Well, CNBC now offers us "On the Money," a new financial program hosted by Carmen Wong Ulrich (profile). It began Monday (8/4/08) and runs directly opposite the time slot (7pm CST) held down by Dave Ramsey on the Fox Business Network.
I didn't get to watch the initial episode, but my wife and I did make it a point to sit down and view last night's showing. Overall, I'm impressed — well, as impressed as a guy who's watched only one episode can be.
I was interested to see that "On the Money" isn't a solo act for Ms. Ulrich. Rather, substantial camera time was doled out to three other personal-finance experts who were apparently sharing TV-studio space. Viewer questions tended to end up in their laps once Ms. Ulrich got the ground-level framework moving (introducing callers, collecting the necessary info from them, prepping the callers on various personal-finance basics, and so on).
Here's a link to a nine-minute video chunk of last night's "On the Money." Fans of the "something for nothing" movement will want to pay particular attention to "Martin in Minnesota," the caller who meanders in at about the 4:40 mark:
CNBC: "On the Money" Snippet (Video)
Our pal Martin has $70k in credit-card debt — now delinquent, fortunately enough — and is working through a plan with a debt-management company. He's apparently been told that the card companies will settle with him and reduce his balances provided he sticks to the $1,600-per-month paydown plan. Lucky him, though: He recently came into a $100k inheritance.
Most respectable folks would fall to their knees and thank the heavens for such a Pass-Go-And-Get-This-Debt-Gone-Today occurrence. But not this dips*#t. No, instead, he's concerned that the "found money" inheritance might jeopardize his chances to "walk away" from as much of his debt as possible.
Thankfully, Carmen and her merry team of debt experts don't put up with this crap. They heartily suggested that Martin SUCK IT UP and PAY WHAT HE OWES. Score one for the good guys. At one point, she cuts him off, telling him:
Although, to be fair, my knowledge of human nature chimes in here: If Martin had any intention at all of doing the right thing, then he'd have never made the call to "On the Money" to start with. His payoff plan would already be in place and ready for ignition. (This assumes, of course, that "Martin" wasn't a purely fictional persona with a sufficiently-hot-button and purely fictional issue created specifically to garner audience attention and admiration for Carmen and her cohorts. No, I'm not cynical or anything.)
I was also pleasantly surprised (in another segment) to see that Ms. Ulrich's feature advice for Kenny and Valerie (w/video) included a nice pie-chart breakdown of the couple's income and expenses ... with concrete figures.
So often, personal-finance shows like this don't give money-dork audience members like myself the nitty gritty dollar figures which comprise a family's true money situation. We got that here (at the 1:10 mark), which, to be honest, makes me giddy. I might've been happier to see Ms. Ulrich and her experts lay down the cold, hard truth to Kenny and Valerie — that the couple flat-out cannot afford their "primary goals" of $1,200/month private schooling for the kids, as well as SAHM-dom and an interest-only mortgage that's due to reset in a few years. This segment, though, is still worth a watch.
So yeah, I'm looking forward to catching more episodes of "On the Money." Right now it's listed as a Monday-through-Friday thing on CNBC, but that network tends to be awfully trigger-happy with shows like this. A couple weeks of so-so ratings, and Carmen's TV show is toast.
And male readers would likely agree with me on this: If we're gonna spend an hour looking at a personal-finance guru's mug on the TV screen, we'll take Carmen over Suze or Dave every single time.