The Definitive Ranking of Financial Skills in Christmas Movies
As you sit down to watch classic Christmas movies with your family, you probably wonder: how does this Character’s ability to make money decisions stack up against other films we’ve watched? You don’t? I do. Keep reading for our (silly) take on how these classic Christmas films handle decisions in terms of money. Enjoy this (mostly) parody post.
#11: Christmas Vacation
The Griswold family is relatable for anyone who has ever tried to host a large family gathering. That being said, Clark Griswold earns a spot at the bottom of the list. Clark’s financial decision-making skills are atrocious. The Griswold patriarch makes decisions to give his family a “good old-fashioned family Christmas.” Honorable motivations don’t always end in great decisions. The Griswold family ranks dead last. Let's all hope they got some financial help after Christmas.
- Aunt Bethany found some ways to save on Christmas presents by gifting items from around her home!
- The family has a cat mishap with a chair, but Eddie realizes there may still be some value to be had.
- Clark made a major financial decision (the pool!) without talking to his spouse
- Clark committed money (his Christmas bonus) before he knew what the amount was going to be
- The Griswold family home decorations are beautiful, but the electricity bill (nuclear auxiliary!) is going to be horrendous
- Uncle Eddie has been holding out for a management position for…seven years. Time to get a job.
- Todd and Margo, the next door neighbors, seem to be underinsured for living next to the Griswold family.
#10: Home Alone
The McCallister family leaves for a vacation to Europe, but in a rush after a power loss, they leave a young son at home. This story of delinquent parenting, home invasion, and air travel is frightening at times, but funny. Kevin’s time at home…alone should be a tale of warning to us all as parents. Hopefully, the McCallister family has an emergency fund for all the home repairs they have ahead of them.
- Kate McCallister, the mom, is an excellent negotiator. She manages to negotiate her way through several flights and eventually a rented truck with a polka band. Be wary though, pocket translators don’t fetch as much as they once did.
- Gus Polinski (John Candy) and the Kenosha Kickers are being thrifty with their transportation needs. Riding in a rental truck is not glamorous. These polka musicians, however, know that keeping costs down is important in the music business.
- The McCallisters have chosen to stay with family while in France. This decision alone will save them on lodging costs on their Christmas vacation.
- The McCallisters live in a very nice home and neighborhood but need to guard against theft. A reasonably priced security system would be a good addition and might get them a discount on their homeowner’s insurance.
- This family is need of better organization. If they’re forgetting one their children, what else is being forgotten!
- An emergency contact is very important when you’re going on an extended trip (like a European vacation). If the family had a local friend that could’ve checked on Kevin and the house, how much easier would things have been?
The McCallister family decides to take another vacation for the Christmas holiday. What could go wrong? Kevin ends up lost in New York City, alone. Somehow the family manages to make even worse decisions after the first film.
- Mr. Duncan, the toy store magnate, sets a great philanthropic example by making an annual donation to the children’s hospital.
- Kevin, at 10, seems to be more in tune with how to get around in the world than all the adults in the film. He’s very familiar with how to book a hotel, rent a limousine, order a pizza, and more.
- Peter McCallister, Kevin’s father, has got to be more careful with his wallet. Personal security especially with a large amount of cash and traveling is very important.
- The Plaza Hotel has very lax policies about who can pay with a credit card.
- It’s pre 9/11, but even still the airline seems to just let anyone on board. I’d be very concerned about the value I’m getting for my money for the lack of scrutiny by the gate attendants.
The Rankin-Bass version of Rudolph (The definitive version) gives us a glimpse into the world of the North Pole. It's not all great. Santa's tenuous management skills make a difficult environment for elf employee morale.
- The elves have a good long-term employment situation. With little competition for skilled labor at the north pole, they likely get a good salary with good job security.
- The Island of Misfit Toys sets a great example. Gently used toys can be a great gift.
- Herbie, in his excitement to become a dentist, seems to have gotten ahead of himself. It’s important to get a plan before going to college, but Herbie does not seem to have a plan to pay for dental school.
- Yukon Cornelius is very excited about precious metals like gold and silver. Commodities prices can be just as volatile as Yukon’s interests.
- Santa’s payroll seems to be out of control. A yeti gets hired on the spot without any discussion of salary or impact on the budget.
The Peanuts gang gives us a glimpse into how children view Christmas. There’s some great stuff here, but I am very concerned about unlicensed psychologists as portrayed in this film.
- Lucy has embraced entrepreneurship with her psychology business.
- Charlie Brown shops around for a tree to make the Christmas play gets a good deal.
- Charlie Brown realizes that cards and gifts are not guaranteed happiness.
- Snoopy and Woodstock plow a lot of money into decorations for the contest.
- Charlie Brown did not check to see if his family’s insurance would cover his visit to get therapy.
- Lucy's parents may need to see how her practice of unlicensed therapy may affect their insurance.
The Muppet version of the Dickens novel is, of course, the most faithful to the novel. Scrooge, as a businessman in the financial world of London, should probably be higher on the list. His questionable decisions helped move the (Muppet) version of this tale lower in the rankings.
- Scrooge has a good handle on energy costs. He understands that if he is careful with heating then he can reduce the cost of energy, er coal.
- A man comes to see Scrooge who has fallen behind on their loan payments. It’s important when you get in trouble with a loan to engage with the lender to see what options are available. Unlike scrooge, A reputable lender will offer options.
- Bob Cratchit has continued in the same job with a low salary for years. Making you receive appropriate compensation for your labor is important as a father.
- Mr. Scrooge scoffs at the opportunity to give to charity. 19th century English tax laws aside, a charitable contribution can sometimes be counted for a tax deduction.
- Mr. Scrooge buys a turkey on Christmas day. He bought the prize turkey out of joy. Will he be so happy when he realizes that last minute seasonal purchases rarely yield a good price?
#5: White Christmas
In this Christmas classic, we get to see Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) become successful in business after World War II. Later, they visit their old commander Major General Tom Waverly and hijinks ensue.
- After the war, Bob and Phil find some great ways to market their job skills and make a successful entertainment business.
- Bob and Phil ask friends for help to promote business at the floundering hotel. Sometimes, asking for help is important.
- Betty runs away, but her job skills are so great she secures a new job at the Carousel Club in what seems to be a couple of hours.
- General Waverly decided to start his own business (with all his savings!) with the best of intentions but seems to be unsuited for the Vermont hotel and restaurant business.
- The sisters are great performers, but have trouble securing long term employment.
Elf is a newer entry on the list, but a strong entry for December classics. Buddy the elf goes on an adventure to find his father in New York City.
- Papa Elf had chosen to involve his adopted son in his work and show Buddy the value of his chosen vocation.
- When Buddy publishes a book about his adventure, he gets an expert (Walter) to help him navigate the world book sales, promotion, and royalties.
- Walter is a dedicated book publisher, but work life balance.
- Miles Finch, the successful children’s author, allows his intellectual property and livelihood to fall into the hands of a competitor.
- Walter starts his own publishing business for children’s books, but does he have enough resources to provide for his family while the business gets up and running?
The tale of Ralphie Parker and his quest for a red rider BB gun in the 1950s is still relatable. While plagued with some questionable language, this film shows Christmas through the eyes of a boy with high hopes for presents.
- The Old Man, Ralphie’s father, has a great attitude when a flat tire presents itself. Instead of being down about it, he views the incident as an opportunity to test his skills.
- The Old Man also takes pride in home repairs tackling a furnace himself. This may save money on repairs, however the swearing should probably be reigned in.
- The Parker family enjoys free entertainment with programs like Little Orphan Annie.
- A leg lamp, even one that was a major award, is almost certainly bringing down property values.
- One of Ralphie’s acquaintances, Flick, sticks his tongue to a freezing flagpole on a “Triple-Dog Dare.” It’s unclear how the incident ends up, but there was likely a hefty bill from the emergency room.
The Grinch tells us the tale of a loner who doesn’t like Christmas and home invasion. The Grinch's minimalist lifestyle almost put this one at number one.
- The Grinch has taken a very streamlined approach to his living situation. This bachelor has found inexpensive real estate on Mount Crumpit (a cave) that meets all his needs.
- The Grinch also proves to be a talented sower. This skill no doubt saves money for him on clothing costs.
- The Whos in Whoville have a concerning housing situation. Every home in the town was vandalized. It’s time for better locks on doors and windows.
- The Whos have a massive robbery in their town and choose to celebrate Christmas together. This is an admirable attitude, but it’s important to report home theft right away to the police and your insurance company.
It’s a Wonderful Life gives us a glimpse into the life of George Bailey and his impact on the town of Bedford Falls. We get to see the town both with and without George in it. At number One, the financial skills demonstrated in this classic film are great.
- George makes many sacrifices to preserve the family business. One the biggest sacrifices is the honeymoon him and his bride miss to stave off a crisis.
- Mary Bailey has the good sense when crisis strikes to call for help. Sometimes we can be too proud to ask for financial help, but she saves the day.
- George makes his life work helping others climb the ladder into home ownership. This is a great way to help others and does so with excellent ethics.
- Uncle Billy seems like a nice bird enthusiast. He is not suited for a job that requires being responsible with money.
- The Building and Loan suffers a near crisis when George’s father unexpectedly passes away. George manages to step in and save the Bailey Building and Loan. When family and business are involved it’s important to have clearly defined plans to keep everyone from getting into trouble.
- The evil Mr. Potter steals $8,000 from the Baileys. Potter is never brought to justice for this crime. It’s important to report financial crimes to keep other consumers safe.
Bonus: Die Hard
Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Since some people continue to debate this clearly established point, we decided to give the beautiful tale of John McClane's attempt to patch up things with wife its own separate entry.
- The bad guys show they have a keen knowledge about the role bonds can play in a diversified portfolio. It’s not great they are stealing the bearer bonds, though.
- John McClane, as a police officer, likely has good health insurance. This is important to have if you spend time fighting bad guys on Christmas eve.
- Holly, John McClane’s wife, has done well in her career, however, who wants a job where they have to work at Nakatomi tower on Christmas eve?
- The Nakatomi Corporation has a large amount of assets in their vault. It might be a good idea for them to investigate holding some of their assets elsewhere in an account to guard against fire, accidents, or Hans Gruber.
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