Big Spender

TV review by
Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
Big Spender TV Poster Image
Harsh delivery masks good messages about debt.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Parents model poor spending habits that concern the welfare of the entire family. Winget's strategy to get people to recognize their mistakes is to make them feel horrible.


Larry Winget's confrontational, in-your-face style can be difficult to watch.


Mild: "It's your own damn fault!" "You are full of crap." "I'm going to kick butt."


Retail stores, brand names, and designers are all mentioned in the context of shopping habits.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A couple talks about the costs of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that star Larry Winget, a financial-help guru, uses a form of tough love that is verbally harsh, caustic, and confrontational. When first meeting adults who are chronic, compulsive over-spenders, he'll say things like "It's your own damn fault," "You make stupid choices," and "You are full of crap." His strategy, which apparently works, is to "get in their faces to make them face reality." He also harshly critiques spenders who are parents on the examples they're providing for their kids. However justified his actions, Winget's method make this show inappropriate for younger teens.

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Adult Written byKarpovich April 9, 2008
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What's the story?

Personal development expert/speaker/author (Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get a Life) Larry Winget has earned his stripes. He's made fortunes, lost them, and made them again. Now he's helping others who are down in the bankruptcy dumps. Winget enters their homes, harshly confronts them on their spending habits, and gives them the hands-on tools they need to correct their ways.

Is it any good?

After the initial confrontation, Winget provides each spender with three weeks of financial boot camp. By dissecting what's coming in -- or the lack thereof -- and what's going out, he "kicks some butt" to get his subjects to change their ways. Once he's given them strategies to change their habits, he leaves, videotaping them over the next few days to see if they've, in fact, made changes. But although he does send unemployed spenders to career counseling, these folks clearly need psychological counseling, too, and that part is lacking.

There's no question that Winget's subjects need help, and he's certainly able to address their problems and suggest solutions. But his drill-sergeant-like methodology uses very harsh language language that, despite the strong message about learning to spend responsibly, makes BIG SPENDER inappropriate for younger viewers. For parents with kids off to college, Big Spender offers a chance to address what goes wrong when you spend more than you earn. But parents may want to explain that this brand of excessive overspending involves other issues -- ones that require counseling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about responsible spending habits. For kids who are off to college or moving out of the house, it's a great chance to review spending, budgeting, balancing the checkbook, ways to cut back, ways to save, and more. Parents can demonstrate the point by calculating how much a college kid could save by making coffee each day versus buying a latte.

TV details

  • Premiere date: July 9, 2006
  • Cast: Larry Winget
  • Network: A&E
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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