You Can’t Hide From Your Debt

I love television. I know people say it is a waste of time, but I really don’t care. TV is freaking great. Not great enough that I currently have one, but awesome enough that I pay $16 a month to watch Hulu and Netflix on my laptop.


As I was catching up on my favorite shows on Hulu after getting back from FinCon (which was — spoiler alert: AWESOME!), the latest episode of New Girl, starring the adorkable (not a typo) Zooey Deschanel, came on. If you aren’t watching New Girl, I extend virtual pity hugs to you. It’s hilarious and every character is amazing in their own right. But I’m getting off topic here…

Spoilers ahead! The latest episode is about Jess’ (Zooey Deschanel) boyfriend/roommate Nick Miller getting an inheritance of $8,000 in cash from his late father. Why cash? Because his dad was a scam artist and the Millers don’t believe in banks.

The next scenes show Nick treating himself to lots of ridiculous purchases, including shoes that aren’t his size and a headshot of himself with a “glamorous” crystal frame. Their other roommate, Winston, reveals to Jess that Nick owes him a sum of $1,900.

When Jess suggests that maybe Nick should open his first bank account, he retorts that “a bank is just a paper bag with fancier walls”. And his money cluelessness doesn’t stop there. Jess discovers “the box” — Nick’s place where he keeps all his “junk he doesn’t feel like dealing with”. It’s full of past due bills. Instead of using his newfound cash to pay down his debt, Nick decides to continue ignoring them.

Speeding things up, Jess takes matters into her own hands and pays back Winston and the overdue bills with Nick’s money. He gets pissed and she writes him a check for the amount she paid. After an argument about accepting each other for who they are, Nick goes to the bank and finally opens up his first bank account.

You guys still with me? If you are, write the word “potato” somewhere in your comment. This will be a fun experiment to find out how much you guys actually love me.

The point of this episode recap is, how many people do you know that have some form of the box? People who prefer to stay in the dark about their debt loads instead of dealing with things that are hard? I know a few.

And I understand. I know that money management and paying down debt is really hard. It’s so much easier to stay ignorant about your debt situation. But as we all know, the easiest solution is often not the smartest or the healthiest.

You will never, NEVER reach financial independence if you are unaware of your financial situation. Unless you happen to be independently wealthy and someone else cares about keeping you rich. And, spoiler alert, no one should care more about your money than you do. Whether or not you are the CFO of your family, you need to know the following things at a minimum:

  • How much debt you have, who you owe it to, and the interest rates and minimum payments on that debt
  • How much money you have and where it is (investments, savings, etc.)
  • A non-credit source that you could get cash from in the event of an emergency (emergency funds, selling personal items, etc.)

This isn’t difficult stuff. But it is absolutely crucial to having good financial health. Grow up, get your head out of the sand, and take control of your finances instead of hiding from them. And go through that box.

Okay, my spiel is over. Now for your entertainment, a couple of my favorite quotes about money from the episode:

“What is money anyway? It’s just paper that a king on a mountain decided was worth something, ya know? Gold, I understand. It’s shiny…”

“You’ve never once done jury duty or paid your taxes.” “Not until gay marriage is legal everywhere. I stand by that. And I don’t want to do jury duty or pay taxes.”

To a bank teller, “I understood at least 30% of the financial crisis, and guess what I got from that? YOU SUCK! You suck so hard.”

Even though I recapped most of it, you still need to watch the episode for Nick’s rant on Jess’ vintage purses, “Bobby’s pins”, and night peanuts and Schmidt screaming “YOLO” at a Bar Mitzvah class…

Do you know people who take “the box” approach to their finances? Are you as obsessed with New Girl as I am?

[Image from Buzzfeed]


  1. Great post. I used too have a ‘box’ that we finally dealt with. More common than it sjould be. Glad you had fun at FinCon, I’d love to go!

    Ps-potato 😉

  2. POTATO.

    I don’t really have anything to say I just really wanted to participate in that.

    I am so behind in New Girl.

  3. I never watch TV but my roommates have Roku and pulled this episode up. It was (potato) great!

  4. I’m pretty sure I have a friend who uses the box method, but I cannot prove it. I can honestly say I have never watched (potato) New Girl. I blame it on my obession with Investigation Discovery channel… and RuPaul’s Drag race.

  5. Potato, we really think a lot alike! I have the “know your finances” point coming out in a DailyFinance post this week!

    Your first line made me smile. I watched this episode recently and wondered if someone would bring it up in a blog post. I think we’ll need to have a TV binge fest when we finally meet in person.

    • It’s such a great episode for a PF blogger! I have a feeling that if we got together, we would barely talk. We would just sit in front of the TV watching our favorite shows!

  6. I also watched that episode of New Potato Girl and I was like Nick for a while. Well, not that extreme but at one point I totally ignored my finances, stopped paying my student loans, and ran up my credit card. It wasn’t until I was threatened with collections that I woke up. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away, its just hiding and when you discover it again its probably 10x worse than if you had just dealt with it in the first place. I sure learned my lesson. Great post!

    • I have phases where I kinda ignore my debt for awhile. I don’t stop paying it, but I float by on minimum payments for a month or two. Not good!

  7. Another indebted Erin says

    I had a digital potato-box. I finally decided not-knowing was worse than facing the music… so I sat down on a Saturday afternoon with a pot of coffee and left over halloween candy and went to town. And I might have just lucked out, but it was not near as bad as I thought it would be… the process or the results. I didn’t have any unpaid bills in my “potato-box,” but I had never added up how much I owed in student loans, credit cards, my mortgage, my car loan, etc. But I also had no idea how much I had in savings, retirement, equity, etc. Once I had everything laid bare, I used some of my savings to pay off smaller debts… I know some people wouldn’t agree with this, but it worked for me. This allowed me to clean up and simplify my finances, so I could more easily keep track of everything. I also used this opportunity to research other companies for car insurance, health insurance, and homeowners insurance. By making a switch, I saved $640 a year while keeping the same coverage, just upping my deductible slightly, Boom, More debt paying power. I also investigated my wireless phone provider as well as my internet and satellite TV carriers, but determined it was not worth it to switch. Anyway, I suggest everyone takes their financial potato-boxes… for me it was the first real step to financial solvency and peace of mind.

    • I’m so glad your situation was better than expected! Usually it’s the opposite. Congrats on getting your financial ass in gear :).

  8. I love New Girl, and totally cried when Cece found out about Schmidt’s two-timing. I haven’t seen this episode yet, but it sounds like a hilarious one. I know a few people living in the box, and as much as I encourage them to look into it, it’s up to them to make the move.

    • Oh I know, that killed me! I really liked Elizabeth too, I felt so badly for both of them.

      So true, Anna! You can’t make someone take control of their finances.

  9. I really wanted to take the potato idea and just draft this lengthy post to come across as a total spam-bot. Alas, I have nothing other than this youtube video. Lord of the rings potato remix ( I don’t follow the show too closely but B is a big fan. I usually catch bits and pieces of an episode when she’s watching.

  10. I tried to keep watching New Girl but.. it kind of died for me, as did The Mindy Project. I watch it if I don’t have anything else to watch but it isn’t a “OMG I MUST WATCH THIS COUCH POTATO SHOW” like Castle, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Top Chef… you get the picture. 🙂

    As for keeping money in a box, I know people who do this. They’re paranoid that the banks will all close down or something and they’ll never get any money out.

    • Oh man, I love both New Girl and The Mindy Project! I’ve never watched any of the shows on your list though. Maybe I should check those out :).

      You know people in real life who don’t trust banks to hold their money? Wow, that’s interesting. I know one person without a bank account but that’s just because the garnishments would absolutely kill them. Crazy…

  11. Potato.

    I feel like a lot of people are afraid to look at what they owe and that’s when problems crop up. I know I was afraid to look at mine at first, but now, I realize they’re not completely horrible. More than I’d like, but since I’ve looked at them and made an action plan, I feel so much better!

  12. My potato mom is one of those people who used to, or still might have buried her head in the sand. When I was younger I’d clean the house (yes I was one of those weird children who actually volunteered to clean) and used to find unpaid bills strewn over the house in various weird locations. It’s like she was hiding it from her self. Probably the worst type of financial denial. Please respond with tomato in your comment back to me so I know you read all of this comment. 🙂

  13. I used to hide my debt potato behind boxes of shoes and clothes. That was my weakness and still is on occasion. I couldn’t stand the anxiety from debt anymore so it was time I faced it when I got divorced. So sad, I don’t watch New Girl, I’m a Hell on Wheels fan.

  14. When my freeloading cousin finally moved out of my grandmother’s house, my dad found a chest of drawers that was filled with her unpaid bills. How do people think they go away by ignoring them? Perhaps they get caught up in a potato fantasy?

    • It’s such an odd mindset — “If I pretend it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t!” I can’t imagine just ignoring my problems and hoping they clear up on their own.

  15. I love New Girl! Probably one of my favourite shows. Although I haven’t seen this episode yet so I had to quickly look away so I wouldn’t spoil it! I’ll have to get back to you when I get around to watching it.

  16. Taters!

    I’m glad someone wrote a post on this episode – definitely a great one. And yeah, New Girl is great. Cheers for the Mindy Project, too.

  17. Ok, I’ve been dancing around watching New Girl for awhile, but this post has finally pushed me to start it.

    I’ve never had a black box of debt, but I definitely kept my head in the sand about how much student loan debt I was accumulating throughout university. I was totally shocked when I realized I owed $42,000.

    Oh, and potato. 🙂

  18. I love New Girl!!! That episode was so funny 🙂 I remember a time when I didn’t want to deal with my debt, but that debt never goes away. At some point, I had to deal with it. BTW, did you see this past week’s episode about Schmidt and Michael Keaton? Hilarious!

  19. Potato!

    I love me my New Girl. And Nick’s ridiculous rants. I had a pain from watching the whole money thing though. Although I was so proud when they got the bank to waive the fee. They grow up so fast (sniff sniff).


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