Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.
Watch out Suze Orman there's a new OWN money-focused series in town! Financial expert Bruce Sellery is turning the debt-ridden town of Aldergrove upside down by working with the community on a million dollar challenge.
The show titled Million Dollar Neighborhood could change the fortune of the town forever.
Bruce is not only the founder of Moolala, a personal finance company, but he stays busy running a gay household with his partner, Dennis, and adopted daughter Abby.
Jerry Nunn called Canada to get some money advice for our readers and hear more about the show, which premieres Saturday, June 9, at 9/8c on OWN.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hey, Bruce. How's that gay marriage working for in Canada?
BS: (Bruce Sellery) I have been married since 2004. Get it together, you Yankees!
JN: We are working on it. Tell me about your background.
BS: I went to business school and worked with Procter & Gamble brand management so I spent a whole lot of time with the Pampers Baby Dry campaign facial tissue. I was not interested in doing that for the future so read a self-help book and decided to go into TV. I worked my way up in journalism then I had an epiphany that most business news makes no difference. It is stuff they don't need to know and makes no impact on anybody. What can really affect their quality of life is to get a handle on their money so they can live the life they want to. That is magic and will change lives.
JN: So what did you do with that information?
BS: I wrote a book about it called Moolala: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things With Their Money (And What You Can Do About It.) It was on my book tour that I became friends with the producers of the show. We had a meeting of the minds because they wanted to do a show about community. That was one of the four pillars of the Moolala method. My belief is we need to find a way to talk about money so that we can support our friends and family. We do in many other ways but not in money.
JN: Tell our readers about the show.
BS: Basically what we did was we worked with 100 families for ten weeks. We worked with them to increase their collective net worth by a million dollars. They were doing everything from increasing their income to cutting their expenses on food and transportation. You name it we had to focus on that. This was the antithesis of the show Survivor. We didn't vote someone off the island. This was the exact opposite. The only way the community is going to be successful is if everyone steps up. It is the way the challenge is designed.
JN: This sounds very positive.
BS: Every week they were challenged to increase their net worth by a hundred thousand dollars, which is a mind-boggling number. One challenge was getting their neighbors back to work. I had job search teams that were accountable for the work. The candidate just had to show up. It was the team leaders responsibility to get that person pretty and prepared for that interview. It is a collaborative effort with one family being awarded ten thousand dollars. If people want to win ten grand then they have to be the best contributor to the community.
JN: One of the families is a gay couple, right?
BS: Oh my god, they so delicious you want to eat them on a cracker! Their names are Mark and Kyle and at the beginning of our time with them we learn they are pregnant. They have a child coming via surrogate and we meet this child at the end of the experience.
JN: You and you partner adopted?
BS: We did. Our daughter is two and half. She is beyond adorable. This morning we had breakfast on a picnic blanket in the middle of the kitchen because she was not interested in sitting in her highchair.
JN: Do you watch the show Modern Family?
BS: Not only do we watch it, we are it. It is actually embarrassing. People say we are like them but much better looking.
JN: It looked like there was a huge garage sale on the show. Do you recommend people do garage sales?
BS: Oh yeah, for a couple of reasons. The community did a huge garage sale and here are the benefits. From a net worth perspective they sold crap that they could then put towards the consumer debt. The bigger impact was they had to confront how much crap that they buy on an ongoing basis and how little of it drives their quality of life. That was the bigger lesson. You can actually stop buying stuff.
JN: Do you have any specific advice for LGBT families?
BS: That is a great question. Dennis, Abby and I are so normalized that it is not any different advice that I would give to any other family. That is to determine what you want, develop a plan to get it, and take action on the plan. It sounds cliché but it is so true. In the first episode I had the families answer the question, "what is your money for?" It blew their minds. What you will see is that people had compelling answers to that question.