Manage Your Money Like a Hero

What Summer Blockbusters Can Teach Us About Personal Finance

Date: May 31, 2012

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—This is the summer of the hero, and with more than a dozen action-packed tales of good versus evil in theaters, audiences have their pick of whichever big-budget blockbuster suits their tastes.

An online survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education and conducted by Harris Interactive in May 2012, finds that nearly four out of five U.S. adults indicate that someone in their household plans on attending movies this summer. And that means big business for the movie studios. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), The Avengers raked in $47.2 million over the Memorial Day weekend, upping its four-week total to $524 million, while Men in Black III opened with $70 million.

9 Ways to Save at the Movies

  • Buy a ticket to a lower-priced matinee show
  • Eat at home before the movie and pass on theater refreshments
  • Take advantage of discounts for students or seniors
  • Join the theater’s loyalty program to earn rewards (such as discounted snacks or free tickets)
  • Skip 3-D or IMAX showings, which can almost double ticket prices at some theaters
  • Buy bulk tickets, especially for family outings
  • Monitor daily deals or group coupon websites
  • Redeem credit card rewards or use a cardholder’s discount
  • Wait a few weeks and watch the movie at a discount, second-run theater
  • Since the very first comic books, superheroes have been used to reveal aspects of the human condition in interesting ways, and this summer’s modern film adaptations are no exceptions. Whether theatergoers choose to watch a team of earth’s mightiest heroes, a crew of scientists on a space mission or a masked defender on the verge of retiring his cape, they can take away some useful lessons in personal finance.

    The Avengers: Unemployment is Challenging, But Support Can Help

    The Avengers assembles film heroes from the past several years, including some who have been “out of work” for quite some time. Captain America, for example, fought in World War II, but spent nearly 70 years in a coma-like sleep until he was revived by agent Nick Fury and tapped to join the Avengers. Facing an unexpected layoff or period of unemployment comes with challenges that can arise suddenly, but some basic steps can help:

    • Take time to understand the severance package.
    • Consider unemployment eligibility, including insurance coverage.
    • Manage spending and maintain good credit to help prepare for better days ahead.

    Now that Cap is re-employed fighting crime, he should continue to live below his means and start saving money as he wasn’t able to do during his period of unemployment. Americans who also are back to work should prioritize their financial goals and start saving again.

    Men in Black III: Know Your Partner and Set Joint Financial Goals

    When we meet Agent J in the third Men in Black film, we find him traveling back in time to 1969 to prevent the assassination of his partner, Agent K. Throughout the MIB series, the two agents have developed a successful partnership because they work together and communicate openly on every mission. How does communication impact finances?

    A NEFE survey in December 2010 found three in 10 Americans who have combined their finances with a partner admit to lying to their significant other about money. When it comes to sharing finances with a partner, honesty is vital:

    Prometheus: Save for Emergencies and the Unexpected

    Prometheus, a prequel to the 1979 thriller Alien, follows the crew of the Prometheus spaceship as they explore the remains of an ancient alien civilization, encountering unimaginable dangers and threats to the existence of mankind. Just as an astronaut wouldn’t exit a spacecraft without a backup supply of oxygen, it’s important to create a backup supply of cash by building an emergency fund. Saving 10 percent of your paycheck each month is a good starting point to prepare for a sudden, urgent expense like a car repair or medical bill.

    Natural disasters and severe weather also can have serious financial ramifications, but there are preparations that help make recovery smoother:

    The Amazing Spider-Man: Plan for Child’s Financial Security

    Peter Parker, aka Spidey, uses his web-slinging agility to fight crime, but his double-life has hindered his ability to hold a steady job. And after losing his parents at a young age, Peter was raised by his guardians, Aunt May and Uncle Ben, who themselves have struggled to make ends meet. According to a NEFE survey in May 2011, 59 percent of parents are providing, or have in the past provided, financial support to their adult children (aged 18 to 39) when they are no longer in school. Twenty-six percent of these parents responded that they have taken on additional debt; 13 percent have delayed a life event, such as buying a home or taking a vacation; and 7 percent have delayed retirement. Parents supporting children at any age should take the following steps:

    • To prepare for the worst, draft a will or revise an existing one to name a guardian. Guardians do not necessarily need to be family members and it is possible to designate multiple guardians: one to raise your child or children and one to manage their finances.
    • To plan for educational expenses, save early for college or post-secondary education, either through an education savings account or a 529 college savings plan. The accounts lessen the amount of savings you will need, thanks to compound interest and investment opportunities. Use a financial calculator that includes inflation adjustments to decide how much to save monthly and annually.

    The Dark Knight Rises: Save and Prepare for Retirement

    In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne, Batman’s billionaire secret identity, is older, and both his life and his home, Gotham City, have changed. Batman is faced with hanging up his cape and retiring from a life of crime fighting. Bruce Wayne might be a billionaire, but it doesn’t take that level of income to plan a useful retirement budget. Start retirement planning now:

    • Calculate an appropriate level of savings, based on factors such as the number of years you have left of employment and additional sources of retirement income.
    • Consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) in addition to the retirement plan offered by your employer.
    • Create a retirement paycheck to make your retirement savings last a lifetime.

    The starring characters of this summer’s big-budget movies might exist in a fantasy world where masked crusaders (or aliens in disguise) roam freely, but by watching these stories, non-super citizens can take away some financial planning lessons that apply to their own lives—no mask or cape required.

    About NEFE/Harris Interactive Survey Methodology

    The surveys mentioned in this article were conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE. The May 2012 survey was conducted from May 1-3, 2012, among 2,210 U.S. adults aged 18+; the May 2011 survey was conducted from May 10-12, 2011, among 1,074 non-students aged 18 to 39 or parents of non-students aged 18 to 39; and the December 2010 survey was conducted from December 17-21, 2010, among 2,019 U.S. adults aged 18+. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology (including weighting variables) click here.


    • Paul Golden

      Media Relations Director

      Direct: 303-224-3514
      Cell: 303-918-3620
      [email protected]