The following article first appeared on RBC Direct Investing’s Inspired Investor content hub on May 10, 2018.
May 14 marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the series, offering a perfect opportunity to look back at all we’ve laughed at and learned (though we use the term loosely) from Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. And while these characters aren’t necessarily Warren Buffett-style financial geniuses, they can’t help but find themselves entangled in money matters, sometimes with helpful takeaways of what to do — or, more likely, what not to do.
To celebrate all things Seinfeld on this historic occasion, here’s our breakdown of the show’s best money moments.
Episode: The Stock Tip
What happens: After getting a hot stock tip, George checks the paper and discovers the stock is indeed rising. He decides to invest and convinces Jerry to do the same. As the stock starts to plummet, Jerry sends George back to the tipster to find out what they should do. George tracks down the man in the hospital, but is thrown out before he can get any info. Jerry decides to sell (at a loss), but George hangs on and celebrates at the end of the show when the share price rebounds.
Note to self: Investing 101 — beware of any dodgy stock tips and remember to check your emotions at the door before making any decisions. Check!
Episode: The Deal
What happens: Jerry and Elaine decide to revive their romance on a strict no-strings-attached basis. A few days later, for Elaine’s birthday, Jerry thinks he’ll be smart by giving her cash instead of choosing a gift she might not like. Elaine is wildly disappointed and, to make matters worse, Kramer — displaying his superior listening skills — comes bursting in with a gift Elaine loves. That’s Kramer — exceptional listening and exceptional timing!
Note to self: Listen and research if you want to meet your goal (in this case, making people happy). Ask yourself why you’re choosing a specific investment — when is cash the right call and how does it play into your portfolio?
Episode: The Checks (or Cheques if it was filmed in Canada!)
What happens: Jerry received hundreds of 12-cent royalty cheques from his appearance on a Japanese TV show, and gets writer’s cramp from endorsing them all. Meanwhile, Kramer meets some Japanese tourists and, not understanding the Yen-to-dollar exchange rate, encourages them to spend recklessly. By nightfall, the tourists don’t have enough money left to cover a hotel room. (Kramer, of course, comes up with a fancy, oversized chest of drawers as a lodging solution — a plan that goes awry when the drawers warp because of humidity from his hot tub.)
Note to self: Keep a handle on those foreign exchange rates…and hold back a little reserve for emergencies when travelling. (As for signing all those cheques, it sounds a bit like dividend payments rolling in…who says there’s anything wrong with that?!)
Episode: The Money (a natural choice, no?)
What happens: The theme of money runs deep in this one, so bear with us. Convinced that Jerry is not making a decent living, his parents sell a Cadillac Jerry bought them to Jack Klompus (the nemesis of Jerry’s father) and try to give Jerry the money. Jerry decides to head to Florida to buy back the Cadillac, although Klompus is now asking a ridiculous sum. Jerry maxes out all his cash and credit cards to get the car back — and ends up having to sleep in it. Meanwhile, Elaine pays for George’s pound of Arabian mocha java and instead of being grateful, George decides Elaine is “sticking it to him” because she makes more money than him. Wanting to prove he is financially solvent, George takes Elaine and the Seinfelds out for a fancy dinner, but is surprised to see his parents walk in. They’ve decided to burn through all their savings instead of leaving it for George’s inheritance.
Note to self: Money + Family = Complicated! OK, not always, but generally it’s good to have clear financial boundaries when it comes to loved ones. And while we’re on the topic, tangentially anyway, have you designated a beneficiary?
Inspired Investor, RBC Direct Investing’s content hub, made its debut last spring on the RBC Direct Investing website. Featuring personal stories, timely information and expert insights, Inspired Investor offers clients inspiration, investment learning and how-tos – with the ultimate goal of empowering self-directed investors through content that connects with their everyday lives.
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