10 important money lessons I learnt from TV


Wants to know how to handle your finances?

Look no further than the dramas, comedies, cartoons and more that flood our TV screens.

It might all seem like a bit of fun, but look closely and there are serious tips tucked away in the entertainment.

shitts creek money lessons i learnt from tv shows sex and the city friends ted lasso supernatural

1. Move in with your mates

Rachel was a waitress, Joey was a (mostly unemployed) actor, but both managed to live in pretty cool New York apartments.

How? Like the show they starred in, the key word was Friends. Chandler paid Joey's rent when he couldn't and thanks to rent control via Monica's grandmother, Rachel's apartment was "a freakin' steal!"

2. Understand finance

After years of ignoring her maxed-out credit cards, How I Met Your Mother's Lily discovered no bank on earth would talk to her when it came time for a mortgage.

Seinfeld's Kramer landed in similar trouble when he didn't understand the exchange rate between the Yen and US dollar.

Even a basic understanding of finance and they'd have been fine.

3. Don't let money change you

Almost everyone else in the comedy Schitt's Creek chased a big payday so they could leave the unfortunately-named town.

But one character happily lived their simple life in the place they loved, surrounded by people they knew and loved, all the while - as we learned in the series' final moments - being a secret multi-millionaire.

4. Downsize

Green Acres and The Good Life started this trend, showing how a deliberate move away from the fast lane can lead to a better life.

That message comes flying home in Broke when a trust-fund kid is suddenly cut off and has to learn how to live in the real world. That might have meant losing the limo and the luxuries, but with a bit of effort, he makes it work.

5. Live within your means

If you don't have the money, don't spend like you do. Just watch the Bluth family in Arrested Development to see how fast and how deep you can land in trouble when outgoings beat income.

And for a real-life version, watch the utter collapse of Jackie Siegel when her husband's real estate empire collapses in the documentary The Queen of Versailles.

6. Never lend anyone money

From Everybody Loves Raymond to Cheers to Sex And The City, every time someone lends a friend money, it ends badly.

money lessons from sex and the city

But the biggest lesson of all comes from the long-running court reality series Judge Judy, where at least a third of the cases she tried all featured some poor person yelling: "It was a loan, not a gift!"

7. You don't always have to pay cash

When Kermit took Miss Piggy to dinner in The Muppet Show and forgot his wallet, he paid for the meal with something we've seen a thousand times - by doing the dishes.

A lot of businesses will trade services for goods if you ask - just make sure you sort that out before you eat.

8. Learn to save

In Ted Lasso foul-mouthed footballer Roy Kent confesses that every time he swears in front of his niece Phoebe, he owes her a pound.

What he doesn't know is that Phoebe might be in primary school, but she's got a sharp financial mind and has been keeping track of those &*%$#! pounds. Current balance? He owes her £1236.

9. Get a job, any job

Any job fills a resume, shows you're willing and can lead to something else.

In the streaming hit Hacks comedy writer Ava loses her high-paying gig on a hit TV show and takes what she thinks is the worst job ever, just to pay the bills, and winds up with more job satisfaction than she ever dreamed of.

money lessons from stan hit hacks

10. Or maybe don't even bother working

Let's be honest, countless TV characters have zero visible means of support.

In Star Trek, they explain it away with "money no longer exists", Big Bang's Raj has mega-wealthy parents, The Addams Family literally found cash in any drawer they opened and The Winchester brothers of Supernatural spent years fighting evil funded by what? Playing pool? Maybe the answer is to become a TV character.

What money lesson did you learn from TV? Let us know in the comments!

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Scott Ellis is an Australian television producer and entertainment writer who has worked in and covered the broadcast industry for more than three decades.
Julia Newbould, Money managing editor
August 11, 2021 11.35am

It's so good to know that watching heaps of TV can pay off in the end!

Stella S
August 11, 2021 3.35pm

Oh gosh, so many.

Hide the f$%^ing money. - Shameless

Have rich grandparents. - Gilmore Girls

Kids won't die if you can't afford for them to have their own rooms. - The Brady Bunch

You don't need to make a lot of money to have a good time. - Superstore

Trying to think of more now!

Grace Frankie
August 12, 2021 9.30am

Always have F you money in case your husband leaves you in your 60s. Grace and Frankie learned this the hard way!

Tommy .
August 12, 2021 9.37am

I think you've actually missed the most important money lesson in Schitts Creek. That moment when David comes into money from the Blouse Barn, and his family is pressuring him to spend it treating them all, but he realises that their best option is to save it. It shows huge personal growth and is one of my favourite moments in TV.