For the average reality TV-watching American, there isn’t much to be learned from the endless shows that seem to recklessly feature nothing but arguments, fights and sex.
But there are a few valuable gems in the bunch that produce worthy advice amid the drama. In particular, if you’re learning how to budget, there are a few shows that can make you smarter with your money.
Why Learning How to Budget is Crucial
In the United States, we’ve faced tougher economic conditions over the past few years than we have in decades. Over a short period of time, millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and overall stability to the financial crisis and recession.
Though the economy is now headed toward recovery, millions of workers are still unemployed. And those who are working need help holding on to their cash as gas prices and other costs continue to rise.
Learning how to manage money by setting up a budget is important in giving your family much-needed financial stability. Luckily, there is a lot of great advice to help you get started — and some of it comes right from your TV set.
TV Shows that Can Make You Financially Smarter
There are tons of reality shows on TV willing to educate you on matters that won’t improve your life, but if you want to get smarter with your money, here are six that get the job done:
1. Clean House
Clean House is a show that started with the energetic, flower-wearing host Niecy Nash and her fun crew cleaning up the “mayhem and foolishness” in homes. Now the show has a new host (former Cosby kid Tempestt Bledsoe), designer (Didi Snyder) and crew cleaning up excessive clutter, selling as much as possible in a yard sale for extra cash, then remodeling the home with the money earned.
Clean House Financial Tip: The show offers two great financial tips surrounding yard sales. The first is that you can sell unwanted items in your home to earn some extra cash (be sure to check the worth of valuable items before tagging them with a price). Also, you can save a ton of cash on great items by negotiating at someone else’s yard sale.
2. The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice
The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice are two shows known for bringing tons of drama to TV screens. Led by mogul Donald Trump, both shows follow contestants who are fighting to win the final spot as Trump’s apprentice. The main difference between the shows is that the winner of The Apprentice wins a job running one of Trump’s companies, while the winner of Celebrity Apprentice donates a large cash reward to a chosen charity.
The Apprentice Financial Tip: If you can overlook the inevitable drama encompassing both shows, you can learn some great tips on ways to budget money. In many episodes, contestants are given a small amount of money and are expected to pull off major feats.
3. House Hunters
House Hunters is a fun show following individuals, couples or families in search of a new home with the assistance of a realtor. Each episode starts with the buyer examining three properties based on personal preferences. After a choice is made considering home price and style, neighbourhood and other factors, the buyer makes an offer that is usually accepted by the seller.
House Hunters Financial Tip: Buying a home can be a challenging task, so viewers of House Hunters can benefit from learning various aspects of the buying process, including determining what you can afford, choosing homes based on neighbourhood property values, negotiating the price based on home features, asking the buyer to pay for closing costs and even how escrow works.
4. Extreme Couponing
Extreme Couponing follows people who are extremely talented at saving tens or sometimes hundreds of dollars in a single shopping trip by using coupons. Participants in the show typically set a goal for their final purchase, then organise their coupons to meet that goal. In some cases, participants have been known to have a zero balance or even receive cash back from the store after making purchases.
Extreme Couponing Financial Tip: One overlooked way to save money is through the use of coupons. Coupons can be found just about anywhere (newspapers, circulars, online) and can help you save a ton on purchases. So it’s good to utilise tips from participants on the TV show that can help you find the best bargains. But if you want to make couponing a lifestyle, first ask yourself: is extreme couponing for you?
5. Top Chef
Top Chef is a mouth-watering elimination show that pulls together talented cooks and chefs from around the country to compete in a number of strenuous timed cooking challenges. Each week, a contestant is eliminated until one is named top chef and wins a large cash prize.
Top Chef Financial Tip: Aside from looking at all of the amazing food on Top Chef (which could actually encourage you to go out and spend your last dime in a restaurant), viewers have the benefit of watching contestants work with limited funds to pull off huge meals that sometimes feed hundreds of people. Some episodes have even required chefs to create great dishes with random items found in the cabinet.
6. Extreme Cheapskates
Extreme Cheapskates was a one-hour TLC special featuring people who found outrageous ways to save money. In the special, a mum made reusable toilet paper out of old towels and clothes to save $20 a month on store-bought toilet paper, while a man created meals on a budget by buying kidneys, hearts and a goat head. Yikes! The special was turned into an eight-episode series that will air this summer.
Extreme Cheapskates Financial Tip: The self-proclaimed penny pinchers on this TV show are undoubtedly extreme in their attempts to save money. While you may not want to consider their sometimes risky measures to cut corners, you can attempt your own variation of their ideas to pad your budget in a major way.
Reality TV is everywhere — it’s nearly impossible to avoid. So why not get the most of the shows you do watch by acquiring some valuable financial knowledge at the same time? You won’t regret your decision!