The post that considers who triumphs and who fails at personal finance in the world of Westeros.
As I sit here having just watched the Game of Thrones finale I feel moved to make this week’s post themed. Also, I’m revising for an exam so haven’t had time to pull together anything too intellectual this week.
I present to you the Game of Throne Personal Finance Awards (sponsored by the Iron Bank of Braavos).
Spoiler alert: this post references events throughout the entire series, including the finale.
The Dave Ramsey Award for Debt Repayment
Winner: Tywin Lannister
With a family motto of “a Lannister always pays his debts”, the head of the Lannisters had to be the winner really. Rumoured to shit gold, Tywin Lannister strikes you as a man who always paid his credit card off in full each month and maintained a stellar credit rating.
Honourable mention: Cersei Lannister
Not the most obvious choice given her penchant for standing in windows drinking expensive wine but let’s not forget her creative way of paying off the Crown’s debt to the Iron Bank by looting Highgarden. If you’re struggling to repay your debts, just ransack your rich neighbour’s property.
The Spendthrift Award
Winner: Robert Baratheon
He didn’t get to appear in much of the series but Robert Baratheon sure was a “spendypants”, as his long suffering friend Ned Stark discovered on taking the job of Hand of the King and finding out the realm was deeply in debt because of frivolities like jousting tournaments. If Robert Baratheon had spent less time enjoying the good life and more time paying attention to his kingdom, he might have noticed his wife was trying to have him killed.
Honourable mention: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish
No finance-related Game of Thrones awards would be complete without a mention of the series’ original Master of Coin. Granted his spending was at the behest of King Robert, but he wasn’t the most frugal man to keep control of the purse strings.
The Most Impressive Hustle Award
From a nobody sellsword hanging out in a tavern to the Lord of Highgarden and Master of Coin. Bronn got there by basically switching allegiances at the drop of a hat. Usually to the highest bidder, but he had a knack of seeing which way the wind was blowing and played the game accordingly.
Honourable mention: Littlefinger (again)
From a scrawny, bullied child to one of the most powerful men in King’s Landing. However, Littlefinger gets this mention for his very lucrative side hustle as a brothel owner. Shame his political ambition got his throat cut.
Best Rejection of the 9-5
Winner: Jon Snow
Being in the Night’s Watch was a slog. You think your job is killing you. Jon’s literally did kill him. So no surprise he rejected it in favour of trying his hand as a reluctant king, an incestuous relationship with his aunt and a bit of Queenslaying to boot. After the last episode you’d be forgiven for initially thinking that poor Jon is stuck back at the Night’s Watch coalface, but it looks like he’s disappearing off with his pet and Wildling buddies. Can’t keep that guy stuck at the office.
Side note: say what you like about the final episode, Jon finally giving Ghost a good pet was the only thing that mattered.
Honourable mention: The Hound
Decided he’d had enough of being Joffrey’s “dog” and headed off on a road trip – the cornerstone of many financial independence stories.
Best Use of Geoarbitrage
Winner: Arya Stark
Can’t get the assassin training you really want in your home country? The Faceless Men of Braavos offer it for free. You can then bugger off as soon as you’ve got your qualification and return home to use those skills on your enemies.
Honourable mention: The Wildlings
Their nomadic lifestyle means they’ll always turn up where the going is good. Whether it’s pillaging another Wildling village or upping sticks and moving South to avoid certain death, the Free Folk know when it’s time to move on.
This award was going to go to Daenerys Targaryen for using geoarbitrage to amass a huge army but then she blew it. Like someone who gets a grant to do a Masters at a university in the Netherlands and then ruins it by coming home and being all smug about it.
The “Make Do And Mend” Award
Winner: The Night King
Can’t find enough people to join your army? Why not make the most of all of the dead bodies lying around just waiting to be reused as zombie soldiers? Some resurrection skills required.
Honourable mention: Samwell Tarly and Ser Jorah Mormont
To Sam for bravely performing rudimentary flaying surgery on Ser Jorah with zero qualifications. And to Ser Jorah for letting him.
Best Advocate for the Minimalist Lifestyle
I was going to give this one to Bran for rejecting the title of Lord of Winterfell but then he went and became King so hardly very minimalist anymore. The original Three-Eyed Raven seemingly just sat in a tree for centuries before being killed by White Walkers, which hardly sells the lifestyle. The only other possible contender I could think of was the High Sparrow and he was a bit of a dick.
The Paula Pant Award for Real Estate Opportunists
Winner: Whoever claims to be monarch at the time
Would-be monarchs use property to buy loyalty. The second they decide they want to be King/Queen they start handing out castles like there’s no tomorrow, regardless of whether anyone currently lives there or if they can deliver on the promise. And everyone in Westeros is as obsessed with home ownership as the real world so they swallow all these empty assurances.
Honourable mention: Walder Frey
Used the strategically important position of his home, The Twins, to get rival sides in the war begging for his allegiance. Also got rich from charging a toll for crossing over his property.
The Jamie Oliver Award for Food Frugality
Winner: Arya Stark
Got to prepare a meal for people you don’t like? Why not make a wholesome pie from the flesh of their children? It’s cost-effective and satisfies your thirst for revenge at the same time.
Honourable mention: Sansa Stark
For tips on large-scale catering, ask Sansa who managed to make Winterfell’s stores feed tens of thousands of soldiers and two dragons. Jesus, with his five loaves and two fishes ain’t got nothing on her.
Most Nonsensical Currency
Winner: The Iron Price
There’s no runner up here. The Iron Born’s policy of only using goods and services seized from those you’ve defeated in battle doesn’t make much sense. And it didn’t seem to help them much when their rebellion was crushed by Robert Baratheon. It’s one thing to reject consumerism but these folks take the concept too far.
Biggest Investment Mistake
Winner: Shares in Building Insurance Companies of King’s Landing
That’s one hell of a clean up operation. Then again, the T&Cs small print probably lists dragon fire as an uninsurable “act of the Seven Gods”, so maybe you’d be fine.
Honourable Mention: The Golden Company
Completely unfit for purpose. Cersei would have been more successful if she invested the money in a giant fire retardant tarp to cover the entire city.