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While most of us think of movies as pure entertainment, the fact is that many films out there can actually serve as great sources of information and even provide guidance on how to handle important matters affecting our lives.
If you don’t have a plan for tonight, these Hollywood movies will not only work out as a great alternative but also offer you some pretty useful money lessons. Let’s get to it!
Lesson: don’t compromise your values for cash
Let’s kick off this list with a classic… We all think of our values as incorruptible. Until, of course, a super-rich devastatingly handsome Robert Redford shows up offering you a million dollars to spend the night. In this 90s drama, Redford offers that sum to a married Demi Moore. As you could expect, she went for the deal but ended up hurting the marriage.
Lesson: don’t give up on your dreams
Do you love movies based on true stories? This 2015 comedy-drama is based on Joy Mangano’s life. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then look at your mop. Yes, the thing with the thing that we use to clean up the floor.
Mangano is the inventor of the Miracle Mop, a single product that skyrocketed her life (and bank account). But she didn’t become a famous entrepreneur overnight. Her path was filled with obstacles, but she never gave up. If you’re feeling hopeless somehow, this movie is a must.
Lesson: working on your numbers can make you rich
If you like sports, Brad Pitt AND maths, this is your match. This movie is a great example of how doing the math can help you sort out the most challenging situations. Pitt, who plays the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, hires a young mathematician played by the illarous Jonah Hill to help him identify star players the richer clubs have overlooked.
Lesson: greed isn’t that good after all…
Before you say anything, picture this: an unscrupulous stockbroker named Gordon Gekko, dressed up in a fancy double-breasted suit (of course he’s wearing red suspenders… it’s Wall Street kiddo), surrounded by beautiful secretaries and contraband Cuban cigars. The philosophy of this role played by Michael Douglas is very straight forward: “greed is good.”
However, this movie will show you that greed can also put you behind bars. Let’s get this right: there is nothing wrong with wanting to accumulate massive wealth, but going around regulations and relying on insider trading to earn it doesn’t sound like a smart plan.
Lesson: learning a new skill can save you from bankruptcy
Okay… Fair enough. This isn’t a Hollywood movie. But it offers a hell of lesson: it’s never too late to learn a new skill. After losing their jobs, six factory workers come together to form a male striptease show in order to raise money. Learning some sexy moves literally saved them from going broke. Even if you aren’t unemployed, you could learn a new skill and use it to boost your current income. Is dancing your thing, too?
Lesson: when you hit rock-bottom, the only way is up
Are you up for rollercoaster of emotions? Great. This movie walks you through one of the hardest moments in the life of Chris Gardner, a struggling entrepreneur played by Will Smith. After being evicted from their home, this salesman and his son survive a year living on the streets until he lands an internship at a prestigious stock firm. His life is a statement of perseverance, proof that when you’ve hit rock-bottom the only way is up. Psss… get tissues!
Lesson: cheap is expensive
Tom Hanks and Shelley Long play a young couple with great jobs and a promising future. They even find a dream home for a bargain price. Only then to find out the house is falling apart entirely. This comedy reminds us that buying cheap can sometimes turn very expensive.
Lesson: track your expenses and get help (if needed)
You don’t need to be a shopaholic to max out a credit card. But if you are anything like Isla Fisher’s character in this movie, then you need some professional help. A debt counselor can help you curb your spending. Nowadays, mobile apps such as Crypterium help you monitor your expenses with a real-time history.
Lesson: stay away from con artists
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t stop listening to someone? This Martin Scorsese movie features Leonardo di Caprio as Jordan Belfort AKA the Wolf of Wall Street — one of the most scandalous fraudsters in the history of financial markets. His unique smooth-talking technique helped him to fool hundreds of finance-savvy investors back in the 80s.
Lesson: going solo can turn out profitable
Tired of unethical practices in the industry, sports agent Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise, decides to go solo. No need to say getting started from scratch wasn’t an easy thing to do, but he ends up amassing huge success. If you ever flirted with the idea of going freelance, this movie might be just the right fit for your Saturday night.
Lesson: money doesn’t make you
An honest policeman and a waitress, Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda respectively, get lucky and win the lottery jackpot together. They enjoy the unexpected prize by sharing it with strangers in need, while Cage’s wife Muriel goes on a shopping spree. This film shows that money has either the power to amplify a giving spirit or enhance greediness.
Lesson: don’t make the same (financial) mistake twice
A brilliant Bill Murray is forced to relive Groundhog Day over and over until his approach to life changes for good. While this movie isn’t about money, it provides a useful financial advice: avoid making the same mistake twice. Take a minute and think about how you can improve your situation and modify your attitude towards money.
Lesson: always diversify your investments
This Woody Allen film is a great reminder that putting all your money on a single ticket isn’t a wise decision. Cate Blanchett’s character loses everything after investing on a property deal brokered by a hilarious Alec Baldwin. So there you go… don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Lesson: early investing pays off
Who said you have to go to college to become a millionaire? Sure, education is really important. But the point is that you don’t need one to make lots of money. The much-loved Forrest Gump is a good example. He makes an early investment in Apple that would be worth millions today. In case you’re looking for a real-life reference, how about Richard Branson?
Lesson: unrealistic returns are just that — unrealistic
A bunch of aggressive twenty something stock brokers close hundreds of deals a day on fake trades. Investors are promised ridiculously high returns over a short period of time. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is. Take your time to evaluate every single investment opportunity.