Everything I learned about saving money I learned from watching Shameless

Everything I learned about saving money I learned from watching Shameless

Y'all know I love me some binge watching, and the latest series I devoured in an inhumane amount of time was Showtime's Shameless.

I was instantly hooked because it's set in Chicago, but I also love Emmy Rossum ("Fiona"), who I otherwise haven't seen much of lately (apparently she's been busy for the past 7 seasons!), and William H Macy ("Frank") and his non-Shameless-castmate and wife Felicity Huffman are part of a dying breed, seeing as how they're a Hollywood couple who have been married for 20 years. And let's be honest: It also makes me feel better about the amount of booze I consume, which is considerably less than anyone on the show on a good day. It's basically a morale booster.

But I also loved watching in each episode how scrappy the Gallaghers are and how they always manage to make ends meet. Yes, older brother Lip once said "When you're poor, the only way to make money is to steal it or scam it." But that really doesn't sum up the positives in terms of how this family of children — no responsible parent in sight — learns to make do, survive and come pretty close to thriving by the end of the current season.

First off, I was enamored with the idea of creating a "squirrel fund." Call it a savings account, call it rainy-day money, whatever you want — I had a lightbulb moment watching the show, and I started stashing money. There is, in fact, an app called Stash — you can invest just $5 to start. I did. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I do know it's set to auto-stash, which means every week I'm transferring money from my checking account to my new Stash account — $5 a week. Because seriously. Who would miss $5? I still have to learn more about how the app works, but then? I'll make it work for me.

I also set up a squirrel fund with Aspiration. Why Aspiration? I read about it in an article with some other great money-saving tips. With Aspiration's Summit Checking, I'm earning 0.25% interest, versus the national average of 0.05%. And with an initial investment of just $10, I'm making $177.14 a year. That may not sound like a huge amount, but maybe that's why they call it a squirrel fund. (Have you ever watched squirrels store their bounty for the winter? Yeah. They don't stash it all in one place.) I used to think it was stupid and complicated to have my money in a bunch of different accounts all over the place, but now, I think I was being stupid then — by putting it all in one pot and, in essence, frittering it all away.

Aside from the squirrel fund idea I also appreciate that Fiona, the oldest sister, learned to stand up for herself and take risks with her money — and this is another point to emphasize — money she worked hard for (sorry, now you'll have that song in your head, won't you). Fiona is never afraid to get her hands dirty; she'll hustle but only in an honest way; and at the end of the day she's spending wisely, saving wisely and investing wisely. I mean, the girl's buying actual buildings. A twenty-something chick from the yards. I know it's just a TV show — but it inspires. And I have friends like this, who inspire me in the same way: You have to find what works for you, what's available to you, what your strengths are and where your resources lie, and then you have to put them to W-E-R-K. Investments may not always pan out, but if you never try, and risk, you'll never know.

Another thing I like about the Gallaghers is that they are tireless. Okay sure, when they let loose, they REALLY let loose and relax so much so that they almost wind up dead. But for the most part, they go-go-go all day long. They roll with the punches, and they survive all the shit the storyline puts them through. (One person dies. I won't say who, but it doesn't disprove my point anyways.) That kind of no-nonsense, no-room-for-error attitude motivates me every day to write a fatty to-do list and hit it hard. I may not be going to the bank for a $300,000 loan, but I'm figuring shit out.

The moral of the story is, binge-watching is clearly NOT always such a bad thing. You can relax and find inspiration, and maybe even make a few bucks on the side. ...Okay so yeah, maybe THAT is the moral of the story — I'm a divorced mother of two. Maybe I needed a little motivation to get my side hustle going again. Now? IT'S GOING. Thank you, #shameless.

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