Financial Wisdom from Christmas Movies

Few things get you into the season’s spirit faster than a good holiday movie. But beyond being festive, these films can also be educational. Here are some financial tips to take from eight classic Christmas flicks.

A Christmas Carol

The Story: Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) is a miserable miser whose life is changed on Christmas Eve when he is visited by three spirits.

The Lesson: There isn’t anything wrong with saving, but there’s also nothing wrong with spending…if you do it responsibly. It’s okay to reward yourself for reaching short-term benchmarks, for example, to achieve long-term goals.

Jingle All the Way

The Story: Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) promises his son a Turbo Man action figure, only to find that they’re completely sold out wherever he goes.

The Lesson: Don’t wait until the last minute or you may end up spending more than you wanted or going without. Plan ahead to get the best deals.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Story: Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants all his relatives together at home for a fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.

The Lesson: Clark thinks he’s surprising them with plans for a pool, but when his Christmas bonus doesn’t arrive, he’s left with no way to pay for it. Spending money before you have it is always risky, especially when it’s for a big project.

Home Alone

The Story: The McCallisters go on vacation, leaving Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) behind to fend for himself and outwit a pair of burglars.

The Lesson: Using funds for experiences is usually more fulfilling than purchasing things. No one is going to remember what Buzz or Fuller got that Christmas morning, but the McCallisters will never forget their trip to Paris.

A Christmas Story

The Story: The only thing Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants on Christmas morning is an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle.

The Lesson: Make sure what you’re saving for is worth the effort or you’ll be disappointed. Ralphie learns this lesson twice: the first time when he drinks gallons of Ovaltine to get a decoder ring that only translates into Ovaltine advertising, then again when he finally gets his BB gun and immediately shoots his eye out.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Story: Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) grows weary of being the King of Halloween Town, so he decides to take over the neighboring Christmas holiday.

The Lesson: Jack wears a Santa costume, builds a sleigh and creates reindeer to appear successful, but he stretches himself beyond his means & almost ruins things in the process. Keeping up with the Joneses and shelling out more than you make will only cause added stress.

It’s a Wonderful Life

The Story: George Bailey (James Stuart) falls into despair because of financial ruin, but rediscovers hope when his community comes to his rescue.

The Lesson: If you find yourself in monetary trouble, don’t be afraid to discuss your problem with friends, family or a financial counselor.

The Santa Clause

The Story: When Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa Claus, he must take on the role of old Kris Kringle himself.

The Lesson: Always read the fine print before you buy something or enter an agreement to avoid any unexpected or unnecessary financial entanglements.