7 Financial Lessons We Can All Learn from Downton Abbey

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*This post was originally published on 1/11/2013. Updated 3/2/2015. Image via chicvintagebrides.com

Who doesn't absolutely ADORE Downton Abbey? And while the show may be on its way out, I thought I'd revamp the original post to reflect some of the more poignant financial lessons from the last five seasons.

1. Diversify Your Portfolio

Poor Lord Grantham made investing mistake #1 back in Season 2: NEVER put all of your eggs into one basket. Downton fans know what I am talking about:  he put 90% of his investment portfolio in a Canadian Railway Company that went bankrupt, leaving him equally penniless. Not to say you should avoid investing, because If you haven't begun yet, you should (Here's a great post on how to get started!) At least a retirement account if not a PBA. And for Pete's sake don't EVER be like Lord Grantham and invest in just one company or fund.

five financial lessons from downton abbey
“Carson, I've heard a rumor ENRON is going to be big in 1921….”

 

7 Financial Lessons We Can All Learn from Downton Abbey

RELATED: The 10-Step Guide to Building a Fabulous Budget

2. Less is More

I think one of the most scintillating things about Downton Abbey isn't what the characters are saying, but what they're not saying. Everything about the show is understated, the costumes, the character's emotions, the sexuality of it.

Flip this on its head and think about the pure excess these individuals live in daily. Having a house that big seems like such a headache and burden (Lord Grantham has said as much more than a handful of episodes). I shudder to think how much food gets wasted after each lavish meal, how much energy they are wasting having to heat and provide electricity for the entire estate.

Houses today are MUCH larger than they were in the 50's and 60's. Even those built in the 80's seem tiny compared to today's standards. Watching Downton Abbey makes me wonder what is so wrong with living in a small house with a simpler lifestyle.

Highclere_Castle[1]
Your house might be too big if…it can double as a HOSPITAL during war time.

3. Money Can't Buy Love…..

Just because you are the daughter of an earl doesn't mean you'll find love…or even a husband. Poor Lady Edith seems to always be unlucky in love. Even though money can't buy you love, it does mean you can cover up your illegitimate child with your dead ex-lover and maintain your position in high society.

edith

 

The lesson here being that just because you have money doesn't always guarantee a happily ever after, but it can sure make things easier in the event you need to cover up a taboo mistake.

4. Marriage Can Strengthen Your Finances

Not sure I necessarily agree with this lesson, but here it is. In the Season Five finale we found out that Mrs. Hughes had put all of her savings into caring for her sick sister meaning she had nothing saved for retirement. While altruistic and beautiful, Mrs. Hughes put herself on the brink of financial disaster only to be rescued by Mr. Carson's marriage proposal.

carson-hughes

Marriage rescued her finances (not to mention her retirement!) Or, if you'd like another example, it was Matthew's money in Season three that saved Downton after Robert's costly investment mistake. I'm not advocating marriage as a safety net for anyone who has been irresponsible, I'm simply saying that there can be a lot of financial upside to marriage.  At least, Downton Abbey sure takes that stance.

5. Don't Skimp on Insurance….

Mrs. Patmore escaped a horrible fate when Lord Grantham stepped in and sent her to London to have eye surgery during Season 2. Don't be like Mrs. Pattmore; get insurance for the “just in case” times in life: health, disability, car, pet, life. Get it all.

downton abbey
Ray Charles?

6. Get a Pre-Nup

Times have changed since 1920, but nearly all the drama on Downton Abbey seems to circulate around money and marriages. I'm not saying it's fair that the women who had money didn't get to keep it and pass it along to their daughters, but look at Mr. Bates. Had he gotten a pre-nup he probably wouldn't have had to go back to his wife, became drawn into her web of deceit, and spend the majority of season 3 in jail.

brendan-coyle-bates-in-prison
They may look chummy now. It's all fun and games until somebody drops the soap.

These days it is still considered a taboo topic by some, an affront to romance. Take a lesson from the Brits and be a bit more practical. Or if you are searching for a modern day version of what a pre-nup can do for you just look to Kim Kardashian. Her marriage contract with Kris Humphries saved her MILLIONS of dollars.

7. Eventually You Will Have to Think About Retirement

As Downton creator Jillian Fellowes begins to tie up our favorite story lines, more and more of the ahem…aging characters on Downton have started thinking about life in retirement. Mrs. Pattmore put a relative's windfall into a home for retirement (and collects rent on it in the meantime. Passive rental income FTW!). Carson bought a house. The Bates' have two homes, and rent out the London house.

bates

 

The point is- you won't be able to work forever. Even if you're in your 20's…start thinking about how you're going to spend your later years. Calculate how much you'll need for retirement.  Buy a home.

Don't be like Thomas and waste all of your money. Time and Time again.

 

DownTown Abbey- Rob James Collier

 

 

7 Financial Lessons We Can All Learn from Downton Abbey
    • Hello Pre Nurse
    • March 4, 2015
    Reply

    I actually haven’t watched this show at all (though it is in my Netflix queue I think), but these are still all good financial lessons for sure! -Kayla

    1. Reply

      You’re going to love it.

  1. Reply

    SPOILER ALERT!!! Haha I just saw the season finale last night, so you didn’t ruin it for me. The Carson-Hughes bit was the most exciting thing this whole season.

    1. Reply

      Best 5 minutes of the whole season! And no kissing- very chaste 🙂

    • K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!
    • January 23, 2013
    Reply

    I just found this article that was posted today on MSN.com and it eerily reminded me of this one that you posted! I daresay yours is better 🙂

    http://money.msn.com/shopping-deals/article.aspx?post=e5f3678d-8d89-4da4-9684-35c5e1e1983b

      • L Bee
      • January 23, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you K.K. Vanessa @ VanessasMoney and I were talking about how strange it was I posted this and then four days later theirs came out. Hmmmmmm.

    • Jordann
    • January 14, 2013
    Reply

    This show is “on my list” of shows that I need to watch this year. This just bumped it up a couple notches! Thanks for the silly and fun post.

    • Alex
    • January 14, 2013
    Reply

    Great post. I like how you tied good advice to examples from the show so that anyone who watched it could immediately relate!

    • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter
    • January 13, 2013
    Reply

    Great post. I haven’t watched the show but I plan on giving it a try. I definitely agree with less is more and money can’t buy love. It might buy you wealth but it will never satisfy your emotional needs.

    • Felix Lee
    • January 13, 2013
    Reply

    I love how you got financial lessons from this show. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your amusing article. Lesson learned from Kim Kardashian as well!

    • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies
    • January 11, 2013
    Reply

    Ahh the Downton spoilers. For those of us that wait to catch it on Hulu, it’s inevitable. =)

    I’d also add, if you have hired help, make them feel valued. Otherwise they might make you slip on some soap, causing tragedy.

      • L Bee
      • January 12, 2013
      Reply

      OMG. That is right, what an excellent financial tip 😉

  2. Reply

    I’ve never watch Downton Abbey, but after reading your tips, maybe I should!

      • L Bee
      • January 12, 2013
      Reply

      You will become obsessed. you have been warned!

    • Mackenzie
    • January 11, 2013
    Reply

    I love Downton Abbey!!!! Seriously, it is the best 🙂 This post cracked me up! “Your house might be too big if it can double as a hospital during war time”. LOL…

      • L Bee
      • January 12, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks Mackenzie!! 🙂

    • Budget & the Beach
    • January 11, 2013
    Reply

    Oh crap I read this and I still haven’t seen season 2…hopefully I can put that stuff out of my mind when I watch the rest. I was a little late to the game. Good show!

      • L Bee
      • January 12, 2013
      Reply

      Eeeee! So Sorry!!

  3. Reply

    Love “Downton” too!! …The only thing that worries me is its incredibly massive American popularity weighed against its obvious umm…. Lack of ethnic diversity. 🙁

    ANYway…. Here’s a warning from old Countess Crawley (my fave character) on being careful who you hook up with: “Now, Sybil, dear, this sort of thing is all very well in novels, but in reality, it can prove very uncomfortable.”

      • L Bee
      • January 12, 2013
      Reply

      Haha love that quote. The Countess always gets the BEST lines and Maggie Smith does it so perfectly.

    • Chris
    • January 11, 2013
    Reply

    I’ve never heard of this show. I have no stinkin’ clue what you’re talking about with this Kim character. Is that Kanye West? I think I’ve tuned out for too long. I’m losing touch with pop culture.

    And by the way…you have a bigger house because you have more friends. Right? So people with small houses are unpopular. Those poor people in New York must only have cats.

      • L Bee
      • January 12, 2013
      Reply

      I do not believe one word of what you just said.

  4. Reply

    I really liked this post and I’ve never even watched the show! Great points!

      • L Bee
      • January 11, 2013
      Reply

      haha yay! thank you!

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