Bank of Mom and Dad: Could Tough Love Cure Financial Irresponsibility?
A new show named Bank of Mom and Dad just premiered on 9/30/09 on SOAPnet. This show chronicles parents who attempt to reform their financially irresponsible adult children by moving in with them for a week. With the aid of a "money coach," the parents take actions to reform their spendthrift kid. Can this financial intervention really work?
I watched the premiere episode on Hulu.com and I must admit that it was a pretty entertaining show. The indebted child is a 33 year old single woman named Christina who looks a bit like Jillian from The Biggest Loser. She makes about $2500 a month as a bartender and spends around $3500 per month and she has accumulated over $38,000 in debt. Her parents have been divorced for 10 years, but they joined forces to participate in their daughter's financial makeover. They were also given advice by a straight talking personal finance coach who cut to the core of Christina's financial problems. The coach was not the main focus of the show and she had three very short meetings with the family and created a budget for Christina to focus on paying for necessities first.
What I really liked is that Christina's parents tried to teach her that she could enjoy the things she loves without spending as much as she does. For example, her mom Lorraine challenged her to spend less on groceries. Both women had the same shopping list and went to the same grocery store. The mom spent $57 for the items in her cart while Christina spent $193. Christina argued that the things she bought would taste better so her mom set up a blind taste test. Out of six food items, Christina preferred four of her mom's more frugal choices. It was quite hilarious when Lorraine cheered jubilantly when her daughter could not tell the difference between tap water and the expensive bottled water from Italy. I think this is actually a good experiment for those who spend too much on gourmet food. Could you tell the difference between $17 and $7 olive oils?
Christina's dad also showed a bit of tough love when he called the city to impound Christina's car since she owes over $1300 in parking tickets. The dad offered to get the car out of impound, but he also made Christina write him a $500 check upfront, and sign a contract that states that she would pay him back in full in a year. Personally I think this is what every parent should do when they loan money to their adult children.
In the end, it is hard to tell if Christina would keep up her new budget since the parental intervention only lasted one week, but in a blog update she states that the show has waken her up to her messy financial situation. Her parents did admit that they never taught her much about finances when she was young, but the idea of the show is that it is never too late to learn about personal finance and saving for yourself. I think one weakness of the first episode is that the money coach never talked to Christina about how she could increase her income, but the basic money saving and budgeting tips presented were on the spot. I will definitely tune in for the next episode, and you can also watch along for free on Hulu.com.