There are many different stereotypes when it comes to dads. Some dads are the classic dad joke dads who always have something “funny” to say and appreciate a good pair of socks as a gift. Then there are tech dads. You know, the kind that always have the latest gadgets and still have a “computer room” that hasn’t changed since the 90s. Then there are dads who spend more time outdoors than indoors, enjoy a good beer by the lake, and seem to know everyone that they pass on the street. Personally, my dad is a jack of all trades.
To celebrate all the dads out there, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best money lessons from some of TV’s most loved dads.
1. Gomez Addams – diversify your investments
Gomez Addams, from The Addams Family, is an avid sword fighter and cigar aficionado. While his character first debuted the year before my father was born, he just so happens to be one of my absolute favorite TV dads. Not only does he adore his children, but he takes a genuine interest in the things that they love, even if their interests are, well, mysterious and spooky.
If you have ever watched The Addams Family and wondered how they could possibly afford their home (and strange lifestyle), I have an answer for you. Gomez Addams knows not only the power of investing, but also just how important it is that your investments are diversified, especially if one of your financial goals is to build wealth. That is why he has holdings in not only a swamp (for the “scenic value”), but a crocodile farm, a buzzard farm, a salt mine, a tombstone factory, a uranium mine, and more!
Although Gomez did inherit money, as the descendant of British aristocrats and Castilian royalty, he owes much of his wealth to his affinity for investing. In fact, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $2 billion!
2. Red Foreman – going to state colleges is a great way to save money
Red Foreman, of That 70s Show, isn’t a dad to be messed with. He’s often depicted as your standard “grumpy old man” who is wildly unafraid of telling his kids when they are in the wrong and where he would like to put his foot, especially his son. At the end of the day, however, he truly cares for his family is always watching out for his kids (and their friends), even if he is a little rough around the edges.
One of my favorite pieces of money advice that Red gives on the show is directed at his son, Eric. While he was making a joke when he told him he didn’t need to go to a private college because state school is cheap, he’s making a good point. As the show goes on, he continues to back it up and encourages his son to weigh all of his options before deciding on a school.
Mind you, Red was talking about college in the 70s, but his point rings even more true today. College is the right option for many high school grads, but for some families, private college is simply too difficult to afford financially. And, after all, you can still get a stellar education and a well-respected degree from a state school.
3. Bob Belcher – don’t be afraid to start your small business
It’s no secret that Bob Belcher and his wife Linda, of the show Bob’s Burgers, have some money issues. But it’s Bob’s passion (coupled with some very crazy ideas) that keep their business running. When Bob was younger, he knew he wanted to open a burger joint just like his dad, he just knew that he needed something that would make his restaurant unique. In the end, he came up with his idea of creating a daily “burger of the day”, which would continually drive customers to come back to his restaurant. So Many Fennel, So Little Thyme Burger, anyone?
Starting a business can be a terrifying venture, but a niche that drives a loyal customer base back can help it be a success, even if it doesn’t take off overnight. Not only that, but you can take a cue from Bob and hire your kids (which comes with some major tax benefits), all the while teaching your children the ins and outs of small business ownership.
4. Ron Swanson – understand the tax system
Ron Swanson did not become a father until well towards the end of Parks and Recreation’s seven-season run. However, that didn’t stop him from giving fatherly advice to many of the characters throughout the show.
So, what does Ron Swanson know about money? After all, he is the type of guy to order all of the bacon and eggs that a restaurant has on hand without a worry of what the bill would be. Well, it turns out that he knows quite a lot, especially when it comes to taxes.
Ron is known for hating his job in the local government. He’s not shy about explaining how some systems (like taxes) are…well, complicated. There’s an episode where a local school has visited the government building to learn more about how Pawnee is run and to interview a government worker. When a student runs into Ron and asks him to explain why the government matters, Ron is happy to take on the challenge. While he humorously explains that the government has a right to part of your paycheck, the student’s shock makes the very real point that you could easily overpay or misunderstand the tax system, which can end up costing you a pretty penny.
So, be like Ron and learn about the tax system, even if it seems boring at first. After you do, you will understand not only where your money is going, but how to keep more of it in your pocket.
5. Richard Gilmore – real estate investing can pay off
One dad that seriously knew how to manage his money was Richard Gilmore, the father/grandfather on Gilmore Girls. For starters, early on in the series, he’s the vice president of an insurance company, he then moves on to become an economics professor at Yale. Perhaps one of the best financial decisions he makes throughout the series is to invest in a real estate venture when Lorelai (his daughter, for those of you who may not have seen the show) was first born. Down the line, when he had to sell his shares, he passed the $75,000 check on to Lorelai. Ironically enough, she used that money to pay off a debt she had to her parents. So really, there are two lessons here.
While real estate investing definitely isn’t something to just jump into head-first (it’s very risky), it’s an investment that has a history of turning out higher returns. Real estate investing is a long-term investment; in Richard’s case, he waited 30+ years.
6. Johnny Rose – starting over is a valid plan
Schitt’s Creek, an instant cult classic, is, in my opinion, one of the funniest TV shows of the last decade. And although it has ended, that hasn’t stopped people (including myself) from binge-watching it over and over again. I like to believe that a big part of that is due to the relationship between Johnny Rose and his adult children, David and Alexis. That said, if you look past the humor, you can learn important money lessons from Johnny himself.
After the Rose family lost their fortune to an untrustworthy advisor, it would be easy to tell you that the greatest money lesson you can learn from Johnny is to properly vet your financial advisors. While that is a very important lesson, the greatest lesson is that starting over isn’t just okay, but a valid plan, and one that can still lead you to financial success.
Word to the wise (whatever that even means), don’t give up, even if your finances go sour. Not only did Johnny find a new business venture, the Rosebud Motel, but he turned it into a business that secured him more wealth than his previous business brought him.
7. Walter White – get life insurance
Whether Walter White is a good guy, or not, is still up for debate in the Breaking Bad community, but he can teach us a money lesson that could potentially make or break your family’s financial future: get life insurance.
After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Walter (better known as Heisenberg) finds himself struggling to keep his family above water financially, and knows that he will leave them struggling after his death. So, he does just about the most unreasonable thing someone could do, he started making and trafficking meth with a former student. I won’t spoil it for you, but this decision completely changes the course of his life and puts a great strain on his personal relationships and health.
So, don’t be like Walter! If you have a family who depends on your income, or you would leave behind a significant amount of unpaid debt, you should consider a life insurance policy. While you won’t see the payout, your family will (in the event of your death). This can save them a whole lot of stress during their time of grief.
Father’s Day is the perfect time to remember all those money lessons your dad may have taught you. The TV dads in this piece offer helpful guidance on small business ownership, investing, and financial planning in general. Do your own dad proud and take advantage of his money advice the next time he offers it, even if the story starts with “when I was a kid…”