September 15th, 2011

Money is the Root of all Evil – Hollywood Edition

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What's the bait?

There are a lot of great movies that start out with the same basic premise: “We need some money.”

Since this problem afflicts most people, let’s explore some popular cinematic solutions to these issues and how it turned out for everyone involved.

Warning: Spoilers abound.

“Run, Lola, Run”

Problem: Lola’s boyfriend, Manni, loses 100,000 Deutsche Marks that belong to mobsters who will kill him if he doesn’t get the money within 20 minutes. Luckily, Lola is able to reset time by sheer force of will when things go badly.
Solutions: Steal from a grocery store, steal from a bank and win big at a casino by screaming. Also, find the money.
Outcome: Death, death and complete success.
Movie Lessons: Casino odds can be manipulated by shrieks. Being able to reset time is an enormously useful skill.

Real Life Applications: Aside from the obvious advice of not working for people who could kill you, there are several takeaways:

  1. If you lose money, try to find it. Check this unclaimed property directory to see if you’re owed money.
  2. Have an easily-accessible emergency fund that can cover 3-6 months of living expenses. Accidents of every kind happen and you can’t stop them, so you’d do well to financially plan ahead for them.

“Confessions of a Shopaholic”

Problem: Rebecca Bloomwood, a quirky redhead, buys a lot of clothes and ignores her debt.
Solution: Write for a publication about money advice and later, sell stuff.
Outcome: Bags a promising job, gets out of debt and starts a romantic relationship with her rich boss.
Movie Lessons: Turn your debt into a career. Marry rich, if possible.

Real Life Applications:

  1. If you’re stuck in debt, find alternative streams of income such as selling your things. A garage sale is a great way to take a bite out of your debt and enjoy a less cluttered life.
  2. On the flip side, shopping at a garage sale gets you great deals on designer clothes.

“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

Problem: Brothers Andy and Hank need money to A) cover up embezzlement, and B) pay for their private school tuition.
Solution: Rob parents’ jewelry store. Later, rob a heroin dealer.
Outcome: So much death. The bodies just pile up.
Movie Lessons: It almost never works to cover up a crime with another crime. Assume your mom doesn’t own a gun at your own peril.

Real Life Applications:

  1. Instead of stealing from loved ones, consider asking for financial support. If you have a good relationship with your parents, they might be willing to help you out with a loan.
  2. Even if you have no collateral, a personal unsecured loan from a bank will offer you a better rate than borrowing from your credit cards, with less risk than familial theft.

“Sunset Boulevard”

Problem: Struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis struggles… also writes.
Solution: Joe’s plan to shack up with faded movie star Norma Desmond and write her comeback script works pretty well…
Outcome: …until he ends up dead in a pool when he tries to leave her.
Movie Lessons: Even lavish living isn’t worth putting up with crazy.

Real Life Applications:

  1. If you find yourself in a tight spot, be wary of who you take favors from. Government programs like food stamps can help make ends meet, and Uncle Sam won’t try to kill you when you get off the dole.
  2. Some careers have a shelf life. If you invest wisely, in prime Hollywood real estate for example, when you have money to spare, that investment will be there for you during your retirement.

True, life isn’t always like the movies. Screaming at blackjack dealers almost never improves your odds, and most people don’t get a chance to meet faded stars, let alone be murdered by them.

Still, financial problems are very real and they might happen to you or someone you know. The important thing is to stay calm, rely on a trusted support network and plan for a disaster before it hits.

Keep these tips in mind and you too can avoid dying in Heidi Montag’s pool thirty years from now.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, unless you have a really good coupon,

Ezra Fox, Credit Karma Contributor

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.

One Comment

  1. the real quote:
    “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”
    1 timothy 6:10

    attgig at 4:28 pm on September 15, 2011

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