What the Flintstones taught me about Wealth and spending
I am a kid of the 80’s, when Saturday morning cartoons were everything. We woke up early and ate our cereal while watching the best cartoons on our first day of weekend freedom.
One of my favorite cartoon shows was the Flintstones. As I’m writing this, I’m totally singing the theme song in my head. “Flintstones, Meet the Flintstones, they’re a modern Stone Age family, From the town of Bedrock, They’re a page right out of history”. Are you singing with me?
Ahh, what a great time to be a kid. That was the highlight of my morning and I sang along every time with a smile on my face. It was great.
Reality Kicks In
But sadly, I don’t think that the Flintstones are a page out of history. They’re still very present in our society. We watch that cartoon with frequent giggles on how they lived, having the top of the line dinosaur vacuum cleaner, a rug that was still alive, and even their high end shower head was just a dinosaur spraying out water! And we can’t forget Wilma’s pearls that always made her look fancy.
They had the car, the house, the big wild cat and Dino, a kid, the stay at home mom, and the dad that worked. They had lived the typical American dream. Or did they? Sounds like the image we all strive to portray in our own lives. It’s the image that makes others view us as successful by “having it all”.
What is the American Dream?
I remember being entertained by this cartoon for the sheer silliness that ensued for Wilma having to have the “latest gadgets” and Fred going to work for a boss that screamed at him constantly. Yet, I watched and was unintentionally conditioned to believe that they were living the way they ought to live. It was the dressed up version of what we do now, except behind the scenes of our lives there’s piles of debt, stress, and anxiety from just trying to keep up with the Wilmas and Freds of today.
Our society is pretty much the same as the Flintstones, and many of us are living this life without a second thought that there might be something better out there.
Don’t we also want the latest appliances? From the black stainless steel kitchen appliances to the rain shower head? The truth is that the “upgrade” mentality has become ingrained in our society. Everywhere you turn, there is an ad telling us that we can buy happiness if we just get that car or that awesome new kitchen. We’re being bombarded every second of the day with messages that convince us that our life is not complete if we don’t constantly upgrade our material possessions.
Just like Fred we work for horrible bosses too
Sadly, don’t some of us also go to jobs that we don’t enjoy, with bosses that sometimes make us miserable? But, we choose to do this, because without our job, we’d have no way to keep up with the constant credit card payments for things we THINK we need.
And yet we enjoy the comedy that the Flintstones bring, without realizing that we live that very same miserable comedy in our own life. Someone out in the universe must be watching us, being so entertained by these humans who have to have everything.
Why did we laugh at the Flintstones?
Because their life was obviously silly. It was entertaining because we were on the outside looking in. Wilma wanted the latest dinosaur shower head that was the top of the line? Oh silly Wilma, a dinosaur is a dinosaur, they all spray the water, haha. Likewise, for us, we should be content with the notion that a shower is a shower and put down the new rainfall showerhead that we HAVE to have.
More and more, we are becoming the modern Wilma
Do we really need the latest and greatest gadgets? Some justify that they’ll make our lives easier, save us time and energy, but do they?
If new top of the line gadgets save us time, then why do we work even harder to pay the price of our gadgets? That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Let’s dig deeper. If that new fridge costs $2,500-$3,000 (this is what the going rate seems to be these days), how many weeks of work would it take you to pay it off in full? That might take someone anywhere from a month or even two to pay off that one purchase. And that’s if you had absolutely no other expenses, which is pretty impossible, since you at least have to eat.
So, are all those working hours worth that purchase? For me, that answer is usually no. Not because I don’t think it would be awesome to have a black stainless steel fridge, I would just rather use that money to invest or save to retire a month earlier. I know, I’ve already mentioned the black stainless steel appliances twice in this post, but I keep seeing the commercial for it, haha. See? They’ve got it in my head! Haha.
The bigger question
If you didn’t have additional expenses that month and could use all of your income to pay it off, would you be happy to make that payment?
It’s probably my frugal side speaking here, but I’m personally not keen on upgrading an appliance with all the bells and whistles if I don’t need to. I just don’t want to be a Wilma. I’d rather watch her and chuckle a little.
Let’s make this very clear, I’m not writing all of this to knock down anyone who buys or wants to buy these awesome high end things. But, with our society in so much debt, I can’t help but wonder if we ever stop and think deeply before making unnecessary purchases. I get that our older appliances break down. But do we really have to get the latest and greatest to get by or can we opt for an affordable decent model?
The Flintstones looked rich
They looked like they had it all. And when I was a kid, I was so entertained by their shenanigans for sure. But as an adult, the lifestyle of working in jobs you hate for years with no end in sight just to go around spending money on things you may not need to “look” like you’re rich doesn’t sit well with me.
I speak from experience, unfortunately. I used to be a Wilma. I used to buy, buy, buy and never ever stopped to think of what this was truly costing me. It’s not just the money that it costs you. It costs you the most valuable resource you have. The one resource that can never be replenished once it’s gone…time.
Next time you want to buy something, don’t ask yourself what dollar amount it will cost you. Ask yourself how many more hours of work it will cost you. You’ll start to realize how much of your time you unintentionally waste by purchasing the latest gadgets.
The Flintstones were middle class. They acted like they were wealthy, and that’s the reason why I think they were called “The Modern Stone-Age Family”. They are just like many of us. But, they’re there for entertainment. So ask yourself, are you a Flintstone?
I hope this nostalgic post about one of my favorite childhood cartoons sparked some new thoughts for you about your own spending habits.
Oh wow, you are so right about the Flintstones now that you’ve shined a light in my memory. The Flintstones looked rich and had the latest gadgets. So many cartoons from that era lampooned the American Dream. Actually, were they really brainwashing our youthful minds?
Favorite cartoons: Bugs Bunny for his wit and calling out incompetence. Road Runner and Wyle E. Coyote for never ever give up, but try to simplify one’s approach.
So true Franklin! I agree, they’ve been conditioning us since 8 to keep up with the Jones’s. ? Bigs bunny is one of my faves too!
I loved the Flinstones too! (and Jetsons) Such a great analogy / comparison to how a lot of us live our lives too.
So glad you enjoyed the post, Aaron! Yes the Jetsons! I always wanted their life ?
The Flintstones ripped off The Honeymooners. In the that show, it was more clearly indicated that the protagonists were working class and had money problems.
The references to the rat race you point out were deliberate. You may not be aware but The Flintstones originally aired on network TV during prime time in the 1960s. As such, it had to attract adult viewers; it couldn’t sell commercials if the audience was all children. The writers peppered the scripts with jokes the adults would get. This is still true with many Disney movies.
In the subsequent 50 years, the show has been targeted to children (on Saturday mornings for many years) but even that has unexpected benefits. Most viewers will experience an “Aha!” moment where a joke that went by their head before is understood in a new context. Typically this happens after several years of not watching the show. This is because the adult version of yourself is seeing the show but has forgotten the filter of childhood memories. The show can be enjoyed from the viewpoint of a child as well as an adult.
I still maintain Ralph Kramden is preferable to Fred Flintstone in every way.
Love your insight, Dan! Very interesting, I didn’t know this so I really appreciate the background. I knew that it aired in the 60’s but the history behind it makes a lot of sense.
The Flintstones are always my favorite in cartoons alongside my other favorites such as Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny and Snoopy and Charlie Brown. This is why I am a Fruity Pebbles fanatic and a Cocoa Pebbles craver.
We’ve got an instapot, an air fryer, a ‘set it and forget it rotisserie’ and an Alexa to ask about the weather and one more even more precious thing: No Debt. No car loans, no mortgage, no nothing. How did we get here?
We bought less then we could afford: house cars etc.,
We buy 2 year old cars and keep our them a long time
We abstain from the $4 cup of mocha java, the $30 nail job or hair cut etc.,
We celebrated the weekend with pizza and a rented movie
She is a expert coupon and sale shopper
I was and am the handyman, plumber and carpenter. She is the painter
Once the debt was gone we saved and saved some more. With a pile comes the greatest of all benefit of a LBYM lifestyle: stress reduction. Need new tires for the jalopy, dental work, etc. no problem go to the pile.
It just takes discipline… we didnt really have a budget, we had a mission: live simply and spend it a penny at a time. We sure dont live like Fred and Wilma -our lives are easier.
Hi RayinPenn, sounds like you’re doing amazing things! Thank you so much for sharing, you’re a true inspiration!!
Great Post! ? And YES it did make me think. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Carol! So glad to hear that!