Monday, January 17, 2011

Financial Lessons from Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"

There are a few things in The Princess and the Frog that get to me in a negative sense, like the voodoo and the stereotypes. But the things I really love about the movie are the financial lessons that can be easily drawn from it.

Tiana, a poor black girl with serious talent in the kitchen, lives in Jazz Age New Orleans and shares her father's dream to open a restaurant. Although Tiana's father dies before they can accomplish this goal, Tiana does everything she can to realize the dream. Her work ethic and willingness to sacrifice to accomplish her dream are commendable. She works two jobs and saves all of her tips/income so she can purchase a suitable building for her restaurant. She doesn't go out with her friends to spend money on a fleeting good time so she can save money for her restaurant. Despite being ridiculed by one of her bosses for working so hard and wanting to open her restaurant, she stays focused and keeps her eyes on the goal. Shortly before she is turned into a frog, Tiana realizes she has finally saved enough money to buy the restaurant and makes arrangements to purchase it. At the end of the movie, we see Tiana's dream realized in the form of a jazzy, fun restaurant crowded with people. Her persistence, dedication, and willingness to sacrifice allowed her to achieve her lifelong goal, and I think it is safe to assume she is fulfilled by the daily requirements to keep her business running.

On the other hand, Dr. Facilier, a voodoo practitioner, accomplishes his magic because he borrows from his "friends on the other side." He takes their power with the promise to give them more in return. In essence, he's got a black magic credit card. Unfortunately for him, he fails to pay the debt when his "friends" come calling. They drag him off to their black magic world as he screams promises to pay them off if he can just have more time.

Could the picture be any clearer? Tiana works hard and saves to accomplish her goals. Dr. Facilier borrows magical power, and when he can't repay off his substantial debt, gets dragged off to some unimaginably horrible place. Tiana gets to live happily ever after because she doesn't owe anyone anything. She is in charge of everything she uses because she paid for them in full immediately. Dr. Facilier didn't know it, but he was owned by those he borrowed from. When they came calling, his life of ease was over. His ending was scary.

Perhaps Americans should take these illustrations to heart. Have a plan, and save to accomplish your goals, like Tiana. You're much more likely to have a happy, fulfilling ending.

If you live on easy credit, beware what will come to get you when you don't repay your debt. Because despite what most Americans think, in the end, our credit card debts really are our fault. We signed the line, indicating we'd read through the terms and conditions. We didn't bargain for a lower interest rate. We indicated we understood we'd be held accountable for repayment according to the lender's terms. Therefore, we need to pay back everything we used. This is not an easy thing to do because most of us spend way more than we should.

While you're learning good lessons from The Princess and the Frog, be sure to teach them to your kids as well. The sooner kids learn fiscal responsibility, the better. Teach them to save well before they hit college and are inundated with credit card offers. Yes, there is a requirement to have parents co-sign, but we all know how easy it is to forge a parent's signature. Don't let easy credit kill your kids' financial future by the age of 22. Teach them now what credit is, how to use a debit card, and how important it is to save. America will be a lot better off because of it.

-Domestic Goddess out.

1 comment:

  1. Right on~I love this post!
    *Side note: In order to get a good deal, it doesn't hurt to bring along a trumpet-playing alligator ;)