Sunday, October 16, 2011

Five Financial Lessons Learned from Star Wars

I am a big nerd so I thought this was funny. Today's entertainment is provided by the freelance writer Nicolas Gallego!

Once a year, I force my family to sit down with me and watching the original three Star Wars films back-to-back (the other three are banned from the household). This year was special because the series was finally released on Blu-ray so for once we could play it on our huge living room screen and actually watch it like we were in the theater. Seeing the intergalactic action unfold more vividly than I ever had before, I got to thinking about how much these movies had made me the person I had become.

For the sake of this blog, I've isolated five lessons learned from Star Wars that relate to personal finance and money in general:

1. Sell your landspeeder to follow your dreams.

In the original film, hero Luke Skywalker must say goodbye to his landspeeder in order to afford the journey across the galaxy to enroll in spaceflight school. You have to be willing to give up that sports car or other precious personal possession if it allows you to pursue your dreams. Otherwise, you'll continue to stay stuck on the same rock that you've been living on for years.

2. Rewards work.

In order to talk swashbuckling gun-for-hire Han Solo into helping him save Princess Leia, Luke reminds the cynical hotshot that if she were to be saved, her rescuers would surely be handsomely rewarded. Most people in life - even the noble ones - respond best to rewards. Incentives are what get people off the couch, and the earlier you learn this, the better. It's a priceless part of getting goals accomplished.

3. If they are stronger, then you are faster.

The Galactic Empire never thought that the Rebel Alliance was a real threat because they had 1,000 times the firepower and resources. Whether it's a small business or a bake sale, those who are financially better equipped than you are always going to create an unfortunate disadvantage on your part. But success can still be found by converting these apparent disadvantages into actual advantages; the Rebels always stayed one step ahead of the Empire because their small size enabled them to.

4. Material does not matter.

Who can forget the stunning revelation that the great Jedi master Yoda was not some decorated beast of a man residing in a fortified palace but rather a munchkin hermit hacking it out in a mud hut? What you are made of - “this crude matter” - and everything else physical in this world doesn't amount to squat compared to who you are. Keep this in mind when making judgments about others you don't know.

5. All the wealth in the galaxy can't break certain bonds.

Darth Vader returned himself to the side of good by saving his son Luke from the clutches of the evil Emperor, something the latter never expected to have happen. At the end of the day, wealth withers in the shadow of family and friendship. All the number crunching and data mining in the world can't predict the power of love in determining how people conduct their lives.

Money and finances are strong forces, and have their place in the functioning of society, but they are by no means the only force at work or the only influence that are important in life. Putting money into perspective is key to bettering your life, no matter how much richer or poorer you expect to become in the near future.