie for me was not about the faux pas at the Mahjong table, or the family feuds of the rich and famous.

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You need 4 players RACHEL, FOUR.

No, it’s about the ostentatious displays of wealth.

I get it of course, when you’re crazy rich, it’s just normal.

There are many scenes which seem pretty much expected if you’re young, insanely rich and good-looking.

All expenses paid shopping trip? Why not!

Miss universe contestants at your bucks night? Who else would you want?

Bit of jealousy and bitterness there TheFrugalSamurai?

Yeah, a little bit! Although mostly it’s directed at the grandeur of excess evident.

You see, this reminds me of a lesson which I picked up through my working career – which involves talking to many, many affluent and some not so affluent individuals.

Mind you, none of them I would define as “crazy rich” – but there are some who would be deemed “mentally unstable rich”, and some plain mentally unstable.

The biggest characteristic between the ones I would label as “rich” is that they are the ones with absolutely nothing to prove.

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Editor’s note: She may or may not be rich. The quote just fits.

There’s 9 digits in the bank (that’s in the hundreds of millions, sadly I’ve never met a billionaire in person) and they pretty much can do whatever they want – which definitely does not include going overboard on spending.

Then there are the “wealthy”, the 8 digit millionaires, who, like the rich – are pretty on the ball.

They’re typically of the older generation though, and hence are very conservative in their spending habits.

Next are the “aspiring wealthy”, the multi-millionaires.

These are typically the ones you see on the street showing off with a new hot rod or flashy clothes. They think they are “rich” and dress, act and talk to remind people of this opinion.

Next up are those who I call mentally unstable – those who are neither aspiring, wealthy, nor rich but think, talk and more importantly, spend, like they are.

OK so what?

You’re right, what’s the lesson here?

Actually there’s a couple.

The first lesson is:

Being truly rich is not just about a point in time. It is about building dynasties. 

That’s my biggest lesson from watching this movie, and with real life. The really, really, really rich families didn’t just “make it” overnight.

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Some did! Some also are recovering serial killers. Money doesn’t discriminate you see.

Sure there is instant wealth created through developing real estate, selling a business or listing on a stock exchange – but usually mega wealth is built through time and consistent effort.

Think the Rockefellers and Rothchilds of this world (their wealth could be in the trillions) – generations upon generations of consistent wealth creation.

The second lesson from the movie is:

There is no comparison between earning your dollar versus being handed your dollar.

It’s probably why you never got to see Nick’s Dad, the old guy was busting his gut working on his EMPIRE.

It’s also why you saw the younger generation, like all young generations partying hard and spend spend spend baby!

I think that’s what I’ll be handing down to my kids -> the value of a dollar.

Always be humble

And finally, someone asked me (Dr Yong, you know who you are) why I didn’t think any of Nick’s relatives were mentally fit enough to inherit his family’s empire.

The frank answer is because I don’t think any of them are humble and hungry enough. Sure they may have the ruthlessness and aggression required to succeed in business.

But man… the arrogance!

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Case in point.

You see, that’s the biggest difference between the rich and wealthy versus the rest.

The ones at the top are constantly learning, listening and staying hungry -> there’s always room for improvement.

And the rest of us? Sometimes I’m suffocating with the level of egos being branded around a room.


I know, I know, it is a movie after all!

And you’re right, maybe I am being harsh with the critique of it.

Although yes, I did enjoy it, thoroughly recommend it if you haven’t watched it. Apparently there’s going to be part 2, which would be fantastic.

Because I am DESPERATE to meet Nick’s old man – here’s hoping he’s someone to learn from!

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