The More You Own, The More It Weighs You Down

The More You Own, The More It Weighs You Down

Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, Cordoba, Spain. Shooting location of Highgarden Castle in Game of Thrones, Season 7. Photo credit: Rabe!  CC BY-SA 3.0.

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?

The More You Own, The More It Weighs You Down

Bronn eyeing up Highgarden Castle.

The More You Own, The More It Weighs You Down

Jaime Lannister staring down the stash of gold en route to the Iron Bank of Braavos.

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.

The Cliffhanger

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:

4 Killer Money Lessons Hidden in Game of Thrones

5 money lessons to learn from the characters of Game of Thrones

8 Money Lessons from Game of Thrones

The financial lessons of Game of Thrones

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!

9 Responses to The More You Own, The More It Weighs You Down

  1. Retire Before Dad August 9, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    One reader reported a problem with the comments section. Sorry! It does seem to work for me but I’ll look into the problem. Fixed now, I think.

  2. Oldster August 9, 2017 at 9:27 am #

    If only Bronn had been satisfied with the last estate given to him (remember where he was when Jamie went to get his help in rescuing the doomed Myrcella). He could have lived the comfortable life of a gentleman. There are some lessons in Stoicism at work here. I agree completely, GoT is the best Television has to offer at the moment. The books are as good.

    • Retire Before Dad August 9, 2017 at 9:34 am #

      Oldster… impressive you recall that one. I can never remember all the details. That’s up to my wife to remind me as she is plowing through the books. So good.

  3. Dave @ Married with Money August 9, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    I love taking financial lessons from TV and movies. Sometimes the parallels to real life – like in this – are awesome. Always seems like people who don’t have stuff (Bronn) want it while those who do (Jamie) want less of it. Only when you appreciate what you have will you really be happy.

    And yeah that was an awesome episode. Happy to finally see some dragons in action!!

    • Retire Before Dad August 9, 2017 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks for coming back 🙂 Well said. And yeah, the dragon stuff was badass. My heart was pounding during that scene. We watched a “making of” the battle scene on Vanity Fsir last night. That was a major production. Bring on the White Walkers!

  4. Chad Carson August 11, 2017 at 1:41 am #

    Ok, I have never watched or read GoT. But I think you hooked me. Lol. I don’t have Netflix so I guess I will stick to the books for now.

    • Retire Before Dad August 11, 2017 at 6:25 am #

      It’s really good. My wife says the books are excellent too, but they are a big commitment. And they’re still waiting on #6 while the TV show is on #7. Unusual how the show got ahead of the books. Worth it if you can take a break from writing.

  5. Joe August 14, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    The books have more depth to them, but both are really good.
    I disagree about the castle, though. Owning the castle means you get to tax the landowners and peasants. It will generate a ton of income. Should be enough for upkeep. The problem is war. Bronn’d need to mortgage the castle to the Iron Bank then…
    They are killing off a bunch of characters this last season. I’m looking forward to the next episode.

    • Retire Before Dad August 14, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

      Good insight from the books. I guess that makes sense, the right to tax. Taxing people is a sweet passive income stream if you can get it! Good to see that Jaime survived this week. Quite an impressive save by Bronn with all that armor.

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