TV shows are a great way to learn about life. They can teach us about different cultures, relationships, and (more recently) can even give us a few hard-to-learn financial lessons that we might not have picked up otherwise.
While some shows may be more entertaining than educational, others can provide us with valuable insights into money management. Here are some financial lessons we learned from our favorite TV shows.
In the episode Scott’s Tots, a younger Michael Scott promises to pay for the college tuition of a group of third-graders if they graduate from high school, a move he made to look cool and get his name in the paper. But ten years later, when the kids have become high school seniors, Michael realizes he's not going to be able to afford it.
Finance Lessons: Financial planning is essential; you should always be realistic about what you can afford (and the promises that you make!)
Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana was a frozen banana stand established by George Sr. After his arrest, his grandson George Michael became responsible for taking over the stand. However, the latter eventually felt guilty about embezzling bananas. So he decides to burn the stand, only for his father to discover that George Sr. stuffed the walls with $250,000 cash.
Finance Lessons: Keep your money safe & secure. Though a bit of cash is always good to have around, nothing beats the bank.
Rachel was surprised when she received her first paycheck and found that her pay was much lower than she had anticipated. She asked her friends, "Who's FICA? And why is he getting all my money?" This episode of Friends shows the importance of understanding payroll taxes and their effects on your take-home pay.
Finance Lessons: Know your taxes; make sure to check your pay stubs before the end of the year and understand your financial obligations to the government.
In the hit TV show Breaking Bad, high school chemistry teacher Walter White is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He starts cooking and selling crystal meth to provide for his family after he's gone.
His decision to enter the criminal world is driven by his need to take care of his loved ones, but it also has a darker side: as he becomes more and more involved in the drug trade, Walter finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations.
The show provides a valuable money lesson for people of all ages. No one knows when they might be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, so it is important to always be prepared.
Finance Lesson: Health is wealth.
How I Met Your Mother
In the show, Lily Aldrin is revealed to be a shopaholic, and she eventually maxes out 15 credit cards without her husband even knowing. While this might be an extreme case, it serves as a reminder to not overspend and make sure to always pay your bills on time. Overspending can quickly lead to debt, which can be difficult to pay off.
Finance Lesson: Use your credit cards wisely - their interest can rack up fast.
Peggy Olson begins her career as an unassuming secretary in the advertising world of Mad Men. However, she quickly learns the ropes and becomes an integral part of the firm.
Perhaps one of her most impressive feats is discovering her worth and negotiating for a higher salary. Peggy proves herself to be a valuable asset time and time again. Her accomplishments are a testament to her determination and resilience.
Finance Lesson: Know your value - do not be afraid to ask for what you know you deserve.
Johnny Rose finds out that his company's business manager never paid the taxes for the past few years, and now the government is after them. This leads to the family being forced to sell their assets and move to Schitt's Creek, a small town they once bought as a joke.
The Rose family quickly learns the importance of paying their taxes, and that not doing so can have serious consequences. They also learn the value of being resourceful and making the most of what they have, even when times are tough.
Finance Lessons: Stay on top of your taxes, including 1099 MISC forms, invoices, and more. A number of online tools can help with this - they make creating your 1099 a breeze.
In the episode Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk, Homer learns he has some stocks of the power plant company he works for.
After hearing that the value of his shares went up, he decides to sell them all. The stocks eventually go further up in value instead. This leaves Homer in a difficult financial situation, as he could have made a lot more money if he had waited.
Finance Lesson: Patience is a virtue; don’t sell unless you’re absolutely certain that it’s the right move.
Game of Thrones
The Lannisters have a well-earned reputation for always paying their debts. This has allowed them to accrue a great deal of wealth, more than any other family in the series. In real life, paying your debts is an essential step in establishing good credit and building wealth.
Finance Lesson: Make sure to pay your debts.
It is said that "fast money is fast money lost." This is certainly true for Gihun, who gambles and quickly loses any winnings. Gihun recently received a windfall, but instead of saving it or using it to pay his debts, he looked for ways to spend it and got carried away, losing the money in the end.
Finance Lesson: To make your finances work for you, it's important to have a solid financial plan in place.
Our favorite TV shows can not only entertain us, but also teach us important financial lessons that can help us in our own lives. From The Office to Squid Game, these shows have taught us about budgeting, creating your W-2, and more.
Next time you're watching TV, why not take some time to learn something new that can benefit you financially?