Hollywood’s biggest night of the year celebrating everything film is almost here, yes we’re talking the Oscars. And whilst everyone may be waiting on tender hooks to find out whether Leonardo finally takes home the golden statuette, we’re reflecting on what wisdom can be gained from some of Hollywood’s most popular movies. Regardless of genre all you have to do is look a bit closer and many can teach us some valuable financial lessons.
Here’s what these films taught us about money (potential spoiler alerts if you have seen any of these!):
1. Catch Me If You Can
Lesson: Abagnale uses forged cheques to scam millions and although cheques may not be in as much use since the introduction of chip and pin and contactless cards the film highlights the important issue of identity fraud. With new ways of payment technology and the rise of social media it’s vital to protect your identity by using strong passwords and keeping an eye out for unusual activity on your accounts.
2. The Money Pit
Tom Hanks and Shelley Long star in this romcom about a couple who rush into buying their dream home on the cheap. However it starts to fall apart the minute they move in and end up having to pour their money into expensive renovations.
Lesson: If you’re a first-time buyer or are considering buying a new home ensure you do your research. Read up on the homebuying process and find out as much as you can about the property before you sign the dotted line. If you’re still sceptical you can get a homebuyer survey done which provides expert guidance on the condition of a property, the Money Advice Service provides a great guide on picking the right one. Consider what you can afford but don’t buy a property because the price is low if you can’t afford to repair it.
3. Pursuit of Happyness
Salesman and single father Chris Gardner struggles with homelessness and finding a job when he loses his family’s savings. Although he finds a job that pays no money he doesn’t give up in his pursuit to build a better life for himself and his son.
Lesson: Always save for a rainy day because you never know what life may bring. Having a fund for life’s unexpected emergencies means you’re financially prepared should anything go wrong. This means you won’t be stuck for cash if your boiler breaks down or there’s a sudden loss in household income. Save a little every month in a separate account to avoid the temptation of spending it.
4. Wolf of Wall Street
A classic tale of financial fraud, Leonardo Di Caprio plays Jordan Belfort a stockbroker living the high life but subsequently gets involved in crime, drugs and corruption. He scams clients into buying terrible stocks by promising unrealistic profits.
Lesson: Beware of scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When making important financial decisions, especially those involving a considerable amount of money, get advice from experts and trusted sources. And that’s not the only financial lesson. Investors must remember stocks can go down as well as up.
This film is about an Oakland Athletics baseball manager who attempts to put together a successful baseball team on a tight budget. Using computer generated analysis he recruits new undervalued players and goes on to win games whilst saving money.
Lesson: Live within your means and budget carefully. Plan a realistic budget accounting for essential bills and expenses first before luxuries such as holidays and ensure your outgoings don’t exceed your incomings. A budget may not be easy to stick to but it is worth it, especially if it means avoiding getting into too much debt. Check out this budget planner from Money Saving Expert.
6. Star Wars
Now, we don’t need to explain the whole Star Wars saga to you (incase you are interested just do a quick Google or ask someone in the office) but there are a few stand out money lessons to be taken away from the films. If you remember young Luke Skywalker and his Uncle Owen had to bargain with the Jawas on used droid prices and incidentally acquired R2D2 as a replacement when one of the droid’s they selected blew up.
Lesson: You won’t know unless you ask so it’s worth negotiating a better deal, be it your gas and electricity, price of a new home or your salary, it can help your money go further.
Episode 4 sees Han Solo haunted by his debt owed to crime boss Jabba the Hut and eventually pays a higher price when he’s captured and frozen by bounty hunter Boba Fett.
Lesson: Ensure you pay off your debts as the longer you leave them the more interest will accumulate and you’ll end up paying a lot more than what you’d borrowed. Plus, you may also be charged for penalties. A good tip for credit card debt is to try to pay them off at the end of every month to avoid interest charges.
Movies, as much as they are entertaining can teach us a thing or two about being more responsible with our money and putting ourselves in the best financial position. So take what you can from them and let the Han Solo’s and Jordan Belfort’s make the financial mistakes so you don’t have to.