DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s the time of year when people are rewatching their favorite holiday movies, and there’s something to learn from some of the classics that can help you financially.
Whether you’re spending your Christmas vacation with the Griswolds, catching up with the Grinch in Whoville, or are home alone with Kevin McCallister, financial advisers say there are lessons to be learned from the flicks.
The first: “Don’t spend your money before you have it,” Troy Westendorf, a financial adviser with Triplett-Westendorf Financial Group, said.
Clark Griswold learned this the hard way when he put a down payment on a new pool with what he thought was going to be a Christmas bonus check, and it turned out to be a one-year membership to the jelly of the month club. Westendorf says this all relates to credit cards.
“We’re at an all-time high for credit card debt in America,” Westendorf said, “and the pinch that it has when you’re going out and spending or using credit to buy gifts, January comes and you start to feel that, ‘Oh what did I just do?’”
When things don’t happen the way you think, like when Kevin McCallister finds out he’s home alone, you should be like Kevin as he stays positive and makes the best of it. Westendorf says having a spending plan to know what money is coming in and out will help.
“When life happens and the markets happen and the storms happen which they will, to have a spending plan in place so you know exactly where your dollars are going can really take the stress and eliminate the stress out of your life,” Westendorf said.
Lastly, when the Grinch has an epiphany after stealing Christmas from the Whos, Westendorf reminds us it’s not about the gifts we buy this holiday season but the company we’re with that will make our hearts grow three sizes.
“I think just creating those memories, creating those lifelong traditions are going to have the most impact in the long run,” Westendorf said.
There are financial things to keep in mind for the new year. The pause on student loan debt repayments was extended to May 1. Starting in 2022, Westendorf said child tax credits will go from $3,000 to $2,000 and will be paid annually, not in monthly installments.