At several points during The Simpsons’ lengthy 26-season history, the family find themselves in a variety of money-centric scenarios.
Although we’d never recommend you to take serious financial advice from this well-loved, shambolic cartoon family, there are some pretty valuable life lessons in many of the episodes of how not to handle your own finances.
#1 Spend within your means
Bart applies for a credit card fraudulently using some junk mail in the episode The Canine Mutiny, and when he gets away with it, he spends thousands on amassing luxurious gifts – including a radio frying pan for Marge and a golf shirt with a company’s logo on for Homer. His flashiest purchase comes in the form of a $1,200 collie named Laddie.
Inevitably, Bart doesn’t pay off his credit card and it catches up with him in the form of phone calls and letters, which he chooses to ignore.
There are a few lessons here, and it rings true that you should only ever spend what you can afford to repay. Not only this, but burying your head in the sand and avoiding a lender when they try to contact you is never a good idea. They would much rather hear that you’re struggling with your debt than have to chase you for the payments.
Comic Book Guy:“Oh, pardon me, Santos, if that is your real name, Bart Simpson, but your phony credit card is no good here. Now make like my pants, and split.”
#2 Gambling can be a slippery slope
Gambling is legalised in the family’s hometown in the episode $pringfield, and Marge forms a serious gambling addiction after using a slot machine. Rather than spending time with her family and helping Lisa with her costume for a school project, Marge spends exhaustingly long hours parting with more and more cash while Homer creates a terrible costume for Lisa.
This lesson is clear in that gambling can be incredibly addictive for some people, and doing so when your finances are already pretty stretched can cause serious financial problems.
Lisa:“I’m a monster!”
Homer: “No, Lisa, you’re not a monster. The only monster here is the gambling monster that has enslaved your mother, and I call him Gamblor! We must save your mother from his neon claws!”
#3 Know the terms before you enter into an agreement
In the episode Marge vs. the Monorail, the citizens of Springfield are duped into purchasing a new, cheaply built monorail system using $3 million of public money. An energetic musical number convinces the town to part with the full amount rather than spend it on renovation works they so desperately need – much to Marge and Lisa’s disapproval.
It just so happens that the monorail system does fail, and nearly results in a huge crash before the day is saved.
This taught us that you should always know what you’re agreeing to before jumping the gun, which applies to all forms of credit. If you’re planning on taking out a loan, you should think ahead and make sure you’ll be able to afford the repayments before committing to it.
Apu: “Pardon me, but I would like to see this money spent on more police officers. I have been shot eight times this year, and as a result, I almost missed work.”
Chief Wiggum: “Crybaby.”
#4 Only borrow money from a reputable lender
After losing all his money in pumpkin stocks – of all things – Homer finds himself desperate for money to make his mortgage payment. This leads him to ask Marge’s sisters Patty & Selma for help, and they see this as a chance to abuse their power. Although they do lend him the money, they force him to be their servant and he reluctantly obliges.
Again, this shows that it’s both important to know the terms before you agree to something and to make sure you only deal with reputable lenders. If you are considering borrowing money, you should make sure the lender is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Lisa: “How’s dad today?”
Marge: “Not too good, Lisa. Frankly, he’s under the table.”
#5 Tough budgeting can help raise money when you need it
In the episode Dog of Death, the Simpsons’ skinny pooch Santa’s Little Helper falls ill and the family face a hefty vet bill they can’t afford. Rather than give up and have him put down, each member of the family cut back on something they enjoy – Homer sacrifices his precious Duff, Marge uses lower quality food and Bart gets his hair cut by student hairdressers.
In the end, they manage to save up enough to afford the pricey operation and the family dog makes a full recovery. In reality, this could also be the answer to affording something you want or need. Making sure you budget properly can help free up some extra funds and might even help you save towards something you were considering paying for fully on credit.
Homer:“I wanna pet him again!”
Marge:“You can pet the cat.”
Homer:“The cat? What’s the point?”
#6 Plan ahead and set up savings for anything that could go wrong
Apu and Manjula’s octuplets prove an unplanned addition to the Nahasapeemapetilon family, and the couple struggles to support themselves in the episode Eight Misbehavin’. Once initial help from the townsfolk fades, the two of them are left in a difficult financial situation for the majority of the episode.
Although this obviously isn’t a realistic example, it does highlight that keeping a savings pot for anything that doesn’t go exactly to plan – whether that be your boiler breaking down or having an unexpected new member of the family on their way – can help soften the blow to your bank account when it does.
Manjula [still pregnant]: “Apu, do you still find me attractive?”
Apu: “Of course I do, sweetheart. You are beautiful and silky and manageable.”
Manjula: “You are reading that off a conditioner bottle!”
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