Money Lessons from Movies

Published: March 9, 2016 | Updated: March 17, 2020 | Posted by: Carlo Miguel Castañeda | Lifestyle, Personal Finance



Money lessons from financial movies? You’ve got a lot going on in that area. Most movies that involve money are heist flicks, thrillers, or straight-up political features on greed and the eventual downfall of the “big bad”.
Here are a few movies about money that impart some pretty important money lessons for everyone.

Wall Street (1987)

The film is about Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an ambitious young stock broker who eventually becomes involved with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko is a legendary figure among Wall Street brokers, and as such is Fox’s hero. He aspires to be a trader just like the older man, whose wealth and success turns out to be the result of insider trading.
The lesson: Use lessons from other people’s success stories in your own life. Not everybody is deceitful or corrupt like Gekko, but then no two paths in life are the same.

Rogue Trader (1999)

Ewan MacGregor plays Nick Leeson and his role in the 1995 collapse of Barings Bank in Singapore. The film follows his rise to become one of the bank’s top traders. He also has an unfortunate gambling habit and uses up much of the bank’s funds to fuel it. He attempts to flee from his £800 million debt but is eventually imprisoned.
The lesson: Debt isn’t something you should run away from. This lesson applies no matter how much your debt is and as much as you can, pay your debts off quickly.

The Ocean’s Trilogy (2001, 2004, 2007)

In this heist flick trilogy, the A-List star cast is caught up in a caper where money is the root of all evil. Through some sleight of hand and careful planning, they manage to orchestrate the theft of over $160,000,000 from Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Throughout the trilogy, we see the protagonists struggle with having money to picking fights over money.
The lesson: You can’t always buy happiness with money but sometimes, your finances can help secure the life you’ve always wanted. This can be achieved by working hard and planning for the future.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

This Oscar-winning film tells the story of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) who joins – and wins – Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. It’s based off on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup and is considered one of the greatest rags-to-riches films of the last decade. Jamal learns every answer to the questions, becoming a wonder and eventually winning in spite of being accused of cheating.
The lesson: Hard work always wins, and it takes some creativity to make money at your lowest point.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

In this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the eponymous Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a wealthy man who throws lavish parties and is described as a hopeful man by Nick Carraway (Tobey Macguire). What follows is a tale of how Gatsby’s life was full of lies and half-truths at best, and his lavish lifestyle was all to win back his former paramour.
The lesson: Money really isn’t everything, and you shouldn’t alter your lifestyle to fit in the crowd. The film also shows that sometimes, wanting more in life will bring you in contact with people you never expected.

Final Thoughts

Fiction is sometimes stranger than life, even when it comes to money and managing your finances. While these stories are great to watch and pick up a few lessons from, remember that you’re starring, directing, and financing your own movie: your life. Manage it well, and it’ll be one heck of a blockbuster.