Real Housewives of the Recession

I’ll admit it. I watch “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” While I am constantly entertained, there is one aspect of the show that makes my skin crawl more than Kim’s wigs … it’s the BLING!

Let’s start with Nene. It was recently reported that Nene was evicted from the home that she rented with her husband. She has since found a new home and, in a recent episode, was shopping to redecorate her new home. Ummmm … Newsflash! If you can’t afford your rent, you clearly can’t afford to redecorate … especially when it’s been reported that you owe $100,000 in back taxes. I shudder to think of what her credit report looks like.

Even Lisa Wu Hartwell – the “Housewife” and purported real estate guru/businesswoman — lost her home to a short sale. It’s not a surprise. Her husband, Ed, no longer plays in the NFL, and Atlanta real estate sales are not exactly booming. It’s probably time to downsize — because I can’t imagine that Bravo is covering a $2.9 million mortgage.

And then there is the biggest financial train wreck of them all: Sheree. Sheree was disappointed by her sub-7-figure divorce settlement, and that she lost her home to foreclosure during her divorce because “her ex-husband wasn’t paying the mortgage.” (Doh!) Like many members of the nouveau riche, Sheree obviously skipped seeking financial advice and decided to spend a big chunk of her alimony settlement in order to start a fashion line for which she apparently has no training, no education, no experience, and — unfortunately — no talent. She also reportedly owes a law firm $87,000. That divorce settlement looks like it’s dwindling quickly …

In one year, three out of the five “Housewives of Atlanta” have already faced eviction or lost their homes to the bank, but they are not alone. Lynne Curtin of “Real Housewives of Orange County” was also reportedly getting the boot from her home, due to an outstanding $12,000 that — again — “her husband owes.”

Let me be clear … I’m not here to pick on the “Housewives.” Tight economies affect everybody — and we’re all in this boat together. The most important message I want to convey to those who view the “Housewives” shows (and other shows like it) is: THIS IS NOT WEALTH.

True wealth starts by spending less, making more, and living debt-free. True wealth grows with investments that not only appreciate, but yield passive income. Wealth might be projected in multiple luxury cars, expensive clothes, and mortgages (or rent!) you can’t afford, but it won’t last. We will all make financial missteps along the way. However, the difference between those who experience financial setbacks and those who are ultimately headed for financial devastation is the ability to learn a lesson before it costs them more. Let’s hope they learn their lesson.

How do you define wealth? What signifies financial wealth to you? Will the “Housewives” ever learn their lesson?

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