Movie Money: Credit Lessons from Hollywood

It’s not often that a film is Oscar-worthy, much less lesson-worthy. That said, there a few credit repair lessons to be learned from the films listed below. Grab some popcorn and absorb the subtle hints.

1. Indecent Proposal.

Debt makes people do crazy things. Some people take out payday loans. Others cash in their 401(k) plans. In this case, a married man agrees to allow his wife to engage in a one-night-stand for a cool $1 million dollars. Watch the trailer. 

The lesson:

Assessing risk is important. The couple in this film lost their money due to a recession and bad investments. Anticipating roadblocks is essential for financial stability, or in this case, avoiding a very shady deal.


2. In Good Company.

50-something Dan is facing layoffs. After his company is restructured, he loses his senior position to 26-year-old Carter, a millennial with good ideas, but little experience. To make things worse, Carter develops feelings for Dan’s daughter. Watch the trailer.

The lesson:

Stay competitive in the workforce. Unemployment rates are still hovering at 6 percent this year. Keeping your job (and qualifying for new positions) often means brushing up on the latest technologies and finding new ways to distinguish yourself. Credit repair is best achieved with a steady income. Keep yours safe by going the extra mile at work.


3. The Joneses.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones have the perfect life: A huge house, expensive cars, popular kids, and a slew of neighborhood followers. The only problem? They aren’t real. The Joneses are a fake family hired by a marketing company to promote an image and sell products to their neighbors. The unsuspecting neighbors become obsessed with keeping up, much to the demise of their self-esteem and bank accounts. Watch the trailer.

The lesson:

Don’t try to keep up. While you may feel the pressure to compete with your peers, the thrill of stuff won’t last forever. Overspending is likely to lead to overwhelming debt, a catalyst of credit repair. Do yourself a favor and stop coveting the lives of others. Stick to your own budget and stay out of financial trouble.


4. The Rainmaker.

Rudy Baylor is a first-year lawyer in Memphis. When he discovers that a national insurance company, Great Benefit, is cheating their clients out of claims money, he takes the case, representing a dying boy and his bankrupted family. Despite Great Benefit’s power and expensive lawyers, Rudy quickly establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with. Watch the trailer.

The lesson:

Question authority. Medical bills are a common cause of financial strain in the U.S., threatening to drain an ailing person’s bank account and saddle them with lifelong debt. There’s no doubt that medical care is expensive, but the actual cost is less certain. For example, is your insurance company properly governing your benefits? Did your doctor overcharge for a standard medical test? Do yourself a favor by asking questions and giving your bills a second glance. Your credit health is important, too.


5. Blank Check.

This movie is a blast from the past (the trailer asks us to check the newspaper for show times), but the message remains important. 11-year-old Preston is obsessed with cash, and eventually resorts to check fraud (via his brand new MacIntosh computer) to get it. His parents attempt to explain the importance of money, but they fail to teach the importance of working for it. Watch the trailer.

The lesson:

Control your kids’ spending and set a positive example.


6. Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Here’s a confession: I haven’t seen this movie. The idea of paying $8.00 to watch a woman ruin her life didn’t seem appealing for some reason. Anyway, that’s the general plot line: A twenty-something girl is obsessed with shopping, maxes out her credit cards, and has debt collectors hot on her tail. She learns how to face her troubles by attending Shopaholics Anonymous. She also finds a job and pays off her debts. Watch the trailer.

The lesson:

Focus on past mistakes. Credit damage can follow you for years and hinder your chances for a stable future. Don’t pull the wool over your own eyes, even if it is merino.