Julia Kukiewicz is editor of Choose.net, a news and reviews site covering – among other things – DVD rental. The site covers big names like Lovefilm and ways for film-lovers to save money like blu ray rental. Regular contributor Julia has previously looked at the best Woody Allen films and the work of Meryl Streep.
Since, in my other life, I write for a credit card comparison site, spotting the personal finance gems in popular movies has become a bit of a speciality of mine.
The following bits of money advice are arranged in order of usefulness.
10. The Glimmer Man (Gray, 1996)
[To a group of mobsters in a warehouse] “I have thousands of dollars in my back pocket, cash? Or will you take plastic? ”
Steven Seagal plays the lead in this hilariously poor murder mystery/thriller. Shortly after delivering the line above he flicks a blade from his gold ‘Dynasty’ credit card and, in one motion, slits five guys throats before running away.
The advice: never let Steven Seagal pay by card.
9. Trading Places (Landis, 1983)
Billy Ray Valentine: [after breaking a vase] That was a cheap vase, right? That was a fake? Right?
Randolph Duke: I believe we paid $35,000. But if I remember correctly, we valued it for the insurance company at $50,000. You see, Mortimer? William has already made us $15,000.
This ’80s comedy sees two rich dukes swap the lives of (poor) Eddie Murphy and (rich) Dan Aykroyd as part of an elaborate bet which spectacularly backfires on them.
The advice: make sure you’re insured.
8. Catch Me If You Can (Spielberg, 2002)
Paula Abagnale: Just tell me how much he owes and I’ll pay you back.
Carl Hanratty: So far, it’s about 1.3 million dollars.
In Frank Abergnale’s autobiography, later made into this movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, he describes his first con – a simple credit card fraud carried out on a card he persuaded his father to get so they’d never be out of petrol for the family car. Abergnale now has his own company, advising banks on fraud prevention.
The advice: don’t give your 16 year-old your credit card.
7. The Man from the Diner’s Club (Tashlin, 1963)
Foots’ stripper girlfriend Sugar Pye: You could get a Diner’s Club card you can charge all sorts of things to it.
Foots: Baby, we’re going to Mexico not to a Chinese restaurant. And, anyway, what kind of idiot’s going to approve a card – a Diner’s Club card – for Foots Pulardos.
Someone did approve one of the earliest forms of credit card – a Diner’s Club card – for the indebted Pulardos in this comedy. Realising his mistake, the bank employee ends up chasing the mobster to get it back and save his job.
The advice: getting a card you’re not qualified for may be more trouble than it’s worth.
6. Gigi (Minnelli, 1958)
Gigi: [admiring her aunt’s emerald ring] Well, who does give the valuable jewels?
Aunt Alicia: Who? Oh the shy, the proud, and the social climbers, because they think it’s a sign of culture. But it doesn’t matter who gives them, as long as you never wear anything second-rate. Wait for the first-class jewels, Gigi. Hold on to your ideals.
Gigi is a paean to holding out for what you want – unhappy to be Gaston’s mistress, Gigi holds risks losing him altogether but ends up being his wife. In the quotation about Gigi’s aunt lectures on why the richest princes don’t give the biggest emeralds.
The advice: The richest people aren’t the most conspicuous consumers.
5. Office Space (Judge, 1999)
Joanna: Well, what are you going to do about money and bills and…
Peter: You know, I’ve never really liked paying bills. I don’t think I’m gonna do that, either.
Going off at the deep end and ripping off his company for millions of dollars doesn’t go all that well for Peter in the end. But it is funny to watch.
The advice: Take a deep breath when you feel like you might decide to go off the grid.
4. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Hogan, 2009)
Rebecca: [reading from her article] Your store card is a like a 50% off cashmere coat. The first time you meet, it promises to be your best friend. Until you look closely and realise it’s not real cashmere. Then, as winter comes, you discover that your coat isn’t actually a friend at all. You should have read the fine print.”
Rebecca Bloomwood is a feckless shopping addict being pursued by the city debt collectors while managing to swing a job as a personal finance reporter.
The advice: Read the small print. And try not to get into a mountain of credit card debt.
3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948)
Howard: Aah, gold’s a devilish sort of thing, anyway. You start out, you tell yourself you’ll be satisfied with 25,000 handsome smackers worth of it. So help me, Lord, and cross my heart. Fine resolution. After months of sweatin’ yourself dizzy, and growin’ short on provisions, and findin’ nothin’, you finally come down to 15,000, then ten. Finally, you say, “Lord, let me just find $5,000 worth and I’ll never ask for anythin’ more the rest of my life.”
The advice: Don’t get greedy.
2. The Jungle Book (Reitherman, 1967)
“When you find out you can live without it, and go along not thinking about it, I’ll tell you something true, the bare necessities of life will come to you.”
As always, the best advice is to be found coming out of the mouth of a bear in a Disney movie.
The advice: cut out your unnecessary expenses. You can do without more than you think and give yourself more money to spend on what you really love.
1. Richie Rich (Petrie, 1994)
[In Mount Richmore]
Van Dough: This is… this is junk! … Bowling trophies?
Richard Rich Sr.: Oh, do you remember that, darling?
Regina Rich: Our first date!
Van Dough: What is all of this crap?
Regina Rich: These are our treasured possessions!
Van Dough: But where’s the gold… the diamonds… the negotiable bearer bonds? The money!
The money is in the bank, of course, in this film starring Macaulay Culkin which teaches the kids that it’s not all about money. Although Richie does have a pretty nice office.
The advice: at the end of the day, the most valuable things in life aren’t worth any money. But having money is nice so keep it safe in the bank and be cautious with your personal details.
Written and compiled by Julia Kukiewicz
Julia Kukiewicz is editor of Choose.net, a news and reviews site covering – among other things – DVD rental. The site covers big names like Lovefilm and ways for film-lovers to save money like blu ray rental.
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