Some of the classic Christmas movies that dominate cable TV every winter provide some insights into personal finance that may be useful this time of year. Here are 6 examples of Christmas movies that teach us essential lessons about money.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Lucy’s character is financially savvy in this Christmas classic. She runs her own “Psychiatric Help” stand that Charlie Brown decides to visit. Once Charlie Brown pays her for her services, she revels in the sound of the nickel in a tin can. “Nickels, nickels, nickels. That beautiful sound of plinking nickels.” Clearly Lucy has learned the value of a hard-earned dollar (or, in this case, nickel). She’s only a child, but she is already aware of the benefits of working hard for what you earn. It’s never too early to start teaching children the value of money that has been earned and how to manage that money effectively.
2. Home Alone: Aside from the obvious lesson of not forgetting your child at home when you leave for a big trip, Home Alone also teaches us to have a plan of attack. Kevin McCallister is another prime example of a child who has wisdom beyond his years. Just as Kevin prepares an elaborate “battle plan” for the burglars targeting his home, it’s important to have a financial plan in place to help you meet goals, provide for your family, and prepare for anything unexpected along the way.
3. The Grinch: “You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage.” -The Grinch. Don’t waste money and precious time buying gifts that will end up sitting around or being thrown away. Find a creative way to subtly ask your friend or family member what they would want to receive. Take the time to learn more about their current interests or needs. When in doubt, give a gift card to a store you know they frequent. Better yet, make a 529 savings plan contribution for any children on your list instead of the usual Lego set that will inevitably collect dust!
4. Elf: Buddy the elf wants to meet his biological father, but is disappointed when he discovers that his dad is a “work-a-holic” who often misses out on critical time with his family due to his job. Finding a work-life balance that meets your needs is important. Having a successful career does not have to coincide with giving up your personal life and hobbies. Set aside specific times for working on career goals that don’t interfere with time set aside for your personal life.
5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: In this classic Christmas comedy, Clark Griswold puts a down payment on an in-ground pool that he can’t afford unless he gets a hefty bonus from his employer. When the bonus never arrives, he’s in a heap of trouble. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch – and don’t spend money you aren’t guaranteed to receive. Better yet, wait to spend money until it is safely in your bank account.
6. It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey, the owner of a local lending institution, is about to go out of business due to an unfortunate mishap. He wishes he had never existed. We learn one huge and important lesson in this movie: a person’s self-worth is not tied to their financial net worth. Money is an essential part of our society, but your sense of worth is healthier when it’s tied to family, friends, interests, or experiences rather than money alone.
Overall, these movies teach us to take a good look at our financial well-being, make a plan, and allow time for all of our other priorities in life. Kevin McAllistor’s “battle plan” might not be very helpful when it comes to your personal finances, but you can have a MASTERPLAN® created to give you a path forward in achieving your goals. Speak to a Hefren-Tillotson advisor today and ask about the MASTERPLAN® process.