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Sorry for any spoilers, but this movie came out in 1946 so….

A few reasons why this movie has been one of my favorites for most of my adulthood is because I worked at a community bank, similar to the Bailey Bros Building and Loan & when I was 20 one of my close childhood friends passed away. 

Not a money lesson, but just something interesting that happens early in the movie. The Spanish flu kills Mr. Gowers’s son and although there is nothing financial to talk about that, I just thought it was interesting to see a similar type of scenario of COVID documented in one of my favorite movies.

  1. Inflation. I wish I had a million dollars…. Pulls on the cigar lighter and says hot dog!
    1. It was 1919, a million dollars then would be over $15 mill today 2.72% compounded inflation
    2. With an inflation rate of 3%, the cost of goods and services would double in about 24 years
  2. Balancing Maximum Profits Vs Common Good. Mr. Potter asking Mr. Bailey whether he’s running a business or a charity ward. This hits home with me more recently since I started my business, but even prior to that, my overall feelings on business in general. Personally, I’ve designed my business to maintain a balance between striking maximum profits and having the biggest impact and value on traditionally underserved communities. I just recorded a quick video and said that the typical requirement to work with a financial planner is 20-30 years of experience.
  3. The cost of college has always been expensive. Even though the cost of college is dramatically more expensive today, still it wasn’t affordable. George had to delay college and work for his father while he saved up while most of his friends were finishing school. 
    1. We are all on different timelines and have different means and resources
  4. Your goals can change. I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that.…… I’m going to travel, then he’ll go to college and see what they know, build skyscrapers a hundred stories high and bridges a mile long!
    1. He doesn’t get a chance to do any of those things and although there are brutal points in his life where his goals shifted, he still lives a truly wonderful life.
  5. Homeownership affordability. The Bailey Bros Building and Loan was a financial institution primarily for saving and lending to build new homes. The cost to build a new home was $5,000 and still out of the reach for many of the residents of Bedford Falls. The average income in the US was $1,500 during the great depression. (Should I Buy a Home)
  6. Why we have insurance on our bank accounts. Run-on the bank during the great depression, which is the reason why FDIC coverage exists today. This guarantees up to $250,000 with a federally insured bank. 
    1. It was previously $125,000 when I worked at a community bank during the great recession and I saw a lot of interesting things and it was that crazy set of events that really made me dive into investment and financial planning in the first place.
  7. Why the rich get richer. Potter isn’t selling, Potter’s buying. While everyone is panicking. Again, this is similar to what is actually happening today. Although not at the magnitude of the Great Recession, small businesses and the middle class and lower are losing wealth and big businesses are swooping in and profiting. This is why the rich get richer during these events.
    1. Potter buys up all of the struggling businesses for pennies on the dollar.
    2. Small businesses are losing business while people rely on larger businesses that had the infrastructure in place to ride out this pandemic and gobble up a greater market share.
    3. Non-business owners and lower-income classes are losing because they are resetting any progress they made with retirement accounts if they’ve lost significant income. 
    4. Rich people and people with resources are able to ride out turbulent times without panicking which allows them to strategically think long-term & cherry pick investment opportunities.
  8. Memories over dollars. So to survive the run on the bank, which means all of the cash was withdrawn, George used his honeymoon money to float the Wonderful Old Building & Loan. They were left with $2 from $2,000. They weren’t going anywhere. George’s new wife, set up a dinner at this broken old down drafty shack house and a few of their friends helped them make it a memorable night. They ultimately ended up making that place their home. It’s a little far-fetched, but it just reminds me that life is more about the memories we make than how much we spent to make them.
    1. If I could have the same intense feeling and happy memories with $0 or $20,000. I’d probably go with the $0 option every time.
  9. Life is more valuable than assets & super low cost of life insurance. You’re worth more dead than alive. This is a horrible thing to say to someone, but besides that, we have a lot more worth than the income we make or the assets in our name. This was in reference to the life insurance policy George has. Life insurance is supercritical for families and anyone who has others relying on their income.
    1. Technically, when it comes to calculating how much you need, we look at the amount of income you’re likely to generate over the rest of your working career. 
      1. Basically, it aims to generate a worth based on income earning potential, which is very different than societal worth. 
    2. Sadly, with the chaos that is ensuing at this point in the movie, George considers committing suicide, which is way too close to home for me. One of my childhood best friends committed suicide when we were 20 and the impact with big to me and many of our close friends. That’s when this movie became one of my favorites. Life is super precious and I don’t really know how to explain it other than I started to not take things for granted and became very intentional, as well as, just try to be the best I can for myself and others and try to enjoy every day.
    3. He is sorely missed and I know that I’ve missed out on a lot of hard laughs and big smiles. I imagine, just like George, he had no idea the impact and void that is created when they are not there.
  10.  Community is a powerful force. The whole town came together and pitched in when they heard George was in trouble. If this year and even specifically this podcast has shown me, is that community is super valuable. I love hearing others’ stories and finding ways that I can connect them with others in my community so that we can all grow stronger together and have support in those down days. 
    1. George always gave and gave and never asked for anything. Even at the end, technically he didn’t ask, but the lives he’s touched over the years with his selflessness made him the richest person in town because of all of the equity and support he had in his community. 

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Lucas Casarez is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional serving tech professionals virtually out of Fort Collins, CO