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The Best Money Lessons We Learned From Watching TV

Rebecca Cohen  |  August 17, 2020

Not all financial knowledge or money-savvy comes from books. TV shows and movies can teach us excellent lessons — both good and bad! 

Let’s be honest — we’ve all been watching more TV than we’re proud of these days.  I, for one, have been watching a lot of “Hunters” and “Outlander” and reading books with the same setup, like “The Plot Against America,” so I’ve been learning a thing or two about a thing or two. 

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But even when we’re binge watching, we’re learning something — sometimes a lot of something. Over the weekend, I got to thinking about some of the movies, TV shows, and books that teach money lessons, and I was curious what some of the most-loved titles might be. I headed over to our private HerMoney Facebook group and asked our community which forms of entertainment had taught them the best money lessons they still hold on to today — and which ones taught them exactly what not to do with their money. Here’s what they had to say. 

The Money Lessons We Love … 

Nancy A. credits some of her best early financial lessons from the Suze Orman show and from seeing our very own Jean Chatzky on NBC’s TODAY. Rachel I. is also a Suze Orman fan and said “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke” is “the only financial book I can read without my eyes glazing over.”

Landa R. read “Worth It” by Amanda Steinberg of The Daily Worth, and said “It was a game changer for me because I read it while unemployed.” She added that “Chef” taught her the great lesson of getting back on your feet after losing your job and “The Founder” taught her to ALWAYS read the fine print. 

Mona P. recalls that “The Millionaire Next Door” was very “eye-opening” for her and Jennifer P. noted that “The Big Short” — a movie and book that explains the 2008 stock market crash — was “enlightening.”  Agreed, Jennifer. 

America’s favorite teen popstar (okay, maybe not) Hannah Montana taught Jackie M. what a checking account was when she opened one in the show. 

Anita M. said that when she was at the end of her undergraduate degree, she recalls seeing “Citizen Kane.” It taught her the money lesson that “some things in life can’t be bought so treasure those and the memories you hold dear to your heart. And not let your ambitions wander too far from what brings you happiness.” Loving that analysis. 

Our own Editor-In-Chief Kathryn Tuggle said that one of her favorite financial lessons from a movie was really more of a career advancement lesson — “Michael J. Fox as ‘Brantley Foster’ in ‘The Secret Of My Success’ taught me that there’s no shame in faking it till you make it,  and that there’s nothing better than trusted colleagues who can help you find your footing,” she says. 

Movies That Taught Us What Not To Do

If you remember the Lindsay Lohan classic, “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” you know exactly why Landa R. threw this movie into the mix. It taught her, and probably anyone who has ever seen it, that you have to take responsibility for your personal finances. 

And, of course, Carrie Bradshaw from TV’s “Sex and the City” taught literally everyone — including Lily J. — the money lesson that you should save your money instead of spending every single penny on shoes, no matter how gorgeous they are. 

Noa K. remembers being horrified when she saw “Wolf of Wall Street.” “I couldn’t believe how they were spending their money, and vowed that no matter how much money I make, I would never spend it like that,” she said.  

And I always think back to that episode of “Full House” when DJ Tanner saw the “buy now, pay later” sign in the department store (which, in the ’90s meant you could pay with a credit card) and essentially stole a sweater to wear to a party. 

And now, since you have been working oh-so hard, I grant you permission to binge-watch whatever you want. Just as long as you’re learning something. 


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