May the Fourth be with you!
Star Wars has undeniably changed all our lives and if you allow it the Yoda’s wisdom can guide you through life, even today. Four decades after first set out cross the Tatooine in search of Obi Wan Kenobi; we look at the financial life lessons that this story of triumph over evil, of a hero’s tragic fall and eventual redemption, teach us.
We all remember how the smuggler Han Solo owed a huge debt to the galactic gangster Jabba the Hutt, who then set his favourite debt collector, Boba Fett on Han. Fast forward to Episode Six where we see Han, frozen, hanging from Jabba’s wall, an eternal reminder and warning to those that are in debt to Jabba. Now while, it is highly unlikely that you will find yourself cryogenically frozen in carbonite for not paying your dues, remember that those due dates on your loans are not mere suggestions for when you could pay back your dues, they are dates prior to which you have to settle your debts. Else, these will keep adding up leading to crippling debt in the future.
An excellent plan to avoid having to say “If I don’t pay off Jabba the Hutt, I’m a dead man” like Han, is to simply avoid debt in the first place. Don’t go off opening new credit accounts and if you think you need one, be sure to read all the terms and conditions carefully, especially the interest rates, fees and implications for your credit score. Consider opening a savings account as a back up financial aid. If an unprecedented event leads you to debt, a savings account could quite literally be a life saver. Once you do end up in debt, don’t sit down and wallow in self misery because let’s be honest being able to relate to all those broke memes on Instagram will get tiring after a point. Like Bendu said, “Only you can change yourself”, so create a budget, rein in your expenditure and devote most of your income to actively paying off debt.
There is a reason that the franchise valued the Master (Jedi) – Apprentice (Padawan) relationship. Luke Skywalker initially sought advice from Obi Wan and then went on to learn from Yoda and we hear the Yoda’s iconic line, “Help you I can, yes.” Seeking advice from professionals has been a constant throughout the Star Wars saga.
According to studies by the International Longevity Centre, those that took advice in the earlier period are over $80,000 wealthier by 2012-14 than those of them that did not. Finance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and though we may think we know how to manage our finances; it is always wiser to seek the advice of those that do truly and professionally know how to analyse and help with your finances and investments. Remember, never hesitate to seek help.
We see in the series that Obi Wan Kenobi, as a young Skywalker’s advisor, teaches him that the Force, an energy field created by all living things, that binds the galaxy together, is the source of his power. While Luke is a neophyte just learning the ways of the Force, Han Solo is a hardened sceptic, disregarding advisors like Obi Wan Kenobi and instead preferring the lifestyle of a risk taker, which has led him to real problems with debt. When Luke gets distracted by Solo’s taunts, Kenobi reminds him to trust in his plan instead of making knee-jerk reactions.
In The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke trains under Yoda, he has visions about his friends Han and Leia being tortured and he decides to leave immediately to help them. Yoda, however, realises that it’s a trap and asks Luke to stay back and finish his training, an advice to which Luke pays no heed. Eventually, Luke ends up having to face off Darth Vader and then gets his hand cut off. While it does lead to Luke learning that Darth Vader is his father, I mean who can forget the iconic, “I am your father”, staying back and sticking to the plan would have been the wiser move. Despite all this, once Luke decides to stick to his plan, he eventually reaches his goal of becoming a Jedi Knight. It’s a good reminder for when the markets get rough: Trust in the plan, mitigate short-term emotional reactions, and focus on long-term goals.
Where is Luke Skywalker? This question is asked in the opening scenes of The Force Awakens and is a question that is answered only during the film’s final frames. Rey’s path to discover Luke only becomes clear as the pieces of a map are eventually connected throughout the movie and she eventually finds Skywalker. A reminder to all of us to have the patience to let things work out. Often when it comes to finances, it is necessary to exercise patience. Patience pays off with higher returns which will thereby help you accomplish your financial goals. Get rich slowly by piecing together smart financial moves — saving early, investing in your own education and insuring yourself against disaster, among other keys.
Even Yoda is known to say, “Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” Smart investing can seem boring and you may constantly feel like upping things, spicing stuff a bit and going wild with your finances, after all , what is life without risks? Well, no. Life without these rash decisions is a safe, smart and content one. Instant gratification is a millennial bane and this craving to see our results instantaneously might well be our downfall. A responsible financial and investment plan involves making an investment plan, consistently saving, buying into low-cost index funds, and building a diversified portfolio. It does not involve hot stock tips, penny stocks, and weekly trips to the convenience store to buy lottery tickets. Reserve adventure and excitement for your entertainment activities, not for your money decisions.
Your life’s finances may seem like a huge Monopoly game, but hey, it isn’t. The decisions you take have real life repercussions, those that you will have to deal with. This is where Yoda’s age old advice comes to our rescue, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
When making financial decisions don’t base it on a maybe, maybe not vibe. Don’t try to achieve your financial goals, achieve them! To achieve financial success, you must commit to staying involved in your finances, looking at your budget, learning about investment options, and making adjustments as needed. What you must do is create a habit around these things. Perhaps you carve out an hour or two each month when the bank statement arrives, or a half a day once per quarter. Use this time to track financial items like how much you have saved, how much you have spent, remaining debt balances, and what your overall net worth is.
Finally, although this entire article speaks about financial security, you need to remember that even your finances are not only about the money. Your retirement plans, vacation trips, children’s college and educational plans and a host of other things will play a crucial part in your financial journey as they must. Remember, like Princes Leia told Han Solo, “If money is all that you love, money is all that you will receive.” And if, this gives you joy thinking of more money to flow in, we hope that you come to realise, just like Han did, that it is not about the money.
May the force be with you – and your wallet.
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