Secret Millionaire: What Do You Think?

I watched Secret Millionaire on Fox last night. Sounds like a guilty confession, doesn’t it? Well, it did involve mooching off my friend Jen’s cable television (and convincing my friend C to watch it too since he was staying over there) but I did it. And I loved every minute of it.

Secret-millionaire-molly-shattuck (Aside: My taste for “bad” television is well documented. My favorite thing to watch is infomercials at 2 am. Whenever I can’t sleep, I make myself a toast with peanut butter and watch an infomercial. The more ridiculous the product, the better. Heaven.)

So when I saw the preview to this show, I knew I wanted to watch it. The premise is simple: Rich people get plopped in poor America for a week. They have to live on minimum wage and at the end of the week, they give $100,000 or more of their own money to someone or something they deem worthy.

C and I both agreed on certain aspects of the show. First of all, a week is not very long, and one show not a long enough time to portray it. There was lots of oversimplification.

But then came the question of how to help people in need. Is writing a check and leaving really helpful? Is it difficult enough to really impact these millionaires for the longterm? Should the money be used to set up programs?

As you remember from earlier this week, it is almost a proven fact that when given money we don’t earn, most of us are likely to blow at least part of it. Think about what you did with the stimulus check you got this year (or even cash you got as a gift). Now multiply that by thousands. It certainly begs the question…

I was thinking that along with the gift of a check from a millionaire, each recipient should also get face time with a financial planner to help them make good decisions with new found cash. C thought what they spend the cash on should be more regulated (this much in savings, etc.). I thought that in the end, the decision should be up to people getting the money but that they should have the tools they need to make good decisions.

But it’s no coincidence to me that this show is coming out now, at a point when charitable giving is at a low and people need to be reminded that despite cutbacks to their budgets 1) someone’s holiday season will be worse then theirs and 2) that we all can give something, even if it’s not $100,000. In short, a simple message, some voyeristic rich people watching, and the warm fuzzies for half an hour. Cha-Ching.

So I want to know, if you saw it or read about it or even are just thinking about it now, what did you think of the show? How do you think is an effective way to help people less fortunate then yourself? And why can an almost 40 year old woman with five children have a better body then I ever will? Ok, maybe don’t answer that last one…

The Baltimore Sun (where the first millionaire lives for real) discusses Secret Millionaire…

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Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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