How Michael Scott Gave Me the Best Money Advice

The Office is, in my humble opinion, one of the best comedies in the history of television. The story follows the lives of the employees at Dunder Mifflin, a company that sells paper. The main character and office boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) gets into various hijinks and makes the show a must-see. One of our favorite episodes here at Stockpile is Money. If you look, you can find inspiration for money saving tips anywhere, including The Office.

Michael Scott – Best Money Advice

Credit card debt can be overwhelming. When I accumulated debt on two of my credit cards, I realized I couldn’t pay them off, even with my excellent full-time job. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay it off, so I resorted to paying just the minimum amount month after month. After one year of paying the bare minimum, I took a peek at how much I still owed and saw that the amount barely budged. As it turns out, I wasn’t paying off my original debt; I was only paying the interest. Also, the balance that I carried over was continually making me stressed. 

But no matter how dire my situation felt, it was still a far cry from The Office’s Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell), who owed thousands of dollars in credit card debt. At the beginning of the episode, he was barely getting by—he sold his car, he took a second job and was struggling to keep his crazy girlfriend, Jan, happy. And because his second job started at 5:30 pm and ended at 1:00 am, his performance suffered.

Michael was advised by another employee to declare bankruptcy, portrayed as his only option for a fresh, clean financial slate. While I found the thought of declaring bankruptcy as a possible course of action, unlike Michael, I never reached the point when I had to announce it.

Watching that episode made me take stock of where I was financially and how I could get out of debt. Later in the episode, Oscar, one of the employees, approached Michael and helped him strategize his way out of debt.

michael scott, stockpile

Here are some of my takeaways from that episode:

Do a financial checkup

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you don’t know where you stand. So, the first thing Oscar did was go through all of Michael’s expenses, and then he categorized each one into ‘needs’ and ‘wants.’ The spreadsheet showed Michael where his hard-earned money went.

Ideally, the ‘wants’ expenses shouldn’t go beyond the ‘needs’ to ensure that the extra money goes to paying debts or savings.

Adjust your lifestyle as needed

Once you have a good idea of where your money goes each month, go through all your expenses and identify the areas where you can cut on spending. For Michael, this meant commuting instead of driving a car every day to go to work. For me, this meant buying fewer magazines and not eating out all the time.

If, like Michael, you have a significant other or a family member who also relies on your income, tell them the truth. It’s better to let them know that you are having trouble with money than to let them go on with their lives thinking that you have more than enough. They may have to adjust their lifestyle too. Every bit of money helps to pay off debt.

Don’t run away from responsibilities

While Michael’s classic run-away-from-responsibilities move made for a funny scene, doing it in real life isn’t as amusing. Because no matter where you go or what you do, creditors and a bad credit score can hound you. Even if you declare bankruptcy, you may get a fresh slate, but it will stay on your records forever. And having this on your files can make it harder for you to avail of a mortgage or other loans in the future.

So, be like Michael Scott and face your debts head-on. With a bit of planning and strategizing, paying off debts that were once overwhelming can be achievable.

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/meghan Gardler