The 1998 film The Big Lebowski may not be new but Lebowski Fests are still incredibly popular, and the movie itself has become a massive cult classic. In truth, The Big Lebowski has been dissected and considered from just about every angle — some have even posited that Donnie is a figment of Walter’s imagination and apparently you can buy Bunny Lebowski toe soap. (“You want a toe, Dude, I can get you a toe.”)
But this is the PerkStreet Blog. You know if anyone can find some money lessons in The Big Lebowski, we can. Here are five things you can learn about money from the film. You’ll be a Little Lebowski Urban Achiever in no time!
“That Rug Really Tied the Room Together”
The movie kicks off when Woo “Micturates” on The Dude’s rug after confusing him for The Big Lebowski. Aside from the obvious lesson that urinating on your floor is bad for your household (cleaning) budget, there’s a greater lesson here.
If something that’s old really works for you, stop trying to find excuses to replace it. More importantly, consider the long-term value of the things you do buy. It feels good to treat yourself. But instead of dropping money on short-term happiness, look at as many things as you can as though they’re investments. For example, next time you’re shopping for yourself, use your money more wisely by opting for a jacket you’ll wear 100 times rather than an accessory that will lose its luster next week.
“I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski”
The Big Lebowski says this when he first meets with The Dude, but it only really resonates later when you find out The Big Lebowski is actually broke. After this revelation, it’s really easy to recognize that both Lebowskis are really in the same boat when it comes to financial status. The Big Lebowski is just keeping up appearances.
The Federal Reserve has estimated that some 40% of American households spend more than they take in each year. Keeping up with the Joneses is costing almost half of us to live significantly less enjoyable lives because we’re just buying too much stuff we don’t need. Don’t get let clutter build up, but do yourself a favor and try to be a little more Dude when it comes to buying new things. You’ll likely be a lot happier and have more money for the really important stuff. Like White Russians and Creedence tapes!
“Don’t Find a Stranger in the Alps”
If you’ve only seen the “rated R” version of this movie, you might not recognize this quote — it’s the censored version. It comes when Walter and The Dude go to the home of a young man named Larry Sellers to find out if he stole The Dude’s car, crashed it, stole The Big Lebowski’s money and left his homework in the vehicle. The lesson Larry learns about money has less to do with larceny and more to do with rushing to judgement…
Being in control of your own financial future means planning. It means thinking like a grown-up (which you are, unlike Larry) and planning for the next steps. Sometimes it can be exciting to take your personal finances to the next level but I have a news flash for you: You can’t save half your income next month. That’s biting off more than you can chew. When Walter smashes the new Corvette across the street from Larry’s house, he demonstrates that being brash only applies to SPENDING money, never to SAVING it. Keep this in mind. And go for In-N-Out Burger if everything else hits the fan.
“[Being a Nihilist] Must Be Exhausting”
Uli Kunkel and his buddies have a tough time getting through life effectively because they “believe in nothing.” For The Dude and his cohorts, this means all kinds of headaches including a ferret in his bathtub. (The Nihilists also suffer as a result.) Sometimes you’ve just got to believe!
Ask any of the columnists who regularly write for the PerkStreet Blog and you’ll hear the same thing: You have to believe in a better financial life if you really want to achieve one. Saving for your next step or trying to fight debt without goals will get you nowhere 99 percent of the time. Visualize your future, plan exactly how you’ll get there and don’t stray from the course you set yourself. Believing is achieving, Little Lebowskis!
“Your Phone’s Ringing Dude”
Donny is kind enough to let The Dude know his phone’s ringing when he’s clearly ignoring calls from The Big Lebowski and Brandt. But when was the last time someone reminded you about your cell phone?
Specifically, the mobile phone industry has totally exploded in the last two years. If you’re still toting around an antiquated phone, you might be able to get more for the same amount you’re currently paying each month. On the flip side, you could be going over your plan and paying too much if you have a smartphone. Do some research. Pay attention to what you’re paying on that cell phone bill and get on a device and plan that makes sense for you. There are way more options than you might even believe. Plus, for a bonus, if you’re a PerkStreet customer, switch your mobile bill to your PerkStreet Debit Card and you’ll likely earn a good chunk more cash back next month. Most of the major wireless providers accept debit card payments processed as non-PIN purchases.
What do you think? Are there other personal finance lessons hidden in The Big Lebowski that we missed? Let us know below!
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