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Do TV characters share your money problems?

Alan Cryer of Two And A Half Men
Click through the television to see the next TV money makeover.

Two and a Half Men

Character: Alan Harper (Jon Cryer)

Although there has been a lot of real-life drama off the set of "Two and a Half Men," on set the issues have always revolved around Alan Harper's mismanagement of savings.

Alan Harper is a divorced father of one living with his brother, Charlie. Despite his extreme frugality, Alan was unable to pay rent for the first five years of living with his brother due to alimony payments and child care costs.

Key issues

3 steps

  • Little retirement savings.
  • Living with his brother.
  • Pathological cheapness without ever getting ahead in his finances.
  • Expensive past relationships.
  • Change his attitude and set goals.
  • Manage his cash flow.
  • Develop a coherent plan of action.

Advised by: Robert Fragasso, Certified Financial Planner, president of Fragasso Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh.

Goals and attitude

Alan first has to change his mind before he can change his actions.

Frankly, in my opinion, Alan is not going to change his way of dealing with things. But I would try, through questioning, to get him to understand that he has three basic problems.

The first is attitude. He's not seeing himself as a success and therefore is not seeing himself as a potential success. He is seeing himself as being acted upon. And he has plenty of opportunity as a licensed practicing professional to turn his finances and his life around.

This is not someone who lacks education and is unemployed; this is someone who has control over his own chiropractic practice. He had the opportunity to expand his practice, and instead of using the resources that were extended to him to do advertising and promotions, he consumed the money.

This is someone who is never going to be successful unless he comes to grips with who he is and what he wants. And that means setting goals.

He first has to see himself being successful, being independent, having the kinds of things and associations that he wants and that money will help him attain them. He has to see himself in possession of that and he can move toward it, but he can't move away from his abject position right now.

Then when he can make a statement that this is what he really wants, that would be the motivating factor that we would put down on paper in formulating the plan.

Cash flow management

This is where we map out a plan of action to get to his goals, and a big component of that is cash flow management. We would have to get a good fix on his revenues and his expenses.

If he has debt, we have to whittle down the debt before we can build the assets.

This is not a short-term plan; this is going to be a couple of years. It sounds as though he's brought the same poor attitude to his chiropractic practice as he has to his life in general.

Plan of action

We would have to spend some time talking about how we would restructure his practice to attract more people and more revenue; how to make it more sustainable; get his business expenses under control and what kind of promotion must he do to get there.

This would be part of a written plan of action, with a timetable with steps and costs associated.

Part of the plan would be making his business successful.

Then, he has to go back to starting a retirement plan for himself, getting a home, changing his view of the things he wants in his life and how to get them.

Also, he shouldn't get married again. Alan should try to work out an arrangement with the two ex-wives. He should try to get the alimony agreement under control -- then he can start to build assets.

In two years he could be on track. The key word here is control: controlling his own life, controlling his own destiny and controlling his own actions.

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