Anyone here a mega-fan of Game of Thrones? *raises hand*
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, this series has been taking the world by storm and many of us are both excited and sad about the last season.
While you can marvel at the awesome costumes, cry when Daenerys Targaryen’s baby (aka dragon) Viserion was killed, or wince when skulls get crushed (too many to name here), Game of Thrones has a lot to teach us about money. If you pay close attention, the dialogue and symbolic imagery weaved throughout the series can show you a thing or two about how to handle your money the right way.
Let’s take a stroll through the Seven Kingdoms, shall we?
Always Be Prepared
Spoiler alert: By the end of season seven the White Walkers are on the brink of breaking through the Wall and heading into Westeros. While the Night’s Watch has done a decent job, they’re kind of helpless at this point. And White Walkers are scary AF. Have you seen the Night King lately? He even has his own dragon of the dead now.
What can we learn from the dire situation in Westeros? There will always be circumstances out of your control when it comes to finances. A tree could suddenly fall on your roof, or you could find out you need to replace the battery in your car. What you can control is how you react to ambiguous situations. Just like Jon Snow is actively trying to find solutions and make weapons out of dragonglass, you too can arm yourself with things like an emergency fund. That way, when the unexpected happens, you’re well prepared for battle.
Pay What You Owe
As the Braavosi say, “The Iron Bank will have its due.” When Cersei Lannister took over the Iron Throne she inherited a debt to the Bank from those who sat before her of six million gold dragons. Fun, right?
No matter what kind of debt — whether it’s student loans, credit card debt, or your mortgage payment — you have to pay it back. Imagine how much freer you’ll feel seeing your debt balance inch closer towards zero. Paying off debt also means you’ll avoid serious damage down the line, like a super low credit score or possibly being sued for your debts.
While you don’t want to pull a Cersei and wipe out a whole family to take their money (RIP Tyrell family), you’re smart enough to find a good solution to your debt repayment journey. Try to make more than the minimum payments — working overtime or starting a side hustle. Whatever it is, keep your eye on the debt repayment prize.
Create a Nest Egg
You know Daenerys Targaryen? The shy girl who ended up commanding a massive army and becoming mother to three dragons? Yes, her. Daenerys Targaryen — Lady of Dragonstone, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, The Unburnt.
When we first got to know her, Daenerys was a shy girl about to be married off, given three dragons eggs as a wedding present. After her fortunes fall — aka her husband dies and she loses the support of those around her — the eggs hatch. Multiple times people offered to buy the eggs from her (tempting!) but she resisted, waited, and it paid off.
Now that her dragons are well-known and frankly, feared, she’s probably glad she kept those eggs. As as the dragons continue to grow, the more power she’ll have. She’s treated her dragons like children, and in return she can leverage their powers.
Now you may not literally have eggs (probably wouldn’t be that helpful for you TBH), but you can build a nest egg. It could be as simple as setting aside $25 every paycheck and increasing your savings or building an emergency fund. Consider putting your nest egg into a high interest savings account or build your retirement savings with a 401k or Roth IRA such as your employer’s 401k.
The important thing is to start making your money work for you. As your nest egg grows, you can feel safe knowing you can leverage it in times of need. Imagine that you’ve been saving diligently for a house and you have a sizeable amount set aside. The perfect house comes to market and you want to put in an offer. The 20 percent down payment you have helps avoid paying mortgage insurance, lowers how much you need to borrow, and gets you started on the right financial foot.
Knowledge is Key
There’s a reason why so many financial experts want to teach you about money: financial literacy is the stepping stone to improving your finances.
Be like Petyr Baelish, who has used his knowledge and smarts to move up the ranks (but maybe he shouldn’t be your role model, we all know what happens there). Or surround yourself with maesters— aka financial professionals — who you can provide professional guidance. Or channel your inner Tyrion Lannister who seems to thrive using his smarts.
Sure, ignorance is bliss, but it can also lead you down a dark path with your finances. You want to arm yourself with the basics of personal finance first, then continue to educate yourself before you make any huge financial decisions. Prepare yourself with the right tools to weather the storms when winter does come.
Originally published in HiCharlie.com