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5 money lessons from Game of Thrones

"Don't spend like a king"

Jack Derwin

Digital Journalist, Your Money

Hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones is about to return to our screens, and while many eagerly await the blood and gore that will come with it, there are also some handy financial lessons to be had.

Your Money Live spoke to Infinite Wealth managing director Tim Guest about the best pearls of wisdom fans can glean from the show.

1. Always pay your debts

Debt can be the number one trap for anyone at any stage of their financial journey.

But if you’re going to keep one step ahead of the pack, it’s also a crucial aspect to get right.

“Look at the Lannisters for a start. They’re probably the most hated family in the series. Their history is chequered with greed, with murder, betrayal and even incest yet they’ve got a stellar reputation for always paying their debts,” Guest said.

“It’s essentially a credit score that follows them around and that’s allowed them to become maybe the wealthiest family in the entire series.”

The lesson then is to make debt work for you, not the other way around.

“If you make sure you pay your debts, you’re going to have a really good credit history and of course if you want to build your wealth, if you want to run an empire, then your ability to access credit, and cheap credit, is very important,” Guest explained.

2. Changing allegiances can pay off

While loyalty is a valuable attribute to have, blind allegiances can cost you dearly.

It’s important then to regularly assess your current situation and see if you can better elsewhere.

“My favourite character, Tyrion Lannister, switches sides, he joins Daenerys… [and] this really paid off for him. The lesson here is just because you’ve done things a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way,” Guest explains.

By changing financial institutions and always shopping around, you can find better savings account and home loans, cheaper interest rates, lower superannuation fees and increase your ability to borrow more.

“A good start is always to go to your original bank or insurance company and look at leaving,” Guest said.

“Maybe they’ll make you a special offer but a lot of these companies seem to be much more interested in attracting new clients so you may find switching is way better.”

3. Don’t spend like a king

It might be important to enjoy your wealth but not at the cost of your own wellbeing, a cautionary tale that can be found in at least one character arc.

“We start off in the Game of Thrones universe with King Robert and he’s very well known for indulging. He’s got a great reputation as a womaniser and a drinker and ultimately that ends up killing him,” Guest said.

“This fits in with some new research that’s just come out that shows 35 per cent of Australians feel pressured to keep up appearances and maintain a certain lifestyle and this is coming at the cost of their financial goals and even their health and wellbeing,” he added.

“When you drop those stats to the under 30 age group, that jumps to 50 per cent.”

Read: What Married at First Sight says about your spending habits

Accordingly, by letting go of that pressure to live large today, you’ll be able to set yourself up for a much more lavish lifestyle long-term.

4. Don’t let setbacks stop you

It’d be foolish to expect life to not throw you any curveballs.

You only need to watch a few episodes of Game of Thrones to understand that.

“Probably the fan favourite, Daenerys has never let her circumstances get in her way. Firstly, she was sold off as a bride, then the love of her life was killed, and then not only did he die but her baby died, so she’s always coming up against these setbacks but she’s never letting it hold her back,” Guest explained.

That’s an example most people would do well to follow.

“Firstly she’s always out to seek advice. She’s a hard worker, she’s playing the long game but not only that but something else which is very important is that she operates very honourably and with a lot of ethics,” Guest said.

“Playing that long-game rather than the short-game is what will help you do better.”

5. Prepare for the worst

Accordingly, it’s also crucial that you start preparing for those worst case scenarios today.

“You’ve always got to be prepared for the worst. Things like making sure you’ve got an emergency savings fund for when those things really do go wrong,” Guest said.

While you’d do well to have the right insurance in place in case of the worst as well, preparing for financial obstacles doesn’t necessarily have to be only for something as dramatic as death.

“Investors rarely build in the right kind of buffers or safety into their investments. If you take property investing for example, people very rarely build in changes to interest rates or unexpected vacancies or  if the rents drop or we move into a different economic cycle,” Guest said.

“That’s when you need extra cash flow and if you haven’t put aside a buffer you could get wiped out.”

Watch the full segment with Tim Guest above for more. 

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