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What Crazy Rich Asians Gets Right About Money

By Jackie Lam
August 28, 2018

If you haven’t noticed the buzz surrounding the new movie Crazy Rich Asians, you must be living under a rock. The rom-com, which topped the box office in its opening weekend August 17-19, earned a cool $25.3 million.

While the film is more about social status and class than wealth, there are a handful of money lessons that can be gleaned. Sure, most of us don’t have Chinese boyfriends who are secretly part of the one percent in Singapore. And you may not be competing against women who want to wed your beau just because he’s Mr. Money Bags.

That being said, here are some golden lessons about wealth and money from Crazy Rich Asians:

1. Wealth is Glamorized

Across the board, wealth seems to be presented in a similar fashion: high living, fine clothes, expensive getaways, and socialite dinners. Sure, never having to check your balance with your bank app and worry about paying your rent on time must be nice.

While the Youngs are part of Chinese old money, anyone who has amassed a certain amount of wealth is expected to show it off.

Here’s the thing: this espouses an outdated notion of what it means to be wealthy. Notions of what it means to be rich tends to fall along the lines of what we see on Beverly Hills Housewives and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

But modern-day billionaires may be sporting hoodies and jeans (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg), living in humble abodes (i.e. Warren Buffet), and using money for humanitarian efforts (i.e. Bill and Melinda Gates). And let’s not forget that mo’ money does equate to mo’ problems. And yes, while money issues may be preferred problems, they are challenges nonetheless.

2. It Can Be Hard to Detect Wealth

While the lead character Nick Young (Henry Golding) is part of the ultra-wealthy set, he was raised to keep a low profile and not flaunt his money. It’s funny, because, as I mentioned above, we tend to equate wealth as something that’s obvious and external: flashy cars, nightly dinners at five-star restaurants, and eye candy at yacht parties.

But all flashiness aside, there are a lot of people who choose not to show off their wealth. In fact, your neighbor may be a “millionaire next door.” In other words, your neighbor may be someone who has tons of money in the bank (maybe in an account that has low or no fees), but lives in middle-class neighborhood and cavorts around town in a minivan instead of a Porsche.

3. What True Wealth Means

While the one percent can certainly afford to live a lavish lifestyle and have gobs of money stashed away in the bank, wealth can be boiled down to one thing: your net worth. In essence, this is the amount of money you have in assets, investments, and in cash in the bank.

So while there are those who live a seemingly “wealthy lifestyle,” others may be house poor or have a negative bank balance.

If you want to truly be wealthy, work on paying off your debt, save where you can, focus on earning more, and most important—save those beans! (Auto-transfer your savings, anyone?) And when you see a positive balance, that’s when you know you’re on track to growing your money.

4. Money Can’t Buy You Love… But…

The film’s tagline is as follows: “Money can’t buy love, but it can definitely complicate things.” Nick loves Rachel regardless of her social status. And while money can’t buy you affection, commitment, and all those warm fuzzy moments we humans crave and cherish, it can afford you a lot of things. It can give you a sense of security, options, and above all else: the ability to live your best life.

5. Money Can Complicate Things

While CRA depicts how social status and wealth can complicate personal matters, money can certainly complicate things for any relationship. In the film, there are many ways money complicates the relationship between Rachel, Nick and their respective families. For starters, Nick’s mom disapproves of Rachel, primarily because she doesn’t come from money. Rachel also finds herself up against a bevy of socialites who would love to marry Nick.

Having more money means you’ll need to spend more time making decisions about your money. Sure, it’s a champagne problem to have, but it will require time and mental energy to allocate your resources accordingly.

6. It Helps to Be Honest With Your Money Situation

While Nick remained humble and did a great job not flashing his wealth, when the #truthbomb did drop that he was ultra-wealthy, he put Rachel in a bit of tailspin. Once again, while most of us probably won’t be faced with this problem, it’s important to be honest with your significant other about your money matters. How much debt do you have? What are your spending patterns? What are your spending vices? What would you like your future to look like, and how will you get there?

Financial infidelity, which is when you hide a huge money secret, is a form of betrayal. This is when you hide a money secret, such as a bank account, major debt, or made a mondo purchase behind your partner’s back.

Be Crazy Rich About Financial Knowledge

Crazy Rich Asians is a moving and fun film that delves deep into notions of wealth and social class. And while you may not relate to being ultra wealthy, you can certainly drum up your own definition of what it means to be rich, and carve your own path toward wealth.

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