Money Lessons I Learned from Friends: Rachel Green

Rachel Green waitress broke girl

Turns out Blogtober is a lot easier said than done, even if you’re only shooting for 13 posts in 31 days. I have SO many ideas for content, but it’s difficult to put pen to paper sometimes!

Anyway, I was thinking about my previous post about Minimalism in which I mention “everyone should have a Monica Closet,” and I thought about all the other things Friends characters taught me about money. Turns out the Friends dealt with money in their lives and with each other quite often! And not always very well…

I’m splitting this into a series of posts over the next few days, one for each Friend, and then I’ll compile them all at the end. Up first:

Rachel Green

Rachel was the resident spoiled brat who flew into the other Friends’ lives like a bat out of hell when she escaped her own wedding by sneaking out of a bathroom window. Her father previously paid for her entire life, and she was on her way to the good life as Mrs. Dr. Barry Farber, D…D…S.

Do not be Mindy.

Unfortunately, her father cut her off and she was left reeling. Rachel’s story arc is actually my favorite in terms of personal growth, because she decides to fend for herself, works menial jobs until she figures out what she wants to do, and then she works her way up the fashion corporate ladder to her dream job as a buyer at Bloomingdales. So here are the top 3 things Rachel can teach us about money:

A man ain’t a money plan.

Ladiez. Gentlemen. But particularly women who want male partners and to whom traditional gender roles in marriage appeals to you, I cannot, CANNOT say this enough: A man is not a money plan. One more time for the folks in the back: A MAN IS NOT A MONEY PLAN.

Look, I don’t care if you stay home with your kids. That’s awesome if that’s what you want to do! But girl, DO NOT plan your entire financial future around having a gainfully-employed husband. Seriously. Get a plan together. Prepare together for his unemployment, illness or death (not to mention for terrible turns like addiction, infidelity or abuse) even if you are planning to remain employed after you have children or are not planning to have children at all.

Keep your skills sharp. Have life insurance on the working spouse, unemployment insurance, one bank account and credit card only you can access. HAVE A WILL. Consider a prenup. Whatever you need to ensure you won’t be completely destitute if something happens.

If you and your partner aren’t married but intend to spend your lives together, make sure you’re named as beneficiaries on each others’ accounts. Give each other power of attorney. Also have a will outlining any property you wish to give to the other (it will never pass to a non-relative if you don’t have a will…)

Rachel had always relied on her father and planned to rely on her future husband. Fortunately for her, she realized she could do it on her own and built a solid future for herself, which later included her daughter Emma. Having a partner is a wonderful thing, but nothing in life is guaranteed for anyone. Don’t rely solely on another human for anything if you’re physically and mentally capable of doing otherwise. Your future self will thank you for that!

You might have to make sacrifices, but you absolutely can do it, especially if you have a team of supporters encouraging you.

When Rachel’s dad first cut her off, she immediately bought some new “‘I don't need a job, I don't need my parents, I've got great boots’ boots”…on one of the credit cards bankrolled by her father.

 Photo: stylecracker.com & NBC Studios

Photo: stylecracker.com & NBC Studios

The other Friends made her not only return the boots, but also cut up her credit cards (yes, Dave Ramsey-style!) and immediately look for a job. Monica offered her a room in her apartment, and they helped her mail resumes (lol, 1996) until she got a job…at the coffee shop, but hey, a job’s a job. “Welcome to the real world - it sucks,” they told her as they welcomed her to adulthood.

Similarly, you may be staring down financial ruin if you don’t seriously shape up your life and quickly. Take comfort knowing that if Rachel Bloomingdales Is My Homing Beacon Greene can do it, so can you. You might have to do some things you hate. You might have to sell some things. You might have to ask your friends to literally cheer you on as you cut your credit cards to pieces. But once you muster the courage to make the change, it’s likely you’ll never look back.

Related: When Does Self-Care Become Self-Sabotage?

You’re not above any job if you need the money.

Rachel sent hundreds of resumes and ended up working at the neighborhood coffee shop. She made almost no money at first (and she was really, really bad at it). But it was a paycheck, and she needed a paycheck. (Honorable Mention: the time Monica worked as a cook at a 50s-themed diner, complete with roller skates, after her nice restaurant fired her).

Sometimes you may need cash. Cash may not be available to you via a preferred form of employment. You know who actually makes pretty decent money? Your trash collector.

Find a way.

If it’s a service job, babysitting, cleaning gutters, whatever. Do it. My mom HUNG WALLPAPER and DELIVERED PHONE BOOKS when her young family needed extra money. I literally nannied while I was looking for a full-time legal job once. Paying the bills matters; the way you do that doesn’t (except don’t break laws, duh).

What else did you learn from Rachel? Did I miss anything? Share in the comments!

Up next: Ross Geller, everyone’s favorite, cheap paleontologist!