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10 Important Money Lessons These Hollywood Blockbusters Teach You

10 Important Money Lessons These Hollywood Blockbusters Teach You

Movies aren’t just fun distractions. The good ones can pass on wonderful wisdom about our own lives. The great ones can change the way we exist from day to day, including the way we spend our cash.

Here are 10 major Hollywood movies and the money lessons they’ve taught us about good old greenbacks. Spoiler alerts and wonderful wisdom ahead!

1. The Money Pit

The-money-pit

    What’s more surprising than the fact that this 1986 movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long is nearly 30 years old, is the fact that Steven Spielberg produced the box office smash. The main characters become the victims of scammers who con them into buying a house that starts to fall apart the second they move in. Due to the large and increasing amounts of money it takes to repair the home, the residence is dubbed a “money pit”.

    Lesson learned: Don’t fall for slick stories from desperate home sellers, and make sure to estimate your real remodeling expenses prior to signing any contracts or getting any work done on your McMansion. Like a quote from the movie states, “Just because they showed up to collect the money is no guarantee that they’ll show up to do the work.”

    2. The Wolf of Wall Street

    leo-money

      If there is one thing I learned from experiencing the thrilling body of work that is The Wolf of Wall Street is that men like stuff. Fancy stuff. The kind of Ferrari 458 Speciale cars and “ocean kitchen” fish tanks that they lust over on Fatal Dose. In this 2013 film based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, a man who parlays his selling skills into a new wife and wild life as a wealthy stockbroker, we learn that women like stuff, too. However, coveting all that cash doesn’t pan out as planned.

      “You show me a pay stub, I’ll quit my job right now,” Donnie Azoff tells Jordan, proving all that glitters isn’t gold when you don’t truly investigate the source of the riches–and whether or not it lines up with sleeping well at night.

      Lesson learned: Lying to achieve lots of money and buying copious amounts of drugs with our riches isn’t the way to go. Gaining funds by any means necessary is what led Jordan straight to prison and divorce court.

      3. Bridesmaids

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      bridesmaids

        The 2011 comedy starring Kristen Wiig was hilarious, and also quite unique in the way that it showed how income levels can bond or break apart friends. As the film opens, (after that kooky scene with Jon Hamms’ lusty Lothario persona) main character Annie hangs out with her best friend Lillian–played by Maya Rudolph–and they share in the camaraderie of being broke by getting kicked out of their bootcamp class.

        When Lillian’s impending wedding brings a wealthy woman named Helen into her life, who attempts to buy her friendship away from Annie, the true test of how people might react to “friends with financial benefits” comes to light.

        “Help me, I’m poor,” Annie admits during a memorable scene on the plane.

        Lessons learned: The monetary morals uncovered in Bridesmaids are threefold: Don’t let folks buy your love; don’t go crazy trying to purchase expensive decorations you can’t afford when cute, affordable wedding fare sits at our fingertips; and never let a disparity in salaries cause you to drop your bestie. After all, Oprah and Gayle figured it out.

        4. Casino

        casino

          The work of brilliance that is Casino, a feature film directed by Martin Scorsese, puts forth a plethora of gems about money–not the least of which being that you should never marry for wealth, only for love.

          The 1995 movie was based on the non-fiction book by Nicholas Pileggi, whose Sam “Ace” Rothstein counterpart was played by Robert DeNiro. When Ace proposes marriage to a Las Vegas hustler, Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), she honestly confesses that she’s not the marrying kind.

          “You’ve got the wrong girl, Sam.” Ginger’s intended should have listened. Instead of accepting the truth that she just doesn’t love him, Sam urges her to “learn to love,” and promises to take care of her monetarily.

          Lesson learned: That fiasco of a marriage-for-the-money taught us that the heart may want what the heart wants, but nuptials shouldn’t become business deals.

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          5. The Great Gatsby

          gatsby

            When I used to read reviews about the classic 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, I didn’t understand all the hoopla. It wasn’t until I soaked up the 2013 movie of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire that I truly began to realize the exquisite nature of the storyline.

            Once again, here was a millionaire–Jay Gatsby–at the center of the Roaring Twenties, a time of revelry before the stock market crash of 1929.

            “The truth is I’m penniless,” Gatsby had previously confessed to Daisy via letter, and her rejection of him made the main character vow to win both massive amounts of wealth and the woman he loved.

            Lessons learned: In addition to teachings about Gatsby not being able to pay for the affections of the woman named Daisy that he loved and lost twice in his life, we also realize that when times are good, it’s best to save for a rainy economy. Plus, that all-important line about having plenty of friends when you’re rich is also apropos.

            6. Sunset Boulevard

              In the classic Sunset Boulevard, on-screen Hollywood writer, Joe Gillis, is a starving artist down to his last nickels–literally–when he meets the older and wealthier Norma Desmond.

              “Waiting, waiting for the gravy train” is how Joe describes his status with all the other writers hanging out at Schwab’s Drug Store looking for their big breaks.

              After Norma dangles herself, plus her dilapidating mansion and career, in front of his face, Joe takes the bait. However, he shouldn’t have fallen for the trap because it would end up being the same place of his death. When he tries to leave to spend his life with the woman he really loves, Norma shoots him dead.

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              Lesson learned: If you sell your soul to hang out with someone you normally wouldn’t befriend just because they have money, be prepared for them to exert unnatural (and perhaps nefarious) control over your life.

              7. The Passion of the Christ

              passion-of-the-Christ

                In The Passion of the Christ, Judas Iscariot receives 30 pieces of silver in order to tell enemies the whereabouts of Jesus, but he didn’t realize that blood money was the worst kind of money around. When Judas tried to give it back, the church leaders wouldn’t take it because, ironically, they reasoned that they couldn’t have blood money in their coffers.

                I have sinned, betrayed innocent blood,” the one doomed to destruction realized, but it was too late.

                Lesson learned: A life is worth much more than money.

                8. It Could Happen to You

                It Could Happen to You

                  The romantic 1994 dramady, It Could Happen to You, featured Nicolas Cage as Charlie Lang and Bridget Fonda as Yvonne Biasai–a cop and waitress, respectively–who end up falling in love after winning a lottery jackpot together.

                  The complications arise when Charlie’s wife Muriel (played with annoying brilliance by Rosie Perez) goes crazy spending the bulk of the funds as Charlie and Yvonne have fun doling it out through more altruistic means.

                  Lessons learned: Money doesn’t make you. Getting lots of money only magnifies who you already are inside. Money amplified Charlie and Yvonne’s giving spirits while it also brought out the ugliness of greed in Muriel’s philosophy.

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                  9. Moneyball

                  moneyball

                    The 2011 film Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt as the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, reminds us that gaining income can be a matter of changing the way we think after he uses scant resources and a computer-based algorithm to put together a successful team.

                    Lesson learned: Money is mental. Billy shows us that thinking differently about baseball statistics, or any aspect of our lives, can truly bring wealth and riches because our paradigm isn’t like others. It works because he approached the game along with his business partner in a manner that no one was accomplishing at that time.

                    10. 12 Years a Slave

                    12-years-a-slave

                      The greed of the slave masters as displayed in12 Years a Slave, the 2013 film based on the real-life 1853 book of the same name, is what stands out as the biggest monetary lesson learned therein. In the shadows of the Capital Building, free man Solomon Northrup is kept in a slave pen until he is transported south near New Orleans, where he suffers unspeakable horrors along with the other slaves, all because the slave masters want to enjoy the income that their fieldhands and servants provide through hours and hours of hard labor. In the end there is proof that taking advantage of others for your own material gain does not pay.

                      Lesson learned: Greed is bad. Very bad.

                      Featured photo credit: 12 Years a Slave 02/newstatesman.com via newstatesman.com

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                      Published on May 7, 2019

                      How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

                      How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

                      When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

                      Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

                      Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

                      You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

                      Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

                      1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

                      Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

                      But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

                      • Will you spend more time with your family?
                      • What does retirement mean to you?
                      • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

                      Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

                      Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

                      2. Figure out When to Invest

                      “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

                      It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

                      The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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                      A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

                      Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

                      3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

                      Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

                      Why?

                      Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

                      Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

                      Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

                      Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

                      4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

                      Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

                      If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

                      You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

                      1. Vanguard
                      2. TD Ameritrade
                      3. Charles Schwab

                      5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

                      Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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                      Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

                      That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

                      Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

                      A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

                      6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

                      The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

                      Robo Advisors

                      Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

                      Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

                      Bonds

                      Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

                      Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

                      Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

                      1. Treasury bonds
                      2. Government bonds
                      3. Corporate bonds
                      4. Foreign bonds
                      5. Mortgage-backed bonds
                      6. Municipal bonds

                      Mutual Funds

                      Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

                      One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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                      Real Estate

                      Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

                      Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

                      This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

                      But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

                      Savings Accounts

                      Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

                      7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

                      Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

                      So how can you master delayed gratification?

                      By building your discipline.

                      Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

                      Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

                      8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

                      I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

                      It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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                      More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

                      But, how can you invest yourself?

                      Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

                      Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

                      But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

                      Retire Happy with Excess Money

                      The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

                      It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

                      I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

                      Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

                      One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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                      Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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