4 Lessons Learned From Television’s Favourite Anti-Hero
If you’re one of the millions tracing Breaking Bad protagonist Walter White’s fall from grace – the slow evolution from family life to feared criminal – you’ve probably catalogued an array of bad money decisions on a subconscious level. After all, at the center of Breaking Bad’s story arc is Walter’s need for power and money.
Obviously, it’s impossible (and no fun) to give you this advice with out giving away a few spoilers. So if you’re still chipping your way through the first half of the series, (you’re in for a treat), you probably shouldn’t read this. Otherwise, behold – a laundry list of money advice from TV’s favourite, er, chemist.
1: Have a Plan
For a Nobel Prize winning scientist with a sophisticated understanding surrounding the cycle of solution and dissolution, and cause and reaction, Walter has a tendency to overlook the big picture. Periodically throughout the series he finds himself in way over his head. In fact, the opening scene sees the high school chemistry teacher racing through the desert in a Winnebago trying to take control of his first real mess – and that first challenge is on the low end of what would come in later seasons.
The Lesson: Have a plan for your finances and commit it to paper. Decide how much you need to pay your bills and debt down while putting away some savings. One way to keep yourself on the right track is to set mini goals for yourself. Continue to update them as you go.
2: Get An Advisor
Behind every great criminal there’s a right-hand man. For Gus Fring, there’s Mike Ehrmantraut. And for everyone else (read: the less-affluent) – there’s Saul Goodman. Given his seediness, Saul seems like the polar opposite of what you’d look for in an advisor. He’s mostly self-interested and more often than not comes across as a blundering fool. While, over the course of the show, Saul manages to prove himself, Walt might have been wiser to put more consideration in his choice of counsel.
The Lesson: Put in your due diligence when you’re searching for a financial advisor. Try to find one that’s certified and held to the high standards of a professional organization. Familiarize yourself with the planner’s pay structure. If they’re on commission rather than a flat hourly rate, they could have the incentive to steer you in a specific direction that may not be in your best interest.
3: Communicate With Your Partner
Communication between Walt and Skyler slowly erodes throughout the series. By the time Walt decides to come clean, he’s in it up to his ears. Perhaps if he’d have taken some time to talk about the challenges and what he’s found himself involved in, he and Skyler could have developed a more concrete plan to combat his financial woes.
The Lesson: Skyler and Walt aren’t a rarity. According to a study released by TD Research in mid-July, one in five (22 per cent) of Canadians admit they aren’t completely honest with their partner about their spending and savings habits. Opening up those lines of communication is important for a number of reasons. When it comes to shared finances, keeping debts hidden will eventually lead to animosity in the relationship. Having it all on the table also helps you to work together to establish a plan and decide what sacrifices need to be made collectively in order to fix a bad financial situation.
4: Have An Emergency Fund
Throughout the series, Walt always seems to have a stash of emergency cash hidden somewhere, be it under the floorboards or in a duffle bag in his trunk. Sure, his line of work requires him to make quick getaways, but at the center of it, having an emergency fund is a pretty sound personal policy that you should adhere to.
The Lesson: Okay, maybe hiding money in your newborn’s diapers is a tad unethical, but it is wise to have a stash at the ready for a rainy day. While there’s likely not a hit put out on you, unforeseen circumstances such as auto or home repairs, job loss or medical expenses can materialize from time to time. A good benchmark is to have three months worth of living expenses set aside should an unforeseen crisis arise.