Fortune 500 strategist Victor Antonio hosts Spike TV’s new show Life or Debt, in which he attempts to steer families towards a debt-free life.

Victor Antonio On ‘Life Or Debt’

For the first season of Life or Debt, Antonio worked with a total of 10 families that all have unique situations and reasons for finding themselves in serious debt. Many of the families, though aware that they’re in financial trouble, are resistant to the proposals Antonio makes – but soon realize the effects of his strategy.

“They simply don’t wanna change their lifestyle. So what we try to do is go in there and get them to run their family like a business,” Antonio told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “We teach them how to cut costs, we also teach them how to increase their income and maybe streamline the operation so they can have more time to spend with each other and their kids.”

Antonio added of people who are underemployed and underpaid, “You’d be surprised how many people are not [paid enough] and that’s another dynamic we deal with. In other words, how do we get people to go look for better jobs that’ll pay more, that’ll have health insurance?”

One of the methods that Antonio is a big believer in is instituting an economic shutdown for a family that will, over the course of a year, save them thousands of dollars and help to reset their finances.

“An economic shutdown basically means only spend on the essentials. Only needs, no wants,” Antonio explained to uInterview. “For example, if you do an economic shutdown for a couple who make let’s say $50,000 a year total, then guess what? You’re gonna save about $1,500 a month just by doing that one economic shutdown. So that’s one of the things we teach them to do — shut that down.”

Antonio believes that people’s personal financial struggles, as well as the finances of the country at large, are propelling a large segment of the electorate in the 2016 presidential election. “That’s what I think is driving this election, something’s not right,” Antonio mused about America’s debt. “The American population see whatever’s been tried is not working, and I think you’re starting to see some of those frustrations come out in how people are voting.”

Life or Debt airs Sundays on Spike TV at 10/9c.

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Q: Why are so many Americans living in debt? -

I think when we look at families what we’re finding out — you heard the number right? 75 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, less than 60 percent have a thousand dollars in their savings. So, what we’re finding – or I should say what I’m finding – I work with these families, is that they simply don’t wanna change their lifestyle. So what we try to do is go in there and get them to run their family like a business. We teach them how to cut costs, we also teach them how to increase their income and maybe streamline the operation so they can have more time to spend with each other and their kids.

Q: What can people do now to get out of debt? -

One of the things we always ask families to do is institute an economic shutdown. An economic shutdown basically means only spend on the essentials. Only needs, no wants. For example, if you do an economic shutdown for a couple who make let’s say $50,000 a year total, then guess what? You’re gonna save about $1,500 a month just by doing that one economic shutdown. So that’s one of the things we teach them to do — shut that down. I think why this show’s gonna be different, we don’t focus on just cutting costs, we also focus on, ‘Are they making enough money? Are they earning what they should be earning?’ You’d be surprised how many people are not and that’s another dynamic we deal with. In other words, how do we get people to go look for better jobs that’ll pay more, that’ll have health insurance? That’s the dynamic we work with.

Q: What’s the connection between people living in debt and the election? -

I’ll take the macroeconomic point of view. You know we’re, I think, now going close to twenty trillion dollars in debt. Let’s just put politics aside, twenty trillion dollars and we still haven’t balanced our own budget. It’s disappointing that our government can’t run their own business, so they’re not the good role model, and so what you’re seeing is that people are now struggling financially, they can’t afford it. Look, all you have to do is go to the grocery store and you realize that $50 can maybe get you one bag of groceries. So, when the media says there’s no inflation, well maybe that’s not true, because people know that something is not right. That’s what I think is driving this election, something’s not right. The American population see whatever’s been tried is not working, and I think you’re starting to see some of those frustrations come out in how people are voting.

Q: What is the toughest case you have seen so far? -

I think they’re all tough, and I’m not just saying that just to whitewash the question. It’s that they’re all tough because each one has their own set of issues, dynamics. We worked with ten families, and some did well, some didn’t and it really depends on the minds of... Can we shift them? Can we turn them? Can we get them to make the necessary changes? Each one is very specific and they fight back, they fight back when I start taking things away from them