4 Debt Lessons From The End of the World

(Article by fellow blogger Ben Edwards)

Hollywood loves to speculate about how the world as we know it will end. They’ve tried to kill us off with asteroids, aliens, zombies, self-aware computers, natural disasters, and disease. These scenarios definitely make for interesting entertainment, but I’m hoping they’re wrong about all those nasty endings.

Although these shows and movies are fictional portrayals of how the end of the world could play out, there are some things we can learn about how to prepare or react when the world changes drastically.

Revenge of the Debt Monster

Let’s take the same creative license as Hollywood, and say that the end of the world as you know it is caused by debt. Although not lethal and civilization ending, debt may be a more probable cause for turning your world upside down than zombies or aliens would ever be.

Here are a few lessons we can take away from some of these popular apocalyptic Hollywood tales when applying them to paying off debt:

The Walking Dead

walking dead dvd

The survivors of a Zombie apocalypse teach us that a clan or family is a vital part of staying alive. Even if it’s a dysfunctional family, having a group of people that have your back and will be there for you is crucial to making it out in one piece.

Lesson – Navigating the dark and uncertain days of massive debt is much easier if you have a support system to guide you and offer a helping hand when things are looking really bleak.

Falling Skies

falling skies dvd

Humans left remaining after aliens invade Earth band together under the leadership of Tom Mason and Captain Weaver. The survivors trust their leaders and rely on them to make decisions that will keep them alive.

Lesson – When you’re in debt, it pays to find a mentor that you can trust. Beware of people, or companies, that might try and take advantage of you in your time of weakness.


2012 movie

There’s no question that a coming natural disaster will be catastrophic. There’s no preventing it, all the leaders of the world can do is to create a contingency plan that will allow some of human kind to survive. It’s not pretty. It’s not fair. It’s the best they can do.

Lesson – Make a backup plan. It won’t be perfect but having a plan that salvages even some of your finances is better than having none and losing everything. Eventually something in your life will go wrong so have a plan to survive financially.


Armageddon movie

When an asteroid threatens to destroy Earth, a team takes extreme measures to save everyone’s life. They don’t know if their plan will work, but they don’t postpone it and schedule meetings to discuss whether it’s a good idea.

When there’s a lot on the line they’re willing to do what many might say is impossible. They land on an asteroid, drill a hole, and drop in a nuke.

Lesson – When you’re in massive debt, be prepared to use the nuclear option if there’s a need for it.

A great example of this is a lady named Meadow DeVor; who sold her home, many of her belongings, and took 3 jobs to tackle the debt she owed. She had no guarantee her plan was going to work, but she just went for it.

Meadow’s story is featured in the book Get Out of Debt Like the Debt Heroes that I worked on with Jeff Rose as part of the Debt Movement. For many of the people I talked to, their journey to pay off massive debt was literally the end of life as they knew it.

It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was the beginning of a new life. If you’re in debt, hopefully some of these lessons can helpyou on your journey to a debt free life too.

Ben Edwards writes about money at Money Smart Life, and recently put together the stories of 21 people who collectively paid off over $1.7 million in debt in the new book, Debt Heroes.

{Photo by Michael R Perry}

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  1. Greg@ClubThrifty March 28, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    Well played Ben! Unfortunately, too many people take the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” approach and just keep buying to make themselves feel better. Good luck with the new book!

    1. J. Money March 28, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      Hahaha… good one.

    2. Ben Edwards March 28, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      I’ve never seen that one but if I had to shop at Tiffany’s I’d probably puke up my breakfast after seeing the bill :)

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules March 28, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Good post Ben! You managed to take a crappy movie like Armageddon and make an awesome point with it! ;) I agree with Greg, too many take the Breakfast at Tiffany’s approach. Good luck with the book!

    1. Ben Edwards March 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      Thanks. I have seen “Confessions of a Shopaholic” (thanks to my wife) and I agree that shopping won’t make you feel better – at least not long term.

      1. Mary Anne @ BillGuard March 28, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        I’ve never seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I HAVE seen Confessions of a Shopaholic, and I think it illustrates the point quite clearly — Isla Fischer’s character ended up feeling bad, at the end, about all the crazy shopping she had been doing and the consequences it brought upon her. Fortunately, (spoiler alert!), she gets out of debt, just like the Debt Heroes in your book did. Good luck with your book!

        1. J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:28 PM

          I actually enjoyed that movie – wasn’t she a blogger at some point in it? Pretty entertaining.

  3. SavvyFinancialLatina March 28, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    My hubby and I love the Walking Dead. Although recent episodes have really killed my interest. It’s no longer man vs. zombie (nature). Now it’s man vs. man. They replaced Lori with the Governor who is equally as annoying! Grrr..

    1. Jacob@CashCowCouple March 28, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      I was wondering if I was the only one sitting here thinking about The Walking Dead after reading this post! It’s still entertaining, but I think the quality is degrading.

      Anyhow, Ben, nice post and I look forward to checking out your new book.

      1. Ben Edwards March 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        Thanks! Yeah, it can be hard to sustain a show over a period of time. I think when writers just focus on the characters (their stories and struggles) it stays interesting but when they start doing crazy stuff with the plot it starts losing people.

    2. J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      You’re dropping spoilers!! Dang you! :)

  4. Grayson @ Debt RoundUp March 28, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    This is an great post Ben. I am a fan of the Walking Dead, so I am well prepared for any zombies that cross my path. I wonder how crossbows can be used to get out of debt, any suggestions?

    1. Ben Edwards March 28, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      One of the things I enjoy about shows like the Walking Dead or Falling Skies is that it makes you think about how you would react in extreme circumstances. Obviously you probably won’t encounter zombies or aliens on your way home but it can make you think.

    2. J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      Crossbows are more to *protect* your money. For anyone trying to steal it ;)

  5. Nick @ ayoungpro.com March 28, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Great post! I think finding a support group is a big key, especially of you can get a group of friends that agree that you don’t need to spend money to have fun.

    1. Ben Edwards March 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      I agree Nick. The people you hang around with can have a big impact on how you spend your money.

      1. Elvin Peria April 2, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        I totally agree. Every time I hang out with my colleagues who love to spend like crazy for shopping, eat-out, travels etc I’m tempted to do the same. So having a support group who has the same financial goals (or mindset) can really help me save those bucks for the future.

        By the way, great post Ben! I love the idea of marrying apocalypse-themed movie with finances. I never thought that it was possible.

  6. Financial Black Sheep March 28, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I LOVE “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”! It is about browsing the store to make yourself feel better, at no time does Holly Golightly purchase a huge diamond to make herself feel better.

    I took the nuclear option and went all insane on my debt. Took on more jobs, sold stuff, even went on a no-spend challenge just to kill it. I am glad I did, because I just paid if off here in March instead of the planned April :D

    1. J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      Yeah you did! Work it, girl!

  7. Brian March 28, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    This was a fun post and I quite enjoyed it. Even if the lesson you learned from the zombie apocolypse is different from what I learned.

  8. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse March 28, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Fun post! And people are worried that TV teaches us nothing. :) All good lessons and hopefully people won’t need a zombie apocalypse or asteroid attack to get them started!

    1. J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      Lovin’ your blog name :)

  9. Jose March 28, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    I like the term the nuclear option. In my case that means selling everything I won, paying off all my debt and taking my net worth (which although is not a Kings ransom is sizable enough) and making a fresh start. I hope I never have to hit that button but I know that in the worse of cases, I can.

  10. Mike Carlson March 28, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Very funny post though it made sense a lot. Hollywood’s crappy ways of telling us how to end the world is awful when in fact a debt can end a single one’s happy life.

  11. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 29, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Great analogies and insight!

  12. @pfinMario April 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    I guess every movie has a conflict and a resolution, so you can really apply a conflict like getting out of debt to anything you watch. Except for No Strings Attached; there was no conflict in that

  13. Shafi April 3, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Hey J.
    I wish you the best of luck with your new book.