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Financial Lessons Learned From Saved By The Bell

If you’re in your 20’s or early 30’s, then you’ve probably either seen an episode of “Saved By The Bell” or you’re one of those freaks that’s seen every episode and still watches the re-runs on TBS in the morning. It was an iconic TV show for our generation. I’m not sure why it gained so much popularity. It was just one of those addicting shows that any pre-teen would get hooked on whether it was 1990 or 2010. Surprisingly, the show did tackle a lot of deep issues that teens face every day, and it even dealt with some financial issues. Some of these lessons learned might seem like a little bit of a stretch, but I know you get bored reading about private mortgage insurance and mutual fund load fees, so take a trip down pop culture memory lane with me for a little bit.

Ethical Entrepreneurship

Do you remember the episode where the gang is producing a news show for Bayside High and Screech is the chef cooking up something for the viewers? The spaghetti sauce he uses turns out to be REALLY good, and Zach sees dollar signs, so him and the gang start bottling Screech’s “secret sauce” and selling it to the masses and they use Bayside’s stuff to do it! After Zach and Screech get confronted by Betty Crocker’s attorneys, it turns out that Screech was using one of Betty Crocker’s recipes from their old cookbooks, so the operation had to cease before they got sued. Starting your own business is a huge step and it can be VERY profitable for you, but if you cut corners, steal ideas from other people, and don’t treat your employees right, it’ll never last. Make sure everything you do as an entrepreneur is original and make sure you protect your intellectual property as best you can.

Spending Less and Still Having Fun

Remember the episode when it was prom season and Zach has everything planned for his and Kelly’s perfect prom night? Then, Kelly finds out that her dad loses his job, and she’s devastated and can’t go. She doesn’t tell Zach why until the point where he makes an ass out of himself, and he feels really bad about it. Kelly’s dad even offers to give her some money to go, because he knows how much it meant to her, but she turns it down knowing that the prom is less important than their family’s financial situation. Then, it’s Zach to the rescue! He takes Kelly to the prom, but it’s outside of the gym with the window cracked open so they can hear the music and he snagged a couple of pieces of cake, too. They end up having a romantic evening and all is well in the Zach and Kelly universe. It’s obviously a silly example, but it’s SUCH a good lesson about being able to have a great time without spending a lot of money. Being creative on your weekends and going to the lake/beach or having a picnic can produce much greater memories than going to the movies or amusement park.

Seize Only Wise Financial Opportunities

Zach had an entrepreneurial spirit all throughout the show. It was what made Zach who he was. He never let an opportunity to make money pass him by. Whether it was capitalizing on Screech’s stolen spaghetti sauce recipe or selling ad space on Slater’s football jersey, Zach could turn lemons into lemonade. Unfortunately, all of his entrepreneurial endeavors usually led to disaster. This was because he didn’t think through a financial opportunity before he took it. He just saw dollar signs and went for it. With your money, you must seize financial opportunities, but you need to do your research and homework before you pull the trigger. Question opportunities that sound too good to be true, because they probably ARE too good to be true. If you can avoid getting scammed and paying what Dave Ramsey calls a “stupid tax,” you’ll be a much wealthier person in the future.

Jimmy Fallon knows what he’s doing and he knows his audience. That’s why he tried to get a reunion of the entire cast of Saved By the Bell, and I think he was able to get everyone except Tiffany Amber-Theissan. Whatever, Kelly! Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past, it was fun writing it.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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