Hunger Games Lessons On Budgeting

Hunger Games Budgeting

In the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen steals our hearts with her kindness and sole determination to survive.  She volunteers as a tribute when her sister is chosen from a lottery to fight to the death in the Hunger Games.  By making tough decisions, sacrifices, and helping others, she is able to triumph over her foes.  For a budget nerd like myself, several parallels jump out at me between the movie and the budgeting process.

7 Lessons You Can Learn About Budgeting From The Hunger Games

  1. Show Restraint – All the tributes encircle a huge pile of weapons and supplies at the beginning of the game.  They start by running to get their supplies and weapons.  The best supplies and deadliest weapons are in the middle while other, less appealing weapons, are on the fringe.  When you start your budget journey, you are going to see lots of shiny objects you can buy – the new car, boat, nights out with friends and more.  They seem like they are worth fighting for because everyone wants them.  However, if you are like Katniss and can resist the temptation, you can avoid the often devastating mistakes (debt) for which others fight.
  2. Starting Out, Less Is More –  During the start of the Hunger Games, some tributes tried to take all they could.   Not only did they try to get the best weapons and supplies, they tried to get a lot of them.  They paid the price with their lives.  When you are starting out, it is tempting to buy everything you can.  You take on debt to buy a new car, furniture, a new house, and new toys. You don’t set goals.  By spending too much early and not saving, you pay the price with your financial life.  You will have a harder time time saving later because you have too much debt.  You will pay more in interest rates because you are a high credit risk.  You will work longer because you did not start saving early enough for retirement.  Don’t be that guy.
  3. Learn How To Use a Weapon and Seek It Out – Katniss has practiced for years with her bow before she ever entered the games.  She was an expert shot.  Once the games start, she seeks out her weapon of choice and ignores the seemingly more lethal weapons.  What does this mean for you?  Just like Rich Dad says, you need to develop financial acumen early on by studying different areas of finance.  This could be investing in the stock market, real estate, mutual funds, retirement savings, entrepreneurship, budgeting, saving, risk management, or a zillion other things.  As you begin your budget journey, fall back on this strength.  If you know how to invest in the stock market, don’t immediately jump into real estate because it is hot.  Stay with your strengths until you become very sophisticated in that area and then branch out slowly.
  4. Build Your Network – In the Hunger Games, Katniss is advised to get people to like her so they will send her gifts when she is in need.  She gets some much needed supplies because people like her.  You too need to get people to like you and this is called networking.  Build favor by doing favors for others.  Make sure you are hanging around the right people.  Offer to help someone for free to showcase your expertise.  You never know when you will be looking for a job or a new client and the person you helped in the past becomes your angel today.  Don’t know where to start?  Try one of my favorite books loaded with tips on how to network on Linked In – The Startup Of You.
  5. People Are Always Watching You – In the Hunger Game, Katniss could not go anywhere without being on camera.  People were always watching her and she was always under the microscope of public opinion.  She could not fight it, although she tried. Your financial and budget life is under the microscope too.  Everything you do is visible to others.  You show off that new car or boat.  You are moving out of the foreclosed house.  You get turned down for the car loan.  Your employer pulls your credit report.  Keep your nose clean and you will be viewed more like Tom Hanks rather than Charlie Sheen by your friends, neighbors, and strangers.
  6. Outside Forces Are Trying to Control What You Do – In one part of the movie, Katniss tries to get away from everyone.  The organizers of the Hunger Games send in Fire to reroute her back to the main game arena.  In life, there are outside forces trying to control what you do as well.  The Federal Government tries to control the economy by making money cheaper or more expensive to borrow.  Marketers try to control what you desire.  Your friends have that second kid or buy the new house and you feel you need to as well.  Be like Katniss and resist the forces and forge your own path.  The best way to do this is to build a financial plan and stick to it.  An easy way to do this is to write your short term (next few months), mid term (about a year to five years) and long term (more than five years) goals down everyday – yes, I said everyday.
  7. Lastly, Be Like No One Else – The Hunger Games are all about survival.  Everyone, young and old, know that they must kill everyone else to survive.  However, one girl, Katniss, refuses to think like everyone else.  She refuses to act like everyone else.  Because of this, other people change.  The organizers decided to allow two, instead of one, win the games.  In life, others may make fun of you (usually behind your back), but who cares!  Like I tell my daughter almost every day, “It only matters what you think.”  This type of attitude will allow you to focus on your goals and be richer and less stressed than everyone laughing behind your back.  Like Dave Ramsey says, Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.

I have not read Catching Fire yet, but I’m sure it will be as good as the first book.  When I go see the movie with my wife during the holiday’s maybe I’ll be inspired to write an article on coming out of retirement.  Sign up for my email list and you can be alerted if I do.

In the mean time, what financial lessons did you learn from watching the Hunger Games?  Tell me in the comments below.

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