Every New Years day a local television station (CW11) broadcasts an all day marathon of the 1950’s series the Honeymooners. It’s still funny, and there’s a lot to be learned about American culture of that period because the show was a lot edger in its day than other programs about family life. This is a finance site, so I will keep my discussion to financial issues. After watching a few episodes, it becomes evident that Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (played by Art Carney) lead very different consumer lives.
Ed’s apartment is furnished well, with window treatments, furniture and the modern devices of the era (TV, phone). In contrast, Ralph’s apartment is quite spartan. Ralph often chastizes his wife about overspending and all the extras his wife gets, but that of course is really just a joke. One could conclude that Norton is more prosperous than Ed.
In one of the episodes, it is revealed where each of them stand in terms of their finances. Surprise, it was revealed that they both earn the same salary. What accounts for their differing lifestyles? That is also partially covered. Apparently Ed can afford his lifestyle because he has borrowed heavily to pay for it all. It isn’t made as clear in any of the episodes how Ralph “affords” his lifestyle, but his wife often complains about the previous schemes where he loses money. So, his money is likely frittered away on get rich schemes that of course never payoff (it they did it wouldn’t be funny).
Norton is one payment away from bankruptcy, while Ralph is one scheme away from riches (which very likely will never occur). Both have very little savings.
Here’s the lessons to be learned:
- Moderation in your finances is preferable.
- Have reasonable expectations about returns on your investments.
- Spend money now to live your life.