You don’t have to be a movie critic to recognise Star Wars’ massive influence across cultures and generations. The action might have taken place in a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but the wisdom of Star Wars extends straight to Earth. The original trilogy has profound insights that can change our lives and help us see money in a new light. Here’s what a Star Wars marathon can teach us about finances and using the Force to keep your money under control. (Spoiler warning: you may want to watch the original trilogy before reading on, and save time by avoiding episodes 1-3.)
Money is Neutral
In the Star Wars universe, The Force is an all-encompassing and universal energy that powers every living thing. And like money, the Force is a powerful but morally neutral entity. Depending on the intentions of the wielder, it can be used for good or it can be used for evil. Using the Force with evil in your heart is what makes a Jedi turn to the Dark Side. Your mindset towards money affects the way you use it. By treating money as a neutral tool to meet your goals, you can approach your personal finances without guilt or shame.
Money Management is a Skill
Frustrated with Luke Skywalker’s impatience in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda complains to Obi Wan-Kenobi and says that Luke is too old to learn the ways of The Force. The path to becoming a Jedi starts at childhood, where young padawans undergo rigorous training and learn how to use the Force responsibly. Only when a padawan has demonstrated complete control of the Force can he be considered a Jedi. Like padawans, we all have the potential to use money responsibly, but we are not born with money management skills. They need to be learned, and those who picked up money skills as children have a major advantage during adulthood. The good news is that it’s never too late to become as good as a Jedi with your finances.
There are a number of free resources you can use to teach yourself money skills. Check out MoneySense to learn the basics, and subscribe to personal finance websites like Money Digest and Dollars and Sense for more in-depth advice.
Unlearn What You Have Learned
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke tries and fails to levitate his X-Wing from a bog. Yoda points out that Luke needs to unlearn what he has learned to use the Force and achieve the impossible. You can say the same thing about the money myths we grew up believing.
To be financially successful, you must identify and give up the false beliefs that are keeping you poor. Educate yourself about money management by reading books, attending seminars, and consulting financial advisers.
Don’t Take Loans from Moneylenders
Han Solo owes a huge debt to the gangster Jabba the Hutt, and with a 100,000-credit bounty on his head, it’s implied that he’s been defaulting on his payments for some time. Eventually, Han Solo pays the ultimate price and gets frozen into a fetching wall ornament aboard Jabba’s ship. There are actually two lessons you can learn from this story arc, the first being: don’t get cash loans from licensed moneylenders in Singapore. The end result can be just as bad as getting frozen in carbonite. It’s not unheard of for interest rates to climb higher than 25%, and if you default on your payments, you can expect to get into an ugly tussle with collecting agencies.
Don’t Let Debts Catch Up to You
Here’s the second money lesson: if you must take a cash loan from anywhere, pay every instalment fully and promptly. Don’t run away from your debts and assume that they won’t catch up to you, because they will. Interest and late penalty fees will keep your debt growing until it balloons out of control. If you are unable to make your payments, don’t hide from your lender. Talk to them as soon as possible, explain your situation politely, and see if you can come up with a new, realistic payment plan – one that will not involve an elaborate rescue or escaping from sarlaccs. Got outstanding balances from several credit cards? You can use a debt consolidation plan to pay them off once and for all.
Keep an Emergency Fund for Repairs
Despite Han Solo’s careful maintenance, the Millennium Falcon is often breaking down for one reason or another. Chewbacca and R2D2 manage to make critical repairs in the nick of time, but not everyone has a Wookie or droid to bail them out of emergencies.
If your car or laptop breaks down and you don’t have any savings, getting emergency repairs creates a serious setback – especially if they help you generate income. Always keep an emergency fund for these unforeseen situations. If you can set aside S$10 a day, you’ll have S$3,650 in one year to help cushion the cost of unexpected repairs.
If Money is All You Love, That is All You Will Receive
This is what Leia told Han Solo in A New Hope after the latter said he was only helping out the rebellion for the money. While money can buy experiences and make your life more comfortable, money by itself will not make you happy.
Singapore was recently ranked as the happiest city in Asia, but we also have the longest working hours in the world. Is the pursuit of the 5Cs worth sacrificing your relationships or your health?
Do or Do Not, There is No Try
Yoda’s most memorable quote strikes a chord with anyone who wants to achieve a life-changing goal. With personal finance, don’t even try – just get it done!
Like working out, staying financially fit is an ongoing process. You have to develop healthy habits around creating your budget, spending wisely, overcoming debt, and learning your investment options.
One way to start is to set aside an hour or two a week to do a financial health check. Use this time to evaluate how much you’ve spent, how much you’ve saved, your remaining debt balances, and how far you are from your financial goals. May the Force be with you!