Because hey, when you think good financial lessons, you think The Simpsons.
I don’t believe I’m exaggerating when I say The Simpsons is quite possibly the best television show of all time. Or at least the first 10 seasons, anyway. Those episodes are packed full of memorable characters, jokes that are still hilarious today, and enough subtle humor that I watch them 20 years later and still find new things to laugh at.
Naturally, the show has touched on various financial topics over the years. Some of the stuff talked about was incredibly unrealistic, but other plots had some great — if indirect — financial lessons. It turns out you really can learn stuff from a dumb animated show.
Here are 5 of the best financial lessons from The Simpsons.
Over the years, Homer has tried all sorts of different side hustles and hare-brained business ideas. He owned and operated a snow plow, which he was surprisingly good at. He recycled grease and opened his own daycare and imitated Krusty. Those are just the ideas that I came up with off the top of my head, too.
Homer tried and failed at a lot of things. And he never let it get him down. He’d forget all about it the very next week and be off doing something else. Some of these side businesses worked out so poorly that Homer would lose his primary job, but things always worked out in the end.
The lesson here is pretty simple. Don’t be afraid to try new things and take a risk. What’s the worst that could happen?
Don’t get greedy
Lenny: Hey Homer, how come you’ve got money to burn? Or singe, anyway.
Carl: Yeah, Homer, what’s your secret investment?
Homer: Take a guess.
Barney: Uh, pumpkins?
Homer: Yeah, that’s right, Barney. They’ve been going up the whole month of October. I’ve got a feeling they’re going to peak right around January and BANG! that’s when I’ll cash in.
(After Halloween at Homer’s broker’s office)
Broker: Homer, you knuckle-beak, I’ve told you a million times! You’ve got to sell your pumpkin futures before Halloween! Before!
Homer: Alright, let’s not panic. I can make the money back selling one of my livers. I can get by with only one.
The financial lesson here is pretty simple. Sometimes selling an investment is the best decision you can make, especially when you’re Homer and you invest every penny you have into pumpkin futures. Although, admittedly, it seems like the pumpkin futures market would be predictable enough that even Homer could make money at it.
Don’t lie on your taxes
“Look at all those morons (standing in line at the post office to send their taxes to the IRS). I paid my taxes over a year ago.”
In his rush to get his taxes done before the April 15th deadline, Homer commits several counts of tax evasion. He tells the IRS Marge requires 24-hour nursing care, Lisa’s a clergyman, Maggie is seven people, and Bart was wounded in Vietnam. This naturally doesn’t work out, and the feds come looking for him. In exchange for going to jail, Homer is offered the chance to wear a wire and snitch on Mr. Burns, who’s holding a trillion dollar bill the government wants back.
If Homer had just done his taxes right, that week would have been far less exciting. I’m pretty sure if you don’t do your taxes you’ll end up in a similar heap of trouble.
Choose a good college major
Kent Brockman: Things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors — useful people are starting to feel the pinch.
That quote still gets me every time. One of the best 25 in Simpsons history, easily. If not top 10.
Us here at Financial Uproar are somewhat anti-college, although it’s not something I write about often these days. It’s pretty simple. While a college or university degree usually means someone will make more than their uneducated brethren, it’s the underlying qualities that really matter, not the piece of paper. If you’re smart, ambitious and hard working, you’ll do well. Even if you don’t step foot into a classroom after high school.
Besides, a great education can be had for about a buck fifty in late fees at the public library. Good Will Hunting quotes in a post about The Simpsons? I’LL ALLOW IT.
The ease of becoming a millionaire
This is a terrible financial lesson, but screw it. It’s still damn funny.
Kid: Hey. Look how much Skinner makes. $25,000 a year.
Bart: Let’s see. He’s 40-years-old, times 25 grand…Whoa! He’s a millionaire!
Skinner: I wasn’t principal when I was one!
Nelson: Plus in the summer he paints houses.
Milhouse: He’s a billionaire!
There you have it, kids. That’s how easy it is to become a millionaire. Hey, it’s gotta be true. It was on TV.