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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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                      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

                      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

                      Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

                      Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

                      Identifying All of Your Debts

                      The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

                      Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

                      1. Own Your Debt

                      Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

                      Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

                      2. Make a Debt Tracker

                      It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

                      Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

                      3. Get Your Debt Number

                      Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

                      Prioritizing Your Debts

                      All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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                      1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

                      Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

                      There are three main types of bad debt:

                      • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
                      • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
                      • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

                      Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

                      • Student Loan Debt
                      • Mortgage Loan
                      • Business Loans

                      2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

                      Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

                      Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

                      If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

                      3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

                      Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

                      Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

                      Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

                      1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

                      “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

                      It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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                      Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

                      Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

                      2. Hide Your Credit Cards

                      If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

                      Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

                      3. Automate Everything

                      Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

                      4. Plan Ahead

                      Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

                      For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

                      5. Live Cheaply

                      The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

                      • Live with roommates
                      • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
                      • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
                      • Take public transit or bike to work

                      Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

                      The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

                      If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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                      1. Maintain a High Credit Score

                      Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

                      • Never miss a payment
                      • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
                      • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
                      • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
                      • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

                      2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

                      Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

                      Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

                      If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

                      How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

                      Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

                      1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

                      Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

                      Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

                      2. Earn More Money

                      There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

                      Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

                      Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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                      Talk to Your Boss

                      Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

                      Start a Side Hustle

                      This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

                      Build an Online Business

                      There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

                      3. Celebrate Your Wins

                      As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

                      While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

                      4. Set New Financial Goals

                      Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

                      Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

                      These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

                      Conclusion

                      Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

                      Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

                      More Tips on Getting out of Debt

                      Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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