3 children's movies with unexpected financial lessons

By Nicole Webb 2 June 2019 3 min read

Some of my favourite movies happen to fall in the animated/children's category.

They offer whimsy, comedic relief, and witty remarks, and they don't require rigorous attention, which makes them perfect for downtime and dual screening!

Better yet, upon reflection, these movies happen to also feature some important insights, often about money.

Don't believe me? Ask the dishes!

Here is my roundup of the top animated movies with unexpected financial tales.

1. The Little Mermaid (1991)

This doomed love affair, popularised by Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, took an upbeat turn in Disney's remake.

After 16-year-old mermaid princess Ariel ventures to the shore, she falls in love with a human, Prince Eric. Longing to be with him, she decides she must become human.

She visits the cunning sea witch who offers Ariel a deal (via contract): the chance to become human (for three days), in exchange for Ariel’s voice.

If Ariel is unable to get the prince to fall in love with her in that time, she will return to the sea, and become the property of the sea witch. Prompted by love and hope, Ariel accepts the deal.

The journey to true love is fraught with peril for the voiceless Ariel. And while Ariel nabs herself love and the prince, the cladded contract proves a prickly point.

Lessons from The Little Mermaid:

  • Don't sign up to contracts willy-nilly.
  • Scrutinise any contract with your name on it and ensure you understand the full gamut of what it involves — whether it means you’re replacing your mermaid tail with legs or you’re going guarantor on someone else's loan. If you're unsure, seek professional help.

2. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

This visual delight harks back to the renaissance era of hand-drawn animation and  delivers a message for today's modern and independent women.

Set in New Orleans, our heroine Tiana works double shifts as a waitress at two diners so she can open up her own restaurant. She also has a side hustle making delectable beignets for New Orleans' upper class.

Spurred on by her big dreams, she promptly works herself into the ground, shunning time with family and friends so she can scrape together a deposit for her restaurant.

Along the way Tiana falls in love with a prince-turned-frog — it’s Disney, remember! — and she is now faced with the tough decision: pursue her relationship or her dream?

Lessons from The Princess and the Frog:

  • Goals can help you to visualise where you want to go.
  • If you have the ability to earn more income (through a side hustle, freelance income or by picking up extra shifts), consider doing it! This can help you reach your goals quicker.
  • A hardworking attitude is great, because it can help you to fund your goals sooner. But people are more important than money and things. Don't let money come at the expense of your relationships.

3. Up (2009)

No Disney movie highlights the importance of financial planning more than Up.

Childhood friends, Carl and Ellie bond over their love of exploring and adventure, and they create an exclusive explorer's clubhouse (for two).

As adults, Carl and Ellie fall in love, get married and dream of visiting Paradise Falls in South America. But adulthood is beset with everyday problems and money woes.

The couple's roof collapses in a storm, their car breaks down, they suffer injury setbacks and unfortunately have a miscarriage, all which causes them to dip into their Paradise Falls saving fund.

Lessons from Up:

  • It’s important to have and maintain an emergency fund. An emergency fund is for the “what if” moments we hope don't come, but tend to crop up unexpectedly.
  • Map out your goals; this will help you get clear on what's important to you.
  • Establish separate funds for your goals (whether you’re going to Paradise Falls or buying a new car). Savings to reach these goals should not be confused with an emergency fund.

Hopefully this has offered some food for thought on the importance of setting financial goals, having an emergency buffer and how proper advice can help you to stay protected.

If anything else, you might just find some new movies to watch!

3 children's movies with unexpected financial lessons