You can find a personal finance lesson in just about anything (if you look hard enough), and sometimes they just jump right out for you, like this one from Season 2 of Breaking Bad.
Jesse Pinkman, Albuquerque’s most famous meth dealer, needs a new car since Captain Cook, his hydraulics-equipped red Monte Carlo was shot up in the desert during a showdown between Tuco and Hank. (I highly recommend watching the show if you haven’t seen it already, but it’s not important for your financial edification if you haven’t). Anyways, Jesse’s down at the lot where he stores his meth lab/RV, and he spots his possible replacement vehicle.
Having recently lost about $67k of cash and convincing Walt to split his half with him, Jesse’s slowly realizing at this point that he needs to be a little bit more cautious with his money. Hmmmm.
He spots a second car.
So which car did Jesse go with?
BAM! None other than a gently used mid-1980s Toyota Tercel in his favorite shade of red. I’m guessing it set him back about $700. Considering that in a few episodes, he’s about to start making some serious “stacks”, I’d say our Jesse Pinkman is setting himself up to be quite the millionaire/drug dealer next door. Way to go Jesse. Now if he would just stop spending his money on those over-sized, gaudy Affliction hoodies, he’ll definitely have his expenses under control.
(Side note: Breaking Bad is about the terrifying world of meth and violent drug trafficking, but one that exists nonetheless. Even though it is the darkest show I have ever seen, it is also one of the best. Every scene and every character bears closer examining. If you like the show, check out this awesome post about what each character’s car says about them. Jesse’s Tercel? “Ultimately Jesse accepts that he’s not really a bad guy (regardless of what he says) and he gets a dependable, boring family sedan – a Toyota – because all that Jesse really wants is to love and be loved. He craves a normal, dependable, suburban family life.”)
Bonus: Can anyone name the car in the first scene? Looks to be a Chevy…is that an Impala?