Reality Bites

Three mornings a week, David and I workout at 24 Hour Fitness on our way to our day jobs. The reality is that this bites, but I digress. Our workouts are usually after we first put in 90 minutes of Debt Free Guys work. We first do cardio, then weight training. This warms us up before we stress our muscles. Yes, even in our mid-40s we still have muscles, unfortunately, not as visible as 20 years ago. Again, that reality problem.

The cardio area of 24 Hour Fitness has about fifteen TVs that hang from the ceiling. That early in the day, most of the TVs are turned to news or sports. There are occasionally ones turned to oddball TV shows. One is perpetually stuck on TBS, which seems to play a continuous loop of the insufferable show Charmed.

One morning, David and I rode recumbent bikes while we did a light arm workout. The TV directly in front of us was turned to HGTV, which showed a reality show called Love It or Leave It, Too. This is a show on which one of two partners wishes to buy a new home and the other wishes to remodel their current home to make the necessary accommodations to continue living a life outside of squaller.

The show we distractingly watched featured a wife and husband. The wife wanted to sell their current home for a larger home, more conducive to her in-home job and their children. The husband wanted to remodel their current home to meet their needs. The couple agreed their budget for a new home was $1,000,000. Based on the look of their current home, $1,000,000 was out of their price range. It always amazes us the homes HGTV contestants, who otherwise seem to be in our income bracket, can apparently afford in reality.

One of the problems with watching TV at the gym is not getting all the context. We missed the first portion of the show and what we learned during the second portion was via closed-caption. Because we didn’t stare intently at the TV, we likely missed pertinent details.

What we did catch surprised us. Of the three new homes the show’s host presented for this “middle-America couple”, one was a clear standout. It was beautiful, move-in ready and more than met this couple’s needs. The asking price was $1,250,000. This was a price not at or below their budget of $1,000,000, but 25 percent over.

The husband stood his ground and refused to consider it. As the show progressed, the wife grew indignant. The house that was way outside their budget was now the house she wanted. The husband wouldn’t comply to the wife’s Kate Spade demands. What surprised us more than the entitled middle-American woman was when the reality show’s host spoke to the audience, us, and said, “This $1,250,000 house more than meets this family’s needs. I don’t know why the husband won’t consider it.”

In unison, David and I turned to each other and looked like a blow-up doll staring in the mirror. We didn’t know the basis of this couple’s budget for a new home, but the show clearly stated their budget was $1,000,000. Whether this was supported by income, savings, loans, gifts or some combination, we had no idea. The fact remained that this couple’s budget was $1,000,000, not $1,000,000 + or – $250,000 or + or – 25 percent.

If the host contacted the Debt Free Guys to find the answer to his question, we would’ve said that the reality is the husband won’t consider the beautiful $1,250,000 house because it’s 25 percent above the couple’s budget. The husband is concerned about mortgage payments, feeding their family and putting their kids through school. Maybe we should work for HGTV because salaries are apparently multitudinous. Being able to clothe and feed ourselves and loved ones are necessities. The need for shelter, in reality, can be met with a cave. You won’t find us living in a cave, however, but you get the point.

This budget explosion would take an American with an average salary over five years to earn. Many people, us included, have homes half the price of this surplus of $250,000. We can’t wrap our heads around the host’s confusion, nor the wife’s indignation.

We talk a lot about being money conscious. Calculating a budget and then blowing it by 25 percent is the opposite of money conscious. It’s not even money unconsciousness. It’s money stupidity.

3 Tips to Be Money Conscious and Not Money Stupid

  1. Know your goals and stick to them
  2. Calculate a budget and stick to it
  3. Practice contentment

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Comment List

  • Wow, good thing that you still have time to go to the gym! I always told myself to get fit , but the reality is really opposite!

    • John Schneider 01 / 07 / 2015 Reply

      Clarisse, fortunately we have each other as motivators, other wise we might still be in bed! 😛 It has become a habit for us just like our financial well being. #bodyconscious is about as important to us as #MoneyConscious.

  • Linda 01 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    I’m always shocked at that show. There is way too much whining and too little reality.
    I’m glad that I’m not alone in realizing the importance of working out at a gym. If I had stayed with my original fitness plan, I wouldn’t have had to pay physical therapists and doctors so much to fix my injured body. But at least one of the physical therapists designed a good workout for me.

    • David Auten 04 / 10 / 2015 Reply

      Agreed Linda. It seems like most “reality TV” has be come completely unrealistic only to capture an ever decreasing audience. We are just tired of shows like that. No need to waste our time. We are gym junkies to a degree. It allows us to burn off some frustration, anxiety and keep in shape. Living healthy helps us keep going and always puts us in better moods. 😉

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