Sometimes movies can teach us lessons about money, and it doesn’t get much better than kicking back with a bucket of buttery popcorn and watching a good movie unfold on the big screen. (Kicking back with a bag of microwave popcorn and watching a movie on your own TV screen ain’t too shabby either—and it’s cheaper!) But while we usually look to films for entertainment, just beneath the surface often lies a lesson.
5 Money-Themed Movies and Lessons Learned
The following is a list of just a few movies that have highlighted some very important lessons about money and spending, and how it can impact other facets of our lives. So without further ado, here are five films related to money that we can all learn a thing or two from.
Indecent Proposal (1993)
This movie begins with a couple who can’t rub two loonies together. David (Woody Harrelson), a talented architect, and Diana (Demi Moore), a successful real estate agent, aren’t prepared when a recession hits, which too many of us can relate to. In a last-ditch effort to save their home, the couple heads to Las Vegas to try to win their mortgage money by gambling. Unfortunately, the cards are not in their favour, and they lose it all. A lot happens from there—including a mysterious billionaire showing up to "help" bail them out—but the lesson is all the same: it doesn’t pay to gamble.
If you or someone you know is suffering financially due to gambling, check out How to Financially Recover From Gambling Debt. It offers eight tips and provides links to helpful resources right here in Canada.
Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
It's no surprise from the title that this is the movie about someone addicted to shopping. Rebecca (Isla Fisher) can’t get enough clothes, shoes, and purses. In the movie she states, “A store always smells good... It can awaken a lust for things you never even knew you needed.” Unsurprisingly, Rebecca’s shopping addiction leaves her drowning in debt. Through a stroke of dumb luck, she winds up writing for a publication about the dangers of shopping too much, while continuing to feed her need of shopping and ignoring the very advice she dishes out.
Yes, a romance blossoms, and yes, she learns the errors of her ways, but ultimately most “shopaholic” stories don’t have a fairy tale ending. The lesson here, of course, is to watch your spending. It can be difficult, but we’ve published quite a few blogs that may be able to help you beat your own shopping addiction, including How to Stop Impulse Buying and Learn to Just Say No.
The Money Pit (1986)
Okay, this isn’t a great film, but it does offer some laughs and it’s fun to see a young Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. The duo play a young city-dwelling couple who decide to purchase a large country estate despite its suspiciously low price. It’s not long, however, before they realize just why the price was so low; doors fall from their frames, raccoons have moved in, the bathtub falls through the floor, and in one inspired scene an entire staircase comes crashing down leaving Hanks hanging from the second floor.
The lesson here? Buying a home is a major life decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly (and if something seems too good to be true, it probably is). Our blog Should I Rent or Buy My Home, explores the benefits of renting or buying.
Boiler Room (2000)
Most people think of Wall Street or the more recent film Wolf of Wall Street, but this little-known classic really hammers home an important lesson (plus, who knew Vin Diesel could act?). The film focuses on a group of twenty-somethings engaged in a fly-by-night brokerage firm who get rich overnight by peddling questionable stocks to unknowing investors. A young Giovanni Ribisi is the only participant in the scheme with a conscience. There's a particular scene where he promises to try to make things right for a down-on-his-luck investor, from beneath his desk so as not to be heard, which is completely heartbreaking.
When it comes to investing, you need to be smart about it—and don’t ever play with your nest egg. Investing should only be considered if all your debts are paid off and you have a healthy emergency fund (about 3-6 months' worth of your salary). Learn more by reading When to Be Saving Versus Investing Money.
The War of the Roses (1989)
This is a very, very dark comedy, featuring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, who were fantastic together in 1984’s Romancing the Stone. They’re a married couple, the Rose's, going through a bitter divorce after nearly twenty years together. The biggest sticking point? Money (and their opulent house in particular, which neither wants to part with). In their efforts to make the home their own, they ultimately destroy it—and their lives.
Studies reveal that money is the number one reason why couples fight, and a leading cause of breakups and divorce. Don’t wind up like the Roses’—you can find support here: Managing Money in a Relationship.
Free Help with Your Money and Debt
Movies have a way of reflecting the very real struggles we go through every day. And when it comes to movies about money, there’s no shortage of them. These are just a few; if we missed some of your own favourite money-themed movies, share them in the comments below! And if you need help with balancing your budget or finding extra savings, we're just a phone call away. Call us at 1.800.267.2272. All of our counselling is 100% free, confidential and judgment-free!