How To Get Rich By Living Like Mad Men

It’s no secret around here that I LOVE mid-century modern design and decor. Hence, I loved the series, Mad Men, that originally aired on AMC, but is now available in its entirety on Netflix. I figured out the exact reason I love this coveted period in history just recently. My childhood home, a modern-day tiny house, was built and decorated in that era. Read more about that here.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I need to clarify that when I refer to Mad Men, I am also referring to Mad WoMen. I love all of our readers and don’t want anyone to feel excluded. It is also worth noting that Mad Men was a fairly racy TV series that pushed some limits. For the purposes of this post, we’ll keep it kinder and gentler. And, here we go…

The Characters (Spoiler Alert)

Mad Men: Per the first episode, Mad Men refers to a term  from the 1950s given to advertisers, by advertisers, working on Madison Avenue in NYC.

NOTES, CQ's, ETC...

Don Draper – Main character. Talented advertising executive living a double life, drinking and smoking himself into oblivion – even his wife doesn’t know his real name. Some would say that’s glamorous.

Betty Draper – Don’s hot blonde wife who never breaks a sweat, is admired by everyone for her refined beauty, and is never without a cigarette. Glamorous.

Megan Draper – Don’s sexy, hotter, and younger second wife. Brunette bombshell. Definitely glamorous.

Roger Sterling – Older, but still very cool, partner at the advertising firm. Dating the cultured and curvy office redhead. Silver fox glamorous.

Joan Harris – Cultured and curvy redhead. Office Manager. Epitome of glamour.

Peggy Olson – Timid secretary in early seasons. Worked her way up to a powerful professional woman in a man’s field in a few seasons, flat. Way glamorous.

There are others, but you get the idea.

Glamorous Lifestyle

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Who hasn’t watched an episode of Mad Men and been dazzled by their glamorous lifestyles? The clothes, the design, the coolness that oozed from every inch of dialogue and every flip of the hair. I know I’m not alone in this assessment. These people lived what our modern society would still deem to be a charmed existence.

Don would go to the office and bring home the bacon. Betty would stay home with their perfect children and have titillating conversations with the other ladies in the neighborhood. Office politics included who’s dating whom, rumors of promotions and demotions, and speculation about the next big account. Evenings and weekends were reserved for children’s birthdays and adult dinner parties. Times they have changed…but, not that much.

Aside from a few caveats, this existence pretty much resembles our modern day lives, does it not? We work. We talk with our friends and neighbors. We gossip. Our children get invites in preschool and elementary school for birthday parties on the weekends. We go to dinner with friends. When I say it like this, it doesn’t seem like there is any difference at all.

Related: Lavish Luxury & Lean Times

Modern Design

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Don’s pad.

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My pad.

The picture on top is Don’s fabulous apartment in Manhattan. The picture on the bottom is my family room. Minus the modern fireplace, it’s difficult to tell they’re separated by 50+ years. I’d love to think my space compares to the set design of Mad Men, although I know better than that. I’m happy with resemblance.

We were able to outfit a lot of our family room with vintage pieces from the era. There is a local shop that sells mid-century modern furniture and decor. We spent only a fraction of what we would’ve spent had we decided to go to a big box store. I know this style isn’t for everyone, but there are ways to get the style you do desire without breaking the bank. Check out furniture consignment shops, Craigslist, local one-of-a-kind shops. You never know what you’ll find and you’ll most certainly be able to negotiate. Most local shops are owned by local people. They have the power to give you a deal. Big box stores do not. Never underestimate the power of creativity.

Related: We Made Our Dream Home A Reality

Living Well With Less

Of course Don and the gang spent way too much money on things that were inevitably going to kill them. Think: cigarettes, alcohol, and high-cholesterol foods. They also dropped a lot of dough on restaurant meals, which is a major money suck and not something we advocate. But, they also knew how to have a good time by throwing dinner parties and after-hours office parties. We can all learn a lesson from their glamorous (there’s that word again!) dinner parties. Why don’t more people invite friends over for home-cooked meals or potlucks? In my opinion, it’s just as enjoyable as dining out, and it’s more than likely, more relaxed.

So, we have arrived. Do I have to say the obvious? Probably not, but I’m going to anyway. What would this post be without gleaming financial comparisons between the awesome mid-century modern design, decor, and glamour documented above and the modern world we live in? I’m not exactly sure how to answer said question, so we’re going to roll right into The Obvious.

The Obvious: If you live like Mad Men, You’ll Finish Rich.

-Mad Men didn’t have mobile phones.

-Mad Men didn’t have two vehicles.

-Mad Men didn’t have GPS devices.

-Mad Men didn’t have the Internet. 

-Mad Men used public transportation or carpooled. 

-Mad Men didn’t have excessive credit card debt. 

-Mad Men did their own home repairs.

-Mad Men didn’t have snow blowers, leaf blowers, John Deere tractors for < 1 acre. 

-Mad Men didn’t have cable TV.

-Mad Men didn’t have computers.

-Mad Men didn’t have gaming systems.

-Mad Men didn’t have surround sound.

-Mad Men didn’t invite 30 kids to themed birthday parties for 5-year olds.

-Mad Men didn’t have air conditioning.

-Mad Men didn’t have power EVERYTHING. 

-Mad Men didn’t have Starbucks. 

-Mad Men didn’t have iTunes or other digital means to spend money.

-Mad Men didn’t have “i” anything.

-Mad Men didn’t have…wait for it…Amazon Prime. Gasp.

Related: Stuff We Just Stopped Buying

I’ll stop there. You get the idea. I’m not saying it’s necessary to give up all modern luxuries. I am saying that having all our actual modern luxuries does not automatically mean you’re glamorous. As noted above,  you can live a pretty damn glamorous lifestyle without most of the stuff we have today. By giving up just a few of these things, you can live like Mad Men and finish rich. Really rich.

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Coke Commercial – Courtesy giphy.com

Go ahead, remove a few of these luxuries from your life and do the long-term compound interest calculations on the savings over the course of a few decades. Here is a calculator.

After looking at the numbers, I guarantee you’ll want to have a cigarette, high-tail it to a hippie retreat in California, and teach the world to sing. Don’t get the reference? Hmm…maybe you should add a new series to your Netflix queue.

 

NOTE: Mad Money Monster does not condone excessive smoking or alcohol consumption. These activities were all the rage back in the day. A healthy lifestyle was not. Just sayin’.

All Photos (minus Mad Money Cat) courtesy of Google Images
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Mad Money Cat never missed an episode. Full stop.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ericdietlein Mar 6, 2017, 1:37 am

    Loved this series – loved it, loved it, loved it…

  • JUsT Us Feb 2, 2017, 3:33 am

    Debt as a lifestyle was invented and marketed about the time that show was based.. it was the end of The Lifestyle!

    sigh.

    Now I am going to go find the show to watch… LOL!

    The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy Show and such were also a hoot! 😀

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 2, 2017, 8:15 am

      Yes! And invited by the very type of advertising Mad Men glamorizes. Haha. BTW, I tried to comment on your site and it wouldn’t let me. I tried it on my laptop and phone. I got an error message about cookies or something. But that never happens with other sites. Just thought you’d like to know. I love that you’re renovating a van to live in. So cool!

      • JUsT Us Feb 2, 2017, 12:30 pm

        Thanks for the feedback. I’ll check into the issue. I’ve heard that I have a certificate error, too…
        The learning curve. LOL!

        Feel free to delete this so I don’t hijack your comments. 🙂

        Thank you!!

      • JUsT Us Feb 2, 2017, 1:45 pm

        Are you using an Apple product that blocks Java? (Rock’s iPhone gave us an error referring to Java and Cookies being blocked.)

        • Mad Money Monster Feb 2, 2017, 2:51 pm

          Apple iphone but Toshiba PC.

          • JUsT Us Feb 2, 2017, 7:21 pm

            Thanks so much for playing along… if you get a chance, please try to comment again. I have disabled the “anti spam” module, as I suspect it is blocking legit comments, too.

  • Max Your Freedom Feb 1, 2017, 10:45 pm

    My wife is an interior designer, and we both love mid century modern design. We would ogle all the furniture pieces in the show, and curse the day we decided to value our financial freedom over acquiring things (exaggerating of course). I must admit though, we do have a couple of cool 1950s pieces in our house 😉

  • MustardSeedMoney Feb 1, 2017, 9:24 pm

    I have to admit every year I am more thankful than the year before with all the technology that we are afforded. I really can’t wait until driverless cars come out. I think that will be a game changer and change the way older people get around, where we live since we won’t be confined to city living plus no need for parking lots. Tell the car to drop you off and then pick you up when needed. I can’t wait 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 9:44 pm

      And I must admit, I am a bit of a tech person. I try not to spend too much money on it, though. It really can be a rabbit hole. It’s just fun to look at all the different ways there are to spend your money these days, in comparison to half a century ago 😉

  • Smart Provisions Feb 1, 2017, 5:36 pm

    I’ve never watched Mad Men before, but it’s pretty cool how you were able to tie in minimalist concepts with them.

    I’d definitely enjoy having a tea out in a park if there wasn’t so much I possess or things I have on my mind. It’s a much more simpler life when we don’t own much or need much.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 7:21 pm

      Well said. It’s not a fast or intense show like Breaking Bad or some of the other newer series, but it’s definitely good. I, obviously, highly recommend it. *Cheers!* to a simpler life!

  • Jai Catalano Feb 1, 2017, 2:38 pm

    I tried to watch the show a few times and could never get into it. Maybe after this post I should reconsider. It is amazing how much less expense they had back then and how much more we have now. Were books read more back then than now? Population has grown so we know intimate relationships weren’t necessarily better.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 2:55 pm

      I think the tech boom has something to do with how much we spend these days. Regardless of the reason, there is no disputing the amount of Things we can waste money on these days.

      You should definitely try to give it another go 🙂

  • youmeanme Feb 1, 2017, 1:50 pm

    Love this post! Mad Men is on my to watch list because I adore the style and glamour of the era.
    I also take a lot of lessons from the 1920s and Post WW2 Britian. I always love the books, styles and frugal guides from those times. Plus having people over to tea sounds glamorous but is a wonderfully frugal way to entertain!

  • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 11:24 am

    Reblogged this on Mad Money Monster and commented:

    In Case You Missed It…

  • Get Rich Quick'ish Feb 1, 2017, 10:34 am

    Never seen a single episode of Mad Men which is odd because (1) I think it looks cool and would probably like the show. (2) I work in marketing and spend a ton of my day at/with our creative/advertising agency. (3) I love that era. (4) My wife LOVES mid-century modern design as well.

    Now that you’ve managed to connect personal finance to the show I really have no reason not to watch 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 10:39 am

      You absolutely MUST watch the show. The set design, costumes, and acting is so good you feel like you’ve been transported to 1960s Manhattan with them. It’s simply amazing. One of the best things about it is that it seems modern at the same time. Go watch and report back. Now you have a great series to get you through the winter doldrums. You are welcome!

  • Brian Feb 1, 2017, 9:29 am

    Great post. With each new tech innovation, modern companies today are finding ways to get some incremental $ and make it easier to spend. Removing that ability (and temptation) is a surefire way to save a lot!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 10:18 am

      Thanks! I tried to mix it up today. Sometimes I get tired of talking about how much you can save on toilet paper. Ha! It is amazing how much little things can add up over years and decades. Who needs ALL the modern conveniences? I know I’ve been doing just fine without Amazon’s Echo. Although, it does seem cool 🙂

      • Brian Feb 1, 2017, 10:20 am

        It seemed cool, until I realized it has to be listening ALL THE TIME to work….

  • Erik @ The Mastermind Within Feb 1, 2017, 6:22 am

    Cool post! One thing I thought of that is kind of contradictory after reading your post: I don’t watch TV and I haven’t seen Mad Men. You are suggesting I become like “Mad Men” but also saying I should watch some Netflix 🙂 Mad Men didn’t have Netflix 🙂

    Anyway, all joking aside, I definitely love living like an older generation person. Give me a bed, a bathroom, and my books, and I will be happy.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2017, 7:03 am

      Damn it! I knew I didn’t think it through 😉 I’m glad you liked it!

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