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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Learn more about bank accounts

What do you need to open bank accounts?

Opening a bank account is one of the simplest online tasks you could perform. The hard part is deciding which type of bank account you want to open.

All banking institutions have a website where you hit ‘apply’ on the account of your choice and step through an application in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s a list of information that is generally required for applications.

  • Identification (driver’s licence, passport, proof of age card, proof of citizenship and/or birth certificate)
  • Tax file number (so you don’t get charged the highest tax rate)
  • Address, contact email and phone number

If you decide to open a new account at the branch, make sure you ask beforehand what information you need to take with you, or take all of the above to be safe.

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.

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.

How long does it take to open a bank account?

The length of time it takes to open a bank account varies, depending on whether you want to open it online or in person.


Most banks and credit unions have simple online applications that usually take no more than 10 minutes to fill out. It can be especially fast if you have your identification documents like your driver’s licence and passport handy. Sometimes you will instantly be approved and the bank account opened. However, depending on the financial institution, it may take a day or so to be processed and your account number issued. Your account information and ATM or debit card will then be mailed to you, which usually takes between five to 10 days.

In person

If you decide to go into a branch or office to open a bank account, it may take about half an hour. Make sure you bring your identification documents with you. Also book an appointment if you can, otherwise you might be forced to wait in line. Sometimes your ATM or debit card will be issued on the spot, otherwise you’ll need to wait for one to arrive by mail, which usually takes between five to 10 days.

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.

Can Centrelink access your bank account?

Yes, Centrelink can access your bank account, but only if you give them a reason to. Centrelink uses data-matching software with other federal government agencies to help it crack down on welfare cheats.

This is why it’s important to give true and matching information to all government agencies.

For example, if you report to Centrelink your annual income is $25,000, but at tax time you report your income as $50,000 with the ATO, it’s likely you’ll be ‘red flagged’.

At this point, Centrelink can legally request that your bank hand over your personal bank account details, to review your finances.

In most cases, Centrelink does not have the authority to take money out of your account. You will usually be given written notice to repay the debt.

However, Centrelink can also reduce your benefits until you’ve paid back what you owe. In extreme cases, Centrelink can garnish your wages and assets (including money in your bank account) until your debt is repaid.

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 find your bank account number online?

If your bank offers online services, you should be able to find your bank account number online by logging into your account on your bank’s website and checking your details there.

Keep in mind that each type of account you have with a bank comes with a unique account number. This means if you have a bank account as well as a savings account, for example, your bank account number and your savings account number will be different.

If you don’t have access to your bank account online or can’t login, you should be able to find your account number on a mailed bank statement, if you have one.

Alternatively, you can call your bank’s customer service number or visit a branch to retrieve your account number.

How do you open a bank account under 18?

If you’re under 18 and you want to open an Australian bank account, you will need your passport or birth certificate. (Some lenders might require just a Medicare card or driver’s licence.) You can apply online or at a branch. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

Do you need a bank account to sell on eBay?

You don’t need a bank account to sell on eBay. But if you don’t have a bank account, you must provide either a credit card or debit card.

What do I need to open a company bank account?

To open a company bank account, you will probably have to provide 100 points of ID, an ABN and an ACN. You will probably have to provide the details of all signatories as well.

Which bank is best for business accounts?

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to the question of which bank is best for business accounts. That’s because ‘best’ will differ from customer to customer, depending on their unique circumstances. These include not only your company’s financial position, but also its size, its age and the sector in which it operates. Another factor to consider is what features you want in a bank account. Your business may require different features than another business; and your business may require different features tomorrow than it does today.

The best thing to do is to thoroughly research the market before opening a business account. And when you do open an account, you should reassess your options every year or two, because the market moves quickly. A particular bank might offer the best account today, but be surpassed by one or several rivals tomorrow.

How can I close an ANZ Bank account from overseas?

There are two ways you can close your ANZ Bank account from overseas:

  • Call +64 4 472 7123 (toll charges apply)
  • Send a bank mail request via ANZ internet banking

How do you delete your bank account from PayPal?

Deleting your bank account from PayPal is a simple three-step process:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Choose the account you’d like to delete
  • Click ‘Remove bank account’