OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
We’ve spoken to some famous financial advisors, but we’ve never enjoyed it as much as we did when we talked to Bruce Sellery. For the first time we were chatting with someone who seemed to break the fine art of saving down into very non-threatening and applicable terminology. So it’s not a surprise that he’ll be able to help transform the town of Aldergrove on the new OWN series Million Dollar Neighborhood.
During our recent exclusive interview, Bruce talked about his journey from author to TV host. “I wrote a book called “Moolala: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things with Their Money and What You Should Do About It.” And I was on my book tour and the production executive at Force Four Entertainment saw me on TV and said, ‘We gotta talk to that guy.’ So I came in and talked to them and they told me the concept.”
Little did the producing team know that the concept of Million Dollar Neighborhood was so perfectly aligned with Bruce’s own philosophy. He recounted, “I said, ‘You’ll never believe it but I have four pillars in my book. There are four things that I talk about, speak about, natter on about, and am passionate about and one of them is community. So I’m a real fan and believer in the power of community and I can’t name another personal finance expert that talks about community as loudly and as passionately as I do.’ So it was a match made in heaven because what they wanted to do was all about community.”
Bruce outlined his four pillars for us:
1. Context — “Smart people do dumb things with their money because we don’t create a context for money. We don’t answer the question, ‘What is my money for?’ And you saw this in the first episode, it’s an exercise from my book, where I have everybody answer, ‘What’s your money for?’ And if you know what your money is for, you are more apt to be inspired to do the boring crap that one needs to do to get a handle on their money.”
2. Consequences — “Smart people are oblivious to the consequences of their behavior around money. So we all do dumb things but we don’t really know how much it’s costing. Carrying credit card debt costs you big money… It kills your dreams and people have no idea that that’s happening.”
3. Complexity — “They either have way, way too much or way too little. Way too much is people who are trying to follow the stock market every day. I don’t give a rat’s patooty what’s happening on the stock market. I want to make sure that you know what your net worth is and that you have a plan to bring your dreams to life. That’s important. What’s happening in Greece is not important to you and your money.”
4. Community — “Getting clear on what you want and talking to your friends and family about it so they can provide you with the support, the ideas and the accountability to make it happen.”
All four principals will be brought to bear on Million Dollar Neighborhood. But it’s the “it takes a village” concept that we’ve been hearing about all these years that is the backbone of the show.
Bruce explained how the Canadian town of Aldergrove was chosen for the show. He recalled, “They lobbied for this and they lobbied hard. They put out the call in British Columbia, in the area and said, ‘We’re looking for a community.’”
As is often the case, it took an individual to step up and lead the charge and then others followed. Bruce revealed, “There was this one guy, Bruce Heslop, who had started a crime watch in Aldergrove because he kept getting robbed. And so he became a bit of a leader in the community. He started a Facebook page and he brought the producers to town halls. And really the reason they won was because the community said, ‘Please come and bring everything you’ve got. We are ready for this. We want this. And we’re going to engage at our most passionate level.’ We didn’t want to go to a community that didn’t want to make this transformation.”
The citizens of Aldergrove were certainly ready to make personal changes and bare their financial souls. Bruce conceded, “In the world of reality TV, please, Kim Kardashian she shares everything — but she’s Kim Kardashian. But these people, you’ll see in later episodes. Why are the Heslops willing to tell us that they have $140,000 in credit card debt? And really what it’s about is they’re sick of lying. They’re tired of pretending.”
Bruce says that’s something to consider when it comes to the financial crisis that the world is in at the moment. He pondered the notion, “Imagine if America stopped pretending. What would be the possibility of people being authentic about what’s really happening in their financial life?”
As goes Aldergrove, so goes the world. See how Bruce helps the 100 participating families from the Canadian town as they try to reach their goal — to increase their collective net worth by $1 million in three months. And find out which lucky clan walks away with the ultimate $100,000 prize if they do.