Who said that you can’t learn anything from watching TV? If you pay attention, there are important financial lessons hidden in some of your favorite shows.
It might be a reminder to keep your money somewhere safer than a banana stand, or even Tyrion Lannister imploring us all to pay our debts. Either way, there is something to learn for pretty much anyone.
Arrested Development – keep your money somewhere 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.
When George Michael – George Sr.’s grandson – starts to feel guilty about embezzling bananas, he burns down the banana stand, only to find that George Sr. had lined the walls of the stand with $250,000.
Don’t be like the Bluths and risk losing money in a banana stand fire! Instead, why not put your money in high yield savings accounts? These accounts can keep your money safe, while also accruing a higher percentage of interest than traditional savings accounts.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
CIT Savings Builder
CIT Savings Builder is a high yield savings account from CIT Bank that offers one of the highest annual percentage yields (APYs) of any online savings account, coming in at 1.45%
To retain this APY you must maintain a balance of $25,000, or make monthly deposits of at least $100. If you can automatically deposit the $25,000, or, more realistically, commit to making the minimum monthly deposits, CIT Savings Builder will keep your money much safer than any banana stand could.
Discover Online Savings
The Discover Online Savings Account advertises an interest rate that is over five times the National Savings Average, coming in at 1.40% APY!
Don’t worry about costly monthly fees negating your interest, the Discover Online Savings account is free of monthly fees. The Discover Online Savings is an account that even George Sr. would approve of!
Schitt’s Creek – tax write-offs are not free money
For David Rose, things usually come easy. However, when his family lost all of their money and moved 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 Rose, David’s father, stepped in to set him straight.
“A write off is a business expense used to reduce your taxable income.” – Johnny Rose
Johnny’s explanation of tax write-offs is correct, but what he fails to mention is that you can also write-off things like:
- Paid mortgage interest
- 401(k) contributions
- Self-employment expenses
- Medical expenses
- Your home office
- Educator expenses
- IRA contributions
When you write-off these expenses on your tax return, don’t be like David and expect the money that you spent to be returned. Write-offs simply lower the amount of income that you will be taxed on, in some cases saving taxpayers more money than the standard deduction.
Everyone’s tax situation is different. If you need help figuring out what write off’s apply to your individual tax situation, tax software like TurboTax can help you.
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 that he owns with his brother, Mose Schrute, acts as a side hustle to put extra money in his pocket.
If you’ve been looking for a way to make your wallet a little greener, why not find yourself a side hustle?
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 don’t have to be in your usual line of work, meaning they can sometimes become a fun escape from your nine to five job.
Parks and Recreation – keep financial records & consider investing in gold
When Ron Swanson’s first wife, Tammy, informs him that he is being audited, he hands over his financial records to her and his friends for review. While helping them sort through them, he informs them that among the piles of IOUs and handwritten bills of sales, they will not find any bank records.
Ron admits to having “heavily invested in gold”, which he has buried around their town of Pawnee. While Ron likes to protect his privacy and keep the government out of his business, 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 your records is important
Keeping records is an important part of understanding your finances. Not only does it come in handy in the rare chance that you are audited by the IRS, but also in simpler circumstances. If you are 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
Gold is a controversial investment that has performed well in the past, but may not always perform as well as other investment options. A precious metal, it has been used as a form of currency since around 700 B.C.
Nowadays, investing in gold is more often used as a way of storing value, than as an investment that is going to make investors rich. If you are considering investing in gold, make sure to do your research before you decide to bury your entire net worth like Ron.
Game of Thrones – always pay your debts
A Lannister always pays his debts, especially when it comes in the form of revenge. Even if your castle isn’t built on top of a gold mine, or another house resonates more with your financial habits, this iconic line from Game of Thrones is a great reminder to always pay what you owe.
Why you should pay off your debts
Debt, definitely if left to accumulate, can be debilitating. While some debt can actually help you, having a high debt-to-income ratio can hold you back.
If your debt collects for too long without being paid, your credit score could begin paying the price. A bad credit score can make it harder to accomplish goals like buying a home or getting a car loan.
So, take a cue from the Lannisters and always pay your debts.
Try a balance transfer card
Getting another credit card to aid in your journey to becoming debt-free might seem counterproductive. However, if used responsibly, balance transfer cards are a great tool 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.
Here is my favorite balance transfer card:
Discover It® Balance Transfer
The Discover It® Balance Transfer card gives cardholders time to get ahead of their debts. The balance transfers rate is See Terms for See Terms. The regular APR jumps to See Terms.
Bonus with Discover is that they have an enticing cash back calendar that makes it ridiculously easy to save 5% on rotating categories each quarter including grocery stores, gas, Amazon.com, and Target.com to name just a few of my favorites. Plus there is no annual fee.
Try a cash back card
Getting a cash back credit card can help you pay off your debt; again, responsible use is the name of the game. The win with cash back is you spend and get the money back right into your wallet.
Here is my favorite cash back card.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has no annual fee and offers so many different opportunities for cash back.
New cardmembers can earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus you can earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Also earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, 5% cash back on travel purchases when you book through Chase Ultimate rewards, 3% cash back on dining, takeout, and drug store purchases, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
So that’s a lot of cash back into your pockets.
Like Ron Swanson’s gold, financial lessons are hiding in places that you would least expect to find them. You’ll find them in a banana stand in Newport Beach, all the way to Westeros.
Next time you find yourself watching TV, listen out for advice that just might help you improve your financial situation.