May 31st, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: Financial Do’s and Don’ts

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Last week, I saw “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

Folks, this is the fourth movie in the franchise, and it seems to me to be going the way of “The Fast and the Furious.”

Where it stops, no one knows.

But it’s still entertaining, for now, and full of lessons to be learned. Believe it or not, the pirates can teach us a few things about money.

Today I’d like to share with you some financial do’s and don’ts that I gleaned from my viewing of Johnny Depp’s latest swash-buckling adventure as Jack Sparrow.

Warning: spoilers ahead!


When Captain Barbossa, played by Geoffrey Rush, finds himself in a bind, he doesn’t fret. He takes the chance to remove his obligatory pirate peg-leg. Inside the limb is a hidden compartment for—what else?—rum.

Score one for Barbossa, bringing his own beverage to the party. If you’re planning a dinner party at a restaurant, take a cue from the pirate and make it BYOB. Find a restaurant that will allow you to bring your own wine, that way you don’t have to rely on their wine list—or prices. Be aware that many restaurants charge a corkage fee, so call ahead to check and seek out places with lower fees.

Don’t be illegally frugal.

Anti-hero Jack Sparrow has a lot of charisma, and it’s what usually gets him out of a bind. But he also gets his way by nefarious means; he sneaks on ships without permission, steals weapons, lies, and lots more. And his cheating usually gets him into more trouble.

Paying for things can seem troublesome when there are so many discounts and coupons to be had. And it’s great to use those means to get something at a lower cost. But don’t pull a Jack Sparrow; Make sure you’re not cheating the system. Some couponers tend to shirk the rules to save a buck; don’t be one of them. Read the fine print and terms and conditions of each coupon so you don’t get caught accidentally breaking the rules.

Don’t miss a money-making opportunity.

The Spanish explorers should have capitalized on the money-making opportunity in front of them: the fountain of youth. Instead, they let it go to waste, losing the chance to make some major cash for the Spanish crown.

Don’t miss out on opportunities to make a little extra dough. Have some clothes you’re planning on throwing out? Sell them on Smashion. Have a skill? Consider becoming a freelancer. Check to find a job. There are lots of ways to hustle up some cash on the side, you just have to figure out what works for you.

Do try minimalism.

Jack Sparrow travels light. All he needs are his hat, his black eyeliner, his sword, and some rum. The rest is negligible. Maybe we can take a page from Jack’s book and become a bit more minimal when it comes to our possessions. Half of the things we buy, we don’t actually need.

Go through your stuff, one room (or closet) at a time, and create three piles: one for things you’ll keep, one for things you’re unsure of, and one for items to donate or sell. For the stuff you’re chucking, set up a yard sale, using these tips from J.D. Roth.

For the stuff you’re unsure of, store it away in a box for six months. If you haven’t missed your stuff during that time, donate the whole box to Goodwill or another organization.

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