Money tips from Game of Thrones

Money tips from Game of Thrones

Between all the sex, violence, dragons and zombies, Game of Thrones (and the books that inspired it) can provide several valuable lessons about managing your personal finances, as well as helpful examples and cautionary tales (spoilers for previous seasons to follow): 

Rub two coins together to breed a third

“They’re only numbers – numbers on paper. Once you understand them, it’s easy to make them behave.” – Littlefinger

Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish starts the series as King Robert’s Master of Coin (the royal treasurer). While this position earns him little respect in a kingdom where bloodlines and battle glories are valued over financial savvy, it allows him to engage in plenty of self-serving schemes and plots, right under the royal nose.

Rather than simply counting the King’s coins to spend on wine, women and song, Littlefinger takes an active role in managing the kingdom’s wealth: investing it here, withdrawing it there, and finding ways to keep the kingdom afloat.

Instead of locking your own money up in a vault (or bank account), consider looking for ways to increase your wealth. Depositing some of your money into a savings account or term deposit can allow you to earn interest, and there are many other investment options available to think about.

Watch your spending and borrowing

Bronn: I’ve never borrowed money before. I’m not clear on the rules.

Tyrion: Well, the basic principle is, I lend you money, and after an agreed upon period of time, you return it, with interest.

Bronn: And what if I don’t?

Tyrion: Well, you have to.

Bronn: Well, what if I don’t?

Tyrion: This is why I don’t lend you money.

When Tyrion Lannister later takes over Littlefinger’s position as Master of Coin, he discovers the truth – rather than getting the crown’s money from investments, or even stealing it, Littlefinger’s been borrowing it. And between financing the late King Robert’s extravagant lifestyle, waging the War of Five Kings, and paying for King Joffrey’s upcoming wedding, the Iron Throne is now millions in debt.

Every loan is a risk, so try to borrow money carefully, and consider what benefits it may bring you. For example, borrowing money to buy a home or a car can cost a lot in interest and fees, but you’ll own an asset that’s valuable (e.g. a home or investment property) and/or useful (e.g. your own set of wheels). But borrowing to pay for one-off luxuries or unplanned expenses (e.g. weddings with 77-course feasts) could risk leaving you trapped in debt, without much to show for it, as your interest charges build up.

Always pay your debts

“A common saying, but not their official motto.” – Maester Luwin

The unofficial Lannister words can be a promise, a sinister threat, or both. Tyrion Lannister goes out of his way to repay kindnesses done to him, such as tossing his coin purse to Mord the jailer at the Eyrie, or offering to double any competing offer for Bronn’s sellsword services. Cersei Lannister never forgets a slight against her, and repays them with everything from barbed putdowns to bloody (and explosive) murder.  

If you want to save money, it’s often wise to try and pay your own debts as quickly as you can afford. The longer you owe a debt, the more you’ll be charged in interest, and the more your loan will ultimately cost you. Making extra repayments can help reduce your loan principal, shrinking your interest charges and bringing you closer to making an early exit from your loan.  

The Iron Bank will have its due

“Across the Narrow Sea, your books are filled with words like “usurper” and “madman” and “blood right.” Here, our books are filled with numbers. We prefer the stories they tell. More plain. Less… open to interpretation.” – Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos

When grumpy grammar nerd Stannis Baratheon started planning his second attempt to seize the Iron Throne, he applied for a loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos to pay for his war. However, the bankers turned him down, pointing out the odds of victory weren’t in his favour. It took an earnest speech from Ser Davos “Onion Knight” Seaworth vouching for Stannis’ personal integrity and pointing out the unreliability of the Lannisters, who presently held the throne and owed substantial debts to the Iron Bank, to bring them around.

A similar process takes place whenever you apply for a loan at a modern bank, with a few key differences. Rather than counting your troops and provisions, lenders will look at your current income, assets and other debts to work out if you can comfortably afford to repay this new loan. They’ll also conduct a credit check, looking at your history of borrowing and repaying money to determine if you’re financially responsible. If the bank thinks you can’t afford a loan, or if the risk that you’ll default on your repayments is too high, they may reject your application.

But just like Stannis, you may still be able to get a loan with just a little help – not from a straight-talking ex-smuggler, but from a guarantor. This is typically a family member who agrees to take on your debt if you’re unable to afford it – for example, if a first home buyer can’t afford a large deposit, their parents can use their equity in the family home to guarantee the new loan. This is a big responsibility, so make sure any potential guarantor is aware of the risks involved.

Winter is coming

Tyrion: I’m a bit short on castles at the moment, but I can offer you gold and gratitude.

Bronn: I have gold. What can I buy with gratitude?

After King Tommen’s coronation, house patriarch Tywin Lannister drops a bombshell to his daughter Cersei – the family’s famous gold mines (their only source of income) have been dry for years. Effectively bankrupt and faced with an uncertain future, all of Tywin’s deft political manoeuvring in recent years has been to put his family in a better position for the lean years to come.

It’s worth remembering that financial hardship can strike at any time. You could lose your job, or have to pay for major car repairs or medical bills. It’s sensible to have a backup plan in place in case calamity strikes, such as keeping some money in a savings account for a rainy day.

Another option is to choose loans that offer flexible features, such as a redraw facility or offset account. If you’ve been making extra repayments towards a loan to help lower your interest charges, you may be able to “redraw” this extra money if you need it back in your pocket in a pinch. Money in an offset account can also help reduce your interest charges, and can be quickly transferred to wherever it’s needed most.

Always read the terms and conditions

“The Dothraki don’t believe in money.” – Ser Jorah Mormont

When Viserys Targaryen arranged the marriage of his sister Daenerys to Khal Drogo, he believed he was making a simple exchange – Drogo gets a queen (rather, a Khaleesi), and Viserys gets an army of Dothraki warriors to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately, he didn’t know that Dothraki economics is less about transactions and obligations than it is about gifts and plunder. And when Drogo eventually offered him the golden crown he wanted, it was not at all what he expected…

While modern financial matters don’t involve gruesome murder, it’s still important to understand exactly what any transaction involves before making an application or signing an agreement. The cheapest deal isn’t always the best deal, and knowing the potential risks and rewards can help give you a better idea of whether a loan or other financial product is ultimately suited to your situation.     

Rise again, harder and stronger

“Some at the Iron Bank will be disappointed. They’ve grown rather fond of your interest payments.” – Tycho Nestoris 

The freshly-crowned Queen Cersei Lannister came up with a novel solution for her ongoing debt problems – invading the rich Tyrell lands and sacking their seat of Highgarden. When offering to repay the Iron Bank with the looted gold, Queen Cersei discussed taking out a new loan to fund her war against Daenerys Targaryen, which the banker was happy to offer.

While theft and murder is not an acceptable solution to debt problems, refinancing a loan may be worth considering if your financial position improves. For example, many first home buyers can only afford a small home loan deposit, meaning their mortgages are rarely the most affordable options available. But after a few years of paying their home loan and building up equity, they may become able to refinance to a loan that offers lower interest rates, cheaper fees, or features and benefits that are better suited to their needs.

Valar morghulis.

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Can I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

Can I open bank accounts for my children?

A common question for new parents is, ‘Can I open a bank account for my child?’

The short answer is yes – as a parent you can open a bank account for your child.

Once you’ve compared your options and found a bank account that suits your needs, the process is relatively simple.

As the bank account is for your child, you’ll need to provide some documentation such as proof of ID, including your tax file number.

You will also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate, and in some cases you may also need to sign a guarantee of indemnity.

Depending on the bank and whether you’re an existing customer, you may be able to open a bank account for your child online. However, you may still need to go into a branch to prove your identity.

How do you transfer money from PayPal to a bank account?

Transferring money from PayPal to an Australian bank account is simple. Just follow these three steps:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Click ‘Transfer Money’
  • Follow the instructions

The money will take three to seven business days to reach your bank account.

Once you’ve made the transfer request, it can’t be withdrawn.

How do you set up a bank account online?

Once you’ve compared bank accounts and found the right one, the process of opening a bank account online is quite simple and can be done in around 10 minutes.

To set up a bank account online, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide an approved form of ID as well as your tax file number (TFN).

If you’re a new customer of the bank, you’ll need to verify your identity and potentially upload documents before you can complete your online application.

Once your ID has been verified and you’ve set up your bank account online, you should receive your bank cards in the mail along with your PIN and any other account details.

How can I close a Commonwealth Bank account?

You can close your Commonwealth Bank account at any branch, provided you have appropriate identification. You can also close your account over the phone, by calling 132 221, 24 hours a day.

How do I close my bank account online?

You can usually easily open a bank account online, but you often can’t close it online.

Many banks and credit unions will only let you close an account if you go into a branch or call them on the phone.

However, some banks will let you request to close the account via your internet banking. Check your financial provider’s website for details.

Just remember: If you still have funds in the bank account, transfer them to another account, or withdraw the cash. Also, if you have any payments like direct debits going in or out of the bank account, these will also stop when you close your account.

What do I need to open bank accounts online?

Opening a bank account online is a simple process and only takes between five to 10 minutes to complete. To get started you will need a computer or smartphone with internet access.

Information to have available when you’re ready to apply is:

  • Identification (such as driver’s licence, birth certificate, passport, proof-of-age card)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, email and a contact number

In some cases, you might be asked to provide employment details. If you’re not able to verify your identity online, most financial institutions let you provide this in the branch at a later date.

There are some types of bank account that you can apply for only in a branch. However, most bank accounts can be applied for conveniently online.

Are bank accounts frozen when someone dies?

Yes, Australian bank accounts are frozen when someone dies. If you want to close the account of somebody who has died, you might have to provide proof of death and a copy of the will. You might also have to prove your relationship to the deceased person.

If you have a joint bank account with somebody who has died, you will generally be entitled to all the money in the account. Again, you might have to provide proof of death if you want to change the bank account from a joint account to a one-person account.

Can I start a bank account online?

Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. You will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.

Can you deposit money into somebody else's bank account?

One of the easiest banking tasks in the world is depositing money. You can even deposit money into someone else’s bank account if you wish.

The basic information you need to deposit money into a third-party bank account is:

  • Payee’s name
  • Bank, building society or credit union (though this isn’t necessary)
  • BSB (or bank code, which is the branch identifier)
  • Account number

Including the name of the financial institution isn’t necessary – particularly with online banking – because the BSB will identify this for you.

A handy tip is to record yourself (or add a personal message) in the transaction description or reference. This will show up on the recipients account, letting them know who’s paid them the money.

Can I close a bank account with pending transactions?

You can close a bank account with pending transactions. But after the account is closed, any incoming transactions will be declined by your (old) bank.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t occur is to either wait to close your account until all pending transactions are complete, or contact the creditor and supply them with alternate bank details.

If you’re unsure whether you have any scheduled transactions, you can speak to a banking representative over the phone or via online support.

In most cases, your bank withholds the amount owing for pending transactions (such as online purchases).

Because the pending amount is deducted from your bank balance, you can close your bank account and the purchase will be honoured.

How can I find bank accounts in my name?

To find ‘live’ bank accounts in your name, you’ll have to ask individual lenders, which involves contacting them one by one and proving your identity each time. To find ‘unclaimed’ bank accounts (those that have been inactive for at least seven years), you can use this website.

How do I open a bank account for a child?

There are few better ways for a child to learn about money management than through savings. And there’s a plethora of bank accounts designed specifically for young people and children.

A bank account for a child can be opened online, over the phone or in a branch in a few easy steps. The minimum age a child can open a bank account for themselves usually ranges between 12 and 14.

If the child is too young to open the account, you can do it for them as their legal parent or guardian. 

To do this, you would need to be over 18, have an Australian residential address and currently reside in Australia (or have proof of residency).

You would also need to provide:

  • Identification for yourself and the child
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Depending on the bank account, you might be able to choose what level of access the child has to their bank account (online and via the phone).

How can I wire money to a bank account?

You can wire money to an Australian bank account either through your own bank or by using a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Either way, you’ll need the other person’s name, BSB number and account number. If you use a money transfer company, you might also need to provide the recipient’s address for large payments.