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3 Dangerous Financial Mistakes Game of Thrones Teaches You to Avoid

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Jeff Cuellar

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Are you cursing the Old Gods and New already because you have to wait 10 more months before you can see another Game of Thrones episode?  What am I saying, of course you are!

No doubt you’d probably offer up sacrifices to the Red God and the Drowned God if HBO would hurry up and put out the 5th season by August.  But, you and I know that’s not going to happen – we’ll just have to deal with the reality that our TV viewing options are now nonexistent.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even buy the books and read them! Nah, I think I’ll just pay the iron price for them.

Anyway, one thing I noticed about watching Game of Thrones is that it’s full of important financial lessons to follow.

Don’t believe me?

Here are 3 financial lessons the show can teach you:

 

Getting into a situation where you can't hold onto a property you purchased can be a... torturous situation.
Getting into a situation where you can’t hold onto a property you purchased can be a… torturous situation.

#1 Never Go After a Property That’s Too Risky to Hold – Theon Greyjoy (now Reek)

Nothing will get you into financial trouble faster than making a big purchase such as property based on emotion and the desire for wealth and personal glory.

When Theon Greyjoy took Winterfell with 20 men, he did it because he was driven by the emotional need to gain his father’s respect… and outdo his sister. He was also expecting his father to reinforce him with more men once word got out that he had paid the “iron price” for his new real estate.

Of course, his father was pissed and his sister advised him to give his new real estate because it was impossible to hold onto. He should have listened to her, because he ended up losing the castle after his men sold him out.

It was a very poor decision that cost him everything – including a VERY important body part. So I guess you can say he took a “loss” on his real estate investment *pun intended*.

Thankfully (or not, depending on your point of view), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has already prevented most Singaporeans from making such a mistake with its Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework.

One easy way to avoid a situation where you’re taking too much risk on a property is to use a TDSR calculator to figure out whether you can really afford it. Click here to use our TDSR calculator.

 

Bronn's freelancing led to a much better standard of living (and even a higher paying job when he worked for Tyrion).
Bronn’s freelancing led to a much better standard of living (and even a higher paying job when he worked for Tyrion).

#2 Don’t Ignore Freelancing as a Way to Improve Your Standard of Living – Bronn (now Ser Bronn of the Blackwater)

According to a recent survey conducted by JobStreet.com, about 80% of Singaporeans are NOT happy with their salary. Couple that with fact that Singapore is the world’s most expensive city, and you’ve got a serious need for more income.

Thankfully, there is a way to get more income, and that’s by freelancing. Of course, to be a successful freelancer, you need to offer a service that you’re good at.

In Bronn’s case, his special skill was killing. And he proved himself to be pretty good at when he freelanced for Catelyn Stark as part of her entourage to take Tyrion Lannister to the Eyrie for trial.

However, Bronn wasn’t just content to just take the occasional freelance job – he took every valuable opportunity available. When Tyrion Lannister made a hilarious mockery of the trial, he requested trial by combat to prove his innocence.

Now guess who snapped up that golden freelance opportunity?

Needless to say, it turned out to be a very profitable relationship that saw Bronn’s income and status rise under his ah, contract work with Tyrion Lannister. But even then, Bronn never stopped freelancing. And it paid off again once Tyrion’s sister offered him noble status for the easiest job ever – to turn down fighting the Mountain for Tyrion’s trial by combat (again).

C’mon, don’t give Bronn a hard time – face it, you wouldn’t fight the Mountain either!

 

Do you really think Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish would be where he is today if he held any notion of loyalty?
Do you really think Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish would be where he is today if he held any notion of loyalty?

#3 Loyalty Doesn’t Pay Nearly as Well as Switching Sides – Nearly Every Character on the Show

If there’s one (sadly) recurring theme in Game of Thrones, it’s this – if you want to give your loyalty, be prepared to pay a high price.

In the show, the price of loyalty usually ends up being one’s head (or in Theon’s case, something else entirely).

Why is that?

Well, about 99% of the time, it’s because people are looking after their own interests – and by “interests,” I mean survival! After all, in the Game of Thrones, you win, or you die.

Seriously, would you ever pick loyalty (to anyone other than your “House”) over your own survival?

You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t, here are a few examples to jog your memory:

  • Ned Stark – trusts Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish = Poor Ned loses his head
  • The “Mad King” Aerys II – trusts Jamie Lannister = The Mad King takes a sword to the back
  • Robb Stark – trusts Theon Greyjoy = Theon takes Winterfell and “kills” his two younger brothers
  • Theon Greyjoy – trusts an disguised Ramsay Snow (now Bolton) = Theon loses his identity via torture
  • Robb & Catelyn Stark – trust Walder Frey & Roose Bolton = the infamous “Red Wedding”
  • Danaerys “Khaleesi” Targaryen – trusts Jorah Mormont = Danaerys is nearly assassinated
  • Tyrion Lannister – trusts Lord Varys = Varys throwing Tyrion under the bus during his trial
  • Tyrion Lannister – trusts Shae = Shae throwing Tyrion under the bus during his trial
  • Everyone – trust Jon Snow = Jon betrays anyone he has to in order to survive

Memory sufficiently jogged when it comes to the price of loyalty on Game of Thrones? Good!

Thankfully, in the “real” world, loyalty will only cost you time and money. I’m talking about loyalty to a particular insurer, financial institution, or credit card issuer. In reality, companies see loyalty as an excuse to charge you more.

There’s nothing wrong with being disloyal – it’s how you end up with the best deals! So be a disloyal customer and save time and money by comparing the following:

  • Credit Cards: Credit cards that offer better rewards, benefits, and perks.
  • Insurance: Insurance products ranging from car insurance to travel insurance.
  • Loans: Loans with the best interest rates for a new home purchase, refinancing, and or other important purchases (car, education, renovation, etc.)

So remember, it pays more to be a disloyal customer than a loyal one!

 

I couldn't have said it better myself Jaqen!
Valar Morghulis! I couldn’t have said it better myself Jaqen!

Bonus: It’s a Good Idea to Draw Up a Will – Every Major Character in the Show Wishes They Did

I’m sure every financial planner or estate lawyer watching Game of Thrones has probably banged his/her head against a wall countless times.

Why?

Because the sheer number of deaths on the show presents a huge estate planning nightmare!

Yes, there is a “line of succession,” in the world of Game of Thrones, but even the “rules” of succession go out the window – because no one ever thought that it might be a good idea to leave a freaking will or estate plan behind!

Just think about how Renly Baratheon totally sidestepped his older brother’s claim, even though Stannis is screaming, “The Iron Throne is mine, by right!” every time the issue is brought up (and it is his by right!).

The last thing you want is for your family to war over your land, titles, and possessions once you get killed in a boar hunt on Pulau Ubin.

So prevent that by reading our article Get Financial Peace of Mind with This One Activity, which covers writing a will.

 

What have you learned from watching Game of Thrones (personal finance related or otherwise)? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook! For even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!

Images:

winteriscoming.net, broadbandtvnews.com, antiscribe.com, gamebreaker.tv, pandawhale.com

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.

  • Edwin Goh

    Interesting way to share tips on how to avoid financial pitfalls =)

    • CuellarJ

      What can I say? GoT has plenty of lessons to teach us, not just about financial matters, but career matters as well… Hmm… I think you just helped me think of a new article idea Edwin 🙂