6 Money and Career Lessons from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’

By Ellevest Team

There are few things we love here at Ellevest more than watching a woman break down barriers and build a big, successful career in spite of the odds stacked against her. So naturally, we’ve been counting down the days until season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel drops on Prime Video. (The first two episodes are out today, btw.) Also naturally, we just finished our rewatch of the first three seasons — and the S4 teaser trailers — and we couldn’t help but notice: A lot of Midge’s money and career lessons are just as relevant today. In fact, they’re the same ones we talk about here at Ellevest all the time.

And so, ladies and gentlemen and dashing non-binary folks, we are pleased to introduce Ellevest’s six money and career takeaways from Midge, Susie, Joel, and the crew.

3 career lessons from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

A GIF from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in which Midge says, “I’m going to work.”

1. It’s never too late to change directions

One could say Midge Maisel made the ultimate career change — Upper West Side socialite housewife to bold, raucous stand-up comedian is no small leap. Plus, her obsession with comedy and her craft started far into her adulthood. And yet she’s well on her way to success.

In today’s “dream job” culture, it’s easy to feel like you need to set yourself on the “right” path from day one — out of college, or even earlier. And once you’re a few jobs deep, the idea of starting over (or even just adjusting course a bit) might feel impractical and / or impossible.

Truth bomb time: It’s OK if what was once your dream job … isn’t anymore. It’s OK to change your mind and go for something new. Career transitions take effort, but they’re completely possible (and worth it). Here at Ellevest, we see women do it all the time. TL;DR: Take control of your career and steer it in the direction you want — it’s yours.

Read more: 10 Steps to Navigate a Career Change

Go deeper: 4 Weeks to an Intentional Career Plan email course

A GIF from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in which Midge says, “I hit a rough patch.”

2. Success isn’t a straight line

Comedy is an artform born out of setbacks, failures, and challenges. Remember back in season 1, when Midge had to “learn to bomb”? She wouldn’t be the comedian she is today if she hadn’t. Plus, all the tough things that happen in her personal life eventually become material she can use to knock ’em dead onstage.

It might sound cliche, but at work, every mistake you make, every piece of constructive feedback you get, is an opportunity for you to grow and thrive, too. Is it comfortable? Haha, no. Will it make you (and your career) better? Yes. The moments that force us to learn are the catalysts that steepen our upward trajectory — without them, we’d never climb as high.

Go deeper: 7-Day Networking Boost (Even for Introverts) email course

A GIF from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in which Midge says to Susie, “I will only do gigs where I can say what I want!”

3. Know your worth and don’t settle for less

In the season 4 official teaser trailer, Midge says it loud and clear: She’s done playing small. No more opening acts. No more letting others dictate what goes in her sets. She’s ready to change the whole game if she has to. After all, “That’s what Lenny would do.” (“That’s different! He’s Lenny Bruce!” says Susie. “So make me Lenny Bruce,” says Midge. Hell yes.)

This one’s particularly near and dear to our hearts here at Ellevest. In today’s day and age, the time of settling for lower-than-they-should-be salaries, too-junior job titles, bad bosses, and toxic work cultures is over. No more. Not for you. Do great work, show the results, and make it clear that you won’t accept anything less than you deserve.

Read more: How to Negotiate a Job Offer and The Trick to Negotiating That Raise? Science.

3 money lessons from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

A GIF from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in which Midge says to Joel, “We’re having that conversation?”

1. Don’t let your partner manage the money without you

Oh, if only we could shout this one from the rooftops.

Back when everything between Midge and Joel was great, she had no idea that Joel was actually pretty darn broke. And being bankrolled by his father. They didn’t even own their apartment, like she thought! (Psst: No spoilers here, but suffice to say that the financial “arrangements” from her marriage definitely come back to haunt Midge again in season 4. 😬)

Sure, Midge’s ignorance of the reality of their situation was pretty normal for the 1950s, but even today, 74% of women who are divorced or widowed find themselves with a negative financial surprise when their marriage ends.

Of course, some division of labor in household responsibilities is normal and good, including the day-to-day management of your finances. The key here is just to stay involved — be intimately familiar with your household assets, accounts, and debts, and make talking about money a regular part of your relationship.

Read more: How to Talk About Money When You’re Married (or Almost)

Join us live: Yours, Mine, and Ours: Money in Relationships workshop, for advice you can use from the first date to “I do”

A GIF from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in which Midge grabs a half-moon cookie and says, “Put them on my tab?”

2. A budget is your #1 tool in taking financial control

OK, this next one involves a bit of deduction from the first two episodes of season 4, but don’t worry — we’re still spoiler-free here. Fair warning, though: S3 spoilers (and S4 implications) ahead!

Season 3 ended with Midge having purchased her apartment with collateral that’s no longer worth anything, and Susie having secretly gambled away Midge’s down payment. (Yikes.) So if she’s still going to buy that apartment, Midge is going to need to get her finances together ASAP. And with Abe and Rose moving in (see: the S4 teaser trailer #2), we’re thinking everyone’s about to be making some sacrifices for the sake of the family budget.

Whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or working toward a goal like homeownership (or all of the above, like Midge), your #1 tool is a budget — a plan that tells you how much is coming in, how much is going out, and how much you can put toward your goals. Having a (realistic, flexible) budget gives you the information you need to know if you need to scale back spending, increase your income, or both … and by how much. It’s the cornerstone of your financial foundation.

Read more: The “One-Number” Approach to Budgeting and 4 Steps to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Join us live: Budget How-To workshop

DIY: One-Number Approach Budget Template and 50/30/20 Rule Budget Template (also free for Ellevest members)

Go deeper: 1:1 Budgeting Coaching Session, Budgeting and Debt Planning Session, or Homebuying Strategy Session

A GIF from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ in which Midge sits in a boat, wearing a bathing suit cover and sunglasses, and laughs.

3. When you’re in control of your finances, you’re in control of your life

Of course, Midge’s independence is an overarching theme for Mrs. Maisel, but we’d argue that nearly all of it ties back specifically to the financial kind. Midge is building her career for passion, yes — but also for financial freedom. She’s working toward a future where she’ll never have to take a department store job or get paid in period products for voice commercials ever again.

Midge’s parents learn this lesson when Abe loses his job, too. Their time living with Joel’s parents was no walk in the park, and judging by the fact that now they’re apparently moving in with Midge, they’re still struggling. Being dependent on others is hard on their pride — and it makes their life much more stressful.

Financial control is what allows you to build and live the life you dream of — in our society, that’s just how it is. Getting there means not only paying off debt and saving for emergencies, but also investing for retirement and all your other goals.

Read more: A Guide to Practicing Financial Wellness

Join us live: How to Practice Financial Wellness and Feel Good About Money (complete with a full set of worksheets, tools, and other resources)

Go deeper: Unlimited 1:1 Access to a CFP® Pro or our Full Financial Planning Package

Whether you’re just getting started or feel like a seasoned money pro, it’s never too late to dive in deeper. And yes, you can get started on all of this — and more — with an Ellevest membership.

Tits up!


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Ellevest Team

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