Last night a TV saved my life

By: Alison Dunn Mar 15, 2011
  Editorial
Last night a TV saved my life

I’m a bit addicted to reality TV – and it has saved my life.

No, I’m not joking. For starters, I want to be clear that I’m not talking about reality TV like Jersey Shore or Dancing with the Stars. (There’s seriously a person who calls himself “The Situation?” Really?) I’m talking about the type of reality TV or makeover shows you see on HGTV, Slice Network and W Network where an everyday person gets help changing some aspect of his or her life.

From shows that make people over physically, like X-Weighted and The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp, to decorating shows that make over a space, like Sarah 101 and Divine Design, I love them all. But most of all, I adore the shows that help people make over their money.

I think I love the money-related shows most of all because that has always been one area I’ve struggled with in my adult life. Don’t get me wrong, my house and my body also aren’t perfect, but money has always been the toughest thing for me to get a handle on. For years, particularly when my children were small, it seemed like everything was always about money and how little of it I had – and it was negatively impacting my health in general.

There is so much more to improving our health than diet, exercise and going to the doctor for checkups. I truly believe that financial health – and the psychological relief we can experience when we stop worrying about money – is also critically important to keeping us whole, healthy and happy. And with our finances in disarray, I was anything but healthy.

That’s when I was first saved by reality TV. I started watching ‘Til Debt Do Us Part on Slice Network, and was immediately taken by host Gail Vaz Oxlade’s no-nonsense approach to money and debt management.

But at the same time, I watched my own debt grow. I found myself wishing I could go on Gail’s show so I could reap the benefit of her advice. Then suddenly it occurred to me: Why did I have to go on the show just to follow Gail’s advice? Could I not learn my lessons from her and apply them to my own life?

So my husband and I did just that – we took Gail’s advice to heart and made over our own financial life. Now, a few years later, we’re so glad we did. No, we’re nowhere near rolling in dough, but we did manage to pay off our debts, start saving some money and follow a monthly budget. I don’t worry about money in the same way anymore, and I feel healthier and happier because of it.

I decided to interview Gail myself to share some of her great advice and help others make over their own financial lives. Gail’s first and most important piece of advice? Make a budget – and stick to it.

Want to get started yourself? Be sure to check out our article, “Budget basics,” right here on Health Local. In it, you’ll find tons of great advice on how to set your own budget and use it to make your dreams come true.

By following the advice Gail gave on her TV show, I was able to improve my own financial – and ultimate overall – health. I guess you could say reality TV really saved my life.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.