With Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens, coming out in theaters December 18th and the associated hype ramping up, I wanted to take a moment and share some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from the original Star Wars trilogy and how it relates to finances and lifestyle. Below are some quotes from the movies and some thoughts about long-term financial health.
“WHO’S THE MORE FOOLISH; THE FOOL, OR THE FOOL WHO FOLLOWS HIM?” – OBI WAN KENOBI
We often take the lead from neighbors or friends who spend “foolishly” or outside their means. Being a father of 6, it’s easy to fall into that trap. You see others with fewer kids and more disposable income spending money on boats, expensive vacations, or house upgrades and you feel like you should follow suit. Even eating out frequently or buying a new car can put you outside your means very quickly. Don’t be the fool, or more importantly, the fool who follows the fool, when it comes to financial decisions and lifestyle choices. Make decisions based on YOUR needs and not those you associate with.
“IT’S A TRAP!” – ADMIRAL ACKBAR
It is truly “a trap” when it comes to the media and what you should be spending your money on. Television, radio, and the internet blast you all sorts of money spending ideas, often times without much rational thought. Media plays on your feelings and insecurities, often pushing you to spend money on things that are not in alignment with your family or financial goals. Be strong and prioritize your spending based on your family beliefs and what is most important to you.
“STAY ON TARGET…” – Gold Five
Keep your eyes on the prize, as they say, and focus on your long-term financial goals, not just a short-term spending whim that will provide you no overall satisfaction. Frivolous spending does not fill any holes in your personal or professional life – it only makes things harder. Your family is ultimately the focus, and your long-term goals of retirement should override your “wants vs. needs” decisions when it comes to spending.
“TRY NOT. DO… OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY.” – YODA
This has probably been the hardest for me. When it comes to focusing on your finances, there is really no “try.” You have to make the decision to focus all of the time, not just when finances get tight or when a big financial decision has you at odds. When it comes to spending time with my kids, I’ve found that being creative has helped me cut down on some of the frivolous spending I’ve done in the past…and YOU can do the same. Go to the park instead of going to a child-oriented fun place that ends up costing $100. Have a picnic instead of going out to eat. If you do spend money, do it in the most effective way possible that combines fun with frivolity. My son has a birthday coming up, and I plan on spending most of my time playing with him that day, not spending money to entertain him. It takes a little more time and energy, but it is worth it and better for both you and your family.
“NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!” – HAN SOLO
The proverbial deck is stacked against you, so you have to be strong. Credit cards and other financial instruments are easily available and even easier to abuse without strong discipline on your end. Even a debit card can get you in big trouble by allowing you to spend without realizing how quickly the money is leaving your hands. And who doesn’t have at least a debit card these days? You are in control of your financial future, and you need to develop the discipline it takes to say “No” to those things that aren’t really necessary. Even things like coffee from Starbucks, soft drinks instead of water, or vending machines at work can quickly add up on a yearly basis.
“RRRAARRWHHGWWR” – CHEWBACCA
I think Chewbacca sums it up best above…Make the best decisions for you and your family, and don’t always consider convenience as the best decider for spending money. Saving money is not convenient. It is most times inconvenient and requires additional work. But, that work over the long haul is what will provide you with extra financial stability when you need it.