Bellevue financial planner finds smart money decisions in Downton Abbey TV show

Steve Juetten - Courtesy photo
Steve Juetten
— image credit: Courtesy photo


Bellevue financial planner Steve Juetten says inspiration for smart personal money management can be found everywhere, even in popular television programming like the blockbuster series Downton Abbey.

Juetten noted that he and his wife, Nancy, love to watch Downton Abbey and thought that it was more than just great entertainment on PBS.

"I was watching the season three premiere episode and it struck me that there are all sorts of personal finance lessons we can learn from this rich mix of characters."

Juetten assembled a number of lessons from the popular show.

· Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Juetten notes that Lord Grantham invested almost of his wife's fortune in the stock of a Canadian Railroad company and then lost it all when the company went bankrupt. Lord Grantham was in shock because everyone knew the company was going to be a success. Just because everyone knows something is a good idea doesn't mean you can't stop thinking for yourself.

·Prepare for the unexpected: Mrs. Hughes has an ailment this season and we don't know how it will resolve. Mrs. Patmore had eye surgery last season. Neither have medical coverage. "The health challenge of these two ladies reminds us to be prepared for the unexpected," Juetten observes.

· If it's too good to be true, it probably is. And illegal gains are fleeting: In season two, Thomas the footman/valet decided to deal in black market goods after the end of World War I to make a quick profit. He was double crossed by his supplier and lost everything.

· The best way to save for retirement is to start early, be consistent and stay the course: Anna, the ever-loyal wife of the convicted murderer Mr. Bates has decided the best way to free her husband is to slowly, patiently and consistently follow-up every lead she can find to prove his innocence. "Saving for retirement is like that," Juetten says. “You don't prepare for retirement at one time. Do what Anna is doing on behalf of her husband and you’re more likely to retire comfortably."

· Your financial assets are like a garden. You have to regularly tend to them in order for you to reap the bounty: In the current season, Matthew Crawley has discovered that the assets of Downton Abby have been mismanaged for years because Lord Grantham has been too busy to be bothered. Juetten says, “Neglect eventually leads to misfortune.”

· Luck is not a plan: Finally, we have the example of the life of Matthew Crawley. Notes Juetten, “A client of mine says he wants to be like Matthew Crawley. He seems to be the luckiest guy on the planet.

First, he becomes heir to Downton Abbey when a distant cousin dies with the sinking of the Titanic. Crawley is paralyzed from the waist down during the war and then walks again.

Then, he inherits a fortune from his fiancé’s family that will save Downton Abbey after Lord Grantham's investment folly. He also gets to marry the beautiful eldest daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham.

“The problem is that luck is not a plan," Juetten says. "It's much more likely that your personal finances will get you to your goals if you focus on the things you control and NOT wait for distant relatives to leave you a fortune."

Juetten, a fee-only Certified Financial Planner in Bellevue, does not sell any products or take commissions. He has been named a 5-Star Wealth Manager by Seattle Magazine for the last three years.

He has compiled practical personal finance ideas and tips in a free new eBook SmartMoney Rules Little Green Book. Readers can obtain a copy of it at

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