Unbroke’s Money 101: “I’m Broke as Hell…”

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Sat, May 30 - 10:31 am EDT | 5 years ago by
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“…and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

That was pretty much the most entertaining part of last night’s “Unbroke” even on ABC. Samuel L. Jackson getting everyone to scream their defiance about being broke. I did like it on two levels — well, beyond the sheer entertainment value, of course:

  1. It encouraged us to wake up to the problem and take responsibility.
  2. The encouragement to take action and fix it.

I think that was the point of the whole special. However, I’m with SuburbanDollar on this one. He pointed out, on Twitter (#unbroketv) that Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall on Hope was better. While I don’t always agree with Dave Ramsey, he was all about the straight talk, and no patronizing. But, whatever it takes, I guess. As long as we as a society can overcome the inertia and do something about our collectively poor financial habits. At any rate, I only had one major beef: The focus on individual stocks.

For the love of heaven, what about index funds?

Like The Oblivious Investor, I’m enamored of index funds. They are low cost, don’t require management on my part, and, historically, over the long haul, they always grow. Unfortunately, no mention was made of them. And it wouldn’t have been hard to slip it in while they were talking about what an index is, or showing stock certificates of failed companies. In fact, I was struck by the incongruity of the fact that the show was talking about how the stock market goes up over time, and emphasizing the importance of individual stocks, while highlighting failed companies whose stock ended up being worthless — no matter how long you held on to it. It was the perfect opportunity to mention index-related investments.

“Funds” were sort of alluded to in a 401k segment that kind of went on too long and didn’t really offer any terribly useful information. They could have mentioned, briefly, a Roth option on the 401k, mentioned index funds at that point, or even talked a little bit about IRAs. Oh well. I guess on a basic level (which was what they were going for), the 401k is what people are most concerned about. And they did a decent enough job of trying to overcome the panic gripping many folks.

In the end, it was an entertaining hour, and it did cover some much-needed basics. Now comes the hard part: Actually getting back to the basics and putting sound money principles into action. I’m not sure that Unbroke will actually accomplish that. Although I will be interested to see what ratings the celeb-studded event did accomplish…

What did you think about Unbroke?

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  • http://www.obliviousinvestor.com ObliviousInvestor

    I didn’t get a chance to see it last night. In addition to etrade, were there any other brokerage firms or fund companies that had a lot of the commercial time? I wonder if that would have something to do with the lack of index fund discussion…

  • http://freefrombroke.com FFB

    I don’t think the purpose of the show was to go in depth. It was more awareness of things that need to be taken care of. The average person who’s up to their necks in debt probably isn’t ready to deal with what type of index funds to invest in. What they need to know is they need to stop spending and think about retirement savings like a 401(k). I think the show got it’s point across.

  • http://tyleraadams.blogspot.com Tyler

    I thought the idea of the show is great! We need to spend within our
    means. But I don’t like that it came from rich celebrities who can’t
    identify with being frugal. It’s patronizing! Read more about this at
    my blog.

    http://tyleraadams.blogspot.com/2009/05/un-broke-you-dont-know-how-to-manage.html

  • Jim

    I didn’t see the show, but agree with your point that Joe Sixpack has no business buying individual stocks or fancy insurance products. In fact, Joe would be better off going on Dave Ramsey’s Bean and Rice diet, paying off all debts other than the mortgage, saving up an emergency fund, then building a portfolio of stock and bond index funds for long-term wealth and security.

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  • Miranda Marquit

    I agree that the idea was a good one, and we really do need a wake up call. And you make an interesting points about the celebs as well!

  • Miranda Marquit

    I know that the show wasn’t meant to be really deep. But it wouldn’t have hard to make a brief mention of index funds. However, I do agree that the basic tone of “Don’t panic, but you should start making some changes in your financial life” did come across, and is an important point to make.

  • Miranda Marquit

    I have a feeling E*Trade probably paid a great deal to be a sponsor. But I can’t prove it. You might be on to something…