Like most college students, my time at school was filled with playing sports, studying, and, of course watching Netflix. From shows like The Office, to Ozarks, to Game of Thrones, you develop some favorite shows you enjoy watching in your downtime. My senior year I came across a show called Billions. When I tell you I was locked in, I couldn’t wait to get a chance to watch the next episode. It quickly became one of my favorite shows and I would recommend it to anyone looking to find a new show. Season 4, the most recent season, was highly entertaining from start to finish!
Here is a quick bio to the show from the Showtime Website.
“Emmy® and Golden Globe® winners Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis star in a complex drama about power politics in the world of New York high finance. Shrewd, savvy U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) and the brilliant, ambitious hedge fund king Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Lewis) are on an explosive collision course, with each using all of his considerable smarts, power and influence to outmaneuver the other. The stakes are in the billions in this timely, provocative series.”
To me the show was fascinating because there was this enormous power struggle, and it also dealt with real life situations and issues that are going on, making it more real. Furthermore, being a finance major, I would be able to understand the various investing terms and strategies, making the show more relatable.
Although it is just a TV show, I feel like there are always lessons you can learn and apply to real life if you’re paying close attention. Several times, I have rewound different parts to ensure that I understood what was being said and then I would reflect on a situation where I would have done what they were speaking on. Because of that, I wanted to talk about 3 money lessons from Billions.
1. Follow the Big Money
In Season 2 Episode 1 we find Bobby Axelrod down at an empty horse track at night with his attorney Orrin Bach. Bobby tells him a story about how as a young boy, he would go down to the racetrack and watch people place bets with hopes of winning a large sum of money, but with no big plan they would leave disgusted after losing. Because he didn’t want to end up in a similar scenario as those people, he took a different approach. Bobby says, "First I figured out where the sharp action was, where the guys who had a plan were, the guys who grinded. Took the guesswork out of it. They always bet late and heavy. I started watching the scoreboard instead of the track. The numbers told the story, they always do.”
So what does that mean for you when it comes to money? That means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you can follow tried and true methods that work to grow your money. Pay attention to the people with real wealth and study what their habits and philosophies are and what makes them successful. Usually it’s not just one thing but a culmination of daily habits that help make them successful. Take for example Warren Buffett. His strategy is simple where he uses the value-based investing style. He’s used it when Berkshire Hathaway first started in 1965 and still uses it in 2019. Although he isn’t the only person that has amassed wealth, it would be wise to study and acknowledge some of his and other wealthy people’s strategies, make them your own, and carve out your own success when it comes to your financial life.
2. Whenever You Can, Put a Company in Your Mouth
In Season 1 Episode 3, Bobby Axelrod Axe is considering a takeover of the fictional YumTime, a baked-goods company. He is sure that the recipe for Scrumpets can be improved, and tells an employee, "Whenever you can, put a company in your mouth." The point? Trends are useful. Numbers are useful. But if you really want to know about a company, use its products or services. It also means that you must know the ins and outs of every facet of the business you are involved in. It means that you are going over and beyond to know what is happening in your company and your industry. Lastly, you must know what your competitors are doing and how you can stay ahead of the curve.
How does this translate to your money? Invest in the companies whose products you use and like. Another Warren Buffett story that illustrates this is that when he was a kid, he would buy Coca-Cola from the store and then resell them to his neighbors. He used Coca-Cola products and also made money from them. “I like wonderful brands,” he added. “If you take care of a great brand, it’s forever.” That was in 1937 and that statement still rings true today. While I don’t invest in individual stocks as my main strategy, I have in the past and still do from time to time. Some of the stocks that I own are Microsoft, Starbucks, Kroger, and Apple. I use all of their products and I’ve been to the stores. I know that their services and products are actually good and I also enjoy using them. I bought those stocks because I believe those companies will be around for the long haul, continue to improve, grow, and bring me strong dividends for years to come.
3. Be Charitable
In Season 1 Episode 2, we find Bobble Axelrod attending a charity dinner. This is a charity dinner filled with billionaires and the host asks anybody that is willing to donate $1 million dollars to stand up and many do.
What can we take from this? Disregard the fact that people are wealthy enough to just donate $1 millions dollars on the spot! But focus on actual act: the giving part. When you give your money to others with the intention of nothing in return and with the goal of genuinely helping out, it feels great. Amassing large sums of money to only spend it all on you is a waste. Now I’m not saying you should just give away all of your money, but I do think setting aside a portion of it to give back and help people for a cause that you feel strongly about is a big part of life. I think we all have experienced what it feels like to help someone else out and donating your money, along with your time and talents. It is something I think we all should strive to do.
I hope that these 3 lessons from the show Billions show how you can actually learn things from TV shows even though they are mostly for entertainment. I would recommend Billions to anyone and I think it’s one of the high intensity, power filled shows on TV. If you have any questions or comments about these 3 money lessons, leave them in the comment section below!