Share this article

print logo

Discount Diva: Money lessons from reality TV

I know you’re not supposed to admit to liking reality television, but guess what: I’m a reality TV junkie and I don’t care who knows it.

Give me a couch, a blanket and a subscription to Bravo TV and all is right in my world. I even watch “The People’s Couch,” which is a reality show about people sitting on a couch watching reality shows!

Listen, if millions of people can watch a bunch of guys fighting over a football, I can watch rich housewives bicker about charity galas. It’s brain candy. Nothing feels better after a long day of adulting than curling up with my Kindle and sneaking in an hour of “Big Brother.”

And who says reality TV isn’t educational? I’ve learned a lot over the years. Mostly I’ve learned what not to do, but hey. It still counts. For example:

• “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” When Teresa Giudice isn’t flipping tables, she’s spending money like it’s her job. This lady’s main concern in life is keeping up appearances, and she thinks living an opulent lifestyle is the best way to do it. Too bad it landed her in bankruptcy (and later in jail for making false statements on loan applications). That’s right, she went from her big house to The Big House.

Moral of the story? The race to keep up with the Joneses is a race to the bottom.

“Supermarket Sweep.” Contestants on this game show competed to see who could fill their carts with the most expensive grocery haul. They always went straight to the meat department, snatching up steaks, hams and whole turkeys to ratchet up their totals.

If you regularly make meat the centerpiece of your meal, you’re basically begging for a higher grocery bill.

“Vanderpump Rules.” This awful show, which I love to hate, has based storylines on cast member weddings for two seasons so far.

First, there’s Scheana Shay, who arranged her surprisingly lavish wedding on a shoestring. She had her boss donate the liquor, she had her aunt make her dress and she had her guests double as the cleanup crew.

In real reality, not reality show reality, the wedding was comped by sponsors. Scheana’s “shoestring” wedding? It cost $90,000. Can you see how that might create unrealistic expectations for real, regular brides trying to plan fabulous weddings of their own? That’s like planning a Kardashian wedding on a Jon Gosselin budget. Why start off your married life buried in debt just so you can party beyond your means for three hours?

The other wedding, currently playing out, is that of the horribly mismatched Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz. While Tom would have been happy eloping and agonizes over every expense, Katie is busy buying tea-towel invitations at $18 a pop.

Our lesson from Katie and Tom: if you’re not financially compatible, you’re not compatible.

By the way, the Shays filed for divorce after two years of marriage. The Schwartzes, clearly miserable together, are likely not far behind them.

“Bar Rescue.” I saw the show’s host teach a bar owner to feature his most profitable drinks and appetizers on menus by printing a black box around them. That spurs customers to buy them more often. I’ve never looked at a menu the same way, and now reevaluate my choice if it lands in that box. It doesn’t mean I won’t buy it, but I might end up getting something that gives me a little more bang for my buck instead.

“Hoarders.” Do I really need to buy this cake pan/autoharp/nose hair trimmer? Or am I just slowly burying myself in stuff until it takes a reality TV show to dig me out?

There are no comments - be the first to comment