6 Lessons for Financial Recovery from ‘Schitt’s Creek’

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

Many of us have been hit financially by the pandemic, some harder than others. And we’re seeing some made-for-TV parallels in the situation: The fictional Rose family in the hit comedy series “Schitt’s Creek” didn’t have to face COVID, but they did have to deal with a riches-to-rags setback — one that could teach us a thing or two about our own. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

The Roses were amazingly successful: Matriarch Moira was a daytime TV star, and her husband Johnny ran the nation’s second-largest video rental company. They lived in a palatial mansion with their spoiled children, David and Alexis, throwing fancy dinner parties and living the high life… until the government took it all.

The only thing they had left was a small town called Schitt’s Creek that Johnny had bought as a gag gift for David. Reduced to living out of two rooms in a rundown motel, the Roses face the task of rebuilding their lives from scratch. Along the way, they learn plenty of lessons about finances and life. Here are a few:

Build a support system  

At first, the Roses are chagrined at being “stuck” out in the boondocks and forced to interact with a cast of town characters. These include a cynical introvert named Stevie who runs the hotel’s front desk, perpetually clueless mayor Roland Schitt, the town mechanic, and the waitress at the local diner. 

The Roses try repeatedly to beg off having dinner with Roland and his wife Jocelyn, but the Schitts persist and wind up being valuable allies. Alexis makes a connection with the local vet, who gives her a job. David overcomes his disdain for … well, everything … and finds his own brand of success — first with his eye for fashion and decor, then with his negotiating skills.

The bonds they forge in business and as human beings lay the foundation for renewed success. It becomes clear to the standoffish family that connecting with people is the only way to get by — and thrive.

Make the most of your time

After their financial fall, the Roses all have a lot of free time on their hands. At first, they spin their wheels. It takes some time to get acclimated to any new situation, especially when the change is so dramatic. 

As they do so, they gradually find productive ways to spend their spare time, learning new skills (Alexis goes back to school and learns public relations), and engaging in public service (Moira serves on the town council). These endeavors eventually lead to more success.

Don’t be afraid to start over

The Roses are left without any money, and although they’re bitter at first, they’re far from defeated. Johnny remains optimistic that he’ll find a way to get back in the game, even as he struggles through embarrassing failures. (Unpasteurized milk, anyone?) 

Like the Roses, you may not have the money you need, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rebuild. Small steps can be productive in putting you back on the path to viability. 

For instance: If, like lots of people in this pandemic, you find yourself in a compromised financial situation without much to build on, it only takes a few hundred dollars to open a secured account and start building better credit. 

In the meantime, you won’t be tempted to overextend yourself by charging up a bunch of meals at Café Tropical, because your spending limit will be dictated by your account balance.

Have the right equipment

Whether he’s redesigning the interior at the Blouse Barn or setting up shop at Rose Apothecary, David knows he needs the right merchandise and ambiance to be successful. He might overlook some of the more technical aspects of running a business, like installing the lights, but his partner Patrick is there to back him up.

We all need a backup when the lights go out, especially in a storm that may cause a prolonged power outage. You don’t necessarily need a business partner to bail you out, but a backup generator with a weatherproof enclosure can sure come in handy. It’s a worthwhile investment whether you’re running a store or just trying to keep the hairdryer running at home.

Work with what you’ve got

Johnny doesn’t need a big office to get things done. He finds a space to plan his financial comeback in the back of Bob’s Garage and even does some brainstorming from home. You may have found yourself in a similar situation if your job went remote during lockdown.

The ultimate Schitt’s Creek example of working for/from home is the motel, which is the only thing the Roses have at the beginning. It’s not even technically theirs, but over time, Johnny Works with Stevie to transform it from a nondescript motel into a gathering place that’s in demand: The Rosebud Inn.

Make a budget and stick to it

The Roses don’t always succeed, but they do learn from their mistakes. Johnny and Moira set a budget for a new car — then go over by a couple of thousand dollars. By the time Johnny begins helping Stevie run the motel, he’s making better decisions, and results follow.

If you make a realistic budget, keep an eye on your spending, and stick to what you’ve planned, chances are you can be OK in the long run (even if it is a long run). Climbing out of a financial hole is a matter of incremental steps. 

So there you have it: just a few of the many lessons about finances and life you can learn from watching “Schitt’s Creek.” No wonder the show won so many Emmy Awards. Perhaps the biggest lesson is that money isn’t all about the bottom line: You’ve got to invest in human relationships, too. The Roses do just that and come out winners, again, in the end.

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