COLUMN: Classic vacation movies can help uncover many financial lessons

I’m a sucker for Christmas. Always. i really love it all The music, the lights, the cookies, Christmas Eve at my Aunt Rose’s that has been going on for over 50 years, the opportunity to have extra time with my family – all of that. And I especially love Christmas movies.

I’ve seen them all. Somehow more than others. And as we approach another Christmas, it occurred to me that there are some fantastic financial lessons hidden in these Christmas movies. So without further ado, here are some must-see Christmas movies and the financial gems they contain.

• “National Lampoon’s Christmas Holidays”. My absolute favourite. I could be Clark Griswold in some kind of weird cinematic-real world that breaks the fourth wall reincarnation. I love this character – all he really wants is to have his family together and spend time with them doing old-fashioned Christmas activities. The Finance Lesson: Never spend the Christmas bonus before you have it in your hands. In the end things worked out well for Clark and we assume he got his swimming pool but we don’t follow him on that score. Follow his example of loving his family above all else.

• “Miracle on 34th Street.” Another great event and a rare one where the remake was almost as good as the original. A story about a little girl and her unshakable belief that Santa is real – of course he is. And who is there to save the day, to prove Santa’s existence in court? A lawyer. Finance Lesson: Lawyers are often sneered at – a colleague of mine calls them those goddamn lawyers – and yes, it’s all fun and games…until you need one. A talented attorney is critical to your team. Ask Santa Claus.

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• “It’s a beautiful life.” The Frank Capra classic starring George Bailey and the people of Bedford Falls. Things were looking bleak for George and he was about to jump off that bridge until Clarence, an angel, saves the day by reminding him what’s really important. George gets some sort of policy loan and Mr. Potter gets what he’s entitled to. Financial Lesson: Insurance policies can come in handy in many ways, and if you haven’t checked them out with your financial planner recently or ever, it’s high time you did.

• “Love indeed.” I love this film and the countless talented actors and actresses in it and all the storylines and subplots. It’s hard to pick my favorite character and every time I watch it I change my mind. You are all fantastic. Finance Lesson: If you’re going to buy an expensive necklace for Christmas, give it to your wife, not the girl in the office. Your marriage and your bank account will be immeasurably better off as a result. Bonus Life Lesson: If you search for this, you will find that love is indeed all around us.

• “Eleven”. A must, at least twice a season. All Buddy wants is to love and be loved back for his real dad – and of course – his syrup and Santa Claus.

So many lessons in this film – financially and otherwise. Don’t eat the gum on the street in NYC. Shady business practices don’t pay off. The real Santa doesn’t smell like beef and cheese. Money and success do not trump family. Never stop believing in what you know to be true.

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There you have it. Five greats and their lessons. This could have been a much longer column as there is much more to come, but you don’t have time for all of that. You have to make snow angels, go ice skating, eat cookie dough and cuddle with a loved one. Merry Christmas.

Original content provided by Gregory Mattacola, CFP, Senior Advisor at Strategic Financial Services. The content is provided for educational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any investment or financial decision. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, performance is not guaranteed. Past performance is not an indication of future performance.

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