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Financial Advice From the Movies

These flicks have a few tips when it comes to spending, investing your money

  • 20thCentFox/Everett Collection

    Greed isn't good

    En español | Wall Street Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good” soliloquy is quite moving. But in the end, greed — and the Securities and Exchange Commission — catch up with the shady dealings of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and Gekko (Michael Douglas). Maybe Fox should have taken his father’s advice in the film: “Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.”

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  • Universal/Everett Collection

    The mortgage payment is only the tip of the iceberg

    The Money Pit A happy couple (Shelley Long and Tom Hanks) buy a too-good-to-be-true house, which then consumes every cent — and every bit of sanity — they have. The experience of the fictional homeowners in the movie is exaggerated for comedic effect, but many real-life homeowners aren’t laughing when they, too, come to realize the many expenses associated with owning a home: taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs, to name a few.

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  • Universal/Everett Collection

    When times are tough, don’t give up on your dreams

    Cinderella Man While it takes some liberties with the true story of boxing champion James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), it will have you cheering for both Braddock and the American can-do spirit. This riches-to-rags-to-riches saga will make you appreciate all that you already have and be thankful for it. Best scene: when Braddock humbly pays back the public assistance funds he had no choice but to accept during the low point of his career during the Great Depression.

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  • Getty Images

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  • Universal/Everett Collection

    Spending too much money diminishes the thrill

    Brewster's Millions Minor-league baseball player Montgomery “Monty” Brewster (Richard Pryor) inherits $300 million from a great-uncle he never met — with one catch: He’ll lose the fortune unless he’s able to spend $30 million in 30 days under a complicated set of rules. It’s all designed to help Brewster develop an aversion to spending money so he’ll appreciate it more. This quote from Rupert Horn (Hume Cronyn), the rich great-uncle, pretty much sums it up: “I’m going to teach you to hate spending money.”

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  • Everett Collection

    Your biggest assets are not kept in a bank

    It’s a Wonderful Life A holiday favorite, it's a treasure trove of lessons about life, money and what really matters. When an angel shows George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) how important his life is to others, he realizes that he’s wealthy in ways he never imagined. Long before “pay it forward” became a popular phrase — or the title of a movie — It’s a Wonderful Life taught that doing right by others is not only the ethical thing to do, but it often results in a return of goodwill when you least expect it and are most in need.

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  • Warner Bros/Everett Collection

    Don’t spend your paycheck before you collect it

    National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) signs a contract to have a swimming pool installed as a surprise Christmas gift for his family. But the year-end bonus check he’s expecting from his boss fails to materialize. The comedy provides lots of good laughs, but the old adage, “If you can’t afford to pay for it now, you really can’t afford it,” comes through loud and clear.

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  • Everett Collection

    Choose your mate carefully — or pay the price

    The War of the Roses Money differences are one of the leading causes of divorce. The financial setbacks for both parties involved can be catastrophic, starting with an average cost of $15,000 to $20,000 in legal fees alone to settle a contested divorce. Watching the once happily married Roses (played by Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner) duke it out in the black comedy may make singles all the more careful when choosing a life partner.

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  • DreamWorks/Everett Collection

    Make extra money by thinking outside the box

    The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio A personal favorite of mine, it’s a true account of the struggle of Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore) to raise her 10 children in a depressed region of rural Ohio in the 1950s and ’60s. She becomes a master of entering and winning contests and giveaways. It’s a testament to the importance of ingenuity when overcoming financial challenges, not to mention maintaining strong family values and a sense of humor during trying times.

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  • Getty Images/Corbis
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