Friday, August 8, 2008

Til Debt Do Us Part: food for the financial soul

Til Debt Do Us Part is the one and only reality TV show I enjoy. For savers, it is probably does not peak their interest (unless it makes them feel good). But, for everyone else, a weekly "o'no-you-don't, Mr&Mrs-spend-thrift" might help keep you from over spending - it is like watching a horror movie. This show should also be part of every marriage prep-course.

Here is the shtick: (The show claims that) "Money is the number one cause of failed marriages. Rare is the couple that agrees on how the pot should be divided and the bills paid. Most families are in debt, and with debt come family arguments, tears, tantrums and marriages on the verge of divorce. To save families from the doldrums of debt, each episode of Til Debt Do Us Part follows financial wizard Gail Vaz-Oxlade as she helps families go from red to black by getting to the root of their destructive spending habits." The show's website calls Gail a "financial wizard" but she is more like the over consumption destroyer. Although I would love to see if the 50+ couples she has helped have kept their new regimes, my speculation takes nothing away from the show's power.

Why is this show amazing to watch? It gives people easy to follow tips to get their financial house in order. Although Gail does over blow the situation sometimes, I think that she does a good job of scaring everyone within listening range with her classic "if you continue spending this way, you will be in debt by [really-big-number-here] in 5 years" - I get the shakes even thinking about it. So why is this so helpful? It forces couples to add their bills subtract it from their income, and then talk about it. Most couples don't want to talk about their debt, let alone take steps to curb their spending and plan for the future ("I hate saying "no" to Jim = I would rather the bank take our house"). No really, it happens more often than you think. So, how does one get their financial house in order? The show provides some work sheets online ( here ) and a 12 step program ( here ). This 12 step program may seem over simplified to some of you, but if you read the show's comment section, it has helped a lot of people. Personally, I think people fear Gail coming to their house to talk to them about their daily Starbucks and pint of Guinness (Oh wait, might be just me).

Although this show appears on Slice, all four seasons (50+ episodes) can be viewed online ( click here and then click Full Episodes).


Matthew said...

You should link to where you can watch the show

Canadian Economist said...

Thanks Matthew! I added a link near the bottom of the post. Enjoy!