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The One Where Someone Else’s Dad Teaches Me About Money*

   Posted On: April 3, 2013  |    Posted In: Personal Finance 101  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

Per special request a series of posts will deal with practical budgeting. I’m not claiming my way is the right way, or the best way, for you to deal with your money. I’m simply offering the Broke Millennial budgeting/saving system.

On Monday I sat in the airport waiting for my flight back to New York when my phone buzzed with a text message from my Dad reading, “I will put $20 in your account when we get home. Take a cab home or save it.”

Since my departure from the nest my Dad will spring these delightful financial presents upon me in an effort to get me to treat myself. After much deliberation, and even calling my boyfriend for his advice on the situation, I saved the $20 bucks and used my monthly metrocard I’d already paid for to take the bus home. Besides, I need a haircut this week so thanks Dad!

Treat Yo Self meme(This is me…well…never. Just kidding, I am still planning on the aforementioned haircut.)

Financial planners, fellow personal finance bloggers and possibly your parents all push the importance of saving money. Many of us have heard that we need to save at least 10 percent of every paycheck and have three months worth of living expenses stashed in an emergency fund. It’s a financial philosophy so deeply rooted in our society it has pervaded into mainstream media. The first time I heard about saving ten percent was from none other than Jack Geller, Monica’s dad on the show “Friends.”

Monica: Um, yeah, so uh, uhh, listen, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this before but umm, I,     I’m no longer at my job, I, I had to leave it.

    Mrs. Geller: Why?

    Monica: Because they made me.

    Mrs. Geller: You were fired? What’re you gonna do?
    Mr. Geller: Judy, Judy, relax, this is our little harmonica we’re talking about. We taught     her well. Ten percent of your paycheck, where does it go?

    MONICA and Ross: In the bank.

    Mr. Geller: There you go. So she dips into her savings, that’s what it’s there for. She’s     gonna be fine..Aren’t you sweetie?

jack geller

Needless to say, Monica hadn’t saved ten percent of her paycheck and had a rough time financially, for a few episodes. Life’s hard when living in a rent-controlled apartment in a trendy neighborhood with a bedroom bigger than most Manhattan apartments. Okay, rant over.

While it’s great to wax-poetic about the need to save, it’s hard for many millennials to grasp the idea of squirreling away funds when most of us are already scrimping. Unfortunately, I’m not going to empathize, I’m in camp Jack Geller. The time to save is when you’re making money, any money.

The notion of putting ten percent aside may seem daunting when you’re barely making enough to pay for rent and food. So don’t focus on saving ten percent, instead focus on saving ten dollars from each paycheck (unless $10 is 10% of your paycheck…then perhaps save less).

Sure, if you save ten dollars each paycheck you won’t amass that ideal emergency savings fund, but you will be in the habit of saving. It’s the habit that is most important. Reason being, when you get a higher paying job putting money aside will be an instinct and you can start to actually put aside ten percent of each paycheck. There are even ways to do this automatically (more on those in future posts)!

Being a saver is a mindset. Some people are raised or wired that way while others constantly battle the impulse to splurge. But if you don’t want to end up like Monica then live within your means, start saving and don’t be this guy (watch until minute 3:09).

(Do yourself a favor and watch the routine.)

*Previously the title read: The Importance of Scrimping when Saving. People apparently don’t find that as catchy.

Stayed tuned for future posts about how this millennial deals with budgets and savings. During the interim, follow the journey on Twitter @BrokeMillennial or subscribe for emails about new posts. Feel free to email feedback or topic requests to

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23 responses to “The One Where Someone Else’s Dad Teaches Me About Money*

  1. I honestly like the alternative title better haha. Me and my wife were just watching that video from Parks and Rec when they’re trying on all the Fancy clothes and repeating “Treat yo self”. I love that show. $10 or 10% is a great start to savings. I started by spending at my means, instead of above it. That was a hard step, but once I realized that a lot of my spending was wasteful I was able to pare down and keep some of my pay for later. Now I easily save 50% of my take home pay, which thankfully is more than $50.

    1. I figured all Friends fans would appreciate the alternative title and Parks and Rec is simply in the top 5 greatest shows on TV right now. So funny you mention saving large chunks of your paycheck! I had a paragraph on that, but took it out to just save that for a whole post later one. Being able to save 50% is really impressive.

  2. I’ll third the title change! I love your thought of saving…even if it’s $10. So many people miss that and allow the “small” amount hold them back from saving at all. I know it may not seem like much at the time, but the important thing is that it develops a discipline that will help you immensely down the road.

  3. Except it’s the people making little enough that saving 10% is hard who especially need an emergency fund since they’ll have less options when things go awry.

    And money’s fungible. Your dad should have known better than to think you’d use his cash for a cab 🙂

    1. It’s true that those are the folks who need emergency funds, but it shouldn’t deter them from starting the habit of saving when scrimping.

      I think my Dad’s side note “or save it” was his joking way of saying he knew exactly where that money was going. He taught me well!

  4. I think the alternative title is the best. I think saving 10% of a paycheck can be difficult, but saving any portion is better than nothing. Sometimes shows can teach us things, huh?

  5. Really great idea, and I love the Friends reference..who doesn’t love Friends. Just like everything from brushing your teeth to eating healthy, it’s all about habits. It’s a great idea to even just save $10 every month to start the habit, and then you might just want to save even more. Great post again!

  6. I agree that saving really is about your mindset and having the discipline to sock away money paycheck after paycheck. Every once in a while an emergency comes along and it’s nice to know you have some if not all of the emergency covered by savings. Loved the reference to Friends, btw 😉

    1. Who doesn’t love a good Friends reference?! (she writes while watching the show…)

      Thanks for reading and glad you agree with the basic principle. It understand why some millennials (and others) resist it but you gotta start somewhere!

  7. There’s nothing like using Friends for a post – on any subject! Camp Jack Gellar seems like a great place to be (well, in some respects, one of them being financial indeed). Great engaging post!

  8. Someone could totally start a blog “all I ever needed to know, I learned from Friends”. I remember this episode and I remember thinking “really? Does anyone really do that? ” and that’s why I’m “indebted mom” 😉

    I also learned to pivot when carrying a couch up a set of stairs…

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