Money Lessons from Crazy Rich Asians

After buying her the book on one of our recent flights, it was time to take my better half to see the movie that is front of mind for most in Singapore and across the continent, Crazy Rich Asians.

The story is the perfect combination of a modern Cinderella fairy tale, a highlight of the challenges of east meets west, and a showcase of the talented designers in Singapore and its many stunning landmarks.

Without spoiling the story for those who’ve not yet seen the movie or read the books, the plot follows the journey of our heroine, Rachel, as she travels to Singapore with her boyfriend, the undercover prince of Singapore, Nick Young. She quickly discovers that Nick in fact comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore, and it is there that the hilarity begins.

While a classic romantic comedy designed for all to enjoy, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ contains some excellent personal finance tips and money lessons that we can all learn from and adopt as our own. Below I’ve highlighted my key takeaways when it comes to personal finance lessons:


  1. Avoid keeping up with the Jones’

It is far too common that as humans we constantly compare ourselves to others, and this can particularly be the case in Singapore. Whether it’s what car you drive, where your children go to school, where you’re vacationing for the summer, what brands you’re wearing or what street you live on – we’re constantly identifying new ways to feel as though we don’t measure up.

Crazy Rich Asians highlights this point perfectly with Nick’s cousin,  Eddie Cheng, with his perfectly positioned poses with his family seeking to show the world their wealth. Eddie is the status-obsessed character of the movie who is constantly flaunting his wealth in any way he can find to do so, despite having a net worth that is far less than our undercover prince, Nick.  The important takeaway here is to recognise that there will always be someone wealthier, that has a faster car, a bigger house or more expensive suit.

Avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on achieving your own financial goals. If Eddie had focused on investing his funds, instead of frivolous spending in an effort to keep up appearances, he may very well have found this far more rewarding.

Money Lesson: Set your own goals and track your success in achieving them. Celebrate the wins along the way and be proud of your achievements. 


  1. Compounding truly is the eighth wonder

It is often said that compound returns are the eighth natural wonder of the world, and this is highlighted in the Crazy Rich Asians story. Nick’s family wealth is largely derived from property ownership throughout the generations that they have continued to accumulate. From property ownership, the family’s investments have diversified along with their business operations. While there are many characters in the story that may come into ‘quick money’, we are reminded that this can quickly disappear.

The story behind Nick’s family’s wealth outlines the power of patience and having the right strategy in place. For the majority of us, true wealth creation does not happen overnight.

Money Lesson: Don’t underestimate the power of compounding returns. Ensure that your money and investments are working for you.


  1. Stay humble

Early in the storyline, it is clear that Nick isn’t one to flaunt his wealth at all. He shares cake with Rachel at the local café and even uses her Netflix account. It is only when they board a flight to return to Singapore to see Nick’s family that Rachel starts to learn that Nick may not be as poor as he makes out to be. From the flights at the front of the plane in the suite, to the first visit to Nick’s palace on the island of Singapore, it all becomes clear. It is very clear in the story that Nick and his family are one of the wealthiest on the island, and yet he remains the most humble and loved characters of the story.

There is a powerful message here highlighting the value and importance of staying humble no matter how wealthy you become or how much money you might earn.

Money Lesson: Celebrate your successes as you achieve your financial goals, but don’t let them distract you from why you set out your goals in the first place. 


  1. Never underestimate a savvy business woman

There are two key parts of the movie that quickly shake up the gender stereotypes when it comes to the world of high finance, both of which are encapsulated by Nick’s mother, Eleanor Yong. At the start of the film, Eleanor and her family are trying to check-in to a hotel to stay in the suite only to be told by the obnoxious receptionist that they were full. After a few phone calls, she is promptly greeted by none other than the owner of the hotel himself and escorted with her family to the suite. The second part of the story is when Eleanor is on the phone to her stockbroker executing trades, while the rest of the group are busy gossiping about Nick’s new girlfriend.

I have written a number of articles on the different skillsets that women bring to investing and the world of personal finance that men don’t possess, which can in fact lead to superior outcomes.

Money Lesson: Never make assumptions about the investing intelligence of anyone, particularly not a business savvy woman. You may just find she’s generating returns you could only dream of.


The movie is now out at cinemas and whether you’re looking to watch it as a high-end tourism guide to Singapore, to learn about the local culture as an Aussie expat, or you just want to enjoy the latest romantic comedy that is sure to draw a few laughs, I highly recommend it.


To your financial success!


Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner with Australian Expatriate Group of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd – No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

Australian Expatriate Group is a division of Global Financial Consultants in Singapore providing specialist advice to Australians living abroad.

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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.


*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.


Jarrad Brown is the trusted fee-based financial adviser in Singapore working with professional expats in the region. An Australian qualified and experienced Financial Adviser, Jarrad provides specialist advice to Australian expats as well as other nationalities.

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