A few weeks ago, my husband introduced me to a new-to-us reality show—Lizard Lick Towing. If you haven’t seen or heard of this gem of a show let me sum it up for you. It’s a reality show following the owners and employees of a repossession and towing company in North Carolina. It is, hands down, the strangest show I ever had the pleasure of watching.
For starters, people really don’t like having their things repossessed. But I did not know that some people took as far as those on this show. One of the owners, Ron, has been punched, stabbed, run over with a car and been victim to other assorted acts of violence. His wife, Amy, who handles the paperwork and administrative duties works behind bulletproof glass and a steel door (which one lumberjack kindly opened with a chainsaw). And their employee, Bobby, is usually a party to whatever Ron gets into. Oh, yeah. Let’s not forget the trailer that was set on fire so they could not take it or the survivalist who showed up with a grenade. Good stuff.
Then there’s the obligatory personal drama. As if a show where a husband and wife own a business doesn’t already breed drama, let’s toss in the husband’s BFF and his ex-fiancee who the wife hates more than a dog hates fleas (one of the bonuses of the show? Learning all kinds of new southern expressions). I’m telling you, this show is pure gold.
But there’s also a third layer to the show. It’s buried very deep, way below the pickup trucks and Harleys and tattoos but it’s there. That layer? Financial skills. The more I watch the show, the more I realize that there are hidden financial messages. For example:
- Always have a plan—when Ron and Bobby go to do a repossession, they always have a plan. They know how they’re going to approach the item being repossessed, they know how they’re going to handle the person or people, and they know their route in and out. A plan is crucial if they want to leave with the item and all of their body parts. The same applies to your finances. Whether you’re in debt or saving for a goal, you need a plan. You can’t achieve your end goal if you don’t. To formulate a plan, determine what route you’re going to use. Ask yourself what resources you have.
- Have the correct information—a repossession can task a drastically wrong turn if they try to repossess the wrong vehicle or piece of equipment. So before they repossess it, they verify the VIN or whatever other piece of information necessary to ensure they’re taking the right item. This is important for your money as well. You need to be sure of your balances, interest rates, terms, due dates, account numbers…everything involved in managing your money. Transposing the wrong account number or forgetting a due date can lead to unpleasant consequences.
- Backup is essential—Ron and Bobby almost always complete a repossession together. They know that it’s safer go in as a duo, especially if a problem arises (which, based on the show, it always does). They know that they have each other’s backs. And while they do whatever they can to handle a problem, 911 is always a quick phone call away if the situation gets really bad. This situation is a financial two-fer. First, don’t try to handle your money alone. Get a partner. Whether it’s a friend, a sibling or an anonymous message board, having someone to talk to works wonders. Second, When it comes to finances, your emergency fund is 911. It’s supposed to provide backup when things go horribly awry and you need rescuing. You may not need it but get it in order just in case you need to dial it.
- Be objective—Ron and Bobby understand that a repossession is not personal; it’s business. They are there to do a job, not to judge the person. They don’t let their feelings cloud their judgment or impair their ability to complete the task at hand. You need to do the same with your finances. Write down all the details and look at them objectively. Don’t let your attachment to your gym or cell phone or Whole Foods get in your way of your short and long term goals. If it helps, pretend that you’re not looking at your finances; pretend that they’re someone else’s and you desperately want to help that person. What would you tell her? Use that advice for yourself.
I never thought that there’d be TV show about a repo company. And I certainly never thought I’d watch a TV show about a repo company. Even more amazing is the fact that there’s actually something that can be learned from a TV show about a repo company. Who says TV isn’t educational?