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Policy Matters

First Quarter 2021


Have you seen this show? If not, you’ve no doubt heard about it (it swept the Emmys last year). It’s the story of the narcissistic, eccentric Rose family who goes from riches to rags: Dad Johnny (Dan Levy), Mom Moira (Catherine O’Hara), son David (Dan Levy), and daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy), plus the cast of characters along for the ride (sometimes in the driver seat, sometimes being dragged behind like a bunch of “just married” cans). It’s witty. It’s irreverent. And the life lessons abound, many of them financial:

  • Be aware of your finances, even if you pay someone to manage them for you.
    • We learned in episode 1 how clueless the Roses were about their finances: how much they had, the risks they were taking, and especially who they could trust. Eli (the family business manager) had been embezzling money for years instead of paying taxes for the Rose Video empire, financially ruining the family when the government leaves them with only a modest income and one asset: The town of Schitt’s Creek. Being clueless can also be expensive. It cost them everything … everything but the town of Schitt’s Creek, that is.
  • Some collections/investments may seem silly, but can be quite valuable.
    • Moira sure though so! Her wigs were part of her identity. Imagine if she didn’t keep them after the downfall; how much she would have had to reinvest into her “self.” And the town of Schitt’s Creek itself, which Johnny bought as a joke for David’s birthday. (They can also be solid investments. Who would have thought a Pokémon card could ever sell for $128,000! Or that a 1938 copy of Action Comics #1 would sell for $3.21 million in 2014!)
  • Diversify your investments.
    • Also known as “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The Roses wouldn’t know anything about eggs or shopping baskets. Don’t be like the Roses. Stocks, 401ks, and maybe even … real estate! It worked well for them, since Schitt’s Creek ended up being the only investment the government left them with and Rosebud Motel ended up being what helped Johnny and Moira rise from the ashes.
  • Know your audience.
    • Have clients in sales/marketing/social media? That’s the #1 rule. Moira and David didn’t consider that when trying to sell high-end cosmetics to their Schitt’s Creek neighbors. It’s like trying to sell a gym membership to a sloth.
  • Cooking at home (as opposed to pricey restaurants) can be fun.
    • Fold in the cheese. (You’ll need to watch season 2, episode 2 to get that one)
  • Have a solid business mission statement.
    • While David had a great vision in his head for Rose Apothecary, he couldn’t accurately describe the business on his application for a business license (or the name, or the address). Thank goodness his soon-to-be husband (and savvy business partner) Patrick stepped in.
  • Good tax advice is good to have.
    • What exactly is a tax write-off? As David finds out, it’s not “when you buy something for your business, and the government pays you back.” Like his new sheets, expensive face cream, and a lamp.
  • Plans can change. Both life and financial.
    • Having plans is pretty standard for most people. But it’s important not to get pigeonholed into one path or hold on to investments that no longer serve your goal. The Roses’ flexibility is probably why they all ended up being both personally and financially (even though not as much as they were at the beginning) fulfilled. And when your clients’ plans change, it’s important they have LLIS perform a policy review for them.
  • Even if you have enough wealth to have a team of people who “do” for you, have some sense of reality.
    • The Roses wanted for nothing. Yet they wanted everything (done for them, that is). And not staying even remotely knowledgeable about their assets didn’t end well. As Moira put it: “A year ago we had a staff of 25 working the grounds of our home, and now we walk by a mattress on the side of the road without thinking twice about it.” Then there’s Billie Eilish who recently paid $35 for what she though was one box of cereal and ended up with 70 miniature sized boxes. She told Vanity Fair. "I feel kind of stupid because I’m like, I don’t know how much Froot Loops are. I tried to order one box of Froot Loops and I was like, Oh yeah, sure. It’s $35. I didn’t know that that’s expensive."
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
    • While the Roses still dressed the part, they sure didn’t have the riches their former-life clothes would lead you to believe. And the ones you’d think don’t have it often do have it! And that leads us to:
  • Do what you love and success will follow.
    • It’s not until the final episode that Alexis learns Twyla (the waitress at the town’s only restaurant, Café Tropical) is extremely wealthy. Apparently, about the same time the Roses arrived in Schitt’s Creek, she hit a lottery jackpot of $46 million. When asked why she hadn’t left her job or the town, Twyla replied: “It’s that money can buy a lot of snowmobiles, but it can’t buy happiness.” Alexis suggested she buy something nice for herself like a spa day or cute little anklet. Instead, Twyla bought Café Tropical.
  • Education is an investment.
    • Alexis invested time and money in getting her high school diploma then pursuing a college degree. Afterward, she started her own PR firm and planned a few events to showcase her talents (like Singles Week).
  • Teamwork makes the dream work.
    • Not one of the Roses went it alone. They supported each other and got support from the residents of Schitt’s Creek. Just look to Johnny’s search for an office (landing in Bob’s garage) or Moira’s running for town council, and the many, many often sideways attempts at help from Stevie, Roland, and Jocelyn.
  • Do your research before investing/expanding your business.
    • Johnny was a serial entrepreneur. There’s the episode where he ended up renting rooms by the hour (clueless about what was really going on). The time he tried to sell the town (which, thankfully, didn’t work). Then he got himself into the (illegal) raw milk business after tasting some of Bob’s at his garage. Alexis’s help is what got him there. She helped him find 12 containers (he asked for pints; she got $394.40 worth in giant containers) of raw milk. They sought Roland’s help (problem #1) to try to dispose of it, but got pulled over by a sheriff and were forced to dump it all out (which meant they also lost the milk money). Then there’s Debbie Reynolds. She bought a Las Vegas casino, added a Hollywood-themed museum, and began live stage performances. But it was too far from the strip and couldn’t pull visitors. She had to sell some of her most prized memorabilia to pay off the bills.
  • Dream big.
    • While Stevie was quite content with Rosebud Motel, Johnny convinced her to branch out and brand Rosebud Motels as a franchise. And it paid off … big!
  • Money doesn’t make you happy/More isn’t always better.
    • They thought they had it all. The Roses had every material possession they could ever want but they weren’t truly happy until their time in Schitt’s Creek, proving that more isn’t always better. They gained so much more when they lost it: Togetherness, connection, empathy, self-worth, and success (even though it looked different than it had before.) True happiness is more than just an Amex Centurion card in your wallet.
  • Real estate can be a good investment.
    • The Hockley Motel, aka Rosebud Motel, located 55 miles north of Toronto, is on the market (the owner has had it for close to a decade) for a steep $2 million. It’s 6.7 acres, 4,300 square feet (comprised of 10 units, including a two-story manager’s suite and one-bedroom cottage), offers easy access to Canada’s most significant trading area, sits on a picturesque river, and is surrounded by natural landscape. The deadline for offers was December 14th, so stay tuned!
  • It’s never too late.
    • To learn to ride a bike; to fall in love; to go back to school; or to start a business.
  • Schitt happens.
    • The market can fluctuate but -- with the right guidance and if you learn to roll with the punches -- everything just may come up roses. Johnny Rose embraced his new life, dirty motel rooms, leaky ceilings, a jerky mayor, unemployment, and so much more. But he never lost his sense of dignity, was true to himself, always sought work, and in the end he ended up creating a remarkable opportunity. The Rose family taught us that believing in your passions and abilities can lead to a successful life.

Thank you for reading. Best wishes, warmest regards.

Do you love Schitt’s Creek too? What financial lessons do you think the show offered? Share your creative comments with us please and we’ll share them in the next issue of Policy Matters.


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