One of the most wonderful things about the holidays is the stories that have come to define this time of year. There’s nothing like a holiday story with a heartwarming message to cheer you up during these cold December days. So with that thought in mind, here are 5 financial lessons from your favorite holiday characters:
The Grinch: Appreciate what you have
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is an enormously popular story, and the reason we love it is not only for its endearing villain-turned-hero but also for its simple message: that happiness (both during the holidays and throughout the year) stems from the people in our lives rather than the toys and gadgets in the carefully wrapped packages. In the climactic scene, the Grinch looks upon the Who’s down in Whoville, expecting them to be sad that all their presents have been stolen. Instead, they are holding hands and singing together in celebration of the holiday.
What it means for you: When it comes to you and your finances, be a Who and not a Grinch. Don’t worry about having the latest and best technologies or be envious of your neighbor’s Christmas presents. Enjoy good company and the things that you do have… And don’t hesitate to join hands and sing when the mood strikes you!
Ebenezer Scrooge: Don’t be greedy
It takes three ghosts (of Christmases past, present, and future) to make Scrooge see the error of his ways. He was blind to the needs and suffering of the people around him, including his assistant, Bob Cratchit and his young son, Tim. But after having his eyes opened, he realizes it’s not too late and quickly takes action to help make the holiday joyful.
What it means for you: While it’s important to stay on top of your finances, don’t lose sight of why you are earning/saving money. It’s a means to an end — and the end is your happiness and the happiness of others. Finding that balance between paying attention to your finances and not coveting money for its own sake (as Scrooge did) will help you enjoy not only what you’ve earned but also what you can give to others.
Rudolph: Know that your time will come
Waiting is never easy. Rudolph had to wait for his circumstances to change and endure the humiliation of being teased by the other reindeer for his bright shiny nose. Eventually, though, his patience was reward: “Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to town…” and at that moment his unique nose was not an embarrassment but rather a sought after characteristic. Instead of being a curse, it turned out to be a blessing.
What it means for you: Like Rudolph, your unique abilities will be recognized in due time. You might be waiting for something different than Rudolph — a job, a raise, a new opportunity, etc. Whatever it is, take heart from Rudolph’s story and don’t panic or give up. Keep believing in your own value and the idea that your strengths will eventually lead you to your goals. Persevere, and one day people will be talking about how “you’ll go down in his-to-ry.”
The Ginger Bread Man: You can’t keep running forever
The Ginger Bread Man is a fun story about a little tasty cookie that can run faster than everyone else. At least, that’s what he says: “Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Ginger Bread Man!” Unfortunately for him, even if you’re the fastest you can never run away from everyone forever. At the end of the story he ultimately gets caught and, well… eaten (he is a dessert, after all).
What it means for you: Sometimes it’s tempting to think you can outrun all your financial obligations. “I’ll buy this thing I need right now, and I’ll figure out a way to pay for it later.” Unfortunately, you can’t run away from those bills forever, and if you try then you might soon be running away from a horde of debt collectors! Instead, make sure you don’t have to run for your obligations by limiting your spending to only those things you can afford. (And if you have debt, tackle it head on with ReadyForZero) That way, you won’t have to worry about getting caught and eaten!
Santa Claus: You can do more in one night than you think!
In terms of workplace efficiency, Santa is the gold standard. Think about it: he delivers presents to millions of kids around the world in the span of just a few hours — not even UPS or FedEx could reach that kind of speed. And to top it off, he does it all with a smile! Of course, he doesn’t do it alone. He has plenty of help from his reindeer and the elves. Not to mention a bit of Christmas magic.
What it means for you: Sometimes you don’t need to work more — just work more efficiently. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But sometimes taking a few steps back to look at your whole work process can lead to insights that will help you cut out unnecessary steps or streamline the things you have to do. This can apply to your home life as well. Saving time in our daily routine can allow us to spend more time savoring moments with our friends and family. Just like Santa sliding down all those Chimneys without getting dirty, you might find a novel way to get things done faster. And the reward could be better even than a nice cold glass of milk and chocolate chip cookie!
What about you — what’s your favorite holiday character?