Three money lessons we can learn from Nancy Wheeler of 'Stranger Things’

Seek out knowledge, take action and stay true to your values to achieve financial wellness

Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler in 'Stranger Things'. Just as Nancy’s perpetual curiosity leads to answers in the series, personal finance issues are sometimes like a puzzle that needs a solution. Photo: Netflix
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Stranger Things is a Netflix favourite, but what does the retro science fiction series have in common with personal finance?

Look no further than underrated heroine Nancy Wheeler, a feminist icon whose character also teaches us three important personal finance lessons. Beware of spoilers within.

Be insatiably curious

Nancy is portrayed as highly intelligent and inquisitive in Stranger Things. She plays a substantial role in uncovering the mysteries of Hawkins and the Upside Down.

She discovers that it is a Demogorgon that kills her best friend Barb in Season 1. She exposes Hawkins Lab, getting it shut down for illegal chemical use and, in Season 3, she is given the apt nickname “Nancy Drew” by her co-workers at the Hawkins Post.

As she continues to showcase her journalistic skills in Season 4, Nancy connects Vecna to Victor Creel, culminating in Vecna choosing her to reveal his story.

Just as Nancy’s perpetual curiosity leads to answers, personal finance issues are sometimes like a puzzle that needs a solution. Often, the way to solve the mystery of money is to read and research from different angles.

If you want to know how to build wealth, the answers are out there in books, blogs and spoken about in conversations on podcasts.

If becoming a millionaire is what you desire, seek out some millionaires and ask them how they did it.

Many people feel stuck with their money problems, but that isn’t the case. If you feel trapped with a money issue, ask yourself: what would Nancy Wheeler do?

Take action

As well as a talented journalist, Nancy is depicted as a courageous fighter. From shooting at a possessed Billy hurtling towards her in a car to entering the Upside Down to defeat Vecna, Nancy is endlessly brave.

The key to Nancy’s success is that she seeks knowledge, then takes some action before fear and indecision can set in, followed by iterating and planning thoroughly to complete the task at hand.

In Season 1, for instance, she and Jonathan head out into the woods and she accidentally enters the Upside Down, narrowly escaping a Demogorgon.

After learning about her opponent, Nancy prepares with various weapons and traps, finally taking it down at the Byers’ residence.

In terms of personal finance, there are many people who have the financial knowledge to budget, manage and invest money effectively, but do not apply the knowledge.

If you are one of those people, maybe it’s fear or insecurity that holds you back. Perhaps indecision has you frozen into inaction.

Stranger Things cast then and now — in pictures

The key to improving your finances is to act, even if it’s only a small step.

Open an account, start a side hustle, create a budget — whatever it is that you know will improve your finances, take a small step in that direction.

Defy expectations

People in Hawkins have certain expectations of Nancy. She is described as a “priss” and other characters assume that she will follow in the suburban footsteps of her parents, leading a stereotypical nuclear family lifestyle.

Although her character is young and still figuring out what she wants, she repeatedly chooses to believe in herself.

She pursues the case of Mrs Driscoll despite derogatory taunts and researches Victor Creel even though police officers assure her that he has no link to the murder of Chrissy Cunningham.

Her role in Stranger Things is so integral that if Nancy folded to other people’s opinions and expectations, the plot would be stalled.

A lesson we can take from Nancy’s character is that success, well-being and happiness often emerge when we reject traditional stereotypical ideas and instead choose our own values.

This rings true in the world of personal finance — to keep up with your neighbours’ and society’s expectations often means living beyond your means: a new car, large house, designer clothes and more.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things if you genuinely value them and you aren’t stretching your money too far to acquire them. That only leads to stress and unhappiness.

The path to financial well-being begins with being confident and true to yourself, even if that means defying other people’s expectations.

Even though Nancy Wheeler is a fictional character in a 1980s science fiction series, she has wisdom to impart.

To succeed on the path to financial wellness, seek out knowledge, act despite feeling scared (at least you aren’t battling a Demogorgon) and stay true to your values.

Alison Soltani is the founder of

Updated: September 05, 2022, 6:05 AM