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How to Earn Money Fast… With Help from The Golden Girls

Updated on July 14, 2012
The Golden Girls shared a home in Miami from 1985-1992 on NBC.
The Golden Girls shared a home in Miami from 1985-1992 on NBC. | Source

Dorothy: Ma, I cannot believe it. All these years you've been hoarding away all this money!
Sophia: Dorothy, please. That money is for my old age.
Dorothy: OLD AGE? Ma, you don't leave fingerprints anymore!

Let Them Eat Cheesecake

Whatever happened to good ol' American retirement? Lately, factors such as longer life expectancies, sickening health care costs and falling property values are combining to foil millions of people’s retirement plans. Creating extra sources of income is more appealing than ever.

The Golden Girls live in another time and place: 1985 to 1992 in the NBC universe. Still, they're no strangers to scrambling for cash through extra work, contests and the occasional scam.

Here I briefly introduce each Golden Girl and her financial situation. Then I share some of Sophia Petrillo's moneymaking scams involving bottled garden hose water, a prizefighter and potato sandwiches. I conclude with video of the foursome's more laudable efforts to amass extra funds.

Blanche and Rose meet for the first time.
Blanche and Rose meet for the first time. | Source
Dorothy, Stan, and Stan's toupee
Dorothy, Stan, and Stan's toupee | Source

Picture It: Miami, 1985

A common need for affordable housing leads "the girls" to become companions. Here's a brief overview of their economic situations as The Golden Girls begins:

  • Blanche Devereaux advertises rooms for rent to help maintain her lifestyle. Although she has a privileged background, she says that she never had a head for investments. She is widowed and works as a personal assistant at the Miami Art Museum.
  • Dorothy Zbornak has been abandoned by Stan, an unsuccessful novelty salesman, after 38 years of marriage. Did Stanley have a head for numbers? No, says Dorothy. "The man had to get naked to count to 21." Dorothy works as a substitute teacher in Miami high schools.
  • Rose Nylund is a recent widow. Her beloved Charlie had managed money poorly. Rose works as a grief counselor.
  • Sophia Petrillo, who is Dorothy's mother, joins the household when a fire at the Shady Pines Retirement Home leaves her homeless. She counts on Social Security income, Medicare, and money from her children.

Together the women maintain a relatively secure lifestyle over the next seven years. They have a lovely home, good health, a stocked refrigerator, and up-to-date career clothing complete with 1980s shoulderpads. Still, on plenty of occasions the Golden Girls want or need an extra pile of cash.

Sophia's Bottled Water Business Pitch

"Move over Perrier, Petrillo water is on the way! I know what you’re going to say: This is another of my get-rich-quick schemes. Well this one’s different. I’ve been working on this since noon! You can’t lose. It’s a rip-off, pure and simple!"

Sophia's Moneymaking Schemes

Sophia Petrillo is the queen of moneymaking ideas -- and she isn't above dirty business practices. Credit her mafia family history:

Sophia: Dorothy, you threw a priest out of the house! You disgust me.
Dorothy: Ma, you have relatives who've thrown priests out of windows!
Sophia: That was business.

Sophia attempted serious health insurance fraud with Stan Zbornak. She also proposed selling bottled garden hose water to tourists. Usually though, her moneymaking ideas leave her less vulnerable to a jury trial. Here are some fun memories of Sophia's endeavors.

Sophia Petrillo calculates profit potential for her sandwich business.
Sophia Petrillo calculates profit potential for her sandwich business. | Source
Rose: Shouldn't we have dry ice to keep these cold until lunchtime?  Sophia: Are you crazy? We should charge extra for a hot lunch!
Rose: Shouldn't we have dry ice to keep these cold until lunchtime? Sophia: Are you crazy? We should charge extra for a hot lunch! | Source

The Sandwich Shop

In Season 2 of The Golden Girls , Sophia recruits Rose to sell bacon, lettuce and potato sandwiches at a construction site. Bacon, lettuce and potato? She instructs Rose to "peddle the slop" by saying the sandwich name very quickly. She demonstrates: "Baconlettucepotato. Baconlettucepotato."

However, Sophia isn't the only lunch vendor at the construction site. A gentleman known as Johnny No-Thumbs sells pastrami sandwiches. Rose and Sophia leave home before sunrise to claim his territory. Dorothy dislikes this idea.

Dorothy: Ma, you are trying to muscle in on a guy named Johnny No-Thumbs? He's probably connected with the mob!

Sophia: Relax. If they liked him, he'd still have his thumbs.

When Johnny No-Thumbs sends his agents to threaten Sophia, she responds Sicilian-style: She addresses a letter to Johnny No-Knees. Johnny has a sudden change of heart and wishes the women well.

Even so, Sophia abandons her sandwich business because she isn't seeing the profits she'd expected. Apparently it's not always about location, location, location. Potato sandwiches just don't sell -- regardless of where you set up shop.

Sophia Buys a Prizefighter

The Prizefighter

The next year, the four Golden Girls plan to share a sensible investment: a CD at the local bank. Sophia heads off to the bank with their $3000 savings but is distracted along the way. "I made a very shrewd deal with a guy I met at the bus stop."

She invested the money in a Cuban boxer named Kid Pepe. Sophia tells the girls that "This is the chance of a lifetime! Even if Pepe loses next week's fight, he still gets $10,000... Pepe gets the standard 20% and we're left with a tidy sum for only one week's work!"

Blanche looks skeptical. "So 20% standard for a boxer?"

"It is if he doesn't speak English." Hence the scam.

But who ends up losing? Watch Season 4, Episode 18 of The Golden Girls ("Fiddler on the Ropes") to learn why rolling your CD investment into a prizefighter isn't necessarily the best retirement plan.

The Girls Prepare 300 Chicken Dinners

The Golden Girls' Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

Sophia isn't always the ringleader of moneymaking schemes. When she proposes selling hose water to tourists, Dorothy asks, "Ma, when are you gonna learn that these moneymaking gimmicks of yours never work?" Sophia responds that she's not the only one with big dreams. "I remember a time when we all thought catering was the ticket!"

The Golden Girls' Catering Business

The Golden Girls launch Miami Moms Catering and land a job as wedding consultants. This leads to their investment in 300 chicken dinners. Unfortunately, the bride and groom elope, leaving "the girls" broke and with excessive amounts of chicken. Learn from the Golden Girls (Season 3, Episode 2): When catering a wedding, get payment up front.

Rose & Dorothy Enter a Song Contest

"Miami Is Nice"

Rose [singing]: Miami is nice, so I'll say it thrice...
Dorothy: Thrice, Rose? Who the hell says thrice?!
Rose: It's a word...
Dorothy: So is intra-uterine, but you don't put that in a song.
Rose [singing]: Miami, you are cuter than, an intra-uterine...


Contests are another way that the women pursue money. For example, Dorothy and Rose put their talents to work in a $10,000 songwriting contest for Miami retailers (Season 2, Episode 6). What happens?

Dorothy: We came in second.

Blanche: What'd you get?

Dorothy: Treated badly.

Still, the women enjoyed their collaborative "Simon and Garfunkel" experience and are proud of their catchy tune.

The songwriting contest lacked the tension of another competition they enter: the ballroom dance marathon. A $1000 grand prize is available and Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose are each determined to win. Blanche, for one, wants the money because of her desperate need for medical attention: "If I don't buy a new fall wardrobe, I'll never land myself a doctor."

Each woman dances brilliantly and endures for more than 13 hours. At last, a Golden Girl wins! Blanche is kind enough to share her winnings. Says Dorothy, "With my $10 I bought a can opener I'd been wanting."

Rose Nylund's Amazing Dance (OK, With a Stunt Double)

Conclusion: More Moneymaking Ideas with The Golden Girls

There's no shortage of Golden Girls adventures showing how to make money fast -- or how not to. Other memorable get-rich-quick ideas adventures include:

  • Playing the lottery,
  • Breeding mink,
  • Opening a restaurant on the boardwalk,
  • Caring for a large pig "with breath like burning tires" to enjoy its $100,000 inheritance, and
  • Investing in art immediately before the artist dies.

What have I forgotten? Share your favorite Golden Girls moneymaking ideas below.

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    • SantaCruz profile image

      SantaCruz 5 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Mizjo, thanks for that thoughtful comment! I like your point about living with other people, and not necessarily family, when we are older. Many of us worry that we'll be widowed or maybe won't ever marry. This show suggests that even if that happens, life can be good. :-)

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      I relate so much with the Golden Girls because they're of my era; we share a lot of ideas, about living, morality, fun, managing money, relationships, and of course giving and taking. I miss all those ladies so much. It's so sad that only one of them is still living, the lovely Rose, Betty White.

      I think they had the right idea, of sharing a house. There are so many

      reasons for older people to not live alone, the top one being that the stimulation of other people keeps one's brain from becoming mush.

      Well, echoing KKG above, 'thanks for the memories'.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I loved that show. I'm with you about the Rose stories. I agree all of us have a little bit of each in us. Thanks for the memories.

    • FalconSays profile image

      Karen S Falcon 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Awww, I love the Golden Girls!

    • SantaCruz profile image

      SantaCruz 5 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Rose stories are the best! And I like the dessert she makes where you need to pinch your nose.

      I think I'm a Dorothy. But then again, a Rose. And aren't we all a bit Blanchey and someday Sophias? Hm.

    • SantaCruz profile image

      SantaCruz 5 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Happy to be bringing smiles! If you're like me, you've seen every Golden Girls episode enough times to be a stand-in. What then? You can see more of The Golden Girls, sort of, by watching The Golden Palace. That's with the same characters. There's also a Spanish remake of the show entitled Las Chicas de Oro. I watched one episode on YouTube and it was a re-do of the episode where their house is robbed and Spanish Rose freaks out. Here's an intro about the series in Spanish:

    • profile image

      cristina 5 years ago

      I enjoyed a look s back at the classic "Golden Girls", it put a smile on my face!

    • profile image

      ksinll 5 years ago

      I'm a Rose girl all the way. I totally miss that show.

    • SantaCruz profile image

      SantaCruz 5 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Thanks, drspaniel! I thought that line deserved bold text!

    • drspaniel profile image

      drspaniel 5 years ago from Somewhere, where the sun shines once a year...

      Interesting Hub! I love the joke for one of the "Golden Girls" in there. "He had to get naked to count to 21". That really made my day that much brighter! Thank you.