By Kelly “The angry elf” Clemmer, Encompass Marketing
It’s nearly Christmas and here you are, reading a financial institution’s blog. In a year of catastrophe calendars (who had monoliths preparing for an alien invasion for December?) and so many new pandemic-related words added to the dictionary, here’s a little distraction from all things COVID on how we all can learn, financially from our favourite Christmas movies.
First off, if you’re like George Bailey, you should never trust Uncle Billy with your money like in It’s a Wonderful Life. He’s making a payment on George’s behalf to the evil banker – since George owns his own Savings and Loan (a credit union maybe?) George lives his life with the credit union principles: deposits from friends and neighbours allow other friends and neighbours to borrow money to build their own homes, or businesses. That sounds like the cooperative principles to me. And when George is at his lowest, and he’s ready to lose everything, it’s his community that comes together to help him and his family out. So the lesson here is don’t trust the evil bank, stick with your local community-minded Credit Union. Every time a bell rings, a person becomes a credit union member…
Ralphie Parker might have been obsessed with getting that Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas in A Christmas Story, but his dad was just as proud of his fra-JEE-lay leg lamp that he wanted his neighbours to be jealous of. Keeping up with the Joneses is futile, and financially, it’s important to live within your means and not attempt to buy the newest trends just to show off your major award. That just might be how you shoot your eye out after all.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has many financial lessons; the biggest one is not trading your home for one of them Recreational Vehicles… aka the travelling rust heap that Cousin Eddy drives. Often, as pointed out, you have to, um, flush the system when it is at capacity. Also, don’t spend your entire electricity budget on Christmas lights. This also reminds us not to spend our Christmas bonus before it’s in hand – like Clark W. Griswald – otherwise we might be stuck with a giant hole in our backyard, and only a Jelly-of-the-Month-Club subscription to enjoy for the summer. As Cousin Eddy says, “Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year, ‘round.” So true, Eddy, so true.
Kevin McCallister may have been left Home Alone, but he wasn’t without a plan. When the bumbling Wet Bandits tried to rob the beautiful million dollar McCallister family home, Kevin was prepared with a plan to thwart their robbery scheme and dump some coal in their stockings for Christmas. With your finances, the plan is all about your budget and how you can to achieve your financial goals, Merry Christmas, you Filthy Animal!
In Elf, Buddy the Elf travels to New York to find his human dad, and to bring the spirit of Christmas back to a city, and world that has lost its ability to see magic and wonder. What Buddy has is enthusiasm and passion for Christmas (and singing loud for all to hear), which can be translated into saving money. Ok, it’s a stretch, but work with me here, people. Buddy’s passion for the wonder of Christmas could be thought of as drive towards achieving your financial goals. Many people too quickly drop their savings goals when something shiny comes along, but keeping focused for that savings goal – like a down payment on a new home, or a vacation where it’s warm (when we can do that again), is something we can learn from Buddy. Just maybe update your wardrobe and skip the pointy shoes.
And lastly, my favourite Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard. Yes, it is a Christmas movie. So, first lesson is not to go to any Christmas parties in the Nakatomi Towers, and nor hang out with terrorists named Hans. We can learn from Hans though, minus his thieving and murderous streak, he was a solid planner and built a good team to help him accomplish his financial goals. We can also learn from John McClane, who learned not only to pivot and adjust to the circumstances thrown at him, but also he is relentless in his stick-to-it-ness and would not quit, even willing to walk on a bit of glass without shoes to keep on fighting. We could all use a bit of McClane’s relentlessness to accomplish our financial goals, so we can enjoy the Christmas season without a cloud of debt hanging over our heads. Yippee ki yay Merry Christmasers.