Most people go to the movies to escape from it all, but if you watch carefully, you can find real-life lessons about your finances on the big screen. If you’re tired of stressing about your bank account, try these 10 enjoyable ways to absorb some seriously good money lessons the easy way.
Kristen Wiig is a dedicated – but broke – friend who ends up spending way more money than she should as the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding. The group of hilarious women in this film are a true-to-life cross-section of your own friends, all with different financial goals and needs.
The lesson: Be honest about what you can spend on extras when you go out with friends, and negotiate your price range first – before you end up with a bill you can’t pay.
‘A Christmas Carol’
No matter which movie version you prefer, the story’s the same: Ebenezer Scrooge hoards his money and is universally loathed by his neighbors and coworkers. When he learns to give his money away to help others, he finally finds happiness.
The lesson: Saving money is important, but it isn’t everything. Make room in your financial plan to give back to others, and you’ll reap the rewards.
‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’
In this romantic comedy, writer Becky Bloomwood lands a job as a financial advice columnist – but she secretly nurses her way through any disappointment by overdosing on retail therapy. Her mounting credit card debt threatens to ruin her career along with her credit score until she starts to heed her own advice.
The lesson: Be careful with credit cards, especially when you’re just starting out. A shopping spree can provide a quick rush, but debt can be deadly for your financial well-being.
‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’
This musical from the 1960s depicts a lowly window-washer on his climb up the corporate ladder. With the help of a business manual, he earns a series of promotions – but once he’s gone as far as the advice in the book allows, he needs to use his own wits to save the company.
The lesson: Put yourself out there to rise through the ranks at work, but don’t be afraid to get creative when there’s a problem to solve in your business.
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
In this Christmas classic, everyman George Bailey contemplates suicide so his life insurance will cover his uncle’s financial error in the family business. His friends save the day by bailing him out in gratitude for all he’s done for them over the years.
The lesson: When you put people first in your business, you gain a very loyal customer base. Also, make sure any relatives you hire are competent at their jobs!
‘The Money Pit’
This screwball comedy features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as a couple who buys their dream home in the suburbs – only to discover that it’s literally falling down around them as they work to renovate it.
The lesson: Always get a home inspector to do a detailed report before you buy property, or you could be making the world’s worst investment.
A cult classic, this is the ultimate movie about working as a desk jockey at a soulless corporation, where absurdity abounds in the hierarchy. When the protagonist Peter’s friends are laid off, they hatch a plan to embezzle funds to get even.
The lesson: If you hate your job enough to turn to a life a crime, it’s time to find another career. Just because society thinks a desk job is better than working with your hands doesn’t mean you have to listen.
‘The Social Network’
This drama depicts the early days of Facebook and explores the lawsuit alleging that Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from the Winklevoss twins while at Harvard University. Broken trust and dashed relationships ensue.
The lesson: If you have a great idea for a startup, research and protect your intellectual property rights from the beginning, and make sure you have clear contracts in place – especially when working with friends.
When a down-on-her-luck single mother suddenly needs to send her son to private school, she starts her own cleaning business. It’s distinctly unglamorous work – including hazardous waste removal and cleaning up crime scenes – but her hard work eventually pays off.
The lesson: Becoming your own boss isn’t always romantic, and entrepreneurial success doesn’t come overnight. You’ll have to stick to it, even when it isn’t any fun, if you want to prosper.
Infamous mob boss Al Capone and his organized crime ring wreak havoc on Prohibition-era Chicago. Eliot Ness and the FBI can’t stop the murder, bootlegging and rampant corruption until they nab the kingpin on tax evasion.
The lesson: Always pay your taxes! It’s fine to maximize your deductions, but the IRS doesn’t play games when it comes to auditing people for cheating on their taxes.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable way to reinforce a financial lesson that you’re working on, load up one of these great movies for an enjoyable tutorial. Who knows? Maybe they’ll point you in the right direction for that financial goal or New Year’s resolution you’ve had your eye on. And for more financial tips, subscribe to the Zing Blog today.
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