TV shows often depict wealthy families, but not always. Even TV families with money face financial dilemmas. Writer Ruser Saldana shares three money lessons he picked up from popular TV shows. Ruser is auditioning for a staff writer position on BargainBabe.com! Missed the audition announcement? Here it is. This is the last audition post. Look for a wrap up tomorrow!
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Money problems are common for most American families – even fictional ones on television. While their financial struggles are as fictional as the family themselves, viewers can still learn a lot from them.
Here are a few financial lessons that I’ve learned from three different TV families.
The Bundys (Married with Children): Simplify your diet
Al Bundy provided for his wife and two teenage children on the salary of a department store shoe salesman. Money was always ridiculously tight, so much so that seemingly mundane things (like a trip to the car wash) were a family treat. A constant in their diet were “tang-wiches,” which is exactly what it sounds like: a sandwich made of bread and powdered tang.
I’m not promoting such a sandwich be made a staple in your diet. But in addition to dining out less, you can save money on food by simplifying your diet: buy less extravagant ingredients for example, or drink less sodas, juices, and alcohol.
Also consider the amount of meat in your diet. Beef, chicken, pork, and fish tend to be the most expensive part of meals; while you don’t have to completely cut these from your diet, you can eat smaller portions of them and increase your fruit and vegetable intake for healthier meals that are healthy for your finances, too.
The Gilmores (Gilmore Girls): Live simply
When Lorelei Gilmore was 16, she gave birth to her daughter, Rory. Soon after, Lorelei left the comfort of her wealthy parents’ home to live on her own. For much of Rory’s early life, she and her mother lived in a renovated potting shed on the grounds of the inn where Lorelei worked.
I’m not promoting such dire living arrangements. However, a healthy amount of minimalism can be a boon for your finances. What are your needs? What are your wants? An honest look at your lifestyle within the context of these two questions can help you save and make better financial decisions for you and your family.
By the time Rory is 16, she and Lorelei are living in a nice house and regularly enjoy dining out, going to the movies, and traveling. Living minimally doesn’t have to be for life: a temporary period of sacrifice might be all you need to get your financial affairs in order.
The Bluths (Arrested Development): It takes a family
Arrested Development introduced us to the Bluths: a dysfunctional family trying to cope with the consequences of a business scandal that threatens their development company. Saving the company falls on Michael Bluth’s shoulders, but he is regularly thwarted by his dysfunctional family’s attempts to maintain their wealthy (and often very odd) lifestyle.
Money can be a difficult subject for families, but financial goals can be easier to reach if they are shared by everyone. Even if certain members can’t actively contribute towards goals, sharing them with the entire family can encourage everyone to make financial decisions that at the very least won’t push that goal further out of reach.
Finances can be a taboo subject for families, but it doesn’t have to be. Sharing financial goals can promote healthy discussions about money and help children establish healthy financial practices and attitudes about money.
Other TV families
The Simpsons, Tanners, and Cosbys: there are many more popular TV families out there. Have they taught you anything about money?
About the writer
Ruser Saldana is a husband and father, and currently works in the finance industry. He writes about investing and personal finance at www.covtrustblog.com.