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What Christmas Movies teach us about Personal Finance

Financial Planning, General
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Christmas Movies & Personal Finance

It’s that time of year again! We eat a lot, possibly drink a little too much and end up watching the same old Christmas movies as we do every year.  So, what can we learn about personal finance from these classic movies and their characters.

Merry Christmas

It’s A Wonderful Life

Despite dealing with some dark issues, It’s A Wonderful Life is the ultimate Christmas feel good movie.  In it, we are spun the tale of the suicidal George Bailey who faces jail and his business faces bankruptcy when his uncle misplaces $8,000 of the company money. An angel called Clarence turns George around when he teaches him how important he is to his family and the local community in his own inimitable way.

The Lesson:

Financial problems, debt and depression are very topical issues coming up to Christmas.  There can be a lot of pressure to spend an increasing sum of money on Christmas.  For some, this adds to their financial worries and can lead to ‘Christmas being put on the credit card’.

Pete Matthew of Meaningful Money has a very good podcast on the subject: Surviving Christmas with your finances intact that is worth listening to. In it, he explains the benefits of setting a budget for Christmas and sticking to it.  He explains how he and his wife put money aside each month throughout the year to pay for Christmas, to avoid that one-off “shock” expense and allow them to enjoy the seasonal festivities

Die Hard

Die Hard is a holiday staple in my house as John McClane (the legendary Bruce Willis) tears the Nakatomi Plaza apart when a band of thieves, led by the immense Alan Rickman rudely interrupt his wife’s Christmas work do.

The Lesson

During Christmas, like the rest of the year, it is essential to protect you and your family.  If the need for protection is from an imminent physical danger then by all means protect them at all costs.  However, in terms of personal finance you might want to consider an affordable budget to get appropriate insurance in place to protect your loved ones.


Elf tells the story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), an orphan raised as one of Santa’s elves, before leaving the North Pole to find his real dad Walter Hobbs (James Caan).  Buddy then proceeds to wreak havoc on his Dad’s life and somehow eventually teaches Walter to re-evaluate his priorities.

The Lesson

There is a lesson to learn from Buddy’s dietary regime and the four main food groups “candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup”.

An unhealthy lifestyle is getting more expensive every year, with the cost of cigarettes and alcohol generally rising above the rate of inflation.  For most of us, if we cannot work due to ill health then our income will cease, we may depend on state benefits and potentially become a financial burden on our loved ones. That is unless we have some insurances in place and the cost of these insurances will often be significantly more expensive for people who do not take care of their health.

If you don’t look after your health it will inevitably affect your wealth.


In Gremlins Billy Peltzer gets an adorable pet Mogwai for Christmas from his dad and is given 3 very strict rules: Do not get it wet, do not feed it after midnight and do not put it in direct sunlight.  Unfortunately for Billy and the town of Kingston Falls, two of these rules are broken very quickly and everything goes pear shaped.

The Lesson

Unlike Billy’s half-baked inventor dad, most people will opt for a nice dog or cat.  They are easy to look after and fulfil most, if not all of the desired criteria in a pet. This is similar to personal financial planning, in that most people do not need complicated financial products that they don’t understand.  There are very few people that need anything more complicated that an ISA, pension and some appropriate insurances.

Remember, the devil is gremlins are in the detail.

The Muppets Christmas Carol

Now I could have chosen any version of Dickens’ classic tale but everyone loves The Muppets Christmas Carol, don’t they?  In this version Kermit and gang play second fiddle to Michael Caine’s excellent performance as the miserly Scrooge.  The usual Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future take Scrooge on a journey that teaches him the error of his ways.

The Lesson

While there are those who are comfortable and very good at managing their own finances, more can benefit from the advice of a third party.  Not many of us have Scrooge’s money but we can certainly lose sight of, or neglect to align our plans with our goals when managing our money.  A good financial planner can provide an independent advice service that aligns your finances with your life goals.

Let me know what you think of the post or simply what’s your favourite Christmas movie and what can we learn from it?

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About Ciaran Scullion

I am a Financial Planner and Mortgage Adviser. I provide Independent Financial Advice through my company From Acorns Financial Planning Ltd to personal and business clients throughout Northern Ireland from my base in Tyrone, Mid Ulster.

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