Money Management 101: Money Lessons from Game of Thrones

Photo credit: Vox

20th April, 2022

By Julius Masaba

I fell in love with reading way back in nursery school and early primary years. Our grandmother’s bedroom was full of suitcases with Ladybird key book series — the likes of Peter and Jane, Come We Play and others. I loved them so much.

I think it’s what our dads, uncles and aunties used to read in their days.

When I joined UPE, around P.3 onwards, the reading passion waned but I got the urge again to read mostly newspapers and magazines from upper primary onwards through ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level.

During my S.6 UNEB exam time, I again got the urge to read literature books between papers — when I had free days after each exam. I read “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and finished it before my final papers (I wasn’t even a literature student).

Through my S.6 vacation, I read John Grisham’s “King of Torts” and a few others, “Around the World in 80 Days”, etc. Through campus, I read several of the course books but fell in love with one particular book on “Financial Markets”.

I later got hooked to movies that were based on novels or written fiction books. I read “First Blood and re-watched the movie “Rambo”, part of the “Bourne” series and others. I also looked out for business-related movies like “Unfinished Business”, etc.

I fell in love with movies with scenes that had a business dialogue or conversation, often picking out quotes applied to or applying them to business, finance or entrepreneurship.

When the movie/series “Game of Thrones” was the word on every one’s lips, I was not swayed because I am usually a laggard or late adopter when it comes to watching or using something new on the market. I don’t go with the hype or bandwagon.

But I was forced to grab some DVDs of the movie to watch. Despite having some heavy violence, intrigue, betrayal, PG-rated scenes, there were quite a number of business related quotes I came across — but mostly on personal finance. Of course they can’t be any ordinary quotes.

And here we go.

1. “A Lannister always pays his debts”

The Lannister house was rich and famous. Their motto was “hear me roar!” Apart from that, their slogan was “a Lannister always pays his debts.” You should do the same. This common phrase is actually great financial advice for all of us bantu ba’wansi.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize how big a problem our debt has become until it’s too late. Paying debt is key but also challenging — especially, for example if you had a bank loan before, during Covid pandemic and post-lockdown. But it doesn’t have to stop you from living a debt-free life, be it business or in your personal life.

Debt has the ability to cripple your finances, dash your dreams, and even topple dynasties. Heck, even the wealthiest family is shaken by debt. You’re not an exception. Can you imagine some of us Mokash loans give us sleepless nights? We’re either lazy at repaying loans or we don’t want to pay at all.

So, if you don’t recall anything from this article, remember this: Debt is the single biggest obstacle standing between you and the life you live. It forces you to work longer and harder for things you don’t really need and can’t afford. Pay off your debt as fast as you can. Then, vow to stay out of debt for life.

2. “Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king”

Which basically means: Fake people hide behind image, real people don’t care a single bit. As a money quote and in financial terms, the moral is “don’t get broke trying to look rich.”

Everywhere you look, people are donning rare jewelry and wearing designer clothes. They drive SUVs worth a hundreds of million shillings and sleeping in upscale apartments that would put Harrenhal to shame. “Look at me!” they’re crying out. “I’m rich!” Except, they’re not…not usually, anyway.

Most of what you see is a façade. Their “wealth” is a trap. These celebrity symbols are almost always a mummer’s farce backed by a mountain of debt the size of Dragonstone. Generally speaking, people who feel the need to live like a king rarely end up owning anything at all. They just trade one giant payment for the next.

On the other hand, the richest people you know are more likely to look like a pauper than a prince. Instead of going flashy with their wealth, they typically live like the people next door. They’ve learned the value of a cent, built multiple streams of income and refuse to waste their money on things they don’t really need. Eventually, they’ve always got enough to spend on the things they need most.

3. “Winter is coming”

“Winter is coming”. This was the common warning mostly by the Westeros inhabitants, especially those living in the north.

Right now it’s squeaky-bum time for the stock market locally and almost world over. Stock prices are falling, inflation is high, oil/fuel prices are soaring. But trust me, everybody feels like a genius when things are okay. But, as the ominous words of House Stark so often remind us, winter is definitely coming.

If you’re a child of abundance who has never gone through an economic downturn, it’s natural to think this season might go on forever. Even those who have experienced tough times start to forget, believing that tales of economic doom are just stories of the poor.

But winter always returns…so you better start preparing for it while the weather is warm. Instead of years of sufficiency, we face unforeseen expenses and that’s why we need to create an ‘emergency fund, pool or basket’.

Your best defense against the unknown is, and always has been, an emergency fund.

So, get to it and start building yours today! “Winter” also means that time from the day you lose your job to the day you start a new one or from the day you quit one and enter into self-employment — it’s never certain when cash inflow will start, it could be months, a year.

Livingstone Mukasa, a professor of streetnomics says save or have cash flow for at least six (6) months and above before you quit your job or as you enter self-employment.

Winter always comes. This is one of the “Game of Thrones” quotes you should always expect. Make hay while the sun shines so that when Winter does come, you’re surely prepared. Money saved now will save you later.

4. “Chaos is a ladder”

In personal finance, have ambition and goals. In a world where chaos exists, it’s the only way to rise up and achieve what you want. This applies both to economic ups and downs and companies’ crises.

The character Littlefinger always has tactics up his sleeve, very sharp and smart, a master planner who’s always prepared for anything, like the Samurai adage “be prepared for anything and everything”. That way, when an opportunity presents itself, he has the ammunition to courageously take advantage of it.

Hard times will come, not today, not tomorrow but they will always come. Investment managers or in personal financial management, while everybody else is panicking, the smart ones can use the chaos to improve their positions over the long-run.

Even the great Warren Buffet advises people to “…be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” Lay your plans now so that you can buy at a discount when the opportunity arises. Those who do will usually emerge from the chaos as a winner.

Like it was the case during Covid 2020, China was busy acquiring companies in most of Europe, making a killing. In Uganda, you would have bought shares in Uchumi reason being, they were essential home consumables moving at the time and on high demand.

As stock prices plummet, be ready to buy in or acquire some stocks in listed companies, buy that land you have always wanted.

Recall during Covid lockdown, people with cash made a killing in forced sale land deals. People selling accepted low prices just to have money to treat their Covid hit relatives. But be sure if it’s really worth achieving power by abandoning those you love, forgetting your morality, and focusing only on the climb.

5. “Safety is never a permanent state of affairs”

In one movie scene, Davos said something very wise-sounding and valid. He said “Safety is never a permanent state of affairs.”

Safety often means stability, which is the opposite of change. Change is always scary because it’s usually associated with some level of risk (and there are no guarantees with risk) — it’s unavoidable and necessary, you only have to calculate and take it. In finance, we have “What if” scenarios.

One’s attitude and ability to adapt are vital if one is serious about being good at personal finance management and his or her career.

Many of us don’t succeed with our finances because we never learn to adapt. Instead of adjusting to the times, we hold on to old ways of thinking, crushing our ability to get ahead.

Also, do you know why some companies don’t grow, even investment clubs? Because members have the money but fear or fail to invest, preferring safety — playing it safe, they say, than risk! Remember, no risk no reward, nothing ventured nothing gained.

It’s like in a war, while others are keeping their trucks safely, risk it — drive yours and ferry food or supplies and make a killing in the crisis. Remember, everything runs in cycles. What was once a safe bet may eventually become obsolete.

6. “A lion does not concern itself with the opinion of sheep”

This is another one from Lannister. At first glance it probably seems a bit aloof (Tywin has that effect).

On your journey to financial freedom, you will meet people, unreasonable ones.

If you’re on a journey to improve your personal finances, chances are that people around you will have an opinion: pay yourself first not your staff, it’s your company, don’t rent, build a house first, don’t do this kind of business, it’s too risky; invest in AIM Global, they give profits every week, etc. They’ll even tell you that paying off your mortgage is silly.

They’ll roll their eyes and shoot disapproving looks when you mention your investment strategy. Even your own family members will call you nuts. Don’t listen to them. Make sure you do a background check on such people, and decide if their words match their progress and their success in life.

You see, the biggest number of people are terrible with finances. One look at the village fellows will show you what I mean. Poor or broke folks give good investment advice but again have nothing to show if you give them money to invest for themselves. They are poor money managers. Disassociate yourself from them. Be a lion or lone wolf.

7. “I did warn you not to trust me”

Remember Snow’s unclear death? Trusting the wrong people can cost you your life. And trusting the wrong financial planner, advisor or manager can cost you your whole life’s savings.

This is common with people who have a windfall and desperate to grow it very first. They will shun slow but rewarding investments and head for Ponzi schemes, crypto currencies or bit coin and end up losing all their money. They trust easily. Don’t trust anybody with your hard earned money.

8. “The brave men did not kill dragons, the brave men rode them”

Difficult situations are inevitable. Targaryen reminds us that everybody fears failure, and she’s right. Wars may be unfair and full of terrors, but the most successful people in the world learn to conquer their fears and navigate their difficulties.

9. “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to harm you”

Tyrion asked Jon Snow “what the hell do you know about being a bastard.” Know yourself, don’t be swayed by bandwagon. Don’t let any difficulties stop you, especially concerning money.

So rather than allow it control you, use it wisely as your tool to achieve freedom: face your numbers and know where you stand, track your expenses, create budgets, set saving goals and think of an accurate plan to follow.

Mind your business — a competitor business started 5 years ago should not worry you just because it makes more sales than yours started 10 years ago.

10. “The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling”

Think long term, don’t be myopic. If you are an investor, follow advice of people like Warren Buffett.

When it comes to money management, it’s ideal to do in long-term investing, patience is essential.

As Warren Buffett says “Investing is like planting a tree — nothing happens overnight.” Investing is long term and patient. Patience will outweigh the mistakes and misfortunes. You need to learn along the way as you gain profit-wise and experience-wise.

Some people invest and expect profits immediately, which is not the case even in stock trading, buy and hold strategy is better.

11. “The only people who aren’t afraid of failure are madmen…”

Imagine if Thomas Edison allowed his 10,000 failed attempts at creating a working light bulb to stop him. What if Bill Gates had given into fear after his first business failed?

Suppose David Beinoff and Weiss never filmedGame of Thrones” to life because they felt so overwhelmed that their show wouldn’t live up to the novels. What a shame that would be!

Lannister says that everyone fears failure, and he is not wrong. The night may be dark and full of terrors, but the most successful people in the world learn to push through their fear and try anyway. In fact, successful people fail far more than they succeed.

Eventually, they come to recognize failure for what it really is: The greatest teacher of them all. What if Thomas Edison stopped after 9,999 attempts to create the light bulb? There is failure in never trying. Try and fail, you will learn — once bitten twice shy. Experience is the best teacher.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve had fun going through my favourite financial Game of Thrones quotes. Better yet, maybe you even picked something as you read through. Thanks a lot for reading, and eleven blessings to you all!

Are there any other great money, finance and business quotes from Game of Thrones that we missed? Let me know in the comments below.

NB: This article also appeared on Medium by the same author, click here.

About the Writer

Julius Masaba is a private investment researcher and business consultant. He’s also the Co-founder and Business Development Lead at Ablestate, https://ablestate.co/ and a WordPress writer/blogger on startups, entrepreneurship, business and finance. He loves tech. Visit: https://consultmasaba.com/

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