I am addicted to the TV reality show Pawn Stars (which airs on the History channel). The highly entertaining family that runs the pawn shop includes a grumpy old man, who everyone at the store simply calls "the Old Man", his son Rick who seems to have and endless knowledge of trivia about the unusual items that come into the pawn shop, Rick's smart alec son, and his slacker friend Chumlee, who is as dimwitted as he is lazy. Between the abundance of history trivia and tense negotiations between the colorful characters bringing in stuff to pawn asking outrageous prices and the pawn shop proprieters it's pure entertainment.
But Pawn Stars is about more than a family that puts the "fun" in dysfunctional or people selling old stuff so the pawn shop can resell them to people who collect weapons and weird things. Between the family bickering and buying and selling, Pawn Stars provides plenty of lessons in money management. Here are a few lessons I have learned from watching Pawn Stars.
- Always know exactly what you are buying and how much it is worth. Rick and the other buyers for the pawn shop often bring in an outside expert who specializes in art, weapons, toys, old books, etc. to tell them exactly what they are buying and what it's really worth, as opposed to what the seller wants for it. This lesson could be applied to common purchases like computer (does it come with the Microsoft software you need or is that extra) and eBay purchases (did the seller photograph the item from different angles or does the photo look like it was copied from another web site, meaning they aren't really showing you the product they are selling?)
- Just because something is old does not mean it's worth a lot of money. Old items do not always appreciate in value like a savings account. There are many factors that go into a selling prices including rarity, condition and demand. So don't hang onto items you don't really care about thinking you can cash them in for big bucks some day.
- Have a realistic idea of what you are selling is worth. In each episode of Pawn Stars there is at least one person who asks for several thousand dollars more than what there item is worth. These unrealistic sellers often end up keeping their item because the pawn shop employees aren't going to pay an outrageously high price.
- There is plenty of negotiating in the show, but the pawn shop store buyers have a maximum price in mind that they will pay for an item. No matter how cool Rick or one of the other buyers thinks something is or how badly they want it, they never exceed the price they are comfortable with. They will walk away from an item instead of letting their emotions get the better of them and overpaying.
- When you're selling something it never hurts to ask for a little more. If Rick offers a seller $200.00 for an item and they counter with $300.00 he may agree to the $250.00 to meet them halfway. By simply asking for a reasonalble amount the seller walks away with more money.