Memorable Financial Lessons From Pop Culture, Ep #88

Most of us have likely been in a conversation and said, “That reminds me of a scene in the movie…” to emphasize a point. Movies have a powerful way of presenting memorable situations where real life decisions and money intersect. Given the financial lens we view the world through, these financial themes jump off the screen to us.

So in today’s episode, we put on our movie critic hats and have some fun discussing lessons we’ve spotted in films that we all can learn from. Some are obvious but in others, you have to dig a bit deeper. Allison Berger joins us in this fun-filled episode to discover financial influences in the best and worst that Hollywood has to offer.

Financial Lessons from the best and worst Hollywood films

Many times, the large financial outcomes in life are a result of a lot of little decisions along the way in emotionally-charged environments. The circumstances range from pressure-filled decisions amidst a tragedy to pre-conceived notions of long-held family belief systems around money. Some can seem more cliche, like always have a plan B or pay attention to the small print, but paying attention to the emotions that lead to these moments can provide the most intriguing insights. Other messages reinforce strong values that help position you for long-term success, like the benefit of hard work and having an open mind.

Here’s a summary of the movies we discussed:

Gone Girl

This is an intense 2014 thriller with loads of money themes. The movie begins during the 2008 financial crisis and the featured couple loses their jobs. A twisted and circuitous journey ensues from there.

Money themes: This couple could benefit from better financial communication. Strangely, a financial advisor wasn’t around to help (wink, wink). Separately, she keeps all her money in a money belt after she goes on the run. This is a terrible idea! It’s no wonder her money gets stolen as you should never keep all of your money in one place, even when on the run. Finally, do your best to set yourself up so you are not forced to rely on someone else financially.

Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise stars in this 2014 Sci-Fi film. He plays a public relations guy thrown into the battle who gets stuck in a time loop.

Financial lessons: You may not see a financial theme here but we can’t help but think about what we might do financially if we could do yesterday over again with the knowledge that we have today. There are so many uncertainties when dealing with investing which is why balance is so important. When you have a process to help you deal with all the options that are out there. We all have 20/20 hindsight but this movie can be a great thought exercise. What would you learn from today? Would you invest more? Spend differently? Or maybe create an automatic savings plan to make sure you’re saving?

Crazy Rich Asians

This 2018 film is rich with money themes. It is basically set in a rich fantasyland in Singapore.

Financial themes: Money alone will not make you happy, it’s the experiences money buys that can provide lasting happiness. Related, it’s dangerous to have your identity attached to money. Communicating openly with your partner about finances can prevent larger emotional disagreements along the line. Even further, the pressure of misplaced expectations around money can be problematic between spouses. This is why it’s important to choose your spouse wisely as research shows in The Next Millionaire Next Door.


This is a family-friendly 2004 Disney movie. Miracle is the story of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team’s unlikely defeat of the Soviet Union. The movie’s name comes from one of the most famous cadences in sports history by Al Michaels, “Do you believe in Miracles? YES!” Now this storybook underdog story is commonly referred to as the “Miracle on Ice.”

Money lessons: The movie shows the value of hard work without money attached. At the end of the film, each character’s post hockey career was unveiled. This movie holds powerful lessons to show kids not to rely on one thing, especially a sport, to provide income for the rest of their lives.

Be sure and listen to the full episode for the our takeaways from 3 other movies, including one in Allison’s favorite classic series of movies.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Allison Berger

Connect With Chad and Mike

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