Every Financial Decision You Make is a Deal or No Deal Question

Deal, No Deal

I’ve personally never seen this game show, but recently I saw a parody of it that was done at my church when they were talking about finances. It was actually very interesting how they laid it out and made the correlation and it made a lot of sense. They had a “contestant” come up (he was actually just acting) and he got to pick a case that he thought contained the ultimate prize — which in this case wasn’t a million dollars, but rather “Financial Security.” He picked his case number and talked about how he really wanted Financial Security because he had a family, 2 car payments, a first and second mortgage, a lot of credit card debt and was basically living paycheck to paycheck.

He then picked his first 2 cases to take off the board and in one was a cash vacation and in another was an investment portfolio. At this point he still had the chance to win financial security. Then the banker offered him a deal (to entice him to give up his case which could have held financial security). That deal was a Starbucks a day for 10 years. There are a lot of coffee lovers in our church so this sounded like a wonderful prize, but most people realized it would be a waste and encouraged the “contestant” to not take the deal. He decided not to. He then picked 2 more cases to take off the board and one of these contained a plasma TV and the other an ipod. So he still had financial security on the board and the banker offered him yet another deal. This time it was a $25,000 credit limit from Visa. The contestant’s wife was excited and tried to encourage him to take the deal so they could remodel their kitchen.

As an audience member watching this, I was surprised that anyone would think that is a deal. Right off the bat I realized that a credit limit is an entirely different ball game than cash. In all reality — it doesn’t matter what credit limit you have — what matters is whether you have the money to pay for what you plan to buy. But after some coaxing from his wife, the contestant decided to take the deal (the $25,000 credit limit) because he started rationalizing that the financial security that he wanted might not even be in the case he picked and therefore might not even be possible. So after he decided to take the deal (even though all the audience members were shouting “no deal, no deal!”) they opened up the case he had picked and sure enough, it held the title “Financial Security.” The whole audience moaned in disappointment that he had given up Financial Security for a measly credit limit.

Lessons Learned

After the whole skit panned out, the pastor offered a few lessons to be learned from what we had just watched. He first pointed out that even though most people were shouting “No deal” to him, many people have made that same deal in the past. It seems so different when you are watching someone else make the decisions and it’s so easy to see clearly when you aren’t being tempted with something, but it’s another thing when you’re in the contestant’s chair.

In the beginning of the game, the contestant was sure that Financial Security was in his case. He was so optimistic and hopeful. But by the end of the game, he began rationalizing and making excuses as to why the Financial Security would be impossible or really hard to get. There are many people in life who start out hopeful and then use setbacks as excuses as to why they can’t achieve their dreams.

The main “take away” point from this episode is that every financial decision you make is a deal or no deal question. Many purchases and decisions may seem like a “deal” when in fact they are a compromise that will keep you from your dream of financial security. So many people have made a bad deal by choosing credit card debt over financial security and now they are paying the price of that. The nice thing about life is that you don’t only have one chance. If you make a “bad deal” you’re not stuck with it forever. It will take some work, but you can eventually get out of it. So next time you go to make a purchase, ask yourself if it is a “deal” or “no deal” for your financial life.

Image courtesy of dacotahsgirl

This entry was posted in Personal Finance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Every Financial Decision You Make is a Deal or No Deal Question

  1. Letty says:

    I am just starting Dave Ramsey’s FPU, and stories like these keep me motivated to stick with it. I know it’s going to be a little hard getting used to actually managing my money verus it managing me, but I’m looking forward to the final goal of financial security.

  2. Melissa says:

    This is, by far, the most sensible and excellent post I have ever seen. If more people thought this way when making financial decisions, the country would be in a far better place.

    Thank you.

  3. AJC @ 7million7years says:

    I wrote a post on this exact same topic … thanks!

    I used the show to illustrate how people make poor financial decisions.

    I also used it to show that the strictly mathematiclly correct decision isn’t always the RIGHT decision … for YOU. For example, I wrote another post on the Rent v Buy decision – maths says Rent … I say Buy (result: I’m rich, my accountant isn’t!).

  4. Ceejay74 says:

    Wow, who writes your church’s plays? That is a brilliant yet simple metaphor that really lays out an entire financial philosophy. Thank you for sharing!

  5. trex says:

    Being able to think beyond what is in front of your eyes is essential, but being able to think beyond yourself is even more essential. If you can trade in buying three cups of Starbuck’s coffee to save the life of someone, would you? Or would you still buy your coffee and let the child die? Since $10 can save a child’s life by providing clean water, that is the decision you should be making every time you make a purchase. Is that purchase worth more than a life?

  6. Pingback: Weekend Edition: Credit, GMAT, and Deal or No Deal | Fiscal Musings

  7. Alexandria says:

    I’ve seen the show and can’t watch it. I can’t understand anyone who could give up a SURE $100k for the slim hope of $1 mil!!! Egads. Likewise, we would never get on the show. We’d be too boring.

    That is brilliant. Good post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *