Even after all these years, “Friends” is still my favorite show. I watched the series when it originally aired and have binged the stories of my favorite six New Yorkers several times since — laughing with them, dreading turning 30 with them and even learning from them.
I’ve looked to the group for dating advice (well, not Joey) and how to handle arguments with friends (don’t pour marinara in her purse). And, yes, I’ve even learned about finances from the Central Perk gang. In fact, I could imagine an episode called “The One with All the Money Lessons,” filled with montages of all the money talk that transpired in their lives together.
Here are seven of the money lessons “Friends” taught me.
1. Being Financially Independent Is Rewarding
After Rachel cut up all her credit cards that daddy was paying for, Monica gave her some great (albeit blunt) advice, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks! You’re gonna love it.” It’s tough to give up the luxury of having your parents helping you out, but doing so can be an exceptionally rewarding aspect of adulthood.
2. Don’t Drain Your Savings for a Wedding
Little girls fantasize about their wedding and the overly organized, like Monica, make binders of all the details they want when it’s their turn for that special day. But these things cost money. (Read this to find out how you can get the wedding you want without breaking the bank.) Monica initially accepts when Chandler offers his savings to pay for the wedding of her dreams, but ultimately realizes that money is better spent on their future together.
3. Pay to Have Your Couch Delivered
Seriously. No matter how much you pivot, you won’t be able to get it up the stairs and you’ll be left with two pieces of a couch and a $4 store credit.
4. Prioritize Your Spending
What do a rain wall, porcelain greyhound statue and a pinball machine have in common? They’re all items Joey purchased on a whim when he got a steady income from his recurring role on a soap opera. Instead of putting money in savings, or paying Chandler back, he racks up massive credit card debt on frivolous items, ultimately forcing him to lose the material things and move back in with Chandler. (Except the porcelain greyhound. That’s a keeper.)
While Joey’s debts to Chandler weren’t affecting his credit score, the credit card debt was. If you find yourself wondering how your credit card debt and spending habits are affecting your credit score, view your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.
5. Don’t Stalk Your Credit Card Thief
I feel this should go without saying, but if someone steals your credit card, the solution is not to go to the tap class you’re paying for on their behalf to find out who they are.
At the time of this episode, everyone wasn’t carrying a smartphone, so they didn’t get instant alerts from their banks about possible fraudulent charges. But, even though we have that luxury now, it isn’t wise just to rely on the banks to let you know about possible problems. Checking your credit reports regularly can help you spot suspicious activity so you can find out what’s going on and put an end to it. (You can get your credit report for free once per year from the three major reporting agencies.)
6. Don’t Bet Your Apartment
Rent in New York City is expensive. And putting your rent-controlled apartment up for collateral in a bet is simply not worth it.
7. A Big Paycheck Isn’t Always the Route to Happiness
Rachel had a rent-controlled apartment, her dream job in the fashion industry and friends to share a cup of coffee with. And she was willing to give that all up for the opportunity of a lifetime to move to Paris for a promotion. But (spoiler alert) she gets off the plane and stays where her heart is happiest. (Cue the “I’ll Be There for You” theme and the tears.)
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