If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, then you probably can’t get enough of the intriguing story lines surrounding savagery, politics and lust. However, one of my favorite aspects of this fantasy series is that teaches us more than a thing or two about money that can be applied to our real lives. With that said, let’s figure out which Game of Thrones character you are most like and how you can learn from their money missteps.
Spoiler Alert: If you’re still catching up on the series ahead of the Season 7 premiere on July 16, then watch out for a few spoilers ahead.
King Robert was known for his sense of humor, love of food (and drink) and for being a womanizer. Unfortunately, his “live for the moment” attitude meant he often spent far beyond his means. As a result, his kingdom was forced to borrow heavily from the Iron Bank and turn to House Tyrell for a bailout.
Although they probably didn’t blow their funds on feasts and tournaments, many millennials can still relate to Robert’s situation. The average 2016 college graduate has over $37,000 in student debt, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Advice: It’s time to fight the Mountain (of debt)…and win! Your first step is to write down all your debt. Once you have a true picture of how much you owe, then you can devise a plan to get rid of this financial burden sooner rather than later. With the debt snowball method, as soon as your smallest debt is paid off, use the freed up money to tackle your next debt even faster. Alternatively, you could choose the debt avalanche approach where you focus on paying off the highest interest bearing debt first. Stay focused by envisioning a life with zero payments whatsoever.
Arya has been my favorite character since the series premiere because she doesn’t conform to society’s expectations, is independent and brave to boot. However, the events of Season 6, Episode 7 show that if you let your guard down even for a brief moment, you put yourself at serious risk. This same principle can be applied to protecting your financial assets.
Advice: If you don’t have a solid plan for protecting your financial assets, then it could end up costing you thousands of dollars. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recommends several tips for securing your personal financial information such as using strong passwords and PINs, maintaining your computer security, using your own computer and being careful when using wireless internet connects. It is also a good idea to check your bank or credit statements regularly to ensure that all transactions were ones you actually made or authorized.
Cersei, along with her brothers Jaime and Tyrion, may as well belong to House Gold instead of House Lannister. Her hair is blonde, her family seal depicts a golden lion and her family’s castle is literally built upon a gold mine. Not surprisingly, the Lannisters have not worried about money for a very long time. However, Cersei’s decision to default on the kingdom’s debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos has far-reaching consequences that her family’s money cannot erase.
Advice: Your money past does not have to determine your financial future. However, taking a good look at your money history from childhood to today offers an excellent starting point to building a better relationship with your finances. For example, you may have learned growing up that money is meant to be spent and so you struggle with sticking to a budget. Or it could be that your experiences led you to be obsessively frugal.
Once you become aware of how you view money, you can begin to find new ways to think about making healthier financial decisions. You can also consider seeking the help of a financial therapist or fee-based financial advisor who can help you create a plan for getting a good handle on your finances.
Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, is the scheming Master of Coin whose behind-the-scenes manipulation leads to many of the show’s most surprising events. I wouldn’t exactly call him an ethical character, but there’s a lot we can learn from his strategic mind. He definitely knows how to play the long game.
Advice: While you or I may not have an entire kingdom depending on us, the takeaway is that it is never too early to start executing a plan for long-term financial success. A great way to begin investing in your future is to see if your employer sponsors a 401(k) retirement plan with a matching contribution. Once you find out the percentage your employer will match, ensure that you contribute at least that amount (otherwise, you’ll be throwing away free money).
Theon Greyjoy is a confused fellow who made the foolish decision to go to war in order to gain recognition from his father. In the end, his actions led to disastrous outcomes. Similar consequences may result when we allow our emotions to determine our financial moves.
Advice: One of the most common emotional money decisions we make is overspending. The first step to dealing with this habit is to identify your trigger. Is it a bad day at work? Or an argument with your significant other? Once you identify the sparks, you can start to implement measures to ensure they don’t lead to a fire.
If I’m having a stressful day and head to the mall for a break I try to only bring a small amount of cash with me and leave the credit cards at home. This completely removes the temptation to spend on things I don’t need and which probably won’t make me happier anyway.
Another excellent option is to use a debit card. Debit cards allow you to only spend the amount that available in your spending or checking account. You might consider creating a zero-based budget to ensure that each dollar that comes into your account has a purpose. To make things easier, opening a Chime bank account helps you stay on top of your finances and save with features like daily balance notifications and Automatic Savings.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of your Game of Thrones personality match up, “Go on. Do your duty.” Turn your financial goals into reality!