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7 TV Characters With Debt Problems

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Many people face debt problems. Whether they’re caused by overspending on credit cards, too much student loan debt or expensive medical procedures, debt problems are so pervasive that they even find their way onto our TV screens.

Here are seven television sitcom characters whose debt problems you might just recognize.

1. Joey Tribbiani, Friends

Part of Joey’s money troubles stemmed from his work as a struggling actor who often went without a steady income. But beyond that, he just wasn’t great at managing his money, as we saw when he goes into credit card debt and his frivolous purchases get repossessed. Sure, he may have used a credit card or cash to make purchases, but Chandler footed the bill for a lot of Joey’s expenses.

In fact, a Friends fan reportedly did the math and found that Joey owed Chandler $119,760 (or $114,260, if you don’t want to include the hernia surgery) by the end of the series for everything from utilities and cups of coffee at Central Perk to head shots and vocal lessons. This estimate doesn’t include some things that it’s assumed Chandler paid for, like food for Chick and Duck or the TV Guide subscription.

2. The Bluth Family, Arrested Development

The Bluth family lives large in Newport Beach, California, but after Michael deals with the local real estate market crash, he finds himself in debt for $700,000. This family has some trouble being financially responsible, as it seems there’s always a speedboat to buy or a magic act to underwrite instead of putting money into savings.

But hey, there’s always money in the banana stand, right?

3. June, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23

June moves from Indiana to New York to pursue her dream job at a mortgage company, even landing a luxurious company-owned apartment as part of the deal. But on her first day in the office, the owner of the company is arrested for his involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal for ripping off millions of dollars from clients.

And just like that, June’s apartment is gone, as is her source of income. But she doesn’t want to go back home, so she decides to stay in New York, which is a pricey choice. She’s in debt and without a place to live when she gets a gig as a barista and meets her new roommate, Chloe. It all seems to be great until Chloe scams June out of her savings. June retaliates with a scam of her own, and a friendship blossoms. Who would’ve thought that swindling would bring two people so close together? Ah, only in New York.

4. Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother

Lily just seems to go round and round with her spending habits. When she’s in a slump, she breaks out the plastic to console herself with some retail therapy. But then when she gets that unavoidable credit card bill, seeing what she owes makes her feel bad, and the cycle continues. And instead of working on a budget or finding another way to brighten her mood, she just pretends her shopaholic problem doesn’t exist and hides the bills and multiple credit cards in her “box of shame.”

Marshall is affected by her credit card use too, taking a corporate job instead of following his dream of becoming an environmental lawyer so they can afford to get an apartment. (If your credit card debt is out of control, you can use Credit.com’s credit card payoff calculator to create a plan to pay them off. You can also see how your debt is affecting your credit scores by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

5. Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

This fast-talking mom (who probably gets a lot of her energy from all the coffee she and her daughter, Rory, consume) has done a lot on her own, after leaving the comforts of her parents’ home at age 16. But between the mortgage she probably took out to get her house in Stars Hollow, as well as the loan to buy the Dragonfly Inn with her best friend, Lorelai has to be carrying a lofty debt.

Granted, she likely put some money aside when she lived rent-free at the Independence Inn, and she does take other measures to save, like giving up takeout when Rory goes off to college. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t riddled with debt.

Just for fun, we calculated how much Lorelai must’ve spent on coffee, one of her biggest indulgences. If you figure that she bought three cups per day, at the average price of $2.38 per cup that would be $2,598.96 spent on coffee in a year, or $18,192.72 for all seven seasons of the series. (Note: This doesn’t factor in the java that came free as an office perk or that was “on the house” at Luke’s.)

6. Walter White, Breaking Bad

It seems like everyone in this show has a medical problem, which can certainly be a pricey expense. Between Walter’s cancer and Walt Jr.’s cerebral palsy, not to mention the fact that Skyler is pregnant, it’s no wonder they’re stressed about their finances.

Medical treatment certainly doesn’t come cheap, so Walter takes matters into his own hands and starts an all-cash drug empire in the hopes of covering these expenses and any others his family may face. But producing and selling meth (or any drugs) to build up their savings isn’t the wisest idea.

7. Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

It’s unlikely that anyone will ever understand how Carrie affords her shoe addiction, a plethora of Cosmopolitans and cigarettes, all while living on a writers salary. Even if you acknowledge that she eventually writes for Vogue at $4 a word and has a rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan, it still seems pretty far-fetched.

In fact, the series hints at her debt problem a few times. At one point, Carrie borrows money from her friend Charlotte to make rent and avoid eviction. And she even admits her money problems (and priorities) when she talks about moving to New York, saying she was “totally broke” and would sometimes “buy Vogue instead of dinner.”

Granted, the show ended a decade ago, so prices would be different, but Carrie’s smoking habit had to be hitting her budget pretty hard. (I’m not even going to touch the unseemly amount she spent on shoes.) The average price of a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is $5.51. So, even if you say she smoked three packs a week for a year, that’s about $850 a year just on one of her habits. That’s a lot of columns to write instead of nights out on the town, Miss Bradshaw.

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