I’m Glad I’m Not a Money Moron (Anymore)

A few weeks ago, Gail Vaz-Oxlade offered to send me a promotional copy of the first episode of her new show Money Moron. As a fan of all of Gail’s shows, I didn’t hesitate to send her my mailing address. Of course I want to see the new show before everyone else does! And just like her other shows, I loved all 22 minutes of it.

Before I tell you why, let me backtrack a bit.

I remember when Gail started tweeting about this show last year, before the first season had even been taped. She described the show (one person nominates a partner/family member/friend who doesn’t know how to manage their finances), mentioned the title, and asked people to submit nominations via email. In reply, several people tweeted her and scrutinized the name of the show for using a word like “moron”. Back then, I could understand where those people were coming from. The word “moron” may seem offensive and/or make people feel stupid. But, you know what? It’s no worse than the title of her other show, Princess, and both words are perfect definitions of the attitudes people portray on the shows.

Unlike Princess, where the nominees were people who felt entitled to have whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it, Money Moron features people who simply don’t bother to try and understand how money works. The premiere episode tells the story of Deanna and James, a couple who has no idea how to prioritize their goals, financial or otherwise. After getting engaged, the couple decided to move into her parents’ basement, so they could pay down their debt and save for an extravagant wedding. When Gail asked how much progress they had made with those two goals, the answer was simple: “not enough, that’s for sure.”

This continues to be a theme, throughout the episode. Together, the couple has a number of goals they want to achieve in their future. Unfortunately, they have no plan of action and, as a result, no idea how difficult it will be to turn their dreams into realities; one of the tasks Gail had them complete proved this tenfold. When asked to create a wedding budget they could both agree on, the couple seemed happy that their final total ($19,100) was less than $20,000. But when Gail pointed out how long it would take them to save up and pay for the wedding with cash, Deanna’s joy quickly turned into tears.

“Did it ever occur to you that the things you want might not be realistic? Is a party really worth a year and a third of [your] life?”

Although I’ve never planned a wedding, nor do I plan on it, the first question struck a chord with me. Up until the day I was finally maxed out, everything I wanted seemed realistic. The most common phrase out of my mouth was something along the lines of, “I’ll pay it off one day,” as I continually swiped for new things, nights out and rounds of drinks for friends (all on me). I didn’t say that because I felt entitled to those things; I really, truly believed I would pay it off one day. And I have (almost) but it’s taken me two freaking years! Did it seem worth it at the time? Sure. Has it held me back from doing other things I want to do? Yes. And that sucks. I was a total moron!

The moral of this particular episode is that couples who plan on settling down together need to talk about money. By being honest with each other about your past, your current financial situation and your individual goals, you can combine your goals and start working on them together. I can’t wait to watch the next episode, so I can see who is nominated and why. What I love most about the concept of this show is that Gail’s solution to cure a “money moron” is to make them do the simplest but most meaningful tasks: track their spending and create a monthly budget. It’s that simple, people. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering who nominated this couple, well… you’ll just have to watch for yourself.

Money Moron premieres this Friday with back-to-back episodes on at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST on Slice. If you want a special sneak peek, tune in Thursday at 11 p.m. EST/8 p.m. PST!

  • I guess all of life’s goals, whether they be financial or not, require proper planning to determine what steps and effort will be required to achieve them. Wishful thinking, like hoping to win big on the lottery (which is easier to do than get struck by lightening – twice!) is for dreamers.

  • I think this is probably where most people fail with their money. They don’t realize that in order to achieve their dreams, they are going to have to plan for it! As a chronic planner, this doesn’t apply to me, and as a result drives me nuts when I encounter it with other people. Can’t wait to watch! Any idea if this will be available online? I don’t have cable.

  • I don’t have the option of seeing this show, but I would love to. I don’t think the title of the show is offensive. Sometimes people need some tough love in order to change and when you are called a moron, you might perk up a little and take notice. Thanks for the review of the first episode.

  • I swear Canadians get all the best money shows!

    People are way too sensitive. Getting overly offended by the word “moron” leads me to believe that these are people are being defensive — probably because they know they are morons when it comes to finances. It’s not mean, it’s a wakeup call.

    Great review :).

    • I’m not offended by it (hardly anything offends me haha) but as a side note, the background of the word “moron” is why it might bother some people, since it was used as a term in psychology in the early 1900’s to describe people with mild mental retardation (IQs below 70, but above 50). Same goes for imbecile and idiot, they were once official labels for people with low IQs. So you can see how it might make some people sensitive :)

      • Of course! I can absolutely understand why people would be offended. In fact, in this episode, James looked as though he felt like a fool. It was a little hard to see… but a good wakeup call for them both.

  • My siblings are money morons by both being college education, relatively hardworking gainfully employed semi-adults who spend all their money on booze/weed, useless crap, eating out and so on and then cry poverty if I ask them to join me literally anywhere doing nearly anything. If I try to work with them they blow me off. I take my frustration out on blogs and forums, as that is the most mature and effective way to resolve this friction in my life.

  • I’m sure most of us have met a money moron at some point. For me being a moron is more about not caring about the consequences of your actions then having low financial literacy. (One girl I knew was happy to die with a huge debt load since it wouldn’t be her problem any more. Of course the fact that her father had co-signed all her loans wasn’t a big deal to her.)

  • Im not a planner when it comes to saving. I think maybe its because I dont have a financial goal right now? (I already own a condo and Im no where near a wedding). However, I always save 25% of my income. Therefore if a big trip comes up or a big unexpected financial event, I just grab it out of savings and don’t even flutter an eyelash.

    My system makes no sense, but I rarely ever go into the savings so it is growing great and I am comfortable because it works for me and i dont have to give up my lifestyle :)

    • You may not be planning for something in particular, but you are still planning for the “future” by saving your money! Simply being able to do that shows a great deal of character. :)

  • I definitely know a money moron. He’s a former coworker. He had gotten a car (or two) repo’d, and was driving this beater that he bought from a used car lot – he was making payments of like $400/month. He announced one Friday that he & his partner were planning to go look at cars on the weekend, “but not buy anything.” Famous last words. He rolled up on Monday in a brand new Nissan Cube thingy. His payments were outrageous, and I think he’s still paying on it, nearly 5 years later.

    I think a lot of people’s money issues stem from their parents – how their parents handled money, their relationship with it, if it was ever discussed, etc. Growing up, I only ever heard, “We can’t afford that. We’re broke.” J’s parents have NEVER discussed money with him. Ever. He has absolutely no clue what they make, what they spend, how their finances look. It’s completely blocked off from the children. Our backgrounds have motivated us to be open & honest with each other, have joint accounts, and work together to achieve our goals.

    • I can agree with that! My parents talk about money with us daily; that’s why I was ashamed to tell them about my debt, and it’s also why I love seeing them react so positively to my debt repayment progress. They never taught us how to budget, though, so now that’s my job. ;)

  • AMEN. I felt like you when I was a student going deep into debt. I thought every want was realistic because I had not concept of how much money anything really took.

    Now I’m still set on my wants but I have the attitude to go out and make it realistic by earning more money and saving more diligently, but there were some wants that just had to be given up for good.

  • I can’t wait to see this show! Thanks for doing a great review and exciting me even more! I was exactly like you in my thought process about my debt….I was accumulating it for school but even after I graduated (and had put over 15k on CC for tuition) I wasn’t phased at all and lived for 3 years in the mindset that it would magically get dealt with one day.

  • I am so pumped about this show! I repeatedly watch old episodes of TDDUP for my regular Gail fix (never got overly into Princess-couldn’t relate to the Princesses I think, I’ll watch them once, but not again) but this sounds more up my alley :)

    I think the realism question is incredibly important. There are just some things that are out of reach for most of us, like huge houses, regular fancy vacations, expensive clothes, brand new cars all of the time (or all of these things at once anyway). Unfortunately, when “most” people are in debt(I’m generalizing here of course), it raises the expectation that these things are within reach. I never grasped why “regular’ people (or anyone for that matter) would spend tens of thousands on a wedding-if you’re a celebrity or incredibly wealthy and can afford it, I guess who am I to say anything, but where did people get the idea that a $20 or 50 thousand dollar wedding was the norm?

    • Great comment! Being in debt seems to be the norm, these days, which is why no one cares that they are in it. But that’s foolish. We should all be cheering each other on to get out of it. :)

  • I’m looking forward to this series of Gail’s as well. I’m not a money moron, neither is my wife but we did talk about money all through the relationship. I think couples need to understand that once you walk down the aisle the real fun begins. I know so many people that don’t understand money and I can only pray they find their way before they end up in a hole or on Money Moron. A wake up call is what many people need but it will be the best wake up call they will ever get when it comes to personal finance and financial literacy all over the world. Thanks for sharing Cait!
    Mr.CBB

    • Thanks for commenting! I love when you weigh in with your personal experiences, Mr. CBB. You and the Mrs. are an inspiration!

  • I thought having a credit card was a sign that you had “made it” and was what all gainfully employed adults just did. Everyone on TV and around me swiped away and hey presto, they had pretty things…. Nobody ever talked about what happens next. I never thought about paying it off. It never occurred to me that people might actually even pay their balances in full each month! My mindset was like yours – I would pay it off “someday” – when I made more money, or I was older. I figured future Claire would figure it all out and what is the point of spending the banks money if I’m just going to pay it right back anyway?… Well “future Claire” would like to slap past Claire in the face now, because now I get why paying the bank back ASAP is a good idea. Interest and repayments really suck. Now I make good money but I lose it all paying for those drinks and pretty clothes I’ve long forgotten. Lesson learned. Ouch.

    • Sounds like we’re in the same situation, Claire! My credit card debt is gone but I was paying off the same things you were: drinks, random things I bought here and there, etc. Stupid!

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