4 Practical Financial Lessons from The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight, the latest in the new series of weighty Batman remakes, had the biggest opening in box office history last weekend. The movie, directed by Christopher Nolan, features an outstanding performance by the late Heath Ledger and an outstanding storyline that helps it transcend superhero movies and become simply a great story.
Batman, as it seems, is pretty hot stuff right now. His movie is boffo, his merchandise is flying off shelves, and he has connected with a whole new generation in ways that Adam West could have never imagined. Batman’s tale is analogical to any number of real-life lessons: politics, religion… banking.
Yes, even money management has a lot to learn from the Caped Crusader’s escapades. He sets a prime example not only on how to rake in money at the box office, but also on how to invest and save with a superhero as a guide.
Here are four tips on how the Batman pattern of finance can pay off…
1. You don’t need super powers to be effective.
Batman is a unique superhero because there is nothing supernatural about him. Superman can fly, Spider-Man can climb buildings and swing from webs, Plastic Man can bend and stretch (well, not all superpowers are enviable). But what does Batman do? He knows some form of karate, and he has gadgets. Many 14-year-olds could say the same.
What Batman does well is use his resources. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, is your typical stuffy rich person. He is Donald Trump with five percent body fat. Everything that makes him Batman is a result of his own hard work, intuition, and resourcefulness.
Consumers could learn a lot from Batman’s seemingly simple beginnings. You don’t need to have a finance degree to be successful with money management. You don’t need a sixth sense for market fluctuations. You don’t even need to know how to consistently calculate a tip amount. There are resources available to take care of all those activities.
An everyman can be successful with his money in several ways. Researching investment opportunities is a great start. Find out which banks offer the best rates and discover how to maximize your tax refund and your 401k. There are lots of tools at a consumer’s disposal, making money heroism a fairly straightforward task.
2. It helps to have the right people around you.
Batman’s men-only entourage includes his butler Alfred and his gadget man Lucius Fox (sidekick Robin is best left forgotten). And that’s it. He doesn’t have a group of handlers or a posse of friends and relatives jockeying for his attention. He has two close pals who know him better than anyone and know how to get the best out of him. Plus, they are there for Batman when he needs them, and they always give great advice.
Sound familiar? Hopefully it does. While you may not have a butler or gadget man around, you should be able to find the right people who can help you make the right decisions and offer you timely advice. Reputable sources might come from banks, investment agencies, real estate offices, or even some close advisors or friends. If they’re worth keeping around, they’ll help you do the right thing with your money, with nary a selfish motive in mind.
Batman could weed out the good from the bad. Can you?
3. Protect your identity.
One superhero quality that Batman fully embraces is that of the alter ego. Bruce Wayne: Billionaire by day, Batman: Flying Mammal Vigilante by night. And he really has little choice. If Batman’s true identity were to be known, baddies all over Gotham City would have that many more chances to wreak havoc on him and his personal life.
The same could be said of criminals in the real world. They would love it if you were forthcoming with your identifying information — social security number, bank accounts and driver’s license. And they would be thrilled to wreak havoc on your credit score and life savings.
Consumers need to protect their identities in much the same way that Batman protects his — vehemently, although sans mask and cape. When dealing with money firms and investment agencies, only give them as much information as they absolutely need. When banking online, make sure you have a safe connection and that you log out to end your session. Be paranoid about your PIN number, and be mindful of your address. You don’t have to go so far as to create an alter ego, but you may need to get close enough that doing so would be your next step.
4. Uphold justice at all costs.
Batman’s signature virtue is justice, which is evident in the way he fights crime at the jeopardy of his social calendar. Only when Gotham City is crime-free will he enjoy a night out on the town or a Cubs game. His love of justice, it would appear, is only trumped by his love for his Batman utility belt.
Similarly, good morals should be a tenet of investing, too. There are countless ways to fraud your way to the top of the class, but in the end, you will be fighting a losing battle. Shady deals and insider trading might seem like a good way to get ahead, but consumers would be smart to stick to the standard (and legal) ways of doing business. Partnering with a charity or investing in issues-focused organizations will get you just as far, if not farther than using the black market as your personal eBay.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 12:32 pm