6 Bits of Financial Advice From Homer Simpson, Forrest Gump and Others

By Noah Marell

NEW YORK ( AdviceIQ) -- Growing up, I watched a lot of TV and movies. Surprisingly, I gleaned financial wisdom from them. It's fun to note the hidden money lessons we can learn from some of our favorite movies and TV shows.

Starting here are some basic, yet critical, insights we can take away from popular culture quotes.

The quote: "My momma always said, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'"
From: Forrest Gump
The lesson: The financial markets are also a lot like a box of chocolates. The industry's favorite line is "Past results do not guarantee future performance." While this is in part legalese, it is also true. Timing the market isn't just hard to do -- doing it effectively or reliably is essentially impossible. The stock market returned 8.21% over the past 20 years, while the average stock investor returned only 4.25%, according to a study by the research firm Dalbar.

The quote: "You can paint with all the colors of the wind."
From: Pocahontas
The lesson: You should be open to all the investment opportunities in the world. Disney ( DIS) princess Pocahontas recognized that the beauty of the world wasn't contained in a few animals or trees -- though undoubtedly her favorite was the little raccoon that followed her around.

This is also true when it comes to investments. You might think Europe is sliding into the abyss and it is best to keep all of your investments in U.S. stocks, or that it is safest to invest only in large Fortune 500 companies. But it can be very wise to take Pocahontas' advice when investing and paint with all of the colors of the stock and bond markets. You can reduce risk with a well-diversified portfolio that includes big and small companies, domestic, foreign and emerging-market countries and international bonds of various credit qualities.

The quote: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good."
From: Wall Street
The lesson: While Gordon Gekko was a villain and we certainly don't suggest living by his maxim, he did get one thing right: Greed, in certain ways, can be good. The lesson here is that you need to be greedy with your own money. Even if you start by saving just $50 or $100 every paycheck, pay yourself before you spend all the money at the mall or the coffee shop. You worked hard for those dollars, and if you don't save up and look out for No. 1, you may not have enough to support yourself decades from now.

The quote: "With great power comes great responsibility."
From: Spider-Man
The lesson: You have a good job, a steady income and maybe even a spouse or family. Your work and financial independence give you great spending power and the responsibility to budget appropriately. After you pay yourself by saving, you need to prioritize the rest of your spending. Create a good budget you can stick to. This is an important step.

The quote: "I'm the king of the world!"
From: Titanic
The lesson: After you get a few promotions, the check every two weeks might look bigger and bigger. You may very well feel like climbing to the top of something and screaming this famous line as loud as you can. If you follow my previous advice, you are probably in good shape; if you neglect these lessons and just spend that big paycheck as fast as comes in, you'll have all of the fancy clothes and possessions you might want -- but your net worth won't stack up. It is better to have a lot of savings rather than a bunch of stuff.

The quote: "I can't take his money. I can't print my own money. I have to work for money. Why don't I just lie down and die?"
From: Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
The lesson: This is a less famous line, but certainly from a very well-known character. Yes, building a sound financial base when you are just starting out can be hard work. Maybe you even share Homer's sentiment. But financial success takes patience and time.

Let's assume you are 25 years old and plan to retire in 40 years. If you contribute $5,500 to a Roth individual retirement account today (the current yearly maximum for those under 50) and earn a realistic average annual return of 7.2% per year, that one contribution grows to $1.2 million before fees by the time you retire. (Obviously, there is no guarantee you would get this result.) Time and patience can be a powerful combination in the world of investments.

-- By Noah Marell, an associate consultant at Wipfli Hewins Investment Advisors in San Mateo, Calif.

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AdviceIQ is a network of financial advisors that writes insightful articles for the public about investing and wealth management. All articles are edited by AdviceIQ's editor in chief, Larry Light. AdviceIQ certifies that all its advisors have no regulatory infractions.