It’s that time of year again: when Kevin McCallister lives out every kid’s dream of setting traps for burglars all throughout the house and “staying up” much past bedtime. It’s the glorious snow-covered season where families crowd around the TV to watch Clark Griswold’s excessive Christmas tendencies.
Classic holiday movies are favourites among both young and hold – and they impart the lesson that the holidays are about more than giving and receiving presents.
So, in honour of this festive TV season, here are a few pieces of money wisdom from the holiday classics. Feel free to share your own in the comments section below.
A Christmas Story (1983): Learn From The Pros
In this classic tale, Ralphie wants a Red Rider BB gun more than anything. He begs his parents and fantasizes about the life-changing implications of being the kid with BB gun. But his parents, teacher and even Santa himself all warn Ralphie he’ll “shoot his eye out.”
His persistence pays off and he finally gets his gun. The result – he almost shoots his eye out.
The takeaway: Although persistence is key for accomplishing your financial goals, sometimes you need to invest some time in chatting with a financial advisor or someone who has a more sophisticated understanding of finances than you.
Elf (2003): Keep Your Eye On The Prize
When Buddy the Elf finds out his dad lives in New York City, he goes on an adventure to find him. Despite dealing with grouchy New Yorkers, Buddy keeps a positive attitude.
The takeaway: In addition to the obvious lesson that maple syrup is good on everything, Elf can teach you that when dealing with adversity or financial difficulty having a positive attitude is the right way to go.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Save For A Rainy Day
Between running his business and managing the needs of his family, George Bailey’s life is a constant balancing act. After a poor financial decision jeopardizes his business, George contemplates suicide. An angel shows him the world without him and he reconsiders.
In the end his friends and family have banded together to help save the business.
The takeaway: A little DIY never hurt anyone – in tough economic times you can save money by being resourceful. In the film George’s wife, buys a fixer-upper and makes repairs while she’s raising the family. Also, have an emergency fund – you never know when Uncle Billy’s unpredictability will show up.
Home Alone (1990): Invest In Home Security
When eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home by his family as they leave for vacation, he is living every kid’s dream – unfettered access to all the things normally reserved for adults. That is, until his house becomes the target of the nefarious Wet Bandits and li’l Kev has to booby trap the place. Uh oh!
The takeaway: The lesson here is obvious. There are a ton of creative cost-effective home security methods you can use to protect your home while you’re away over the holidays. Sure, you could always hang a scalding hot iron on a rope or place broken glass under your windows – but upgrading locks, keeping your shrubs around your windows trimmed, putting lights on timers and having your neighbour check your house, put out your garbage and pick up mail are probably more efficient.
Christmas Vacation (1989):Track Your Spending
Clark Griswold is a pillar of economic miscalculation and misfortune. Throughout the course of the movie he bungles up pretty much every situation he faces, whether it’s overreaching with Christmas lights, buying a tree with a squirrel in it, or misjudging the speed of his toboggan, a well-meaning Clark repeatedly lets his unfounded ambition create challenges for himself.
The takeaway: For starters, don’t spend money you don’t have. Clark has already put a downpayment on a pool when he realizes the year’s holiday bonus is actually enrollment in a jelly club. Another prime lesson is to keep track of your spending. When he’s stuck in the attic, Clark stumbles on some hidden presents he forgot about over the years. If he’d have kept track of spending the money he might have realized he’d left presents hidden.