Important Financial Lessons 3 of TV’s Greatest Minds Can Teach Us
Some of our favorite sitcom characters can provide us with some surprisingly sound fiscal advice.
For those who don’t know Ron Swanson, Jack Donaghy and Dwight Schrute, they are 3 of TV’s greatest minds.
They can teach us some important financial lessons, whether we’re learning from their success or their mistakes.
Here are some lessons that Swanson, Donaghy and Schrute teach us.
1. Diversify Your Portfolio
Ron Swanson is the meat-loving, woodworking, Scotch-guzzling, staunch libertarian who has redefined masculinity for watchers of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. As a result of his strong aversion and distrust of the government, Swanson’s invested most of his savings in bars of gold.
When Ron was 9 years old, he began working in a sheet metal factory and “within a week, he was running the floor.” He’s held down regular jobs ever since.
He lives in an isolated cabin in the woods where he hunts, builds his own chairs and carved his own harp in his own woodshop. He lives well below his means, which is a fundamental trait of the millionaire next door.
However, there is a drawback to his gold investment strategy. It is not because gold is an intrinsically bad investment, but that he has all of his gold eggs in one basket. It is a financially risky approach, because if gold suddenly became a worthless commodity, or take a fall in the market, Swanson could see the end of his wealth.
In this case, Ron could undoubtedly survive off the land, but he is a special brand of self-reliance.
Some of my favourite snippets of Ron’s life and financial lessons include:
2. Invest Early and Watch Your Savings Grow
The NBC sitcom 30 Rock brings us a C-suite executive in the form of Jack Donaghy; politically incorrect egomaniac, rider of private jets, and climber of the corporate ladder.
Like Swanson, Jack began working at a very young age, and after college worked with Senator Ted Kennedy.
The post-Kennedy years saw Jack “thriving” on fear – hunting polar bears, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, once driving a rental car into the Hudson River to practice escaping, and overcoming a peanut allergy through sheer willpower. Unlike Swanson, he is an ambitious man.
Throughout the series, Jack aims to become CEO of General Electric, but spends most of his time attempting to build profit from the television division of the company. He is also the series-long mentor of Liz Lemon, the head writer of a sketch comedy show.
Some of his best advice to Lemon involves investing.
A lot of people will hesitate to invest their hard-earned dollars, for various individual reasons like fear, lack of understanding, indebtedness, etc. This is particularly common among millennials, which is unfortunate, because they have the most time to reap the benefits of their investments.
No matter what your financial situation, take Jack’s advice and invest in employer-matched retirement plans. Invest more than the minimum; you can never save enough for your future.
Even if you’re not investing, at least transfer money to a savings account so you can begin building an emergency fund.
Here are some more money-related quotes from Jack:
3. Multiple Income Channels Pave The Way To Success
Insensitive. Weapons Enthusiast. Power-hungry. This is Dwight Schrute, a paper salesman on NBC’s The Office, who offers a very useful financial lesson.
Dwight is the “Assistant to the Regional Manager” for the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and holds numerous awards for his many successes as top salesman of the Scranton branch.
He has also inherited a 60-acre working beet farm from his grandfather, which he runs with his cousin, selling beets to local stores and restaurants.
Schrute proves that you can be successful at both your day job and a side hustle. In an industry that is progressively approaching extinction, his fellow employees are continuously fighting for their economic survival.
But, while his colleagues are stressing about losing their jobs, he successfully turns his family’s farm into a bed and breakfast.
At the same time that he reveals the existence of the Schrute Farms B&B, his boss finds himself in colossal amounts of debt thanks to his live-in girlfriend, making his financial situation even more stressful.
Luckily for Schrute, he’d be financially secure if he were to lose his income from Dunder Mifflin, as he has implied on several occasions throughout the series. Yet in spite of this he’s still determined to be the company’s best salesman.
By creating multiple income streams, you’ll have some leeway in case of a recession or if you’re faced with taking a pay cut or losing your job. Lesson learned.
Here are some more facts Schrute shares about the success of his B&B:
While each of these characters exemplify extreme measures for the sake of good television, their lifestyles still expose important lessons that we can all learn from. Independent of which (if any) characters you identify with, it is imperative to know how to manage, invest and grow your finances.