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5 financial lessons your children can learn from your favourite Christmas films

Your favourite Christmas films contain a range of financial lessons to share with your children. Discover five to teach your children this festive season.

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Settling in for a night of Christmas films with your family is one of the very best ways to celebrate the festive period.

Certain films have become perennial favourites, and need an annual rewatch. These films often contain plenty of heart, and offer up wisdom you can take with you into the new year.

Interestingly, they also contain valuable lessons about wealth and money management, perfect for giving your children an introduction to basic financial concepts.

Read on to discover five financial lessons your children can learn from five all-time favourite Christmas films.

1. Watch Kermit and company show the importance of having a savings target in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of the best-known novellas ever written, with its main character’s name, Ebenezer Scrooge, now famously used as a shorthand for someone who is particularly miserly.

Dickens’ story has been retold in many films throughout history – there are more than 30 films based on or around the tale. But perhaps the most entertaining of them all is The Muppet Christmas Carol, a 1992 musical version featuring the cast of the Muppets alongside Michael Caine.

The key financial lesson for your children within this humorous retelling of a classic tale is a simple but important one: having a target is more effective than just saving as much as you can.

Scrooge is a miserly old man who has hoarded his wealth at all costs. But, as he’s visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, he quickly sees the error of his ways, having missed out on joy and love while pursuing wealth he didn’t need.

This is an opportunity to show your children the value of setting a savings goal. Spending frivolously or saving without ever spending means you can’t use your wealth to achieve what you really want.

Meanwhile, by having a target for your savings, you can strike a better balance between setting money aside and spending it sustainably.

This is a hugely valuable lesson for your children to learn, and this brilliant film presents a great chance to introduce them to it.

2. Offer a first lesson into banks and borrowing with It’s a Wonderful Life

A quintessential Christmas film, the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey as he contemplates ending his own life. Instead, a guardian angel visits him and shows him just how important his life has been to his loved ones.

Although the moral of the film revolves around being grateful for who you are and the impact you have on those around you, there are valuable financial lessons for children to learn, particularly about banking.

The run on Bailey Brothers Building and Loan that threatens to dissolve the family business can offer a good in-road into explaining how banks work. Meanwhile, the company’s work helping a handful of homeowners buy their properties presents an introduction to mortgages and lending.

It’s a Wonderful Life may look a bit dated compared to some of the newer Christmas films. Even so, it’s still an entertaining watch that the whole family can enjoy.

3. Learn about risk and the importance of preparation from Home Alone

Macauley Culkin’s performance as the playfully devious trickster Kevin McCallister in Home Alone has become an iconic part of Christmas.

After his parents mistakenly leave him at home on their family trip to Paris, Kevin must contend with two burglars who repeatedly attempt to break into his home.

Fortunately, Kevin is able to outsmart them both, setting up ingenious traps and obstacles to keep himself and his family’s possessions safe.

It’s exactly these defence mechanisms that your children can learn a lesson from. Kevin realises that there’s a risk to deal with, and so adequately protects himself.

There are all sorts of risks to protect your finances from. Whether it’s the potential of losing your job due to redundancy, or not being able to work due to injury or illness, missing out on income like this can be hugely detrimental.

Fortunately, this is where financial protection can offer a safety net, as well as valuable peace of mind. That might involve:

  • Income protection
  • Critical illness cover
  • Life insurance

Just as Kevin does, your children can learn the importance of future-proofing their wealth from Home Alone.

4. Find out why you need to believe in your own goals rather than other people’s in The Polar Express

The animation may look a little tired in 2023, but The Polar Express is still one of those Christmas films that demands rewatching every year. It’s a fantastic film full of heart, following the story of the mysteriously unnamed Santa-sceptic “Hero Boy” who travels to the north pole and rediscovers the spirit of Christmas.

Interestingly, the lesson to learn is a core part of a financial planning approach: ignore what others are doing and stick to your plan.

In the opening of the film, we see Hero Boy look at the evidence he has collated for why Santa Claus isn’t real. He rifles through newspaper clippings, photos, and an encyclopaedia, as he grapples with his loss of belief in old Saint Nick.

Yet as Hero Boy discovers during his trip to the north pole aboard the mysterious train, the Polar Express, Santa is very much real and alive.

All this goes to show your children the importance of sticking to your own plan. Rather than your children being influenced by their friends or others on social media to make financial decisions, it’s always wise to stick to the plan you’re following, whatever that may be.

And, when you need help or have any doubts, always turn to someone in the know. Hero Boy ends up finding out the truth about Santa Claus from the most accurate source possible – the man himself.

5. Discover the importance of planning as a family from Elf

Since its release in 2003, Elf has become an integral part of the Christmas film canon. Will Ferrell plays the brilliantly naïve Buddy the Elf, who travels to New York to find his real father after discovering that he isn’t really an elf, but a human after all.

Yet, after finding his father, the brutal publishing tyrant Walter Hobbs played by the excellent James Caan, Buddy is rejected and told to leave.

In the end, Walter realises his error when the family come to love Buddy as one of their own, and the film ends with Walter’s firm publishing a book about the elf’s journey from the north pole to New York.

Elf is a great opportunity to talk to your children about the importance of planning your wealth as a family. You all have your own financial goals and objectives, and working together to plan your wealth is vital to ensure you can all reach those targets.

It’s also a great way to learn the value of intergenerational planning, as Buddy forms a close relationship with his step-brother, Michael.

Buddy looks out for his newfound family members, both those older and younger than him. This behaviour towards finances will serve your children well if they go on to have their own families, showing how a joined-up approach between you, them, and their own children could go a long way in helping everyone to achieve their financial ambitions.

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This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

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