Review: Bank of Mom and Dad

by Nicole · 12 comments

in Concepts in Frugality

One of the things I do only when I’m completely alone in the house is eat salty snacks and watch terrible television. And by terrible television, I’m talking infomercials (excluding exercise ones), reality television shows… basically if it would make the average person publicly roll their eyes, I privately love it.

When I was out of Millionaire Matchmaker and Real Housewives of Orange County episodes to watch this week on Hulu, I decided to branch out. Bank of Mom and Dad on the Soap Channel? Yes please!

The show’s premise is simple. Women in debt get an intervention from their parents and help from personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi. For a week, the family moves into their grown daughter’s space and controls all her spending. The family gets three sessions with Farnoosh, who shows them how to budget, pay down debt, and otherwise move forward. At the end of the week, the woman in debt goes from whiny to grateful as she understands why there was an intervention and how it will improve her life.

Watching the shows, you meet a woman who spends over $400/month on makeup and another who pays so much for designer clothes that she can’t afford furniture for her apartment. No doubt, these cases are extreme but they do make you think: What would my mom think of what I spend my money on every week? Should I really get a second job if it would allow me to save up some money? What fat can I trim from my budget?

Of course, the biggest question is why is the show just women? I’m guessing it’s the fact that the Soap channel’s primary demographic is women more than anything else but I’ve seen that Farnoosh has a pretty good post at Walletpop about how most overspending is emotionally tied. I think all of us can identify with the former beauty queen who buys her friends birthday cakes when no one else steps up. We think, it’s just money and want to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ when it comes to people we care about.

If this show makes a few people think, great. It has made me make some changes myself.

This week, for example, I finally admitted to a collaborator that I couldn’t afford our regular business lunches out. When we meet tomorrow, he’s bringing a sandwich and we’re having our meeting at my house. I’m also looking to get a second job for the summer to supplement my income and allow me to save some money.

All in all, with or without my salt and vinegar chips, I’ve enjoyed my time with Bank of Mom and Dad. Farnoosh is great as a smart, young, well-spoken financial role model and the show helping create a dialog with the woman in debt and her family ensures future success for the show’s participants.

Have you seen the show? If so what do you think?


1 Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom April 8, 2010

I have not watched this show but it sure sounds interesting!

What does my mom think about my spending habits? That I don’t spend enough.
.-= Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom´s last blog ..Auto Show =-.

2 nopinkhere April 8, 2010

Sounds interesting! I have to admit I have wished to be able to send the "finance police" to some people I talk to who complain about being broke all the time and then make what I consider to be questionable decisions like buying a new boat or designer clothes for their kids. But then I take a deep breath and remember my book and craft supply habits.
.-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..YUM! Make these NOW! =-.

3 Kelly April 8, 2010

I take lots of deep breaths- if you think about it it's kind of like meditation… ;)!

4 Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom April 8, 2010

@ Kelly: What do you mean when you said, “And some of the worst offenders are now the most ardent champions in the PF community- Dave Ramsey & Trent Hamm come to mind.” I’m just curious. Are you saying that Dave Ramsey isn’t frugal enough? Or he spends more than he earns?
.-= Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom´s last blog ..Auto Show =-.

5 Kelly April 8, 2010

No, I meant that he used to spend lots of money- more than his means at least- and then learned to become frugal, save, have good money practices and so on. If you read The Simple Dollar (which I'm much more familiar with than Dave Ramsey, in fact) you'll learn that Trent only learned sound financial practices after having a money meltdown.

6 Kelly April 8, 2010

I haven't seen the show, but I'm betting it's like a lot of other reality based shows- shock sells. On the other hand, it takes some of us longer than others to learn the basics of budgeting, the fundamentals of frugality, the penny-pinching ways of personal finance (OK, OK, I'll stop now!). And some of the worst offenders are now the most ardent champions in the PF community- Dave Ramsey & Trent Hamm come to mind.

In some ways, I say 'whatever it takes'!

7 dj April 9, 2010

Sounds interesting. I think most older parents would be wiser with their monies because they lived through more difficult times. This is a gross extrapolation: things were simpler, less choices, more regs, but the choices were trustworthy and dependable, and there was a respectful relationship between all parties. You could often pay out of pocket, even for healthcare. Credit didn’t become big until the 80’s. Banks were regulated by states and there were actual usury laws that controlled rates. People bought on layaway or waited. That went out the door in the 80’s and shortly afterward we had our first financial crisis, the S&L crisis in ’87 (and one every ~4 years since), and probably why we have those cash for title or payday loan shops popping up everywhere. Parents had healthcare from their employer, and a traditional defined-benefit pension, and probably worked for the same employer most of their adult life. Life was indeed simpler, and marketing wasn’t as pervasive. There is no excuse for crazy spending. But, even if a person tries to do everything right, it is a way different environment than our parents’.

Have you ever watched the hoarders on Oprah. Oh my gosh. They are literally suffocating in stuff trying to fill some void in their life. It’s really sad. Can you imagine rallying the public today to buy war bonds instead of stuff. I think today we tell people to shop, so China keeps making stuff, and buying our Treasuries to finance us. I had a relative that lived paycheck to paycheck. Each Friday they’d run to all the stores to pay some more on layaway. No one could tell them anything. I use to think to myself, well, they keep our economy going. Argh. This worked until one day when she and her husband lost their jobs (and benefits), after decades of employment there. They had a hard time finding jobs, but when they did, together they weren’t making what one was before. They started cutting expenses, asked their parents to help with the mortgage. He stopped taking his medication, stopped paying on life insurance, and suddenly died one day from a heart attack. She was left with 2 kids and in terrible financial condition. She got Social Security until the kids were 18. You never know and you gotta plan.

Frontline has had some good programs on credit:
History of Credit:

Tavis Smiley had the author of the book, “The Story of Stuff Project”, on his program tonight.

8 Robin April 9, 2010

I thought I was the only person watching this show! Thanks for discussing it. I do wish they would change up the characters a little. Show after show of young women spending too much on clothing is starting to get old.

9 Nicole at Breaking Even April 9, 2010

Couldn’t have put it better myself, Robin! What about a young guy who spends hundreds of DVDs or an older woman who justifies overspending on children? More types of profiles, please!

10 Stay at Home Mom CFO April 10, 2010

I’ve never heard of the show but I’d love if they took it to place even more mainstream and have a “Biggest Loser”-type program. It’d be cool to watch couples, families and singles at various life stages struggle AND overcome their debt issues.

11 Kyle April 12, 2010

Show sounds interesting, I will have to check it out. I like Farnoosh. He always offers some good financial advice. But then again, I could watch any TV show with a bag of salt and vinegar chips!

12 Emily April 14, 2010

Yay! It’s on Hulu! Thanks for giving me something new to watch, Nicole!
.-= Emily´s last blog ..Our Organic Revolution, and a New Diet Experiment =-.

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