Here’s Joe: Chopping Onions and Saving Money

Joe Woods large
I’ve been watching a lot of US Open Tennis. As any fan knows, that means being inundated with commercials pitching financial advice. As a fee-only financial planner, I groan at most financial commercials partly because I suspect a lot of people get most of their financial information from them.

But I saw one (over and over) that I like!

This commercial shows Joe Woods on his first day on the job in the kitchen, wearing an apron and chopping onions. The voiceover says that his boss told him two things: cook what you love, and save money.

The narrator informs us that Joe gets promoted to waiter. Joe is still chopping, and his outfit changes to a black vest. The narrator details Joe’s many promotions and wardrobe changes. He ends up owning his own restaurant specializing in northwestern fish and game. He’s still chopping, and he’s still saving. It implies—isn’t that easy? Courtesy TD Ameritrade.

I like the commercial because it:
  1. Illustrates the first financial fundamental: save money.
  2. Implies that saving isn’t for the wealthy, it’s a path to wealth.
  3. Focuses on the actions that Joe controls rather than on what he has no control over.
The commercial would be better if it:
  1. Illustrated the first fundamental of financial planning more specifically. It would be great if it said something like, “When Joe became a waiter, he kept saving 10% of his income. Even tips.”
  2. Addressed the wide swath of people who didn’t start saving when they were bussing tables. What about everyone else?
But, let’s put this commercial in perspective. Most financial industry commercials try to get people to act by generating fear. That makes everyone watching feel slightly worse. Joe Woods models financial empowerment. Thanks Joe!

Here’s the
commercial in case you want to see it (again!)