As you watch your favorite Christmas movies this holiday season, keep your eye out for some personal finance lessons. December has historically been the highest month of the year for consumer spending, however, there are lessons that can be gleaned beyond sticking to your holiday budget. Here are five money lessons from popular Christmas movies to keep in mind this season.
Don’t Spend Your Money Before You Get It (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)
In this movie, Clark Griswold puts a down payment on a new swimming pool based on the holiday bonus he expects to receive. However, when bonus time comes around, Clark receives a one-year membership in a “Jelly of the Month” club instead of the cash he was expecting. This puts Clark in a tough place and leads to an uncomfortable Christmas encounter when his cousin Eddie kidnaps Clark’s boss. The lesson here is to not spend your bonus before you receive it.
The Benefits of an Optimistic Outlook (Elf)
In Elf, Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf, a human who was adopted by elves and raised at the North Pole. Buddy later learns that he is adopted and goes to find his biological father who lives in New York City. Despite facing trials, Buddy is eternally optimistic allowing him to always see the bright side of things. Investors could benefit from adopting some of Buddy’s optimism. When investing in the markets, there are always risks and headlines you could worry about. However, over the long-term, markets continue to climb in the face of these concerns. Those who take an optimistic view can participate in the growth of the stock market and reap the benefits.
It’s Not Too Late to Change Your Finance Habits (A Christmas Carol)
Ebenezer Scrooge has spent his life being greedy, rejecting charity, and taking advantage of others. On Christmas Eve, the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s former business partner, visits Scrooges and warns him to change his ways. After being visit by three Ghosts that evening, Scrooge has a change of heart. He sends a Christmas dinner to his employee’s house and gives him a raise. He also helps charity workers in London and joins his nephew Fred’s Christmas party, deciding to embody the spirit of Christmas going forward. The lesson here is that we can change money habits even if they are deeply engrained. That could be raising our savings rate, being increasingly charitable, or even spending more in retirement.
The Importance of Insurance (Home Alone)
In this film, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left at home when his family takes a Christmas trip to Paris. At the same time, criminals Harry and Marv have been targeting vacant homes in the neighborhood and have settled on the McCallister home for their next target. In an effort to protect the home from the bandits, Kevin boobytraps the house. During the break-in, this leads to significant damage to the home. Harry and Marv call themselves “the wet bandits” as their signature is leaving on the water at the houses they break in to. The resulting flooding could easily cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. The lesson here is to make sure you have appropriate home insurance in place and that the coverage is up to date. The key to insurance is to protect against high cost, low frequency risks, such as a break-in from Harry and Marv.
Real Wealth is More Than Material Possessions (It’s a Wonderful Life)
In this 1946 classic, George Bailey takes over his family’s savings and loan business. Due to some unfortunate events on Christmas Eve, it looks like George is going to lose his business and he is contemplating suicide. At that point, his guardian angel shows him the positive impact he has had on his town over the years and the lives he has saved. In the end, the townspeople come to George’s aid, saving his business. The lesson here is that real wealth is more than material possessions. George had used what he had to benefit the town and in turn, had developed relationships with people who were there to help him when he was down on his luck.
These are just a few lessons from some of your favorite Christmas movies. As we go through the holiday season, we believe your first priority should be enjoying this time with friends and family. However, it can also be a good time to look at your finances and see if there is anything you want to change going into the new year. If you are looking over your finances this holiday season and would like a financial planner to review your situation, please schedule a call with us here.
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