Hollywood is not exactly known for teaching us about the real world. Explosions are perfectly timed for heroes to either jump or walk away in slow motion, every phone number begins with 555, and there’s always a random cat in the bushes that snarls. However, when it comes to money advice, there are some things Tinseltown gets right. Let’s take a look at the five best money quotes that you can apply to your life.
1. Wall Street
Carl Fox: “Money’s only something you need in case you don’t die tomorrow.”
Why it’s so good: Don’t fool yourself, money matters in this world. The first half of the quote has you thinking it’s merely another romantic observation on how money isn’t everything in life, or that money can’t buy happiness. However, the sentence does a complete 180 in the second half. By the end of the quote, you realize money is quite important since you probably won’t die tomorrow. You have future financial needs that you’ll need to pay, so you better start preparing for them now.
2. Fight Club
Tyler Durden: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
Why it’s so good: Rule number one is not to talk about Fight Club, but this quote is too good to skip. Lost in our consumer-driven economy, we tend to lose track of what’s really important in life. Instead of reducing our dependency on a job we hate, we try to find happiness in material things being thrown in our faces every day. Before you know it, you’re living in an oversized house stuffed with expensive ignorance. You’re spending every paycheck trying keep up with the Joneses, who truth be told, aren’t that happy themselves and have the debt to prove it. Think about what makes you truly happy in life before spending money.
3. Boiler Room
Jim Young: “And there is no such thing as a no sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close? You or him? Now be relentless, that’s it, I’m done.”
Why it’s so good: Making a sale doesn’t just apply to professional salesmen. Everybody is trying to make a sale in life by selling themselves. You’re trying to sell yourself when dating, interviewing for a job, or any other situation where you’re trying to convince another person you’re a good bet. You either succeed in selling your qualities to a potential romantic interest or employer, or you don’t. Those who sell themselves best to employers stand to make more money.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
Mark Hanna: “Number one rule of Wall Street. Nobody, I don’t care if you’re Warren Buffett or if you’re Jimmy Buffett, nobody knows if a stock is gonna go up, down, sideways or in fucking circles, least of all stock brokers, right?”
Why it’s so good: This is brutal honesty at its best. Countless hours are spent analyzing news and how it affects stocks, but in the end, no really knows what will happen. The market is full of irrational investors. Trying to predict what they will do tomorrow is a fool’s game. Even confident high-paid analysts in fancy suits appearing on TV often get the market wrong. Alternatively, try to minimize your fees and trading activity, and allocate capital appropriately in regard to your risk tolerance and life goals. Nobody cares about your financial future as much as you do, and nobody has an unblemished crystal ball.
5. Margin Call
Seth Bregman: “Will, did you really make two and a half million last year?”
Will Emerson: “Yeah, sure.”
Seth Bregman: “How did you spend it all?”
Will Emerson: “It goes quite quickly. You know, you learn to spend what’s in your pocket.”
Peter Sullivan: “Two and a half million goes quickly?”
Will Emerson: “All right, let’s see. So the taxman takes half up front, so you’re left with one and a quarter. My mortgage takes another 300 grand. I send 150 home for my parents, you know, keep ‘em going. So what’s that?”
Peter Sullivan: “800?”
Peter Sullivan: “All right, 800. Spent 150 on a car. About 75 on restaurants. Probably 50 on clothes. I put 400 away for a rainy day.”
Seth Bregman: “That’s smart.”
Will Emerson: “Yeah, as it turns out, ’cause it looks like the storm’s coming.”
Peter Sullivan: “You still got 125.”
Will Emerson: “Yeah, well I did spend 76,520 dollars on hookers, booze and dancers. But mainly hookers.”
Peter Sullivan: “76.5?”
Will Emerson: “I was a little shocked initially, but then I realized I could claim most of it back as entertainment. It’s true!”
Why it’s so good: This exchange between three bank analysts encompasses several key lessons in personal finance. First, no matter how much money you make, it’s never enough. People routinely find ways to spend any raises or bonuses that come their way. Next, Uncle Sam is probably your biggest expense in life, and he gets paid before you do. Keep that in mind before spending big bucks on material things such as homes and cars.
The conversation even includes how you should save money for a rainy day. Nonetheless, it’s still important to have fun and reward yourself with some truly discretionary spending. If you can claim this spending as a tax write off, even better.
Follow Eric on Twitter @Mr_Eric_WSCS