Because I am easily amused, I spent a good chunk of Black Friday watching the Cash Cab marathon. It wasn’t long before I started seeing the potential for financial lessons.
1. Use your resources
A painful number of people get three questions wrong without using both of their shout-outs. Some contestants don’t even use one. Obliviousness? Cockiness? I don’t know, but it ends badly.
Financial lesson: Always consult experts. Read up or talk to a professional, whatever you need. Just don’t go through life (or even a cab ride) without using help when you need it.
2. Use your resources wisely.
The questions get progressively harder, but some riders use up all of their shout-outs early on. When the harder questions hit — and more money is on the line — they’re in trouble.
Financial lesson: You can’t predict what the future will bring. Make careful decisions about how and when to use your money.
3. Tough times test your mettle
Sometimes contestants start out badly but then hit their stride. Despite using all of their resources and/or having two strikes, they rally. Why? They’re determined not to be kicked out of the cab. Not all make it as far as they want, but a surprising number do. A lot of the rest get to within a few blocks of their destination.
Financial lesson: Determination goes a long way. You can’t get out of debt and into a healthy financial balance without a lot of resolve. Stubbornness helps too.
4. It’s a mix of talent and luck.
To win, you need to be knowledgeable. But you also need to be lucky. There have been some obviously intelligent people who lose because, for all their erudition, they know very little about pop culture.
Financial lesson: This lesson is two-prong. First, bad luck is enough to set anyone back. Some people just don’t get the same opportunities as others, and that does make a difference.
Second, if you do achieve your goals, don’t forget all the things that made it possible. I wince whenever I hear “If I can do it, anyone can.” While a good sentiment, it’s just not true.
5. Greed makes bad decisions… or maybe good ones
A lot of people go for the double or nothing offer. Even people who just barely eked it out. The rationale? It’s money they weren’t expecting.
Huh?! To me a windfall is all the more valuable because it’s found money.
That said, the gamble pays off for a decent number of folks. (Well, of the ones shown.) But others do leave empty-handed, when they could have had hundreds. Hun-dreds.
Financial lesson: There are two ways to look at it. On the one hand, a sure thing is great — especially if it means walking away with hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, you’re potentially missing an opportunity. I lean toward the first one, but a decent chunk of people win so… Draw your own conclusions.
One note: If you do leave with cash, stop waving it around in the streets of New York. Seriously, people.
6. Have perspective
Even when if you lose, you’ve gotten a free cab ride. Or, if you still need to take another cab, you’ll pay less to get there.
Financial lesson: Try to see the good in the positive things that life throws your way. Even when they’re seemingly small. Though a free 35-45 block cab ride seems like a decent savings.
What do you guys take away from Cash Cab? Would you take the double-or-nothing video bonus?
P.S. To the women who answered “Patch Adams” to a question about a past surgeon general… You are the reason alien races will skip over our planet.