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Downton Abbey Illustrates Women’s Need for Financial Literacy

thThe final episode of “Downton Abbey” Season 5 aired earlier this month in the U.S. and in “Lessons from Downton Abbey about women and money,” PBS.org outlines that while much as changed since the early 20th century, women still have a long way to go to in achieving financial literacy on par with men.

According to the article, “Financial literacy is acquired informally — from our parents, our peers and through our work and relationships.” PBS.org cites studies that show that even though women of today are more likely to be college-educated than ever before they still fall behind men in financial literacy in the United States and other industrialized nations. And the research cited found that this is true for women whether they are married or not.

While there is plenty of educational material on finances, many people witness financial scenarios play out in the lives of those around them and on TV. We have discussed the financial lessons that can be gathered from a number of television shows, including estate planning issues on “Downton Abbey.”

In Season 5, the women of “Downton Abbey” are facing their financial futures with varying levels of confidence. The older cook on the show’s titular estate gets an inheritance and lacks confidence in her decision-making capability but turns to an inexperienced man for advice until she is steered elsewhere. The housekeeper suggests that instead of assuming that the butler, an authority on household matters, would give suitable advice, the cook ask a man who has more experience outside of the insular world of the estate. The younger assistant cook seeks to build her confidence by continuing her studies so she can move beyond her current situation. Meanwhile, that same butler asks the housekeeper to consider purchasing a property with him in retirement.

The women of the wealthy family the servants assist have money matters to consider too. One of them has become increasingly vocal in decisions about how to ensure the estate exists for future generations. Another has inherited a business but may be neglecting it because she is focused on motherhood.