6 Classic Movies about Holidays and Money
Hollywood serves holiday budget advice Want to find out where you're going wrong with the holiday budget?
Just ask Hollywood.
The answers are right there in black and white. Or Technicolor.
Served straight up, like "It's a Wonderful Life" or with a demented twist, a la "Christmas Vacation" or "Scrooged," movies dramatize our hopes and dreams for the holidays. Or, in some cases, roast them mercilessly.
So whether your holiday plans include visiting Santa, going overboard on the light displays or feasting on Chinese food, here are six classic holiday movies and what they really reveal about holiday spending habits and traditions.
'It's a Wonderful Life' This three-hanky Frank Capra classic often tops the list of favorite holiday movies. It has something for everyone: Jimmy Stewart playing an everyman hero who happens to be a lender with a heart of gold. A guardian angel. A greedy banker. A small town replete with cute kids and friendly families who pull together when it counts. And, just in case you have any Kleenex left at the end, a soldier returning safely from the war.
What it reveals: For the people of Bedford Falls, the gifts that mean the most aren't available in any store.
"People do good deeds with their hearts at the holiday season," says Todd Mark, vice president of education for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas. "You're going to feel better about a gift of meaning rather than a gift from the mall. If you want to have your 'It's a Wonderful Life' moment, it's often represented by generosity and care, and not just a shopping spree."
Revelation for cynics: We should clone George Bailey and put him in charge of the Fed. A bank too small to fail? Genius.
'Christmas Vacation' Forget bells and angels. This one is about what happens when you stretch things a bit too thin and start spending money you don't have. After Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold doesn't get his usual holiday bonus, he goes crazy trying to make sure the season is still "perfect" for his family. When he finally cracks under the stress, he winds up accidentally kidnapping his boss (with more than a little help from his perpetually hard-luck cousin-in-law, Eddie). What it reveals: The temptation is strong to spend money you don't yet have -- especially when you're trying to please the people you love. But all they really want is for you to be there. A lot of folks have more limited financial resources this year, says Jill Gianola, CFP, author of "The Young Couple's Guide to Growing Rich Together." So don't feel bad about "ratcheting down the spending," she says. And enjoy the traditions that involve spending time (not money) with loved ones. Revelation for cynics: There's no such thing as "perfect." Make sure the home insurance is paid up. Always check the Christmas tree for squirrels before you bring it inside. And never, ever, grease a sled.
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