Money Lessons I Learned From Friends: Chandler Bing

Money Lessons I Learned from Friends Chandler Bing

If you missed my last four Friends posts, here’s the intro again to get you up to speed: 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. As it happens, 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, one for each Friend, and then I’ll compile them all at the end. Rachel was up first, then Ross, Joey, Monica, and today, MY FAVORITE FRIEND: Chandler Bing (Bing!)

Chandler Bing

If it’s possible to love a TV character more than I love Chandler, I don’t know how that would happen (ok, I actually have an unhealthy affinity for most of the original/early cast of ER...and NCIS...and Law & Order: SVU...maybe I should stop watching 90s and early aughts reruns…)

Chandler is the funny guy in the friend group, which is partly due to his tumultuous upbringing: two extremely selfish parents who prioritize themselves over him, a mother who hits on his friends, an alcoholic father who left the family and lives as a woman, which Chandler discovers indirectly, and the list goes on.

One of my favorite episodes is the “I hate that guy!” episode in which Phoebe’s therapist boyfriend points out Chandler’s parents’ divorce as the reason he uses humor to avoid serious situations. Chandler becomes the first to - hate that guy - but by the end of the episode, even Phoebe is on board.

Chandler works at a traditional corporate 9-to-5, is Joey’s go-to for borrowing money, finds something wrong with every woman he dates (yet inexplicably dates Janice almost every season until he and Monica are married), can’t stay in a relationship for more than 45 minutes because he is absolutely allergic to emotions and commitment, and always has a quip for every situation, even the inappropriate ones.

And he is SO. Funny. In fact, here’s a compilation for those of you haven’t had the pleasure AND for those of you who have. It’s long but it actually hits a LOT of my favorites/things I’m going to talk about! Just don’t feel obligated to watch it all before finishing my post :)

One of the things I love about Chandler is his strong story arc. He learns to be in an adult relationship after he and Monica have their first fight and develops emotionally over the course of the show. He also ditches his corporate career near the end of the series to pursue something different, riskier, and more creative. And, of course, Chandler is a model of personal finance success.

Could he BE any more awesome?

Joey "I'm Chandler!"

So what, exactly, can we learn from Chandler Bing about money?

Save, save save.

Saving money is Chandler’s thing. We see it implicitly throughout the show because, as I will mention many times in this post, Chandler is constantly lending Joey money and always has enough money to do things. He also works a corporate job that seems to pay pretty well based on its utter boringness and his eventual private office in Manhattan. He also works hard at his job and advances, which is one of the best ways to increase your salary and ideally leave yourself more money to save!

We eventually have proof when he tells Monica how much money he had saved while she’s panicking over her wedding (which I’ll discuss in the next segment).

Chandler doesn’t have an ostentatious apartment, he doesn’t seem to care about having super nice things, and he rarely wastes money, except on Joey. He’s basically a model Frugal Man for everyone out there trying to figure out how to save a ton of money without breaking rent control laws.

We could all learn a lot from Chandler’s savings habits. I have no idea how much money he told Monica he saved (though I did just watch the episode with Ross’s bachelor party for Emily and the guys all seemed impressed the stripper was making $1600/week in 1998, so maybe it’s not that much…), but my *dream* is to tell someone how much money I have saved and them to shout “Whoaw are you KIDDING ME!” a la Monica when she realized Chandler has saved enough for Wedding Scenario A.

Which brings me to...

Relationships require compromise (wedding money savings)

When Monica’s parents reveal that they purchased their beach house with Monica’s wedding fund (years ago), Monica has a come-apart at the thought of not having the perfect wedding she’d always dreamed of planning.

Chandler at first “puts his foot down” on not using his savings for the wedding. After all, they have other dreams as a couple: children, a house, retirement, you know, responsible things. Many people don’t value weddings (or engagement rings!)...

Here’s a clip of the scene:

Chandler and Monica resolve their money issues like adults…unlike any resolution Ross and Rachel could come up with. BETTER COUPLE. It’s not even a question.

But Monica does. Very much. It’s part of who she is: fancy plans and intense organization. Heck, she dressed up in Emily’s wedding dress - multiple times! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a wedding and choosing to prioritize that.

Chandler made a mistake “putting his foot down” with his partner - even though it was his money, saved over many years, and they weren’t married yet, bad tactic, man (I believe Debts to Riches would insist on a prenup here, yes?). He eventually relented and offered the money for her dream wedding and Monica relented on her demands. She too wanted the marriage more than the wedding.

I’m on Chandler’s side here financially, but I also 1000% feel Monica. I’m not a minimalist and I LoOoOvE fancy things and great parties. I want a fabulous venue, a beautiful wedding dress and a reception with a band and open bar and good food, and well, those things cost money.

Chandler and Monica were willing and able to work together and compromise on what really mattered to them both as a couple and individuals, and that is a trait I certainly could stand to improve in my life! Seriously, Chandler and Monica >>>> Ross and Rachel ALL DAY. Mutual respect, being adults and no manipulative games? Yes, please!

Don’t loan a friend money and expect to be repaid.

This is the #1 rule of loaning money to friends and family: Only loan money you can afford to never see again, and never expect to be repaid.

Otherwise you’re going to end up, at best, resentful, and at worst, in a bad position yourself with nowhere to turn because obviously your friends are broke-asses.

Chandler gives Joey money pretty much constantly throughout the show. For coffee, for rent, basic bills, health insurance (I think?), headshots. You name it, Chandler’s “loaned” Joey money for it. It’s unrealistic how much money Joey owes Chandler by the time he actually gets money to repay him.

One of the things I love most about Chandler is his tact in lending the money because he knows Joey can be sensitive about it. He devises ways to minimize the obviousness of his lending such as foosball competitions and the like. That’s a kind person: never embarrassing a needy friend when you’re willing to help them. We’ve all been there in one way or another, and it feels good when you don’t feel patronized for needing the assistance.

This is the #1 rule of loaning money to friends and family: Only loan money you can afford to never see again, and never expect to be repaid.

Joey does eventually repay Chandler in part, and that’s a great bonus! But not something Chandler holds over Joey’s head (except in an episode or two where there’s a money-lending anger subplot, but I digress).

If you’re going to lend money, be like Chandler. Give to give. Let the real lenders send people to collections.

Transpondsters make bank.

Remember when Rachel and Monica bet their apartment with the guys and lost when Rachel’s answer to “What is Chandler Bing’s job?” was….”Transpondster!” (That’s not even a word!)

No one really knows what Chandler does. Something with WENUS I think? Not totally knowing Chandler’s job description is a running bit on the show, but one thing’s for sure: Chandler makes a lot of money.

Remember when the gang almost split over the Haves and the Have-Nots? Chandler was solidly in the Haves. As the previous points in this post discuss, Chandler was able to save a ton of money and could basically bankroll Joey’s life without even batting an eye.

So what’s the point?

Weird or nondescript jobs can make you a lot of money! Don’t chase jobs or careers just because they’re glamorous. Some of the coolest-sounding jobs don’t pay anything (fashion industry, anyone?). I went to high school with a girl whose parents owned a plumbing parts company and they made SO much money. People always have toilets! Another friend’s family owned a linen business. Keep an open mind and explore things that don’t sound FaBuLoUs.

Your job doesn’t have to be your passion! Especially if you don’t have a passion that fits neatly into a 9 to 5. For example: me. I’d love to run a business that one day pays my bills, but otherwise, nothing career-wise really gets me going. So I’m a lawyer. I’m smart enough to do it, the type of work I do is not terrible, and it pays really well.

Chandler Made a Mid-30s Career Jump and Started at the Bottom as an Intern (which he could do because he saved so much money!)

This is one of the greatest life lessons a Friend can teach us.

When Chandler falls asleep in a meeting and volunteers himself to move to Tulsa, this obviously doesn’t sit well with Monica (his wife). When he can’t get out of the assignment, they suffer through a few fraught episodes of long distance before Chandler arrives back at home to announce he’s left his cushy corporate position to avoid going back to Tulsa (I feel that, yo).

After a few terrible months of unemployment, Chandler decides to pursue something that fits his personality: marketing/advertising! He applies for jobs, accepts and internship where he’s the oldest person in the room. He feels inadequate for a bit until his specific life experience helps him craft a killer advertising campaign that none of the kiddies could have come up with.

He’s the star intern and he finds a new path well into his thirties. He’s able to do this in part because he has a working partner, but also because he had enough money saved to take some time off work and move his life in a different direction. That’s the dream, right?!

Chandler’s story in a nutshell is: Prepare for the future. Always keep learning. Humor is a useful tool. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Stay golden, Pony Boy.

Chandler takes a bath with Monica

What other Chandler money episodes do yall like? Do you relate to Chandler? Has anyone ever changed careers in their thirties, forties, or later? Share in the comments!

And last, but not least, we’ll have Phoebe Buffay up next to round out the Friends and their money lessons!