TV Shows teaches us finance

What can our favourite TV shows teach us about finance?

For all the entertainment they provide us, TV shows can actually be accurate when it comes to giving advice.

1 February 2016: Here are some of the top TV shows that give financial advice.


TV show: Friends

In this episode, Monica loses her job and is broke. She needs money and decides to ask her dad for money. Before she can ask the question, her dad reminds her that one third of your salary should go into the bank. Now this is a bit of a conservative figure. You don’t have to put one third into the bank, but opening a savings account and having an emergency fund is a smart idea - especially if you’re in the same predicament as Monica.

Lesson learned: Put some of your salary away into a savings account or emergency fund in case you run into unexpected situations, like being unemployed.

Game of Thrones

TV show: Game of Thrones

Fan favourite Tyrion Lannister always manages to pay back his debts. Although being cold and deceitful, the Lannisters know how to manage their money. Lannister teaches the importance of paying our debts before they pile up and become to hard to manage. Prioritise what debts you need to pay off. If it’s a home or car loan, work out a steady way to pay it back.

Lesson learned: Organise your budget so you know how much money you’re going to dedicate to paying off your debts.


TV show: Seinfeld

Over the years, Seinfeld has taught us several financial lessons. Don’t give up. If things don’t go your way instantly, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel. Maneuvering the financial minefield can be tricky but an important tip is never give up. The next lesson learned is don’t be a cheapskate. George Costanza is known for being very tight with his money. Being a cheapskate doesn’t always work out for George. So be generous and do something constructive with your money like socially responsible investments into projects that will help the environment.

Lesson learned: Don’t give up if you don’t achieve your goals instantly. Keep pushing through. If you’re really struggling, it’s O.K to ask for help. Find good ways to help people other than yourself with your money and don’t be tight with what you spend.


TV show: Suits

Most of the characters in this show live on the edge. They know how to take risks. Whether it’s Harvey’s spontaneous lies or Mike’s bold moves, risk-taking is a crucial factor to anyone’s success. The greater risk you take, the greater reward you can earn. Almost everything in finance can come down to risk. People don’t know if the economy is going to go up or down. It’s all speculation. If you don’t want to take risks, don’t expect to receive a greater return.

Lesson learned: Consider taking risks. Investments such as super and shares can make you some serious money but only if you step out and take some risks.

House of Cards

TV show: House of Cards

Frank Underwood is one of the most Machiavellian characters on TV today. He starts out as a Democratic congressman for South Carolina and spends the rest of his time manipulating his way into power. Aspiring or current business leaders can learn a lot from Underwood’s instructive dealings. Frank teaches how to bounce back from setbacks. Everyone has financial setbacks. Learn from your mistakes so you can bounce back from failures.

Lesson learned: Learn from your mistakes and get back up when you get knocked down. Everyone has setbacks but knowing how to come back from them will set you apart from the flock.

Breaking Bad

TV show: Breaking Bad

If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Protagonist Walter White is diagnosed with lung cancer in the first episode. The biggest mistake White made was not having enough money in case of an emergency - such as lung cancer. White has no savings to pay for the specialist or to take care of his family after his death. Even though it’s unpleasant, be prepared for the worst.

Lesson learned: Plan your finances. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Make sure you have a savings account and an emergency fund so you can be prepared for the worst scenarios.

How I met your mother (HIMYM)

TV show: How I met your mother (HIMYM)

Compulsive shopping can be a problem for a lot of people. Lily from HIMYM is a compulsive shopper. When she is sad, disappointed or sees good shoes and bags, she immediately buys them. Not only has this caused her to be broke, but now she’s in debt. Before you indulge yourself, make sure you can afford it and it’s not going to a blow a huge hole in your budget.

Lesson learned: Avoid unnecessary shopping. While it’s fine to indulge yourself every once in awhile, compulsive shopping will put a massive dent into your budget if you can’t control your impulse shopping buys.
The Big Bang Theory

TV show: The Big Bang Theory

Remember the time when Howard bought a $5000 3D printer without asking his wife Bernadette? She wasn’t happy. In fact she took Howard off their joint account hoping he would learn his lesson. What is the lesson? You have to discuss major purchases if you’re married, especially if you have a joint account. You need to consult with your partner or spouse and decide together.

Lesson learned: Discuss what to do with your finances with your spouse or partner. Don’t rush in and buy something expensive without talking to your significant other.

Downton Abbey

TV show: Downton Abbey

Treat your personal finances like professionals. Households are similar to the business arena in a way that both want to be successful. Take professional steps like budgeting and tracking your expenses so your household finances can run smoothly.

Lesson learned: Be professional. Just because you’re not at the office doesn’t mean you can slack off when it comes to your personal finances. Treat your finances professionally so they run smoothly.

See, watching TV can be educational without you even realising.

Jacob Joseph

Jacob is a writer and video journalist with Credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts are his bread and butter, and he likes nothing more helping people understand the sometimes overly complex world of personal finance.

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