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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jake's Take - Money Morals from the Movies: Batman Begins

Deriving financial insights from today's blockbusters and yesteryear's classics.

As much as I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies, I need the movie to have some basis in reality in order to enjoy it. Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, though fantastical and gothic as it was, had enough reality in it to make it believable. By the time George Clooney's embarrassingly awful Batman & Robin hit screens in 1997 it became clear that the franchise had completely lost touch with reality. Granted the Batman movies have always been a bit over the top, but at least back in the early days there was some effort put into presenting a world that was recognizable.

In all fairness, part of the reason the Batman franchise began to decline was because producers were responding to what people wanted—more special effects, more gadgets, more over-the-top villains. And that’s what they delivered… a little too heavily, as was evidenced by the fact that the fourth Batman flick essentially put a proverbial gun to the head of the franchise and pulled the trigger, leaving it dead for a good 10 years.

Then came the era of Hollywood’s gritty reboots, and the film Batman Begins was one of the flicks that paved the way. Begins presented a Batman that was very believable—all of the gadgetry was based on technology the military was actually using at the time; and the new Bruce Wayne, played masterfully by Christian Bale, actually looked like a dude that could beat the snot out of you if you found yourself on the wrong side of the law. Batman Begins was just the breath of fresh air the franchise needed. It took Batman back to his roots, kept him grounded in reality, and left all that unrealistic George Clooney stuff in the past.

There’s an interesting parallel here for money management and budgeting. I think we all start off well, with plenty of good intentions, but then one of two things happens:

  1. We stagnate. We lose track of our budgeting practices. We lose our motivation. We start falling short. We give up.

  2. We become too extravagant. Our spending habits start spiraling out of control like a maniacal Batman villain.

In both scenarios we lose touch with reality.

When you're on the road to paying off debt, you have to hold course. If your spending starts getting too out of control or your motivation to keep up with your budget starts to deflate, you’re never going to reach your financial goals. Be realistic. Get down and dirty like a gritty reboot. If your spending habits start to feel like George Clooney’s Batman—fake, rubbery, and with sculpted nipples—it’s time to start thinking like Christian Bale—lean, efficient, and effective.

Keep pinching’ :-)

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