Monday, January 4, 2010

Banking on Mom and Dad

A few months ago, while drinking coffee and watching a rerun of 90210 on SoapNet, I saw an ad for a new show called The Bank of Mom & Dad.  I didn't think much of it at the time - just another reality show, no?  But a couple of weeks ago, I caught an episode of this show, and it's fascinating.

Sure, it's fascinating in that way that reality shows are always fascinating - they're like a car wreck that you rubber neck while driving by - gruesome, but you just can't look away.  But it's also fascinating because the girls on this show are like so many people we keep hearing about being so affected by the "economic downturn"- when the economy was high, they spent and spent and spent - totally beyond their means - and now that the economy sucks, they have no idea what to do.  Actually, before the economy sucked, they had no idea what to do.

The basic premise of the show is that there is a 20-something woman who overspends on her credit cards, who hardly works, eats out all the time and whose parents (and sometimes boyfriend/fiance/husband) pay off any overflow, or maybe all, of their bills.  So the production company sends her mom and dad to live with her for a week and show her how to take control of her finances, with the help of an economic expert (a cute and very relatable 30-something gal).  To be fair, in the show, they do make sure to say that it's not all the girl's fault - her parents are responsible, too - always bailing her out, supporting her, and not ever teaching her the value of the dollar (or hard work). 

And here's where I'm confused.  And here's where it becomes pertinent to the real world - or, at least, our world.  It's a reflection of our society as a whole that there are so many people out there just like these women.  I'm not saying that no one should have a credit card, but I really don't understand the idea of living so far beyond your means.  It's only asking for trouble.  Sure, if you don't have the cash on Wednesday but you get paid on Friday and you will then, by all means put the hot new date-night shoes on your credit card and then take the money from your check to put towards your credit card bill.  But if you really want those Louboutins and you are not going to have the money for months upon months, forget 'em girls!  Wait for the Barney's Warehouse Sale (that's where I got mine, at over 75% off) or you save up for them.  It seems common sense, gentle readers.

I'm not saying anything bad about consumerism.  Your MatchGirl worked retail for over a decade and wouldn't have been able to pay her bills had it not been for the magic of people over-spending.  But I am saying something about a culture that places such high value on stuff - and getting the stuff by any means necessary.  And about a society that doesn't teach its young people the value of a dollar - or even how to balance a checkbook.  Perhaps iif we paid more attention to these things, the country (the world) wouldn't be in the mess we're in now.


  1. Great post! I often wondered when it became "normal" that every 25 year old woman had a Louis V. bag that often cost a paycheck or two. This new "normal", where people act like they are as wealthy as actors they see on TV, is insane. Good for you for not overspending and YES we would be in better shape (in the long run) if we had an economy based on something besides consumption. Too bad for us that we don't.

  2. HA. Hey Briana. It's Joe. Like Joe from college and Boston and stuff. I haven't seen you in years, and stumbled upon your blog just moments ago, and strangely enough I'm the web developer for Soapnet now. How funny is that. I made those web pages. I was just going to creepily stalk from afar, but you've pulled me out.

    Everyone click on those and watch Bank of Mom and Dad damn it. And while you're at it check out Being Erica.

    Martha better hire you, she'd be a fool not to. Cutest girl with fashion and craft she could possibly find. Whole new empire in the making.

  3. Gee whiz! Hi, Joe!
    Thanks for the comment (and compliment)!
    I hope you're well - hit me up unemployedbrooklyn (at) gmail xxo