‘Friends’ Fans Are Still Curious About the State of Monica Geller’s Finances

Generally speaking, shows that are set in New York City have one problem. Finances seldom make sense. Living a fabulous life in New York City takes a lot of money. Oftentimes, TV writers rely on tired tropes to explain how the characters of any given show can afford to enjoy Manhattan with almost no cash. Fans of Friends, however, have noticed a different type of financial plot hole. Monica Geller often lamented about having “no money,” but with a rent-controlled apartment, she shouldn’t have had any problem saving a ton of cash. 

How much did Monica and Rachel pay for rent?

Monica and Rachel Green’s West Village apartment is not something they could have technically afforded, even in the 1990s, and even with them both working. To explain how they scored such a spacious pad, the writers had Monica casually mention that the apartment they were living in was rent-controlled. The management believed Monica’s grandmother was residing in the unit. 

Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay strategize in an episode of 'Friends'
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Monica eventually mentioned the rent on the unit was just $200 per month. The bargain-basement pricing on her apartment suggested she and, even Rachel, should have had plenty of money to survive. After all, what would traditionally be a person’s biggest expense was just $100 per month. 

How much money would Monica have earned as a chef? 

When Friends opened, Monica was a sous chef working in one of Manhattan’s upscale eateries. While she was dealt a couple of career setbacks, she eventually worked as a head chef and a food critic. According to Indeed, the average sous chef today can expect to earn about $184 per day. Even if Monica made one-fourth of that figure in the 1990s, it would only take her a little more than two days of work to earn rent money.

Rachel Green and Monica Geller sit at their kitchen table in 'Friends'
Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller in ‘Friends’ | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

After working at a themed diner, Monica scored better jobs, until she started working as a head chef. Monica likely would have earned substantially less than $100,000 per year. With her sweet rent situation, she should have been able to afford her lifestyle without a problem, though.

Monica, ever organized, was apparently terrible with her money 

Fans wouldn’t have questioned Monica’s financial situation if she hadn’t mentioned being broke more than once during the show’s 10-season run. The first indication that Monica wasn’t financially stable came in the second season of the show. She revealed that she had no financial safety net. After being fired from her job for accepting a kickback, Monica told Ross that it was possible she “won’t be able to make rent.” 

Marcel, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller in Monica and Rachel's apartment
Marcel, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Without any savings to her name, she initially planned on asking her parent for money. Ross eventually lent her money. It was never explained why someone so organized and fastidious would have absolutely no savings. One Reddit user suggested that, perhaps, Monica had a substance abuse problem that was never mentioned on the show.