It was one of the staples of my Friday nights as a child: TGIF. Long before that four-letter acronym became synonymous with overpriced burgers and high-calorie appetizers, it was the flagship of ABC’s Friday night programming, a sign that the weekend had started and we were about to have some fun.
My favorite show on ABC’s TGIF line-up was Full House. Danny Tanner and the gang taught me a lot of life lessons; they taught me that if you were cute and said things like “You’ve got it, dude,” you could get away with just about anything; they taught me that even non-corporate types could somehow land gigs as advertising executives, provided they worked as a team; they taught me that five kids, four adults, and a golden retriever could all live under one roof, as long as that roof had a fully finished basement and attic.
But Full House taught me a lot about personal finance, too. For example…
Money Makes The World Go ‘Round, But Not Friendship
Even though Joey and Danny weren’t relatives – in the first episode, we learn they’ve been best friends for years – they certainly act more like brothers, especially when it comes to money. Down-on-his-luck Joey moves in with Danny and his girls, living in a nook in the family’s living room, as his career as a comedian struggles. So it’s no wonder that we learn in Season 1 (episode 21) that Joey’s owed Danny thousands of dollars for more than a decade. When Joey finally gets the cash – thanks to an old savings bond he got from his mother – Danny refuses to accept it, saying that their friendship is more important than any loan.
Lesson Learned: Borrowing money is a sensitive subject, whether you’re getting the cash from a loan shark or your dearest friend. That’s why it’s always best to clearly define the terms of the loan in advance, to avoid awkward situations and hurt feelings.
Give Unto Others
My family’s always taught me that there are three ways to contribute to the causes nearest and dearest to my heart: through my time, my talent, and my treasure (aka, my money). And that’s exactly what the Tanner family does in Season 3 (episode 24). When Danny’s tapped to host a telethon at his TV station, he never expects everything from the acts to the phone-answering volunteers to fall through. Instead, he’s forced to rely on the time and talents of his daughters to save the day.
Lesson Learned: Donating to a charity can be done through a variety of methods – even if you’re short on cash, you can still make an impact.
If You Build It, They Will Live In It
When Jesse and Becky tie the knot in Season 4 (episode 21), everybody expects they’ll move out and find a place of their own… that is, until Michelle convinces Jesse that he can’t leave the rest of the family. Instead of searching for a new home, they find themselves renovating the Tanner family’s walk-up attic. A little elbow grease results in a two bedroom, one bath, open-concept living space for the newlyweds.
Lesson Learned: Bigger and newer isn’t always better. Of course, I’d never choose to spend my newlywed years living in the same house as my brother-in-law and his three kids…
It’s The Company You Keep
By the time we reach Season 7 (episode 8), Jesse and Joey have been through a lot of jobs: comedian, musician, advertising executives, radio DJs… but never small business owner. That is, until Jesse learns he’s inherited an old night club. It takes hard work to get the club ready for opening night, but when those doors finally open to the public, things go from bad to worse; Jesse disappears, Kimmie Gibbler turns her waitress uniform into a prostitute’s outfit, and Joey books a senior citizen’s band by mistake to headline the whole show. But with the help of his family and friends, Jesse pulls off the opening, and the Smash Club becomes, well, a smash.
Lesson Learned: It’s not always what you know, but who you know. Building your small business around a team you can trust in a pinch is a way to make it a successful endeavor.