I read an article the other day by Dave Ramsey about financial lessons from classic Christmas movies, and it was so ridiculously stupid that I just had to rewrite the whole thing for him. If you want to read it, you’re welcome to here. But if you’d like to take the needle off the “debt is dumb” broken record and focus on other important lessons in life, feel free to enjoy my two cents 🙂
A Christmas Story
Throughout the movie, all Ralphie can think about is the Red Rider BB gun he wants for Christmas (as well as that swanky leg lamp his dad bought), but is OK to obsess that much over something so material? Of course it is. He’s a child for heaven’s sakes. Is it OK for us adults to do it too, though? Sure. As long as you can reasonably afford it and it doesn’t take away from your more important goals.
Don’t get so caught up in the humdrum of budgeting, saving, and all that other stuff that you forget what it’s like to get excited about something! For me, it’s traveling. We just signed up for two Barclay Arrival World Mastercards and will be getting $800 of free travel rewards in the next few months*, and you better believe I’m daydreaming about what we’re going to do with it, just like little Ralphie did. So get excited! Just don’t be an idiot and make material things your god.
It’s a Wonderful Life
George Bailey was one heck of a guy, but he never knew it. Luckily, he had a guardian angel to help him realize it. To me, the lesson is that you don’t put money before people. You never know who is going to save you when you’re in a pinch. That jerk Mr. Potter didn’t care one fig about the people of Bedford Falls, but George had done so much for the people there that when he was financially ruined, the people had his back.
It’s also important that you don’t try to run away from your problems. Take ownership for your life and don’t forget the people who depend on you. It would be really cool if the rest of us had a guardian angel to point that out, but I’m guessing we’ll have to come to our senses in a more terrestrial way.
A Muppet’s Christmas Carol
Aside from this being the best adaptation of A Christmas Carol, I love the financial lessons taught here. It mirrors It’s a Wonderful Life’s don’t put people before money thing, but it also shows us that the value of money is relative to what we do with it. Ebenezer Scrooge had a ton of money, a killer house and classy duds, but it was all worthless because he kept it all to himself. It gave him no joy and he was overall a very bitter and unhappy dude.
But do you realize what happened when he started to share it? It was as if he had become a completely different person. He was joyful and triumphant! And I bet he also learned to value his money a little more because he now knew what sort of impact he could have on the lives of others by sharing his wealth with those who were less fortunate.
The thing I love most about Buddy the elf is that he had a goal, and he did whatever it took to reach that goal. Along the way, he got rejected by just about everyone, but he didn’t complain once the entire time. His positive attitude didn’t allow him to become a victim, like so many of us do sometimes when we start to feel sorry for ourselves. He took control of his life and didn’t blame anyone else when things didn’t pan out the way he wanted it to.
Also, Santa truly does sit on a throne of lies. The materialism of Christmas is nauseating sometimes. We all want something big and shiny and then we end up using it for a few weeks before it gathers dust in our storage shed for the rest of eternity. Also, why does he always make Christmas about me? When was the last time you heard Santa ask, “What do you want to get your little sister for Christmas?” Or “Who do you want to help this Christmas?” That’s not the true spirit of Christmas. Who does this guy think he is? How did he become the symbol of Christmas? Down with Santa Claus! (I jest, I jest. Scrooge mode off)
Are you an employer? If so, don’t be a jerk. Jelly of the Month Club? Really? It’s funny, but I’ve gotten similar garbage for Christmas from my employer. Why even make the effort if you’re just going to insult your employees? Treat them right and you’d be surprised at how much harder they’ll work for you. It takes a little money from your pocket, but you’ll get the dividends.
And for the rest of you, don’t get so caught up in the superficial side of Christmas that you forget the real purpose. For some of you, that may be to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ. For others, it may just be helping others and loving your family. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just don’t get caught up in the superfluous.
What are your favorite Christmas movies? What lessons did I miss?
*More on all this in a later post 🙂