‘Till Debt Do Us Part Is Ridiculous and Humiliating

What to do with 15 minutes to kill over a quick lunch and nothing good on TV?  I’m scrolling through the 800-channels-but-nothing is on digital universe, when I come across a title that says, “’Till Debt Do Us Part.”  It didn’t exactly sound scintillating, but as a personal finance author I figured I should at least take a look.  The show was mildly entertaining in a “reality tv is extreme and ridiculous” kind of way, but it was humiliating and so “elementary” as to be almost useless.  I think the strongest allure of the show for the average person would be tuning in to feel better about yourself.  You might not be very good at managing your money, but at least you are better than these handpicked extreme examples right?  Hey, I watch Canada’s Worst Handyman for the same reason, but at least my ears aren’t bleeding after I watch that one.

This Just In – Canadians Like To Borrow Money

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of Gail Vaz-Oxlade.  Maybe I’m just jealous of her success, but I find her patronizing advice to be overly simplistic and her style extremely annoying.  The few times I have seen interviews with Gail, seen her featured on other blogs, or on TV, she is always touting the exact same advice, and it is such obvious common sense stuff to me.  All that being said, I understand the need for the common sense solutions that Ms. Vaz-Oxlade presents, and there is little doubt that many Canadians could benefit from a core message of “get out of debt,” but what is so great about the way she says it?

Verbal Advice On Steroids

till debt do us part

The one episode of the show that I have watched, and numerous columns of hers in the Globe and Mail are always talking about the fact that people borrow too much.  Um… yah, they do.  You yelling at them probably isn’t going to make it much better.  I understand a lot of this is to build a brand and become a sort of “Biggest Loser” money edition, but I think that if the classic David Chilton can sell millions of copies of his eloquently stated The Wealthy Barber, and The Wealthy Barber Returns, then Ms. Vaz-Oxlade could tone down her act a little.  Yelling things at people like, “No more borrowing, borrowing is evil,” seems a bit redundant to me.  Obviously I’m not her target audience, but I just think who in their right mind would listen to this woman if they have to get past her abrasive exterior?  I thought to myself on several occasions, how would Ms. Vaz-Oxlade feel if someone yelled at her about her weaknesses?  We all have things we are not great at, to be treated like a moron because you have a deficit (albeit a mind-numbingly severe one) of financial literacy is not cool.  Would Gail like it if someone screamed at her in regards to the fact she is obviously overweight, or how about if they gave her relationship advice at the top of their lungs?  These sound mean when I state them so matter-of-factly, so why is it ok for her to yell at people about bad financial decisions?

The Revolutionary Jar System

Now one of the things that actually logically upsets me is the Vaz-Oxlade be-all and end-all of personal finance – the jar system.  For those of you that have never watched the show or bought one of Ms. Vaz-Oxlade’s numerous publications, the jar system is where Gail yells at you about getting into debt for five minutes, then tells you that you are not capable of understand how a debit card or credit card works, and finally informs you that your life will be saved by putting money into jars.  I swear to god, this is an actual system that people claim changed their life and a gimmick that has probably made Gail hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Instead of showing people how to properly use financial tools, and explaining gently why they probably shouldn’t use credit for a while given their prior experiences, she confiscates their cards, makes them use only money (how much of a useless PITA is this?) and then separates the money into jars.  Gail, seriously, online banking and a spreadsheet babe, it’s 2012.  If people have to rely on these methods to not go into debt, you still haven’t taught them very much in my opinion.  It would be hugely insulting for me to have someone yell that I needed jars to figure how much to spend on supper that night, I can only imagine what it would be like to have that happen on national TV.

What gets me most about Gail and her jar system, and likely why I am more than a little jealous, is that she has legions of diehard supporters.  Really, REALLY, putting money into 8 jars changed your life?  Having a mortgage explained to you at window-breaking decibels really improved your understanding of the matter?!!  I guess I’m just not creative enough to come up with a persona like that in order to market myself.  If I “taught” kids like that at school every day they would make my life a living hell because they realize they shouldn’t be talked to like that.  Why can’t we realize the same thing?  Needless to say, the best part of lunch was my food, and I’m not a very good cook… maybe I’ll watch Hell’s Kitchen to try and learn a thing or two.

About Teacher Man

TM is a self-professed nerd about all things related to personal finance. He can be found writing for My University Money, Young and Thrifty, and Canadian Personal Finance Blog. TM blogs in order to continue his quest for lifelong learning and hopefully to help others along the way.

113 Responses to ‘Till Debt Do Us Part Is Ridiculous and Humiliating

  1. Sounds like every other inane survival tv show – made for kindergartners! I’ve never watched this one and now won’t waste me time.

    • Thierry says:

      One word: Quicken.

      That has done more for my budgeting than all of Gail’s tips and tricks, which make no sense (especially the jar system)

    • Jdub says:

      You sound jealous. Why don’t you go to her website and actually read how the jars work. And just to be clear, I think the US needs Gail more than Canadians, as you have alluded…actually, your banks do. Encouraging negative equity and amortization a older than my grandmother – dumb idiots and dumber idiots for falling for it

  2. Janet says:

    Although your comments are things I don’t disagree with, I personally love the show and think her simple system is all that can work for some people who don’t know a thing about money! Reality shows like this are out there to change people who are choosing to make a difference in thier lives. If she wanted to go be on “The Biggest Loser,” to lose weight, it would be nice for her to be with people who are specialized in what they do to get the results she desires.

  3. I’ve never heard of Gail, but her jar system sounds a lot like Dave Ramsey’s envelop system, which is simplistic at best and mind-numbing at worst. I had to laugh at your comments about her approach, though. She sounds irritating.

    • Teacher Man says:

      It is almost the same thing as Mr. Ramsey’s system. Maybe I should tell everyone to keep money in different pockets and then just start yelling crazy stuff, and I will become an authority on personal finance as well.

      • Laura says:

        I think your missing the point of the jars. One of my best friends refuses to have debit/ credit cards for the fact that it illuminates impulse spending. Also some. banks charge as much as $1.50 per transactions ( some people lose up $30.00 /month of their income to bank charges), not to mention money lost on high interest rates on overdue credit cards!

        • Teacher Man says:

          I’m sort of confused Laura, how does a debit or credit card “illuminate” impulse spending? If your bank charges you that much for debit card charges you need to go to a new bank! I mean that. Finally, I’m not sure where the high interest rates on credit cards enter into the picture. Track your spending online and simply make sure you keep enough money to pay off the balance every month. I’m not trying to be sarcastic when I say it is quite literally grade five and six math.

          • Alana says:

            I just watched an episode and the jars drive me nuts. Her advice is always the same…and the word “elementary” is right on. Equally disturbing is her gleeful cackle when she delivers her budget…particularly when she tells the desparate couple that she has budgeted $3 per month for clothing and gifts or whatever…really? If I were seeking her help I would feel defeated right at the starting line.

  4. I’ve seen thisshow and I think the humiliation suits these extreme cases very well. Got to drill it into them somehow so the jar system helps. You’re dealing with financially challenged kids on this show!

    • Teacher Man says:

      Is humiliation really an effective educator though? I guess at the end of the day, I don’t have to watch it, so there really is no reason to b**** and whine (other than the fact I have my own blog).

  5. Financial Uproar says:

    I wish I would have written this post. Well done.

    The worst part of the show for me is when Gail points that, on their current pace, their debt will be whatever ridiculously high number in 5 years. Because apparently creditors never actually cut people off.

    • Teacher Man says:

      There are so many things that are just wrong, but what do I know, I only use my jars to drink booze out of so plainly my personal finance system is pretty reckless.

    • Agree!Agree! says:

      YES I hate that about the show. I do love the common sense dumbed down approach though & her yelling. Seriously. Mind you I also love Gordon Ramsay and other ranters. But the stuuuupid assessment Gail makes of “you will be x thousands in debt in 3-5 yrs” is assinine.

  6. Koala says:

    I watch the show and enjoy it. Some of the couples aren’t quite so cringe worthy. While I agree with many of your points, I disagree with you about the jars. I don’t need a jar system, but for some people it really helps them. When they see a number, it doesn’t connect completely for them. The need something more visual so they can connect with their money. Some people have way more difficulties spending a $20 than pulling out their card because they visually see the money leaving them. For people who need to learn to live within their means, the jars sound like a good place to start to me.

  7. Ouch, although I agree with some of your points.

    Gail is blunt and direct, but that approach is needed for many of Gail’s clients.

    Using jars, envelopes, tupperware containers… it’s all the same.

    The way I see it, there are two willing parties here. Gail wishes to help, and may humiliate in the process, and the clients agree.

    Like any other “reality show”, you can always turn the channel and watch a good documentary instead. I think we’d both prefer that stuff :)

    Cheers,
    Mark

    • Teacher Man says:

      Yup, agreed. I guess my solution – letting the market determine they should be bankrupt and never own anything for 20 years because of a terrible credit score – pretty humiliating as well.

      • Curiously, while I don’t disagree with anything specific about your post, I love Gail’s books and her show and don’t find her abrasive. Boisterous perhaps.

        In terms of letting the market decide though, that may be what you’re missing. She’s showing people how to get out of debt in a better fashion (personally and for the market) than what you’ve suggested.

        And when you appreciate that many marriages end in divorce because of financial difficulties, IMO she’s not just getting people out of debt, she’s actually saving people’s marriages and family life. She should be a folk hero for this.

        Bit late on my comment, just followed a link from Nelson’s blog.

  8. LOL OMG YOU WERE CHANNELING NELSON IN THIS POST! :)

    There are SO MANY people who are a big fan of Gail.

    I actually like watching that show and I like her no-nonsense attitude but I do agree the jar thing is a bit elementary.

    But maybe these people who are “now $40,000 in debt and in three years will be $500,000 in debt” need to hear it straight up and be elementary.

    Sometimes “seeing is believing” and with many people, taking money out of a wallet or using a credit card- you don’t see the cash leaving your bank account.

    But yeah, I do agree that her advice is very simple. She’s not about wealth creation per se, but moreso “getting out of debt”.

    I am so surprised by the amount of debt some people are in (well, look who’s talking I’m in mortgage debt up the ying yang lol). I do like that show.

    There’s another show that’s popular called Princess. have you seen that one? That will probably make you roll your eyeballs even more.

    • Teacher Man says:

      A popular show called Princess – I like to think I’m a pretty “modern” guy, but I have to admit that probably wouldn’t take me away from TSN anytime soon. I knew I’d step on some toes here (after all, she has many more fans than I do), I just can’t get over this is where we are headed as a society. Instead of building a substantial financial literacy course, we have resorted to the voyeurism of watching someone yell at other that the solution to their problems is to put money in jars – here is a better idea: quit buying crap that we don’t need.

  9. Maria says:

    Wow. Gail is Gail. You are you. There’s room in the universe for everyone. She seems to have found her passion so she’s using her strengths to help others. Should we all be that fortunate.

    I was hoping to pop over here, this morning, to, possibly, glean new information. Instead, I now have to adjust out of this negative energy.

    Won’t be back.

    • Teacher Man says:

      Sorry for all the “negative energy” Maria, I wouldn’t want to mess with anyone’s inner chi. Most of my posts aren’t quite so negative. I’m glad you gave the site a thorough review before leaving us all with such a positive after taste (that’s sarcasm in case you’re universe-level expertise doesn’t get it).

  10. David O. says:

    I have to agree with this article. If, as adults, we need to be treated like children then we have far more issues to deal with than our debt.

    This type of reality TV does nothing to educate only to humiliate and make money at other peoples expense. Shame…..

    • Teacher Man says:

      Finally Dave, someone to agree with me in my curmudgeonly ways! Preach it brother.

      • Tiffany says:

        I disagree. I really enjoy Gail’s show, and I’ve learned a lot. At the very least, the show was successful in peaking my interest to take more control and explore more options with regards to my money management. It’s like a “starter drug” for money management. If this show enough for anyone to get you out there and explore their options, I think it has already accomplished a lot.

  11. I’m a fan of Gail’s and like the show. Gail has a big personality and I totally get that that’s not everyone’s style. I do think though that sometimes that’s what’s needed. Let’s face it, most of the people on her show have no clue about money- if gentle reminders that debt were bad and a spreadsheet were going to help them then they wouldn’t be in the mess that they’re in in the first place.

    I think the show does a good job of showcasing a lot of different couples with a lot of different reasons for being in debt- some I find more relevant to my own situations than others.

    What I most appreciate about the show is that Gail highlights the reason that people are in the mess that they are and has them do challenges that open their own eyes to this as well. Most of the people on the show are couples and being part of a couple and having to meld two different viewpoints on money together is very difficult. It’s too easy to blame each other rather than look at what each person is doing to contribute to the problem which is what Gail is very good at sorting out.

    I wonder if you’re a bit out of touch with the many people out there who haven’t found personal finance blogs yet or realize that a cell phone is a want and not a need. I don’t think the cases on her show are actually all that extreme; I know SOO many people that are carrying huge debt loads and have no insight about how they got there or how to get out or even that it is necessarily a problem until no one will give them credit anymore. Some people need a wake up call and some simple tools while they learn.

    • Teacher Man says:

      I think that while what you are saying about the not-so-common problems being pretty common is probably true Marianne, that does not justify Gail’s actions (even if it does her message) I also have to admit that I haven’t watched many episodes, but here is what I saw:

      1) Yelling at people who have probably never been taught fundamentals – I am a teacher, that rankles me
      2) Shameless self-promotion of a “jar system” that is really just basic budgeting
      3) Obvious attempt to make viewers feel good about themselves as they participated in looking down their nose at others (as I must admit that I do with Canada’s Worst Handyman on occasion)
      4) A situation that calls for long-term education and check ups, not a week-long boot camp-esque approach, to solve the problem.
      5) The sheer hypocrisy of someone yelling at others for being “undisciplined” when clearly there are aspects of Ms. Oxlade’s life that are pretty undisciplined

    • Teacher Man says:

      P.S. – hand these people a copy of the Wealthy Barber instead of yelling at them! Maybe Mr. Chilton and I can team up and make a show out of that!

      • Jo says:

        The Wealthy Barber didn’t get me out of debt. Watching Gail did. Case closed.

        Not all of us are as smart as you so let Gail teach us little peons in the way she does and you go teach your smart peons in your way. The two don’t need to meet.

        • Teacher Man says:

          This is hilarious in and of itself. What a ridiculous comment. If you couldn’t read and execute the strategies Chilton puts into effect then you quite literally are not as smart as the students in my grade 10 English class. That is not me being mean, that’s just an honest statement of fact. The vast majority of my students could put at least 80% of what Chilton recommends into play. “Case Closed”. Your self-description of a peon sadly seems ignorant, and your “smart peon” comment is oxymoronic. I advocate for people to think for themselves, not humiliate them on national TV.

  12. Mel says:

    “quit buying crap that we don’t need.”
    this is something gale says all the time. I wonder if that would also be:
    “humiliating and so “elementary” as to be almost useless.”
    “patronizing advice” or “overly simplistic”?

    Do you two really have something in common?

    I have to agree with Maria. What a negative post. I wont be back. Not even to read your sarcastic reply to this.

    • Teacher Man says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Mel. I’m glad you gave the site a full-hearted chance though ;)

      I’m sure Gale and I have many similarities. Heck, our core beliefs about personal finance are probably very similar. My beef is with the presentation values and the method behind the advice given on the show. Do you honestly find “till Debt Do Us Part” to be anything other than humiliating and almost useless? Is her advice not on the patronizing side? How could it be described as anything other than simplistic? I’m sorry I’m not batting a hundred with the women that start with M category these days!

  13. Dee says:

    I really like Gail’s attitude. While the aspects you talk about are present (such as yelling at people, being in their faces), she’s also quite empathetic. She gives her harsh dose of reality, and when she sees that the people involved are getting the point, she’s much more willing to empathize with them, discuss various solutions, options, etc. She’s said herself that there’s no magic in the jars. It’s just to help people visualize their budgets as they are starting off. It appears that most people do find them helpful. The show is formulaic, though, and I would like it if she did follow-ups of people from previous seasons to see what their financial lives are like some time after she has come and gone.

    • Teacher Man says:

      Fair enough Dee. At the end of the day the point remains that I don’t really have to watch the show if I don’t want, I guess I just expected more from a “personal finance expert” who has their own show. Regardless, people do need to curve their debt, and we should start teaching this in high school so fewer people end up on reality shows.

  14. M.R. says:

    I am a pretty-well educated person, a psychologist, make a good salary, and have a decent understanding of finances. Long before I ever heard of Dave Ramsey or Gail Vaz-Oxlade, I started separating my money into piles. I find it much easier to budget my money in this way. I am very computer savvy. I do all my banking online and use complicated software in my work. However, for some reason, budget software and spreadsheets have just never worked for me. I do use linked bank accounts for the larger amounts of money but, for the day-to-day, I prefer divided piles of cash. And, really, the linked accounts are just an “e” version of the jars.

    My point is that some people really need things to be oversimplified. And, for those that can’t figure it out on their own, rudimentary personal finance gurus can be useful.

    I do agree with you, though, that these types of shows aren’t for everyone and if you tune in looking for sophisticated financial guidance, you will be sorely disappointed.

    • Teacher Man says:

      To each their own I guess M.R. I just don’t understand why money needs to be separated. Maybe I just make too little to worry about splitting it into piles! I have pretty minimalist tastes, but if I want something I generally buy it and my savings rates come out looking pretty nice.

  15. Ben says:

    I do agree with what you have wrote. But chances are, you are probably already pretty knowledgeable in terms of personal finance. However, the people profiled in this show are oblivious to what is going on in their finances and therefore anything other than simple, common-sense advice would further confuse them. If Gail is able to save some people from the financial abyss, then I think she’s done well. What amazes me is that there are so many people out there that are so reckless with their financial well-being.

    • Teacher Man says:

      I feel like a tape of Gail’s should be shown to the administrators who keep telling me we don’t need a personal finance course in high school. Maybe then I will forgive her for the vaunted “jar system” that seems to be so popular ;)

  16. CB says:

    Hey T-Man –

    To join up with the other psych, I am also a fellow teacher. I am just wanting to point out a few things.

    1) I think your issue is more with reality TV, then it is with Gail. As far as brain numbing, I believe Paris Hilton’s “my new BFF” or the many versions of Bachelor(ette) really take the cake there. Gail is extreme – but no more so then Nanny 9-11, or SuperNanny which humiliate children for our amusement and judgement.

    2) As a teacher – you acknowledge that we need to start with fundamentals. Agreed – but as a teacher – when do we do a good job of this in schools? I don’t know what province you are in, but where I come from we are making strides, but high school students leave thinking that they will be able to buy a house, raise a family, drive a car, drink beer, and pay taxes on a 30000 salary. I believe Gail’s methodology makes the abstract – tangible (aka, the jar system), and once they get that concept, then they could move onto the spreadsheet system you suggest.

    3) I am really with MR on this one (and as a psych – why would you pick that as your nickname, really?) but I also like putting my money into “piles” – and I do it with different accounts. I like to know that all my bills will be paid, and enough money is in the “bill” account to cover them. I also like to look at my account balance and say “ya, I can afford to buy that new couch, TV, bedroom set” because I know my basics are covered. Getting people to departmentalize their money (as emphasized in the jar system) is a fundamental skill, which I would argue, is not common sense to people who have financial troubles.

    4) I think you are out of line to make comments about Gail’s weight. I would agree if she did not follow her own financial advise, you could accuse her of hypocrisy. But to make the leap that she is a hypocrite because she does not control her weight is making some pretty large assumptions. You don’t know her beyond her being a character on TV, and it is her mind and personality that give her credibility, not her size. It would be like many of the bloggers discrediting you for your misspellings on your blog above – it is an argument ad hominem, which does not distract from the truth you/Gail profess.

    I’d have to agree – with the M’s – pretty negative review. Good show, in fact, my partner and I PVR princess and TDDUP and watch Gail each Monday on Slice ;) I have used her web tools to implement and create my budget. Good on her, and good on her for going after the credit card companies who continue to take advantage of uneducated consumers.

    Now go teach your students some common sense ;)

    • Teacher Man says:

      Hey CB,

      Well I’m glad this post has proven to Gail how many devoted followers she has! I’ll try to respond to your points in brief.

      1) I hear you on the reality TV rant (I detest most of those shows), but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize someone that chooses to make that type of forum their stage. It definitely is not worse than the shows you mention, but the point is that the shows you mention are terrible and beyond irritating (I admittedly had to look one of them up).

      2) We are getting better at this in my school CB, and instead of making reality shows where I yell at people, I spend my time drafting proposals to come up with a personal finance course that could first be offered, and then be made mandatory. At the moment, I am trying to coordinate a volunteer committee for this exact purpose.

      3) I guess I’m the weird one here then. I simply have 1 account for basic spending. I know how much I get paid every month, and I know to within $50 what my bills will be. The remainder I transfer into savings and investment plans.

      4) My comments were not making fun of the fact that Gail was overweight, but rather drawing attention to a negative parallel that I hoped might open a few eyes. I will be glad to defend a few misspellings on my blog any time CB, I publish around 5000 words online every week, I’m bound to slip up (this is in addition to a teaching load and pursuing a masters degree). By drawing a parallel between the knowledge and self-discipline it takes to get into financial shape, with the knowledge and self-discipline it takes to get into physical shape, I hoped to allow viewers to question why it was ok to humiliate someone for their lack of success in one area and not another.

      5) The review is fairly negative because the show deserves a negative response. The site on the other hand strikes a pretty good balance between positivity and creative criticism in my mind. There are certainly worse things in this world than a distasteful TV show, it just represents a lot of what’s wrong with who becomes famous and seen as an “authority” in my mind.

      *sigh* If only common sense were common right?

    • M.R. says:

      CB – my initials are M.R. Don’t overthink everything.

  17. Not proud says:

    I was on this show in the past and must say you are %110 right.
    I’m no financial guru but here was the break down after I was on the show.
    6 weeks of filming 2 days a week (wed and sat)
    My work schedule is tue-sat so I had to 12 days off from work at $250 a day. My girlfriend had to take 6 days off at $200 a day.
    -$4200 already
    Of those days 4 of them were on location in downtown T.O we live in oakville. And had to use our own transportation. We had to take separate cars so that my girlfriend could go directly to work afterwards. My gas was $175 for those days. Hers was another $90. $265 total. (all of which had to come out of jars)
    So now were -$4465
    We were “awarded” $3000 on the show.
    So airing my “dirty laundry” and humiliating myself actually ended up costing us $1465 out of pocket.
    Definatly not worth it. When all the advice we got from her we could have got for free.
    Thought I’d mention that this show makes from $8k to $15k in add revenue per episode airing.
    We get no royalties and they have the rites to the episode for 5 years.

    • Teacher Man says:

      THANK YOU!! I am so glad to hear from someone that was on the show! That is insane how many days to had to take off, and really drives home the point that the show is about acting crazy in order to entertain, and not really to help people. I’m very sorry to hear that you were taken advantage of. If we can help with anything please let us know. No pressure, no public embarrassment.

    • NeverAgain says:

      TELL ME ABOUT IT!!!!! now we did the show about 5yrs ago…(things might be different now) – i was under the impression she was here to help us sit with us behind the scene to really understand whats going on to help us prioritize our finances.. no information was given to us prior signing and filming.

      my husband and i took off so much time of work to see her 4 times and was not able to get any advice from her directly she walked in the house spoke to us and walked out as soon as the cameras were turned off.

      only from ppl in her office would reply to our emails, what help does she provide?, she gave us jars, a binder to write in. a cooking class, her assistant forward us spreadsheets that didn’t work and i spent time fixing it….

      Challenges that made absolutly no sense to us, or even help us in any way- cooking lesson ( i love to cook and cook alot)?!?!?!… My biggest mistake was thinking that she really helped people behind the scene boy was I WRONG…. my advice to anyone thinking of doing the show DONT!!!!!

      it was an awful experience.and yes we got the $$$ so im not upset bc i failed challenges – i just thought with all her knowledge experience she would help.

      i haven’t been able to watch the show since it just makes me very angry!!

      these are just my thoughts! Others love her and maybe some ppl just need the Jar system to fix all their problems and thats great for them!!!

      • Teacher Man says:

        Thanks for revealing some background about the show Never Again. I suspected as much to say the least. I apologize in advance for all of the comments that will criticize you from Gail Acolytes. Take it with a grain of salt. Thanks again for sharing your painful experience.

  18. Lily says:

    I agree with you that Gail can be abrasive, but if you pay attention to the revealing words of the couples on these shows, you’ll soon see that she needs to be tough to cut through their fog of financial folly.

    There are a lot of people who spend money mindlessly and create huge financial messes. They clearly do not know how to create or use a spreadsheet, and their concept of Internet banking is figuring out how to obtain more money they have little or no intention of ever paying back. Gail is trying to get them (and the viewers) to think strategically. She has them create spreadsheets and plans for their financial future. The jars are a temporary tool so they can learn that they should not and cannot spend the same $25 over and over, which is a typical credit card behavior and mindset. With plastic in hand, these people apparently forget how to add, which is what gets them into debt. They can’t forget spending the last $5 bill in their jar.

    Not to pick on Not Proud, but chances are he could have calculated in advance how much being on the show would cost him, and said no thanks. His comment that he could have gotten this advice for free suggests he apparently never bothered to get or act on such free advice in the past and perhaps does not plan to in the future.

    I’ve read the Wealthy Barber and the Millionaire Next Door and all the books, and the problem with most of them is they do not show how to get a husband and wife on the same page financially. They mostly assume it’s a done deal, and the guy who has gotten rich buying stocks has a compliant wifey still spending hours making homemade pot roast and cutting coupons. Give me a break. Gail is trying to address a culture gone mad with self-indulgence. Try telling a woman who spends hundreds of dollars a week on her nails, her hair extensions, her shoes, and her clothes to READ A BOOK.

    • Teacher Man says:

      In my opinion, if a husband and wife can’t get on the same communication page, they need a lot more help than Gail yelling at them would provide. IF this is the new justified standard of communication, I’m ready to turn old and crotchety, and start talking about the good ole days.

  19. Maggie says:

    Ive read your post and the comments and I think you are choosing to ignore anything positive that comes of the show. I also think you are being rather insulting, clearly these people (and many others) are in the dark about money and how to spend it or they would be like you and they would have one account, know almost exactly what their bills are, put their money into savings retirement etc. You seem to be questioning their intelligence because they need a simple break down of their finances and where their money is going. The jars seem like an excellent way to show a concrete example of the money- how to budget it (which categories) and where the money actually goes. As a teacher I would hope you recognize that everyone learns in different ways and that when you are learning something new simple steps and approaches are often successful. She’s showing them the basics and they can choose to expand their knowledge and learn more about finances and the more advanced tools that are out there. Money isn’t simple for some people and you’ve got to start somewhere!

    Honestly it is reality TV but these are real people who have gotten themselves into a mess and they are not alone. Sure she may yell too much and it seems humiliating but tough love is what people need sometimes. The couples on the show often have no clue how they got so deep into debt or what to do about it. She also helps them learn to talk to each other about money and take responsibly for the financial mess theyre in, also she encourages them to talk to family and friends about spending and debt (oh learning to take responsibly and communicate- the horrors! Who gave this lady a tv show.. Eyeroll). 

    I’m sure everyone takes away different things from watching this show (obviously you only took away negative thoughts..) but perhaps some people see that it’s possible to get out of debt, that anyone can make a budget, that talking about money isn’t bad, that maybe they should have an emergency fun, maybe all that will come of it is feeling better about your own financial situation but if it gets people thinking about their finances is it really as bad as you say? Money is a taboo topic and having shows about finance seems like a great way to get more people talking about money.    

    Also on the show shes often like ya you made a real mess how could you be this stupid with your money BUT heres a plan to get out of debt and guess what- you can have the things you want IF you PLAN. Do you want to have a baby, buy a new car, plan your wedding, go on vacation– you can do this without getting yourself into more debt but you need a plan and you need to be realistic. 

    You also fail to acknowledge that each show includes a relationship rescue challenge that is specially designed for the couple and the problems their facing in their relationship. 

    She hardly seems like a humiliating monster you make her out to be.  

    I’m disappointed that your post was not only negative but was pretty judgmental and close minded. 

    • Teacher Man says:

      Yet another ridiculous defence of this bizarre reality TV show. Are our collective television instincts getting so battered by the garbage on the tube these days that we are actually willing to put up this?

      Maggie, simply read the comment above from the guy who was a part of this show. Clearly he was humiliated and taken advantage of just for the shock value and entertainment of others and was not compensated for this in the way he was led to believe.

      Jars are a ridiculous metaphor for budgeting and I would never insult my students by assuming they couldn’t understand basic money management.

      “Sure she may yell too much”. – Yah she does, and it is annoying, and ridiculous. I know I’m not alone in this opinion, and it is a major problem. Imagine if someone approached an area of your life you needed help with this way?

      I’m disappointed that after all the work I put into a post you felt the need to make a brutally evidence-lacking comment in response. I’m not even going to dignify the rest of the post with much of a response. Clearly you are in on the show’s main demographic of people who want to see others humiliated for their own pleasure (what could you possibly learn at this point after seeing the same advice given time and again) and in order to artificially feel good about themselves… but I’m the one who is negative and close-minded.

      • Jo says:

        You are sadly out of touch with the world if you can not see the value of Gail’s show. The guy above who had is but kicked would have come out ahead IF he had completed the challenges. Getting 3,000 means they failed some of the challenges. And, as has been pointed out, he could have said no to doing the show.
        You do seem to have closed your mind and formed your opinion. I can see that nothing that I, or anyone else for that matter, can say will ever change that opinion.

        • Teacher Man says:

          If Gail’s show represents today’s world I’m pretty glad to be considered “out of touch” with it. Thanks for being so judgemental to honest fellow above who shared his story with us, that confirms everything I believed about Gail’s audience. Have fun building up your self-esteem and getting your jollies laughing at others along with the rest of Oxlade-ites out there.

      • catherine says:

        You sound exactly like my accounting teacher in high school! He was a patronizing jerk too. He told me when I was struggling in the class that I needn’t worry about learning accounting because I would be getting married after highschool and my husband could take care of the finances.

        • Teacher Man says:

          Catherine, come on now. I would never ever tell a female (or male student for that matter) anything like that. I fully support everyone being financially literate, and helping them get there. Just because we disagree on the content and the delivery of it on a show, please don’t personally insult me.

          • catherine says:

            Why don’t they teach financial literacy in schools? Why don’t they prepare us better for life? I was 18 when I was approached for a credit card. I got free tupperware for signing up, and I racked up $500 in less than a month. I understand you don’t like Gail and you hate the whole concept of the show, but if Gail was my accounting teacher I likely wouldn’t have financially destroyed my life. Some people NEED to be yelled at, just to get the message through.

          • Teacher Man says:

            Please go ask your local politician this. Political entities are ultimately the only ones that can approve curriculum changes (in Canada at least). That is why you weren’t taught it. I’m trying very hard to get more PF information in schools, and to he honest, a far more comprehensive curriculum that goes beyond what Gail teaches. I totally disagree that some people “NEED” to be yelled at though. Again, many people have problems, you can’t just yell at them to ram the point home.

  20. Maggie says:

    Glad to see you are coming around and realizing yet your close minded and negative!

  21. Marty says:

    Hahah I think Jo has an excellent point, the couple above only managed to get $3000 of the $5000 reward money… If the show and all of gails ideas are so simple and elementary how did they fail?

    • Teacher Man says:

      The whole point isn’t that people have a tough time with personal finance (obviously there is plenty of evidence of this), but rather the way in which Gail goes on and on and her whole method of delivery. I honestly am absolutely stunned by the amount of people who have come on here in support of someone who is so abrasive and negative and is obviously promoting a reality show that is designed to make people feel good about themselves as opposed to actually teaching the intricacies of personal finance topics.

  22. Not proud says:

    Well hind sight is 20/20.
    Perhaps I could have said “no”. Although the contract that we signed pre filming of the show does not include anything about cost that we would have pay “on our own”.

    As for failed challenges.
    How about you sell all your belongings for 1/2 of the retail price because you need to reduce your debt.
    Then go and replace them. At full retail price when you have money for them.
    Does that make sense to you!
    To me your only paying retail +1/2 in the long run.
    And that is how you save money.

    • catherine says:

      Was it crap you didn’t really need anyway? I was homeless because I kept buying stupid crap. I lost my house to pay off my debts, and just try renting a decent place with a lousy credit rating. I spent 2 months living in a trailer at a campground before I found someone who would trust me enough to rent to me. ALL of my belongings from back then are gone. I frigging WISH I got 50% of their value. Your lucky to get 25% at a pawnshop. I learned my lesson and I’m now debt free except a mortgage, which is paid by my rental suite in the basement. How have you faired? Did you learn anything or are you still wallowing in debt?

      • Teacher Man says:

        I’m not quite sure how this is relevant to the conversation, but please don’t insult people brave enough to share their story Catherine. I would think that given your difficult experiences you would have some empathy?

        • catherine says:

          I’m am not trying to be insulting. I honestly want to know if they managed to get their finances in order. It really hurt when I had to sell/give away all my possessions, but when it came right down to it, its only stuff. I saved the sentimental objects, but It was a relief to be able to start with a clean slate. Also you claim I have no empathy? Seriously, I have so much empathy I would never wish anyone to go through the hell I did. People are way too attached to possessions when what really matters are relationships and quality of life.

          • catherine says:

            Also, according to their numbers, they make $9000 a month

            (My work schedule is tue-sat so I had to 12 days off from work at $250 a day. My girlfriend had to take 6 days off at $200 a day.)

            $250 x 20 = $5000 + $200 x 20 = $4000 = $9000

            I was wondering if that was gross or net?

          • Teacher Man says:

            Then please state this instead of insulting people who are sharing deeply personal experiences about the subject matter of the article.

  23. Frugal Scot says:

    Not Proud – I had to do that in the past, sell things at 1/2 their value or less to make money to pay bills, feed my kids or just survive at one point in my life. And you know what I did it.

    Teacher – you don’t like Gail? Fine. Don’t like her system? Don’t use it. But it works for many people. I was using this type of system for years before Gail showed it on her show but I used envelopes. I never read the other books “Wealthy Barber” etc.

    To attack Gail personally for her flaws ie her weight, low. Extremely low, especially considering you are a teacher who teaches english (that’s the subject you mentioned, perhaps I am wrong) who can’t even spell check/grammar check his post?

    I’m a Gail fan (obviously) and I do think there have been times she has been extreme. Perhaps though you should watch more than one episode. How about 5? Give it a real try. After all your sarcastic comments to those that say they will not be back to your blog because they only read that could be used towards you in this situation.

    Will I be back to your blog? Maybe, gonna check out some of your other posts, see what they say.

    • Teacher Man says:

      Frugal to respond to your points in order (these repetitive comments are getting long in the tooth for prose at this point):

      1) “The System” you refer to is putting money in a jar. I’m just saying there is so much more to personal finance, and such better ways to communicate her point.

      2) I’m not an “English teacher”. I have taught a class of English, but it isn’t my main deal. I also publish around 5,000 words a week on the internet (which I also stated above). At that rate there is no way you aren’t going to make a few errors. Check your local newspaper for proof. By the way, your comment above has about 7-8 errors in it, so by your own logic you probably don’t deserve to have an opinion (in print at least) at all.

      3) I did not comment on Gail’s weight except in direct relation to the way she treats the weaknesses that other people have. This is a relevant comparison and if you are going to put yourself in the public view as an expert on reforming others you should be willing to take the heat.

      4) I’ll be brutally honest here. If people out there genuinely enjoy the vindictive nature of Gail’s show. If they love the idea of feeling better about themselves because they are watching other get torn down then they probably won’t like the laid back nature of this site.

      • Frugal Scot says:

        Teacher I’ll respond in point as well, since of course it makes addressing each point easier

        1. Yep the system is easy and there is more than that to personal finance but sometimes starting at the beginning in simple form is what some people need. Back to basics sometimes is the easiest way.

        2. Yep my post had errors, but I’m not a teacher, you are. I was using your errors to point out that no one is without fault. My “logic” as you call it was not about your, mine or anyones ability to post opinions due to their ability to communicate effectively but to reflect the “people who live in glass houses….” idea.

        3. Yeah, you kinda did comment on Gails weight. Whether directed as to her having a “weakness” just as her clients (participants in the show) have or just to put her down makes no difference. It’s the same as comparing apples to oranges. Weight can also be attributed to medical reasons, financial messes usually can’t (at least in Canada).

        4. Yeah I’ll agree with you. Some people enjoy watching it so they can have the “my life isn’t as bad as that” or “wow look at the mess those stupid people got themselves into” But not everyone who watches does so for that reason. I liked (and still like) the tips and seeing people who tried and succeeded.

        Oh and I checked around your site. Quite honestly I’m gonna be directing my son to it. Some of the stuff I saw on the homepage would work well for him.

        TTFN

        • Teacher Man says:

          I’m honestly glad (stepping away from my usual sarcasm here for a second) that you found something of value on the site FS. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on Ms. Vail-Oxlade for the time being. That’s the great part about living in a free country right (be it Scotland or Canada)?

        • Financial Amateur says:

          Frugal Scot – gotta disagree with you on some of this.

          Gail Vaz-Oxlade is basically someone trying hard to create a brand at all costs, and as some have written here it seems to come at the expense of others. The shows are largely about pleasure in the sufferings of others, who are demeaned in the process. The victims of her shows have posted some very revealing comments here – read them.

          Neither show is any longer in production by the way – what does that say about Gail’s money and business management? Gail would likely admit that she is not a financial expert – she has no credentials, and a weak education having barely stumbled out of high school I hear. No qualified financial planner I know of would respect her opinion on anything.

          On her current radio show and website she makes excuses about the lack of follow up shows on her subjects – wanna bet that the long term results are less than compelling?

          So she really has little to offer except her own persona – it is therefore, by definition, absolutely relevant to examine how this ‘lifetsyle coach’ lives her own life. You are being petulant and silly suggesting that this equates to a personal attack. It is not. If Gail actually had some kind of technical expertise, in money or even psychology, then by all means criticize those who look at her own life. But she doesn’t, by her own admission – check the messaging on her website.

          Is her weight relevant? Well, she is not a financial coach as much as a lifetsyle coach by her own admission. So her role modeling is indeed relevant. Self management advice from someone who allows her physical self to be completely out of control? I saw a picture of her last week in a local paper – she is now what looks like morbidly obese. Relevant? Absolutely. And your comment about weight and medical causes had me laughing – that applies to a very tiny minority of overweight people. It is ALL about self-management and discipline, and Gail BABY, you are out of control.

          I hear she has actually made very little money with all this, shows are out of production and she now shills for free or nearly so on a Toronto radio station once a week. BTW – Why do people from T.O. choose to live in a godforsaken burb like Brighton ON, if not for poverty pushing them there? It’s a wasteland of suburbia and commuting there. Gail lives there in a house she describes as very modest. Her life is in Toronto, she claims to have money, and lives …there…..sorry Gail, I am not buying it.

          And her personal life – three failed marriages and she laughs and brags about how she refuses to get divorced from her third. Great advice that eh – don’t face reality, just carry on in denial. Applied to your financial life that would be a disaster. Again, the messenger is the message when you have no real knowledge to stand upon (Jars? Give me a break – not even close to actual info, and her schtick has been used by others long before her, and better)

          She IS the princess she so derides in others, and has matured little from that stage (read about her spoiled childhood and this becomes very clear)

          Again, in fairness, these are not ad hominem attacks, which is the charge some are levelling here at Teacher Man. Good for him to say the tough truth many others avoid. I have likewise pointed out her failings to my students and others, and people sometimes get angry with me. As a financial educator and sometimes blogger myself, I see her only as an example of someone attempting to build a brand, with its inherent good and bad, but of little value in terms of actual content.

  24. D says:

    At the end of the day, this is a rant about something you watched very little of on television one day. The spelling mistakes say it all, as well as lack of anything relevant. I wish you all the luck with your budget; finding something that works for you and your life is super important. As for me, I am going to mix a little bit of Gail and all the other tricks and tips from other people, as well as a few of my own to make my budget work. What works for me or you may or may not work for other people.

    • Teacher Man says:

      All right buddy, you stick with your jars of money, and I’ll stick with resources that cover taxation, investment planning, insurance, wills, etc. Since we don’t agree, clearly what I have to say isn’t relevant. Thanks for coming out though.

      • kay says:

        I’m not sure what your problem is with the jars, but like everything else, these things work for some people. I have used them myself, and they were a great visual aid, and by using them, and writing down what I was spending, I learned to keep track of my funds – something I wasn’t doing before. I no longer use the jars now, and have instead set up a very comprehensive spreadsheet to keep my budget on track. Considering that you say you are a teacher, you know that people learn very differently. Some people understand things very easily and quickly with one explanation, others need visual aids to help them. I don’t see this as being any different. Some people like the visual aspect of their funds in jars, while others don’t need a visual. So, you didn’t like this way of doing things, and obviously you are able to budget without this. Some others like this way of doing things, and are quite happy to put their money into jars or envelopes and budget that way. Does that really make a difference to you if some people want to put their money into jars? If the budget works, who really cares??

  25. Maggie says:

    I think Kay is a great example, she started with the jars and worked up to more comprehensive ways to deal with her finances. I don’t think it’s marketed as an “cure-all” on the show it’s saying “hey you don’t know the first thing about money, were going to start with the basics”

    Ive been reading all these comments and responses and I really can’t believe you get paid to publish words on the Internet but I guess that’s the internet for you.

    • Teacher Man says:

      Hey Maggie, thanks for contributing to the site and putting money in the massive jar I keep it all in. You see I actually co-own this site (no one pays me), and your constant commenting actually helps search engines find our site. The more eyeballs that find our site, the more money we make. So once again, thanks for your support.

  26. catherine says:

    I apoligize for the above comment, for some reason my computor didn’t show my comments were still awaiting moderation. You can delete it, thanks.

  27. Agree!Agree! says:

    Also agree Teacher Man that finances SHOULD be taught in highschool. More discussion around the dinner tables when kids are at home is also necessary. I know my parents were, and stll are, very tight lipped about anything financial. My “financial education” was sadly learned throught trial & error. Even in college none of my classes were financial whatsoever. I would hazard a guess that many people are no different from me. Im not signing up for her show or anything, but I think I see why it’s popular.

  28. HR says:

    Yes, Gail’s laugh is a little witch-like. And perhaps she does yell a little harshly sometimes. But since you’ve only seen one episode, you wouldn’t know that she’s also quite gentle when it’s needed. And although what she says is all common sense to you, to MANY people, it’s the divine revelation revelation of finances. I don’t keep my money in jars, but when I started living only with cash for my variable expenses, I was able to claw my way out of debt. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without seeing it on her show.

  29. Gage says:

    Hello,I emailed Gail,and told her about My partner,and I having financial problems,and asked her in the letter if there was any advice she could give me,and never heard a word back from her.Talking about helping people. I’ll never refer her,or her site to anyone. What a waste of time I took emailing her.

  30. Mae Edward says:

    Ok, so let me get this straight. Teacher Man, you are passing judgement after watching PART of an episode of ’Till Debt Do Us Part’ Ok, you don’t like Gail, her personality, the show etc. You don’t necessarily disagree with the principals she’s trying to teach, it’s her methods that don’t work for you.

    As a teacher, I would think you would understand that EVERYONE learns on a different level. What works for one person, isn’t neccessarily going to work for others. Gail’s system has worked for many, myself included. Although I have modified it (no jars), I went from $27,000 in debt (June 2010) to debt free (June 2012). It wasn’t until I started watching the show and adopted many of the principals she teaches, that I realized my mistakes and made progress in correcting them. Living on cash DOES make a difference for some. I use online banking etc as well. But my day to day living is done in cash. I don’t record everything I spend, but I keep my reciepts and record it on a month to month basis. Don’t knock a system just because it isn’t something you would use. Because many have been helped by it.

    I understand that her methods can be abrasive to some. We are talking about adults that agree to this process. It’s not like they don’t go into it knowing what it’s about. Some get the message, some don’t, and some simply refuse to see the problem. Between her shows, there have been more then 100 episodes produced. So having a couple participants speak out against the show doesn’t mean much IMO.

    These shows are produced for maximum drama. But there is an educational factor that is very relevant. Too many people are living beyond their means. Consumer debt is out of control. Budgeting is something many people don’t truly understand. People aren’t willing to accept that they are making mistakes, and that is why they are in the financial mess they are in. Everyone has to live up to the Jones’ when they don’t have the income/money to do so.

    Most importantly, the show is produced for ENTERTAINMENT. Gail is the TV personality, the host of this show. Yes, it’s her methods featured. But there are many different things involved in producing the show. Much of which is at the control of the producers, directors etc not Vaz-Oxlade herself.

  31. TBM says:

    If some people on the show manage to learn something about how to get out of debt then what’s the problem. And what’s the rant about the jars, I thought they were a metaphor to teach those in debt that things like credit cards are not a source of income and that you really need to pay attention to your cash.

    Some of the people on the show are really not smart like the couple who used a line of credit for mortgage payment. I mean who does that? They started by humiliating themselves and decided to go on tv on top of that so we shouldn’t blame Gail. I like to watch her show for entertainment cause that’s what tv is for these days.

    I do hope though that somewhere down the line she will do a follow up show to see how some participants on her show are doing.

  32. Nicole says:

    I stumbled across this discussion and would like to leave a comment.

    I have seen the show and I do not think that anyone requiring financial assistance should be turning to a reality show that will (as with any form of entertainment) be more concerned with ratings than the well being of their guests.

    The one aspect of the show I do agree with is the jar system. With every aspect of our financial lives done online, most children are not partial to any information other than you buy things by swiping a card or “no, we can’t afford it”, if they are told no at all.

    Having the jar system in your house if you have children, gives them something visual that they can observe. You spend time at work to earn money, a set amount of that money comes into the house each month and that money is used to purchase food, their clothes ect. It not only shows them that there is a limit on the amount money that can be spent in a month, but as they get older it gives them an accurate idea of what things should and do cost. After watching you put $100 a month in the clothes jar, savings jar or entertainment jar for ten years, (hopefully) they can’t help but apply those categories to their own income when they start working. As a bonus, if you involve them in the bill paying every month and annual taxes when they are in their teens, they could have a very realistic idea of what they need to earn to make a living for themselves.

    The TV show aside, I’ve lost count of how many people I know of living in debt or how many young adults I have encountered that are going to school for a career and plan to buy a new condo, a nice car and annual vacation when their done. When I ask what their expected income will be, they either do not know or proudly state a figure around $50,000 (give or take ten grand).

    You are absolutely right about the lack of financial education and the idea that a reality show could undue or substitute for the lack of that education, but I do believe the basic techniques used could be a solution to the greater problem that this show is a symptom of. It may not be the greatest delivery system, but there is no such thing as bad publicity.

  33. Peacecraft says:

    Looks like I found this post/comments thread a year late, but it’s been an interesting read nonetheless.

    Princess and Til Debt Do Us Part are shows that I watch while I do my ironing on weekends. Whilst they provide a fair bit of mindless entertainment value – similar to Jerry Springer maybe? – I think I understand where Teacher Man is coming from when he ponders Gail’s sometimes-patronizing attitude and whether this formulaic “you are overspending every month by $X; you will be $Y in debt in 5 years; you are going to live on cash for the next four weeks; here are some jars with money them, spend cautiously; do some nice things for your family because you’ve been so selfish; here is $5000″ could actually be educational for participants and viewers.

    If there is indeed widespread educational value, it should indeed worry us that so many people are nowhere near to being financially capable/prudent adults, and that society isn’t trying seriously enough to eradicate financial illiteracy.

    I’ve also watched some “Where Are They Now?” episodes, in which we revisit few years later couples that were previously $80K in debt, only to see that they are now bankrupt or still in repayment for $60K. I’m not sure these results are optimistic.

    However, if it serves mostly as a feel-good show, then – good for you Gail Vaz-Oxlade, good for you.

  34. Andrew says:

    The people who go on this show need a serious over the top wake up call and she gives it to them. The jar system is not how everyone should live their lives…but from a visual educational tool experience and perspective it is a good teacher for people who don’t get the concept of money like most on the show.

  35. Sarah says:

    Wow, I have so much to say about this post, and all the comments!

    I have read all the financial books, but my hubby isn’t a reader, so when we started watching TDDUP, the simplistic nature of the lessons helped us address financial issues.

    Although my hubby and I (both overweight), found it hard to trust Gail about managing money, because essentailly counting pennies and counting calories is the same thing. So her weight is an issue because: A) she’s on TV and B) her authority or credibility is slightly undermined by being ‘out of control’ in that area.

    But we related to other couples who have massive stupid debt, so we watched the show, until cutting cable became one of the steps we took to reduce expenses.

    We tried the jar system. Hubby responded to its visible nature, I sweated it out at the grocery line, with actual jars rattling in my purse! Then we switched to envelopes. Then we just went back to our old ways, because – hey – people don’t really change much!

    As far as her ‘sell your stuff’ strategy, that one always bothered us. She’d walk in to our lives and tell us to sell for pennies on the dollar items we have very good reason to pay down and keep. Downsizing everything doesn’t always save you money.

    Which is perhaps why clueless couples shouldn’t look to a tv show for help, but you take what you can get. I had highschool teachers who offered advice – I just didn’t listen! The student has to be ready, and when you wake up over 30 with twice that number in thousands of dollars of consumer debt, it turns out that there aren’t a lot of ‘teachers’ around to help you out…

    I agree Gail is harsh and saavy about promoting her brand, but her elementary lessons are accessible. I still refer to her ‘pie chart’ guide on occassion, which is a heck of a lot more reasonable than, say, the charts you are supposed to track in the book “Your Money, or Your Life?”

    And honestly, planning for clothing and gift purchases, even if it is only $3 a week, is better than not planning at all.

    So much financial writing says ‘stop buying lattes and take your lunches to work’. Gail addressed that family finances are about couples being a couples – for better, or for worse! And there are issues like groceries and maternity pay etc which is so much more detailed than the standard ‘no more lattes’ I read all the time.

    When we had cable (when the show was still in production), hubby and I discussed would we ever be on that show? And we agreed that – no – we wouldn’t open our lives up to the world in that way, regardless of the ‘help’ or incentives offered, because we knew Gail’s standard answers (sell off everything, get a crappy extra job, stop smoking, etc,) were things we knew were a problem, but we weren’t actually going to change.

    I feel bad for the couples who did the show and found it to be a negative experience. But I am still grateful for whatever I took away from watching the show.

    Our finances, habits, and practices are still a mess. But the show made me realize it’s up to us to fix the mess… Short of bancruptcy trustees, there isn’t much help or education available for adults, and certainly not on tv…

  36. Andrew says:

    The show is not catered to the financially literate DIY’s. The simple, blunt and visual advice and examples are what these extreme examples of financial idiots need. Yes she is blunt and sometimes over the top but let me remind you the couples get $5000 at the end of the show if they show a valiant attempt at improvement.

    Yell at me all you want if i get $5k.

  37. Maria says:

    I think Gail is great. I’m all for the Jar system and think she gives some in your face advice. Some people need it, they need that wake up call. I personally have had a tough time with money and I turned my life around 5 years ago. Now I didn’t know about Gail and her show, but now that I have watched it this last year I wish she would have come in my life those past years. I follow her advice now and not only am I ahead, I have ZERO DEBT, beautiful home that’s paid for and live STRESS FREE. I know she can be a little silly with her comments and that may rub people the wrong way, but then don’t watch. Simple folks change the channel. As much as she not holding a gun to the people who decide to be on the show, I don’t think there is a gun in your face either. If you want to use your energy to RANT by all DO IT, I RANT because I think GAIL is great, and she doesn’t give a flapping frog what is said about her or the show. With that said I hope everyone has a wonderful day. I know I will!!!!

    • Teacher Man says:

      Right, just like if you don’t want to read this article, you don’t have to right? You seriously think getting humiliated on TV would have helped you though?

      • Kathleen says:

        I find it amusing that Gail’s show, which you so disliked, just gained you a new follower. Was searching for follow-up info on the couple that had declared bankruptcy twice, for the rerun of that episode aired today, and discovered this interesting website. The cell phone and the dollar cost averaging are my favourite articles so far

  38. El Mike-o says:

    Your critique makes sense from a financial perspective but not from a television perspective. As an advisor whose primary objective was to help people gain control of their finances, I would never yell insults at my clients and tell them to stuff their money into jars. But as a television producer whose primary objective was to drive high ratings to the program, I would definitely go full out with the insults and the jars.

    What happens on the show is driven by the demands of good TV, not by best practices of financial advice. That’s the way it has to be if the show is going to stay on the air and make money, which is really the whole point.

  39. Ana-Maria says:

    Yes, you do sound a bit jealous, but it’s good that you are aware of it. gail has a style that makes for entertaining TV, and her weight is irrelevant because she didn’t apply to be on a weight-loss show and subject her body and lifestyle to judgment. If she did that, then she could expect Jillian Michaels to yell at her. The Til Debt Do Us Part/Princess contestants chose to apply and put their financial life out there, hoping to cash in at the end. Her advice is indeed just common-sense, but those people seem to lack exactly that, common sense. Also, and this is true especially for the Princesses, a brutal approach seems welcome, because these girls are so very coddled by everyone in their lives and treated like they’re made of glass. I have a friend who takes credit card after credit card, maxes it out, and plans to file for bankruptcy when she can no longer sustain that. To her, credit is income, and men owe her money simply because she exists. She is way past being cajoled into spending more wisely and not using people; what she needs is a good kick in the ass. I tried, but I don’t have Gail’s imposing personality :).
    At first, I found the money jars a bit silly, because I almost never use cash. But then I had the chance to meet people who treat plastic like a never-ending source of money, because they cannot physically see their reserve shrinking, so I can see how her approach could work for some.
    As for relationship advice, her advice targets relationship troubles caused by money, by miscommunication about money, or by refusal to contribute to the household. The contestants themselves declare that their relationships are rocky BECAUSE of their finances. Gail’s own divorces may have completely different causes – and I bet that money isn’t one of them.
    Her style is definitely not for everybody, and the fact that a good number of contestants don’t improve after the 6 weeks shows that, but a lot of people still learn some good lessons from the show.
    Sorry for the long comment.

  40. Lizzy says:

    I love her show and in 3 yrs we maxed out one RRSP contribution limit! Now we are maxing out mine! People have lost touch with their money! Plastic is everywhere! Spending is a Quick Fix! Emotional and otherwise! Life Lessons some people never get! It!We did this program and have never looked back. Being debt free has done wonders for our life! No Stress, we pay ourselves first, we overpay our bills, we no longer quarrel about money! We take an actual paid for holiday annually mot on a credit card, an actual holiday somewhere awesome and make great memories. Christmas is paid got again no January credit card bill or remorse. We carry a negative valance on all hills and pay the same amount all year prorated. We never pay interest. We carry a valance in our account and we get paid instead through profit sharing, no banking fees ever! We share the responsibility for our Financial relationship and Yes the jar system definitely works because there is No out of sight out of mind spending when you actually have to reach in the jar and take out the money you actually think about what you are about to buy and if you actually need it. Definitely cuts down on the impulse buying! So all in all one of the best shows out there. We now pay everything cash and are saving to buy our retirement home cash no paying the banks triple for our home and giving them our hard earned money or the government either why wait a whole year to get a tax refund invest in aN RRSP and get the tax break monthly! Enough said it takes Will Power to Save for the Day You can’t work and believe me that Day will come faster than you think and if you think anyone will take care of you, you better think again! If you don’t care enough about yourself to do it why would anyone else! Funny thing too is money begets money, stress is totally gone bills are paid and the best part is when you here coworkers say I just got paid and there is nothing left! Plus the years I have gotten added back on to my life not to mention the energy that now gets expended in a Positive Way because Money is the Business part of the relationship,makes it worth a few tough words from Gail. You need to look at the Big Picture here and that is financial freedom is taking care of yourself less stress happy life!
    Plus when you see your children teaching your grandchildren you know you did something right! Globally, our world is a catastrophe not really sure how they are going to dig themselves out of this global economy printing press quick fix they have going on! But one thing is for sure what a nice legacy to leave our children, grandchildren ! So very Proud to say We are a Debt Free!

  41. […] 'Till Debt Do Us Part Is Ridiculous and Humiliating – My University Money | Teacher Man […]

  42. shasta says:

    The original comments are ridiculous, if not foolish – if these were random people being grabbed off the street and berated for their poor financial management skills, there might be some merit or validity to this comment but considering people sign themselves up for this show, and many others, they are clearly aware of the circumstances they are putting themselves in. They are also getting paid for the pleasure of being made out to be irresponsible on television for up to 5 or 10 thousand dollars – I have no sympathy for them. I don’t have hate for them either, but I don’t feel sorry for people who submitted themselves to self improvement television for their own betterment, whether that be actual help, fame, money, notoriety, etc.

    Also, common sense isn’t so common as my momma said – sadly and if most people knew this information (or had access to education about money or a childhood or upbringing that educated children about money, etc) the state of debt, credit, over extended living beyond our means that is common place for a large portion of today’s society wouldn’t be so common place and we as individuals and families would be in better shape financially.

    When we as a society are in a better place financially, and educated appropriately about money, and how it makes the world work, we are more capable of paying attention to governments and banks who would help to create systems that erode a middle class existence and keep lower income earners dependant on this system (to some degree there are always multiple factors, issues and variables).

    How is it that most high school graduates leave high school not knowing how to fill out a tax form, understanding RSP’s, tax free saving accounts, educational savings and RSP’s….we do not prepare our children for the world of money yet money is the thing that they will have to deal with the rest of their lives – (clearly – most times on Gail’s show you can see how parents contribute to these problems by their own lack of information or financial knowledge).

    This definitely isn’t a case of clubbing baby seals over the head and dragging them onto the show, it was more like there are tons of people clamouring to get on a show like this and hopefully they actually watched the show before getting involved. Personally, if they didn’t = buyer beware, and they got what they got..lol..lol.

    I also think that you are not taking into consideration any cultural or diversity indications that might also be relevant to your comparison – the Wealthy Barber and Til Debt cater to 2 different audiences for the most part, obviously there would be cross over but these 2 “systems” are geared at different markets on some levels. I think it is funny that you think urban or rural area teenagers are picking up copies of the Wealthy Barber rather than turning the boob tube on and watching a show that is more contemporary and current to their liking.

    I could be totally wrong or off base but just some thoughts.

    PS – lucky you that you don’t seem to need a swift kick in the ass some times to get you motivated or committed to doing better at something you might need to change in your life but unfortunately some people do need that reality check or wake up call to get them seeing more clearly or responsibly for themselves. Gail isn’t for everyone as the show illustrates at times but she is who she is and she gives reasonable, easy to understand and basic financial advice that does provide help and a path or system to people who may not have had those skills or understandings before – props to her for those efforts, as well as the people who really tried to make a better financial life for themselves and weren’t just in it for the prize money.

    • Kyle says:

      Thank you for the well thought out response Shasta. Unlike many of the others that replied to this article your thoughts were well organized and clear.

      I think we are in the same boat when it comes to complaining about the lack of financial awareness in society in general. Where we lose each other is the need for this abrasive attitude. You talk about whether I would want students reading well-articulated books or learning the Gail method of communication and it isn’t even close. To advocate for young people to watch that kind of stuff is plain irresponsible.

      I also do take some issue with the whole “she is who she is” argument. I mean clearly the whole think is about putting on an artificial act and creating some sort of abrasive persona/brand to get noticed. There is no way you could treat people like that off screen and get to where she is so I would say it is actually the opposite of “she is who she is”.

  43. Betty says:

    Love the television program, and her easy to follow instructions. If these people were as complex adults as you imply by indicating the jar system is too simple, they wouldn’t be in the situation they’ve found themselves in.

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