Movie Money Lessons to Make You Rich

Who knew making money could be this relaxing? Just sit back on your sofa, open the popcorn and let the credits roll. Here are 5 movie money lessons to help grow your wealth.

Table of Contents

  • Be ready to adapt if circumstances change

  • Think out of the box

  • Trust your instincts

  • Don't let the pursuit of wealth consume you

Movie Money Lesson 1 - 'There Will Be Blood'

This movie tells the tale of silver miner turned oil baron Daniel Plainview played by Daniel Day Lewis. It is a tragic story in the mould of Citizen Kane with Plainview becoming wealthy beyond anyone's dreams but also alone, estranged from his own son and friends.

Yes, he isn't a good person. He murders a man for pretending to be his brother and he abandons his disabled child. No hunting for wealth is worth that but there are movie money lessons we can learn from him.

On his journey to wealth Plainview overcomes a trip through rocky outcrops with a broken leg to earn his first fortune from a silver find, a gas explosion rupturing his son's ear drums and having to go through a belittling baptism in order to gain access to a prized piece of land to build an oil pipe to the sea.

It is a tale of perseverance, having a clear strategy and outwitting your rivals such as the $1million deal for his oil wells he turns down because he knows they are worth multiples of that.

Perhaps the most famous scene is when he confronts radical preacher Eli Sunday who, now destitute after the Wall Street crash, tries to sell a piece of land near Plainview's oil fields that he does not own. Plainview tells a distraught Sunday that the land has already been drained of oil by his pipeline.

"If you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and I have a straw. My straw reaches across the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I drink your milkshake. I drink it up."

Possession is key is the message. The more you own the more you can sit back and watch the money come in.

Movie Money Lesson 2 -  'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Perhaps not a movie to watch with your Mum or if you are male - your girlfriend. It tells the true story of Jordan Belfort - 'The Wolf of Wall Street '- and his journey from callow to multi-millionaire stockbroker with his own yacht, helicopter and huge mansion. He's very funny, as are his colleagues, but again not exactly a moralistic person holding dwarf throwing parties, doing copious amounts of drugs and being convicted of money laundering.

But there are positive movie money lessons. One is a speech made by Belfort's first boss Marc Hanna trying to explain the stock market to him. "The Number one rule on Wall Street is that nobody knows if a stock is going to go up, down, sideways or in circles, least of all stockbrokers. It is all a fugazi. It is fairy dust, it does not exist," he says.

Hanna goes on to explain that the market only becomes real if a client banks in their profits. That's not going to happen, he adds. "You find another idea, another stock for them to put their earnings into. They are rich on paper, but the brokers get the cold, hard cash via commission."

The lesson here is to recognise the broker's game and always stay ahead in your investing strategy. If it's a short-term trade or a long-term hold always remember to make it liquid, take the profit when you decide the time is right.

Movie Money Lesson 3 - 'Moneyball'

The story of the Oakland Athletics' General Manager Billy Beane who broke conventional baseball wisdom by using performance analysis to build a winning team from miscasts and overlooked talent. The main financial lesson for hedge fund traders and investors from this film is that even if someone looks like a great baseball playing athlete, if they don't make bases or hit runs then it is best to go for the guy with the bent arm or thick legs that does. In investing terms, it means looking for the undervalued stocks, the ones who may not hit the headlines but regularly deliver in terms of revenues, profits and innovations.

Movie Lesson 4 - 'Scarface'

Okay, another less than dubious character. The tale of Cuban immigrant Tony Montana who goes to Florida and builds a huge drugs empire. It all ends in a hail of bullets for Montana but on the way, there are some financial lessons we can learn. One of Tony's sayings is 'Who do I trust? Me!".

It's a valuable movie money lesson. Yes, listen to the experts, the portfolio managers and the market commentators. Listen to the advisers telling you to pick this hot stock, bond or this active ETF or that you are missing out on this great opportunity by being too passive in your investment strategy and not selling or diversifying.

Trust your instincts. If you think that index tracking ETF will keep churning out the profits year after year or your long-term collectibles strategy will pay off in a couple of decades when that watch, or rare coin is worth double what it is now then stick to your guns. You know best. Don't live someone else's strategy, live yours.

Movie Lesson 5 - 'It's a Wonderful Life '

The Christmas TV tearjerker when George Bailey wishes he had never been born but white-haired, cuddly angel Clarence shows him how hellish life would have been for his family and friends without him. Bailey shows that the pursuit of wealth doesn't mean - as his nemesis Mr Potter believes - squeezing the last pennies out of people who can't afford it.

It is a classic movie money lesson. It means being loyal, using your drive and ingenuity to make sure that money is spread around and that those who truly need it, get it. Yes, getting wealthy can bring you and your family security but through philanthropy and giving back you can make other people's lives and your community better as well.


Financial lessons are everywhere in life - you just need to know where to look. Next time you watch a movie keep a keen eye and ear on what you see the characters do and say. There are many movie money lessons you can pick up.

Are they trying to make money, build their wealth or protect it? Can you empathise with their situation? Can you use their solution to solve your own problems or help you forge a new path to greater wealth? It might even make all those rom-coms more watchable!

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