Not-so-schitty money lessons from TV series 'Schitt's Creek'

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Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

Published February 14, 2020 | 5 min read

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At the epicenter of the "Schitt’s Creek" universe is the Rose family: Moira, Johnny, Alexis and David. When they lose all their money and must part ways with their lavish lifestyle, they have to resort to the previously unimaginable — living on a budget in a small town named Schitt’s Creek.

Needless to say, six seasons of the Rose family learning to navigate their new financial reality comes with a lot of lessons learned.

Insure your property

When Moira’s crocodile bag goes missing, (and her son David with it), Moira is, for good reason, panicked. The family heirloom was passed down from her great-grandmother as collateral for emergency funds, or more specifically if the women of the family needed to flee their husbands in the middle of the night.

Thankfully, Moira and the crocodile bag are eventually reunited, (as are Moira and David), but if she had insured the bag from the get-go, she wouldn’t have had to worry about the financial implications of losing it in the first place.

A homeowners or renter’s insurance policy can cover the cost of stolen valuables and save you a lot of time and money. So you can focus on the important things like... searching for your son when he goes missing.

Don’t spend all your money at once

David may have great taste, but he doesn’t have the best understanding of how to manage his finances. Conversely, we could argue that his employer at the Blouse Barn probably shouldn’t trust her employees to make the store’s big financial decisions, but alas, David spends all her money, leading to the store’s demise.

Thankfully, a company in Australia buys them out and everyone involved gets a nice lump sum, but we can’t all be so lucky every time we overspend. Whether you’re running a business or just making a paycheck, not only should you spend within your means, you should probably save some of the cash, too.

Working within your budget can protect you from accumulating debt. It’s best to put away 20% to 30% of the money you bring in into a savings account to save for retirement, emergencies, and a financial cushion in times of need.

Tax deductions are not free money

Though often misguided, David’s dedication to the consumer remains unmatched. Before putting the Blouse Barn into financial ruin, he expenses sheets, face creams and other luxurious items to test for the consumer. He thought that because they are business expenses, they can count as tax write-offs.

Unfortunately, for someone who has owned a business before, David is way off base about what counts as a write-off and how it works.

Essentially, a tax write-off is an expense that can be deducted from your taxes. If you earn $50,000 and have $5,000 of deductible expenses, you still pay for the $5,000 of expenses — you just don’t pay income tax on it. For businesses, deductible expenses must be deemed necessary by the government, so it’s not really as easy as buying something that you think is fundamental to the business and then not paying tax on it later.

While David’s cause was a valiant one, he still has to pay for it.

Put it in writing

By the end of season three, Johnny is running the motel with Stevie. The Roses' end goal has been to leave Schitt’s Creek since the day they got there. So Stevie’s worry that Johnny could totally disappear and leave all of the motel’s responsibilities to her aren’t misguided. To ease her concerns, she asks that they put their partnership in writing.

Stevie is completely right here — without any official documentation, how can she be sure that she’s protected if the Roses decide to get out of town? When you’re making a big financial decision, you should have a contractual agreement drawn up between you and any parties privy to the financial agreement. Not only is it imperative for record-keeping, but it helps provide proper documentation for any legal proceedings.

Read the fine print

When Roland purchases a new motel as the first expansion of Rosebud Motels, he somehow skips over the whole reading the contract part — possibly one of the most important steps of a business transaction. To Johnny’s dismay, written into the contract was a long-term guest who comes with a bag of cash and some other shady belongings. The long-term guest is a lawyer, so he isn’t going anywhere.

It’s important to read the finer details in your contract when you’re making financial decisions. Does your credit card have a 5% balance transfer fee? Does the $10.99 subscription service come with additional costs that weren’t broadcasted upfront?

You don’t want to be like Roland — read the fine print. Even if it is 25 pages long.

Money doesn’t buy happiness

This doesn’t negate the value of making a livable income, but studies show that there is a threshold where the more you make doesn’t actually increase how happy you are.

When the Roses had an infinite amount of money to throw around, their world was full of couture, dazzling parties and extravagant trips abroad. When their life fell apart, everyone who was part of that world disappeared.

As they built themselves back up financially and personally, they formed a community that took care of them, paved new career paths for themselves and — for the first time in their lives — actually spent quality time with one another. If happiness is the meaning of life, the Roses didn’t need a lot of money to find it.

There’s nothing wrong with nice clothes and fancy trips, but if the Roses have taught us anything over the last six seasons, it’s that the good stuff doesn’t always happen over champagne, it happens over jampagne.

Interested in more money advice from your favorite shows and movies? Take a look at the financial lessons we learned from the 2020 Oscar best picture nominees.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko