Money lessons from your favorite holiday movies


Rachel Slifka

Rachel Slifka

Blog author Rachel Slifka

Published December 12, 2018 | 4 min read

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The most wonderful time of the year is almost here. You’re bound to see holiday cheer spread everywhere, including your Netflix queue.

It seems like everywhere you look, there are holiday movies. These fan favorite films are repeatedly played on television, in theaters and even used in advertising. But, there are valuable money lessons in your favorite holiday movies.

From tidbits about the importance of saving extra cash to curbing your spending habits, you’ll get a kick out of the financial lessons these holiday movies can teach you. Take a look at some of our favorite holiday films – and the lessons they continue to teach.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Lesson: The holidays remind us to be kind and not materialistic.

Dr. Seuss’ classic book was turned into both an animated and live-action movie. While you can argue all you want about which version is your favorite, there is no doubt that both movies can teach viewers a valuable lesson: Be kind.

The main character, the Grinch, alienated himself from Whoville. He ends up pretending to be Santa but, instead of delivering gifts to the village of Whoville, he ends up stealing gifts and decorations. The Grinch was shocked to see Whoville bond together to celebrate the holiday, even when they all lost a great deal. Eventually, the Grinch has a change of heart, and ends up celebrating Christmas with the others in Whoville.

The lesson is you don’t have to get caught up in the materialism of the season in order to celebrate. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spent more than $967 on the holidays in 2017. That’s a whole lotta dough! The Grinch serves as a good reminder that the holidays are about more than gifts and decorations. The holidays are about being together and being kind to others. (Here's a guide on how to keep your financial house in order during the holidays.)

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Lesson: You can enjoy the holidays without splurging.

Ah, Charlie Brown. Poor Charlie is a character who constantly finds himself going against the status quo. During the Christmas season, all of his friends (and his beloved dog Snoopy) are writing their extensively long Christmas wish lists.

Charlie volunteers to direct the Christmas play. To set the scene, Charlie must purchase a Christmas tree. After spending an evening looking at expensive, trendy (at the time) aluminum trees, he ends up purchasing a sad, tiny fir tree. He brings it back to the play and all of his friends laugh and ridicule Charlie for picking out such a pathetic, sparse tree.

But, after bonding together and getting creative, Charlie and his friends are able to turn the tree into a big, beautiful holiday centerpiece.

Charlie Brown reminds us that we don’t have to succumb to trends and spend our paycheck on the shiniest new toy. With a little elbow grease and love, you can turn even the strangest item into something beautiful.

A Christmas Carol

Lesson: Be generous.

A Christmas Carol, originally a book by Charles Dickens, outlines the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, a classic character who is downright pessimistic, selfish and rude. A business owner, he makes harsh decisions and pushes everyone away.

Scrooge is haunted by Christmas past, present and future. Ultimately, he awakes to a new perspective on life, and becomes extremely cheerful and generous. He turns a complete 180, and his life is improved for the better.

A Christmas Carol goes to show you that focusing on just yourself won’t get you far. Generosity wins – time and time again.

White Christmas

Lesson: Always save for a rainy day.

The story of White Christmas includes two ex-Army men turned singers and dancers: Phil Davis and Bob Wallace. Davis and Wallace find themselves following two potential love interests to Vermont, where they all stay at a failing ski resort owned by their former Army general. The ski resort is failing due to a lack of snow, which ultimately results in a decrease in guests. The rest of the movie goes on to show their attempts to save the struggling resort by performing their singing and dancing act.

Fortunately for us, the story of White Christmas reminds us of the importance of an emergency fund. Emergency funds are vital for your overall financial wellness – whether you own a failing ski resort or not. Furthermore, White Christmas serves as a reminder to get creative when times are tough. You might just surprise yourself by doing so.

No matter what your financial situation is, it’s possible to enjoy the holiday season without spending a huge wad of cash. Remember, material gifts will soon be forgotten, but the memory of the holiday season can last a lifetime. To help you, we've got 50 things that can make your holidays more affordable.

Image: Studio Doros

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