3 Fantastic Movies That Teach You Important Financial Lessons


Jeff Cuellar



Going to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night is one of the few stress relieving activities I enjoy after a long week of rowing the slave galley work. Of course, when I see the atrociously long line at the cinema (full of “hipsters” no doubt), I usually just mutter a few “choice” words to myself, and make my way home.

That brings me to the first (and most) important financial lesson that you will learn from movies – it’s better to watch them for “free” from the comfort of your own home.

Now that I’ve taken that monkey off my back, it’s time to introduce 3 of my favorite films that share one important thing in common – they all teach important financial lessons.


1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – There’s No Such Thing as “Easy” Money

Running Time: 179 minutes

OK, so I braved being in a long line of hipsters talking about coffee shops to watch this one. But it was worth the painful price of admission! It was an entertaining 3-hour film about the rise and fall of a brilliant con man named Jordan Belfort. A word of caution, expect to see plenty of sex and drug use (sometimes simultaneously). It is a Scorsese film after all.

This film teaches many good AND bad lessons (depending on your moral compass) when it comes to pursuing your desire for quick and easy cash. But the biggest lesson you’ll get out of this fantastic film is that there is NO such thing as “easy” money.

In the film, Jordan Belfort was able to scam investors out of 200 million by convincing them to buy artificially inflated “penny stocks” (see Pump and Dump scheme) not with high-pressure sales tactics, but with charisma and promises of easy money.

Here’s what I mean:



So if you ever get an email or a phone call (are you on the Do Not Call Registry yet?) from someone tipping you off about an investment product that’s about to make a lot of people rich – just remember, the only person likely to get rich is the con artist contacting you, NOT you.


2. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Don’t Fall For Dishonest, High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Running Time: 100 minutes

Sure, a film about real estate salesmen trying to sell the “American Dream” to home buyers doesn’t sound interesting. But add a fantastic cast (Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, and Ed Harris), and an expletive-laden story about four salesmen who will do ANYTHING to close a deal and you’ve got yourself an entertaining 100-minute film!

Like The Wolf of Wall Street, this film also teaches many good and bad lessons (especially to those working in competitive sales industries). Unless you’re in sales, the biggest lesson you can get from this film as a consumer is to be weary of high-pressure sales tactics – especially when you’re making the biggest purchase of your life, your home.

Not every salesman has the morality of a third-world dictator. But when there are demanding sales targets to meet and the “head office” motivates them with threats (see the scene below), some salesmen are willing to lie, cheat, and pressure prospects to get a sale (and keep their jobs).

Here’s what I mean (caution: it’s a pretty intense scene):




In the sales world, there’s an acronym called ABC, or Always Be Closing. That works great for salesmen. But I have another one for consumers – Always Be Cautious, especially whenever a salesman offers you some free “prizes” when you buy or pressures to “make your decision NOW.


3. Scarface (1983) – Don’t Get too Greedy (Know When to Stop)

Running Time: 170 minutes

Who doesn’t love a good story about a third-world immigrant, named Tony Montana, who rises from a lowly dishwasher to become a successful international businessman? OK, so maybe I left out the part about his business involving the trafficking of copious amounts of narcotics from Bolivia to Florida. But it’s a success story nonetheless. 

This iconic expletive- and violence-riddled film is famous for two major reasons: 1) it shows what a “nobody” can do to achieve financial success, and more importantly, 2) it shows how a successful man can lose it all by getting too greedy. We even did an entire article on key lessons Tony Montana can teach us about career success!

It doesn’t matter if achieve Tony Montana-like success by running a great business, or by putting most of your money in a particularly successful investment product – getting too greedy can and will ruin you. You only need to mention Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to see how greed ruins even the most powerful people and institutions.

That’s the biggest lesson you can take away from this fantastic film – knowing when to stop yourself from taking a “The World Is Yours” approach to life. How do you know when you’re getting too greedy? Just look around you – it’s when the “closest” people in your life have left your side. Follow us on Facebook as we look at more ways to grow your money without going over the top and losing it all.


Final Note: Many of the dangers presented in these films can be avoided by practicing due diligence (Google is your best friend in that regard!) when it comes to high-stakes purchases like property, or any other investment product for that matter.

On that note, if you want to deal with a company that doesn’t use Glengarry-like tactics to get you your home loan, visit Smartloans.sg to get free help and advice.


What films have taught you important finance lesson(s)? Share your comments with us here!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.