Review: Saving Penny

by Mr. Cheap

Over the last year I’ve started to get into a number of “web television” productions.  These are short (ranging from 3 or 4 minutes to 15 minutes per episode) videos, made for release on the internet.  The Guild (especially their music video, Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?), The Legend of Neil and the utterly brilliant Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog are examples of some of the best of this new entertainment medium.

I was intrigued when Quietrose recently e-mailed me a link to “Saving Penny“, a web-based video series on Bell Sympatico’s finance site yourmoney.ca.  Created by Stitch Media, starring Sarah McCarthy, directed by Mark Mullane and written by Emily Amos this series was “written in the style of Sex & the City and targeting 20- and 30-something women, these videos provide useful and non-threatening financial tips and information.”

Each short episode targets a specific financial concept that Penny runs into a problem with, such as budgeting, whether to buy or lease a new car, stock investing or insurance.  Her boyfriend Doug (or friend Allison) smugly and condescendingly sets her straight and then there’s an animation with voice-over explaining the concept.

The first thing viewers will probably notice is the remarkably bad acting.  For some reason this seems to be pretty standard with Canadian television (we can grow comedians and divas in this country, but acting seems to be beyond us).  A particular low point is the “drunk slut” in episode 3 (I’m pretty sure *I* could be a more convincing drunk slut – heck, I *am* a better drunk slut after I’ve had a couple of beers!).  It might not be fair to blame this entirely on the actors, as the dialogue is pretty cheesy and was probably tough to work with.  I’d never heard the intro song “Don’t Let Your Feet Touch Ground” by Ash Koley, but it’s catchy and a lot of fun. The animations are very well done.

I think the financial information is pretty solid (nothing jumped out as bad advice to me).  I think in some places they went a bit too “middle of the road” in their advice. I would say most people shouldn’t lease a car, should use a fee-only advisers and should avoid pet insurance like the plague, but each of these is presented as a debatable issue.  I can understand that they’re trying to convey the fundamentals of money management, not advocating for a specific perspective, so I suppose this can be forgiven.

Overall, I found the series to be fairly sexist.  In the animations, Penny always wants to buy shoes, and her boyfriend always wants to buy a big screen TV.  The men (Penny’s boyfriend and her friend’s unseen husband) were consistently presented as knowing more about financial topics.  This seems like a strange choice, given that the series was created for 20 and 30 year old women.  If any women watch the series, please comment on whether you find it sexist or not.

The production values were quite good, and I think they did a reasonably good job blending entertainment and financial information (which can be tough).  I watched all 10 episodes the same day I found out about the series, so it was good enough to keep me watching!

Check out the Squawkfox review on 5 Money lessons learned from Saving Penny.

Episode 1:

More episodes here.

Thanks for the link Quietrose!  Anyone who watches it, please comment with what you think.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Canada.creditcards.com

I dig it. Just sent a link to the video over to my wife. I’ll get her opinion and report back. Seems like a great concept to me. Short, educational and not stuffy. – Rudy

2 Quietrose

You’re welcome for the link, Mr. Cheap! I thought it was a bit sexist and condescending, but likeable and enjoyable nonetheless. And you don’t have to be a woman to notice the inherent sexism! 🙂

BTW, “The Guild” and it’s theme song “Do you wanna date my avatar?” totally rock! I’m a big fan of the show!

3 Melanie Reformed Spender

Sounds terrible. I might check it out just to see for myself.

4 Mr. Cheap

I *may* have misrepresented this series.

Mike mentioned that it sounded from my review that I didn’t like it at all. There were elements I thought they could do better, but I DEFINITELY think it’s worth watching. Do check it out Melanie!

5 Mike

Actually I thought from the review that you were pretty lukewarm about the videos. Most of the review talks about the content and the bad stuff and it’s only at the end that you mention you watched all the episodes and enjoyed them which in retrospect is a pretty good compliment.

6 AnnieA

“Little lady, if you put money away every month you can buy those cute blue shoes AND a pretty yellow house!” No, not at all condescending.

No doubt Penny’s brother Nichol spends all his money on games and beer with the guys and is equally clueless about finances. Maybe he’ll star in the next series…

7 Mr. Cheap

Annie: lol!

8 Melanie Reformed Spender

Just watched two videos. The advice *is* decent (though banal), but it’s very condescending. Definitley not for me.

Oh and I’m very sick of hearing the latté argument.

9 Mr. Cheap

Melanie: No, no, no! They make the CAPPUCCINO argument! 😉

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