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Financial Tips from Unexpected Places—TV Shows

Remember when your parents warned you about the downfalls of watching too much TV? What they didn’t consider was what you can learn from watching sitcoms, drama and reality television series.

Financial lessons in TV shows may be a reminder to keep your money somewhere safer than a banana stand, imploring us all to pay our debts or understanding escrow. Read these tips and then you can binge-watch a TV series guilt-free because you’ll be aware to lookout for unexpected personal finance tips.

“Arrested Development” – Keep your money safe. If you are a fan of “Arrested Development,” you may remember Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana, a frozen banana stand founded by George Sr. George Sr.’s grandson, George Michael, was racked with guilt about embezzling bananas. He burns down the banana stand only to find that George Sr. had lined the stand’s walls with $250,000.

Don’t risk losing money in a banana stand fire like the Bluths! Instead, use traditional savings or money market savings accounts to keep your money safe while also accruing dividends.

“Schitt’s Creek” – Tax write-offs are not free money.

“A write-off is a business expense used to reduce your taxable income.” – Johnny Rose

For David Rose, the spoiled adult son of Johnny and Moira Rose, things usually come easily. However, when his family lost all of their money and were forced to move to the town they bought as a joke, David had some learning to do. After acquiring a job at Blouse Barn, David went on a shopping spree using the company card. He assumed that the government would pick up the tab. Luckily, Johnny stepped in to set him straight.

When you itemize deductions on your tax return, don’t be like David and expect the money you spent to be returned. Write-offs simply lower the amount of taxable income, in some cases saving taxpayers more money than the standard deduction. Note that everyone’s tax situation is different.

“The Office” – Get a side hustle. Dwight Schrute is a dedicated man. A devoted member of the Dunder Mifflin team, “The Office” fans know that Dwight loves three things: bears, beets, and Battle Star Galactica. For him, the beet farm he co-owns with his brother, Mose Schrute, acts as a side hustle for extra income.

Even if you don’t own a beet farm with your brother, you can still find a side hustle that brings in some extra cash. Side hustles often become a fun escape from your full-time grind. If you’ve been looking for a way to make your wallet a little thicker, why not find yourself a side hustle?

“Parks and Recreation” – Keep financial records and consider investing in gold. When Ron Swanson’s first wife, Tammy, informs him that he is being audited, he enlists the help of Tammy and his friends to review his financial records. As they sort through the records, he informs them they will not find any bank records among the piles of IOUs and handwritten bills of sales.

Ron explains he is “heavily invested in gold”, which he has buried around their town of Pawnee. Ron likes to protect his privacy and keep the government out of his business, but his methods might not be the best choice. Not being able to produce financial records can hold you back, but so can an uninformed investment. Before you decide to be like Ron, consider the following:

  • Keeping records is an important part of understanding your finances. Not only does it come in handy in the rare occurrence of an IRS audit, it’s useful in more common circumstances. For example, if you’re looking to buy a home or prepare your tax returns, having your financial records handy can seriously expedite the process.
  • Investing in gold could be a good idea. This precious metal form of currency dates to around 700 BC. Today, gold investment is more often used as a way of storing value without the intention to make investors rich. Anyone considering an investment in gold should research the risks and benefits, especially before deciding to bury an entire net worth like Ron. Gold is a controversial investment that has performed well in the past but may not always perform as well as other investment options.

“Game of Thrones” – Always pay your debts. Take a cue from the Lannisters and always pay your debts, even if your castle isn’t built on top of a gold mine.

If left to accumulate, debt can be debilitating. While some debt can help your credit score, a high debt-to-income ratio will not. Also, if your debt collects for too long without being paid, your credit score will suffer. A low credit score can make it more difficult to, firstly, obtain a home or car loan or, secondly, qualifying for lower rate loans.

Consider balance transfer or cash back opportunities. Procuring another credit card to assist in becoming debt-free might seem counterproductive. However, if used responsibly, a balance transfer can be a smart way to help simplify your debts. By moving all, or most, of your debt to one card, you can save money on interest fees and stop worrying about keeping track of multiple accounts. Alternatively, a credit card with rewards and cash-back option, like the Tower World Mastercard®, can be a smart addition to your wallet.

“Top Chef” – Eat-in with limited funds or random items from your pantry. “Top Chef” is a mouth-watering reality TV elimination show that pulls together talented cooks and chefs from around the country to compete in demanding, timed cooking challenges. A weekly contestant elimination process results in one top chef who wins a large cash prize.

Aside from viewing the amazing food on Top Chef, viewers benefit from watching contestants work with limited funds to create huge meals that sometimes feed hundreds of people. Some episodes have even required chefs to create amazing dishes with random items found in the pantry. These episodes offer excellent opportunities to learn to create delicious dishes with what you can buy cheaply or already have on hand without breaking the bank.

“House Hunters” – Affordability, value, closing costs and escrow. House Hunters follows individuals, couples or families in search of a new home with the assistance of a real estate agent. Each episode starts with the buyer examining three properties based on personal preferences. After a decision is made between the three choices using criteria such as home price, style, neighborhood, and other factors, the buyer makes an offer that is usually accepted by the seller.

Buying a home is a challenging endeavor so viewers of “House Hunters” benefit from learning the various aspects of the buying process, including determining what you can afford, choosing homes based on neighborhood property values, negotiating the price based on home features, asking the buyer to pay for closing costs and even how escrow works.

The next time you find yourself watching TV, listen for advice that just might help you improve your financial situation. Like Ron Swanson’s gold, financial lessons are hiding in places you may not expect to find them.

Resources: One Beautiful Home Blog, Cosmopolitan.com, BankRate.com, MoneyUnder30.com, Business Insider