by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Education is all around us if we look for it. That’s one of the reasons I have no problem writing about silly things that I don’t even watch very much, like Reality TV. But I don’t deny that these shows are interesting, the same way a greasy cheeseburger usually tastes better than a healthy rice cake.
Just the other day, we wrote on FJT about Phaedra Parks, star of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, whose husband, Apollo Nida, was recently arrested on charges of bank fraud and identity theft. That led to an interesting Financial Lovemaking conversation about the importance of choosing a financially-responsible mate, and also avoiding the trappings of financial gluttony.
Another RHOA star, Kandi Burruss, offers a different perspective. During an interview on the Hot 97 Morning Show, Burruss explained that being a reality TV star is not as financially rewarding as some might think. She also used it as a way to explain why she works to live below her means. Here’s what she had to say, according to Madamnoire.com:
“On a new reality show they’re not making anything,” she said. “If they are getting anything, it may be like $2,500 per episode to $5,000, at the most. Most times, like say for instance the women who started out on our show, in the beginning they didn’t get anything for that first year. They got like $5,000 for the whole season just for the use of their house. When I first came on they didn’t really hardly pay me anything either. A lot of those shows do not pay a lot of money.”
Kandi mentions that anyone thinking about going into reality TV should be sure to have something to promote during their appearance. She says that the show is more like an infomercial than anything. I’ve heard the same things behind closed doors. Often, reality TV shows are short-lived and aren’t very well compensated. But people who don’t understand business become excited about the idea of being on TV without having any kind of plan for long-term financial stability. This can be a recipe for disaster.
“This is what I always tell people: Don’t go on the show thinking you’re going to make a big lick off of the salary. Think of it more so as your infomercial. How are you going to make this show sell your business or your product. If not, you’re just going on there to make a a** of yourself.”
Kandi also said that her mother gave her a great foundation on the importance of keeping your budget in check and living below your means. She says that just because times are good, that doesn’t mean you should live high on the hog and set yourself up for financial failure.
“I was looking at financial books and everything since I was a teenager because my mom was always, ‘Don’t put your eggs in one basket.’ And I didn’t go to college, so you get kind of scared like, ‘Okay, I’m getting all of this money right now, but what I am gonna do now?’ I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I was living so expensively that if something happened next year or two years from now and I wasn’t making the same money, I couldn’t afford my lifestyle. So that’s the first thing, you gotta live below your means.”
“Let’s say for instance if you’re just starting out, it’s some people who can afford $1,000 apartment and go get a $1,000 apartment. That would not be me. If I can afford a $1,000 apartment, I’m going to try to find a $600 apartment and save the $400 towards something I want to invest in. A lot of people handicap themselves from being able to go after their dreams because of the kind of lifestyle they become accustomed to.”
Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story:
1) The words “rich” and “famous” don’t always go hand-in-hand. The worst thing in the world is to be famous and have everyone think you have more money than you actually have. This happens a lot for entertainers who have no understanding of business models.
2) Conservatism is the key to financial survival: Unfortunately, materialistic culture promoted through music and movies promotes the opposite, leaving us looking really stupid later on down the line.
3) You must be your own business and brand in this ever-changing economic landscape: Even if someone gives you a job, always find a way to create your own job. Kandi seems to get this, and that’s why I am proud of her.