If you’ve watched much TV, you’ve probably noticed that most programs don’t depict real life.
I get it. Real life is boring. A TV show about someone who works 40 hours a week and then comes home to cook and wash the dishes probably wouldn’t generate high ratings. But on the other hand, TV and pop culture creates a damaging false illusion – one that leaves many young people dissatisfied with the reality of “adulting” and properly managing their finances.
Here’s a look at the 5 worst money myths perpetuated by pop culture.
1. You Never Have to Work
The fact that television characters hardly ever seem to work is something that I never really thought about until I was old enough to have to work.
Suddenly, I realized that my favorite TV characters not only never (or hardly ever) had to work, but they always seemed to have plenty of money to eat out, go shopping, and pay for whatever else they wanted. The only real exceptions are shows that are 100% based on the workplace, like The Office.
But, the truth is, your money will run out quickly if you never go to work and continue to spend money on anything and everything.
2. You Can Eat at Home One Time to Fix Your Financial Problems
Have you ever noticed that when TV characters do acknowledge their financial problems, they are usually able to fix them by making only one frugal decision – one time?
Take Gilmore Girls for example. Rory and Lorelai occasionally mention having money problems. After this, they’ll usually forgo their daily ritual of eating out to stay home instead. But, by the next day, they’re back to eating out every meal, seemingly without a care in the world.
If only we could make a frugal decision one time in real life to offset our expensive habits and solve our money problems. Alas, it doesn’t work this way, so don’t fall for this money myth.
3. Debt Goes Away Overnight
Whenever you do see pop culture featuring characters with debt, it never seems like a long-term problem. By the end of the episode, the character has somehow found a genius way to make tons of money overnight and pay off all his or her debt. Take “Confessions of a Shopaholic” for example.
The main character, Rebecca, has a shopping problem and has racked up thousands of dollars on her credit cards buying clothes, shoes, and more. By the end of the episode, she’s sold most of the items in her over-stuffed closet to become debt-free.
While there’s definitely value in those items and you can indeed sell them to help pay back your debt (I’ve done it!), there’s no way most people could raise enough money selling used items to get completely out of debt. Instead, it usually takes time and hard work to pay down your debt.
4. Everything Can Be Fixed Without Consequences
Have you ever noticed things in a TV show get broken, only to have them look good as new again the very next episode?
If the furniture gets smashed up, or an intricate glass window is broken, it always looks perfect within minutes, or at least by the next episode. The characters never even talk about the cost to repair or replace these damages, nor do they ever show them dealing with getting items fixed.
Even in the off-chance that the characters discuss money problems, they somehow always get their things fixed or replaced without a care or second thought.
5. You Can Live a Comfortable Life on Minimum Wage
Again, this comes back to reality being boring. Yet, it’s pretty misleading that TV characters can work at obviously minimum wage jobs and afford mansions.
In reality, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour isn’t enough to afford rent for a two-bedroom in any state in the country. And yet, TV characters who work at low-paying jobs commonly live in million dollar homes and apartments without any mention of money problems or how they pay the rent.
Seeing is Not Believing
With all these money myths being perpetuated by pop culture, it’s no wonder young people have a warped reality of what adulting is really like when they enter the real world. These myths have set them up for a harsh wake-up call. Perhaps the moral of this story is: Don’t believe all that you see on TV.