Working on Showtime’s “Black Monday” has given actor Paul Scheer a unique glimpse into the world of Wall Street, immense wealth and the financial ruin that took place when the stock market crashed in October 1987. Along the way, Scheer, who plays Keith on the comedy, has learned some invaluable lessons about money. I got the chance to sit down with Scheer to find out his best (and funniest) financial insights before the season finale airs Sunday, March 31.
1. Never Take Wealth as a Given
“When I was doing research for the show, I was watching all of these documentaries, and you have these traders who were making a million dollars a day in 1986, and then the next month, were running a gym — like not owning a gym, like ‘I am a manager of a local gym,'” he said. “It’s crazy how far you can fall.”
2. Don’t Trust the Guy With the Flashy Car
“The stock market has crashed before — it probably will crash again — but I think what I’ve learned is to care about your money,” he said. “If I’m going to trust my money with anybody, make sure they are reputable, and make sure that they are as nervous as I am. I don’t want the cocky person. If they’re driving too fast of a car, or [wearing] too nice of a suit, I don’t want them investing my money. I want the person who’s struggling a little bit. I feel like that’s the way to go.”
3. Money Doesn’t Always Equal Success
“If you look at someone and you assume that they are successful, and they drive the right car, and they have a nice house, but then you find out they don’t have the right money, you’re like, ‘Oh, are they that successful?’ It’s a weird thing that you can constantly judge people solely on one thing — if they have a lot of money, then they’re successful; if they don’t, then clearly they’re not,” said Scheer. “You don’t realize that maybe the smartest person doesn’t have a lot of money, but knows how to spend it effectively. The show of money versus how smart you actually are with it are two different things. But I think we often just equate how much you have with how much [of a] success you are. It’s this weird thing where your status and money are so tied.”
4. Not All Famous People Are Rich
“One of my first jobs I ever had was working on VH1. I was getting paid $500 a week, and I was like, ‘Yeah, rolling in it!’ And people would assume that I was rich because I was on TV,” said Scheer. “I was working a full-time job in addition to being on ‘Best Week Ever’ because I [needed] to pay my rent — I was living in New York City. But it’s the perception of it. It’s like, ‘Oh, well you’re on TV so you definitely make a lot of money.’ But you don’t want to reveal how much you make because then people lower you, like ‘Oh, you don’t make money? Then you’re clearly a failure.’ It’s a weird dynamic.”
5. Be Smart About Your Spending — and Save, Save, Save
This might be obvious financial advice, but it never hurts to be reminded of it. “The only thing that makes me feel good about money is being smart about it,” said Scheer. “I will spend money to take care of my kids, and enjoy life because God knows where we’ll be tomorrow. And really save. Not like ‘save for a vacation,’ like, save for later, later. You’re going to need it. If you have kids, you’re going to need it in a big way — like in a crazy way. Soccer equipment does not come cheap.”
The season finale of “Black Monday” premieres Sunday, March 31 at 10 p.m. on Showtime.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.