March 10, 2017
Is Ghosbusters one of the best films ever when it comes to lessons about personal finance? We say - almost definitely. There's a lot of wisdom in Ivan Reitman's 1984 classic.
To celebrate the fact that it's awesome (and no, we didn't enjoy the reboot, even though we gave it the benefit of the doubt), we decided to revisit one of our favourite flicks from a new angle. Put simply, what the wisecracking foursome taught us about money before we even had to worry about leaving home.
“Hang on!” we hear you shout fretfully. “The film’s about ghosts, and the complexity of human relationships, and friendship, and Bill Murray. What are you talking about?”
We’re talking about starting small businesses, taking risks, and living in glam penthouses which you surely can’t afford. Here are the five ways which Ghostbusters moulded our ways of thinking about cash before we even started secondary school.
Remortgaging is a fairly risky way to finance yourself
When the Ghostbusters start up, they need money for all their kit, seeing as their po-faced university decides to stop funding them. We bet they regretted that in the long run. Anyway, containment units, proton packs, rent for their building and Janine’s make-up allowance all need to be catered for - so the group cajoles Ray into remortgaging his parents’ house. Off they go to the bank, where Peter mischievously manipulates Ray into funding their new business. Probably. That bit isn’t shown.
“You’re never gonna regret this, Ray!” Peter crows, looking jubilant. “My parents left me that house, I was born there!” Ray squeaks. “You’re not going to lose the house. Everyone has three mortgages these days,” Peter continues. “But at 19%, you didn’t even bargain with the guy!” Ray wails.
Egon chips in to calm Ray down. “Ray, for your information, the interest rate alone for the first five years comes to $95,000,” he says. That’s comforting.
The lesson we learned: Unless you need the money for starting a new business which is absolutely guaranteed to take off, do not remortgage your house with a dodgy lender who will likely see you bankrupt if your enterprise fails.
Don't live off takeaways when the going gets rough
Every new business goes through its rough periods before it starts to make money. “This magnificent feast represents the last of the petty cash,” Ray says, waggling his chopsticks over a Chinese takeaway during a quiet spell. Of course, then they get a call, and things begin to take off.
Still, a takeaway? Those things aren’t cheap. Surely a pasta dish would have been a better choice? It was probably Peter’s idea and Ray had to buy it. As usual.
The lesson we initially learned: Takeaways are a great way to soothe yourself when you’re running low on cash. This lesson was subsequently replaced by ‘Takeaways are unaffordable when you’re running low on cash’ when we went to uni. Also, comfort eating is bad when you’re in a rut.
Charge what you know you’re worth
After a particularly hairy debacle in the Sedgewick Hotel, the Ghostbusters emerge from the ballroom victorious, Slimer in their trap. Peter decides it’s time to chat business with the hotel manager.
“Now, let's talk seriously,” he starts earnestly. “For the entrapment, we're gonna have to ask you for four big ones. Four thousand dollars for that. But we are having a special this week on proton charging one thousand dollars, fortunately.”
“Five thousand dollars?” the manager barks, prissily tucking his white handkerchief back into his pocket. “I had no idea it would be so much. I won't pay it.”
“Well, that's all right, we can just put it right back in there,” replies Peter, as cool as you like.
The manager pays up and everyone goes home happy, apart from the manager, who is down $5,000.
The lesson we learned: Wherever you go in life and whatever work you do, if you do the job well, make sure you get paid. You work hard for your money. Don’t be a pushover - and make sure you’re earning what you’re worth.
Musicians can live in penthouse flats in city centres
Dana Barrett is a professional cellist, playing in a major symphony orchestra. She also lives on the 22nd floor of a prestigious (yet haunted) building, 55 Central Park West. She wears nice clothes and lives alone in a hugely-expensive city. She doesn’t need a man to support her. She especially doesn’t want Peter to support her. Her ideal day involves telling her mother she doesn’t need a man and doing sit-ups in front of the TV. Sorry, we digress.
The lesson we learned: Professional cellists make a lot of money, and in order to be successful adults, we should all do something that we’re passionate about for a living. Of course, we all turned towards the art world after we saw Ghostbusters II, but that’s a very different story.
Be realistic when you enter the world of work
When the Ghostbusters decide to hire a new recruit, Winston Zeddemore, a former Marine who loves Jesus’ style, answers their ad. Janine conducts the interview with her usual grace, determined to get through the proceedings as quickly as possible.
“Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?” she asks. Janine looks bored. She looks so bored she may keel over. Will Winston persist with his application?
“If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say,” he smiles, still as keen as ever. His unwillingness to give up pays off, and he lands the job.
The lesson(s) we learned: Interviews can be awful. Really soul-destroying and confidence-eroding. However, you’ve got to start somewhere, so fix on your brightest smile and carry on playing up your strengths until you get to what you want to be in later life (and, believe us, you will get there). This was a great source of comfort when we left interviews thinking ‘Blown it,’ and later on we got a call telling us we’d landed the job. Well played, Winston.