TV Land: What to Watch

Finding and centering joy and building structure around personal goals to facilitate them is at the heart of the KonMari process and may help employees “declutter” the complex nature of their financial decisions.

TV may rot your brain, but it’s nearly impossible to find someone who doesn’t watch it. However, sponsors can use this medium to relay important lessons to employees utilizing their favorite shows as a vehicle for learning. Here are three shows with relevant lessons baked into their premises, even when they didn’t know it.

Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Sparking Joy, which releases August 31st, applies the same KonMari tidying methods that Kondo is known for and explored on Netflix in her previous series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kondo rose to prominence with US audiences through her 2019 Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her methods of organization differ from other organizational and “decluttering” shows in that they center what is to be kept, rather than thrown away, as determined by the owner’s happiness and emotional fulfillment. Her catchphrase “spark joy” embodies her gentle philosophy, which is that the things that spark joy must be kept, and those that do not can be removed. For example, if each bear in a collection of 500 teddy bears sparks joy for someone, it rightly follows that every single one of those teddy bears must be kept—and perhaps more should be acquired! Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo, which releases August 31st, employs the same KonMari tidying methods that Kondo is known for with a wider application to relationships, jobs, and even an entire town, in a way that is slightly more pertinent to the benefits department. Her positive approach can be applied to employees’ decisions in many ways, as each person should ask themselves, why are they saving? What does retirement mean for them? What goals are they trying to hit, and why? Money is simply potential; what do employees want to do to actualize that potential, what does it symbolize for them? Bringing it back to individual personal hopes, dreams, desires, and taking care of oneself can help humanize the process of saving, spending, and what fiscal goals are important and why. Finding and centering joy and building structure around personal goals to facilitate them is at the heart of the KonMari process and may help employees “declutter” the complex nature of their financial decisions.

Bachelor in Paradise

The Bachelor franchise, AKA the “Bachelor Cinematic Universe”, are shows that socially isolate roughly 30 people at a time who have nothing to do but date and drink for approximately two months (no, really). While I’ve personally managed to avoid this cultural phenomenon up until now, the “Bachelor Nation” as the fans are called, number in the tens and possibly hundreds of millions. The “regular” Bachelor and Bachelorette shows present one Bachelor(ette) with multiple constants vying for their hand in marriage; Paradise is different as the cast is exclusively made up of previous Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants who must be in a relationship with another contestants each week or be eliminated and incentivizes multiple relationships to bloom at once.

Given the nature of the show, it’s no surprise that viewers will find numerous examples of what not to do in relationships overall, not just financially. To be fair, the show is absolutely not presented as ideal, realistic, or responsible circumstances under which a normal person might meet or select a future spouse in the “real” world. That said, it’s nonetheless full of teachable moments on how communication does and doesn’t work, and creative editing included, the show notably and horrifyingly leaves out almost any talk of logistics between the Bachelor(ette) and their contestants. There’s few if any conversations about financial habits, retirement plans, savings, or other topics that would perhaps make for less-exciting TV but more compatible relationships, and the couples have no opportunities to observe the personal or financial habits of their would-be spouse.

Sure, many sponsors may have seminars on how to budget for a wedding, but equally (if not more!) important is perhaps an enlightening list of pertinent topics to talk about with the person they intend to marry, as is the broader advice to consider any significant personal decision in depth. Career plans, housing, location, budgeting, personal and financial priorities, families, children, retirement, and more, are all relevant and important discussion points. Though perhaps it’s not televised in lieu of more romantic and dramatic moments, it is nevertheless rare that any practical discussion is shown onscreen. While it would be wonderful if love, questionably coerced or otherwise, was enough to keep two people together, the reality is that each individual’s personality, desires, habits, responsibilities, and visions for the future are elements that are just as important with equal likelihood of making or breaking the relationship.  

Literally any sport

Admittedly there isn’t a lot of investment wisdom to be found in a football play, home run, or watching Embiid dunk, but there’s plenty to learn from the lives of players themselves. From college players’ newfound ability to monetize to the notoriety of football players earning tens of millions going broke after leaving the NFL, it’s less about what happens on the field than it is about what happens off of it—or rather, what often isn’t going on: budgeting.

Forbes reports that, “Back in 2009 and 2015, Sports Illustrated reported that 80% of retired NFL players come close to and/or experience significant financial stress, causing them to go broke in their first three years out of the League. Despite the fact that NFL players make an average of $1.9 million a year, 15% of them declare bankruptcy.”[1] That’s a truly terrifying number. While employees may find it easy to tune out the “live within or under your means” mantra, and that they’re fine without a budget, seeing ultra-rich celebrities immediately tank their enormous profits can be positively chilling. After all—if they had it all and ended up with empty pockets, it’s likely that it could happen to them, too. Luckily, you’re there to help.

Watching the game also should hammer home the importance of robust healthcare and insurance coverage, but if not, it’s something the benefits team may want to bring up. If a professional athlete’s can be taken out by a bad fall, so can Nigel from accounting, and he doesn’t even have $10 million in the bank to help cushion his landing.

Sometimes a show is just a show, and it is absolutely fine for audiences to simply enjoy television, a movie, a book, or any other form of media purely for the purposes of entertainment. That said, there’s a lesson ready in everything, if one is willing to look and to learn. With these three examples, sponsors can open a conversation using common ground, and craftily spotlight the financial lessons entrenched in Sunday night’s game (which is fairly straightforward: learn to budget!).


These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.

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