This money post references Sunday’s Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4. You don’t need to be a viewer to appreciate the personal finance lesson. However, if you aren’t caught up on your episodes and want to stay in the dark, this is your spoiler alert.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones is here and long-time viewers were not disappointed by Episode 4, The Spoils of War. Many are calling it one of the best ever, with family reunions, fire belching dragons in an epic battle, and a heart-sinking cliffhanger.
At the start of the episode, we heard a surprisingly wise bit of wealth advice from one of the main characters, Jaime Lannister.
Jaime shows he’s more than a one-handed king slayer when he offers advice to his post-injury sparring partner and battle companion bro, Bronn.
In the scene, we see an army of soldiers leaving Highgarden Castle after conquering House Tyrell and seizing their gold. The army is marching back to King’s Landing to deliver the treasures to pay off a debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos. His carriage stops and Mr. Lannister grabs a heavy sack of gold from the cargo.
Outside, he hands the sack of gold to Bronn as a reward for bravery.
Bronn: There is still the question of my prize.
Jaime Lannister: That’s a lot of money I just gave you.
Bronn: It’s not a castle. How about that one? (looks to Highgarden Castle). It’s available.
Jamie Lannister: You don’t want Highgarden.
Bronn: I beg to differ. We’re at war.
Jamie Lannister: Daenerys Targaryen could come and take it back the day after you move in. Besides, think of the upkeep. The more you own, the more it weighs you down.
Bronn: Oh, is that why you’re so f**king glum, eh? Are your new riches weighing you down?
Parallels to Real Life
Nice to see the Game of Thrones writers have a flair for personal finance and minimalism!
A common side effect of receiving a significant lump sum of money is eventual financial ruin. We see this from lottery winners to professional athletes. Instead of investing it to earn passive income, the money is spent. Worse yet, financial windfalls are often leveraged which requires ongoing payments.
That’s what Bronn would do. If he’s given a castle for his bravery, the property will most certainly become a money pit, eating up his monetary earnings from battle. Castles such as Highgarden need an enormous staff just to keep functioning.
At the first sight of wealth, he’s already prepared to jump onto the treadmill and inflate his lifestyle.
Just like many of us.
In his defense, Bronn is a warrior, not a CPA. Financial help in Westeros is probably limited. But his golden parachute is surely enough for him to live a lavish life wherever and however he wants.
Jaime’s family has struggled with debt and money on many occasions, despite their wealth. He knows a thing or two about costly castles and bad decisions. Even so, a Lannister always pays his debts.
In the real world, given an inheritance, one-time bonus, or financial windfall, it’s unwise to overspend on a castle just because you can afford the down payment. In addition to the mortgage payment, there are larger taxes, utility bills, and maintenance costs that will gobble up whatever is leftover. Cash flow suffers.
These residual costs of owning a large property are why my idea of a dream house has changed since becoming a homeowner. Even if I become super-wealthy someday, I don’t want the higher property taxes and maintenance of a large house.
Our next house will be smarter, not bigger.
But Jaime’s advice is not just about making wise real estate decisions. It contains echoes of minimalism which teaches us that having too much stuff is a weight on your life. When you buy a material object, it becomes a lifelong burden.
To lift the weight, eliminate objects you don’t use and those that bring you no joy. Carefully consider each new purchase so you don’t accumulate more useless stuff.
Keep your money. Watch it grow. Don’t spend it on castle upkeep.
Save and invest to buy your financial independence. Spend money on experiences, not stuff. This is a minimalist’s key to happiness.
Go find a brothel in Qarth, Bronn.
If you’re up to date on Season 7, you know that Daenerys raised hell on the battlefield, Bronn lost his gold, and Jaime is sinking to the bottom of a lake under the weight of his fancy armor… Clever foreshadowing by the writers.
We won’t know until next week if he survives. Game of Thrones has a tendency to kill off important characters. But in Jaime’s case, he wouldn’t complete his “redemption arc” if he’s killed. So everyone is hoping Bronn saves the day once again.
For those interested in watching Game of Thrones but haven’t started yet, this all happened in the 64th episode of the series so you probably won’t remember this blog post by the time you get there… It’s a highly complex story line with lots of characters and side plots.
By far, it’s the best show on TV.
There’s plenty of other money lessons to learn in the first 63 episodes.
Here are a few links to other Game of Thrones themed money articles:
Are you a fan of the show? Was that epic or what? Did you catch that quote early on? Even Mrs. RBD heard it and thought I should write a blog post about it!