5 Life Lessons from Charlie Brown


5 Life Lessons from Charlie Brown

Now that the holiday season is officially upon us, I am starting to break out my favorite movies of the season and every year before Thanksgiving, I watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special. I know I am dating myself; however, I remember when this would air every year on CBS right before Thanksgiving. If you haven’t seen it, you can actually watch the full version on YouTube and it’s only 25 minutes long. After watching it this year, I realized that there are many valuable lessons learned in this short movie, and I thought I would share a few with you.

1) Don’t Make the Same Mistake Repeatedly

The movie starts out similar to most Charlie Brown specials and that is with Lucy trying to coax Charlie Brown to kick the football she is holding. Charlie Brown has enough history with Lucy to realize that she will steal the ball away right when he is about to kick it; however, he falls for the line that she wouldn’t trick him on a traditional holiday.

I see a number of clients make the same mistakes repeatedly and then wonder why they are in financial distress. It’s okay to make mistakes; however, it’s important to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. If you continue to do so, you will end up like Charlie Brown, flat on your butt.

2) Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

Charlie Brown’s friend Peppermint Patty invites herself over to Thanksgiving dinner and rather than tell her no, he agrees to host Thanksgiving. The only problem with this scenario is that Charlie Brown is 8 and can barely make cold cereal and toast. For many of us, it’s hard to say no or admit that we can’t handle a situation; however, sometimes the best solution is to say no rather than make a fool of yourself or lose credibility in another area of your life.

I recently had someone ask me to write for them, and I could have written the posts; however, it is not a subject matter I am completely knowledgeable in and it would not only detract from my core business and competencies, but I believed it would lead to a bad end product which would not be good for my reputation. It was tough to say no to the money; however, it was the best decision in the long run.

3) Let Your Friends Help You

Even though Charlie Brown should have said no to hosting Thanksgiving, he at least was smart enough to accept help from his friends to pull off the dinner. Just like it’s hard for many of us to say no, it’s even harder to ask for help; however, true friends want to help.

When I first wrote my book, I edited a few rounds myself and then got sick of reading it. I didn’t want to ask for help; however, I reached out to two friends of mine, and they both graciously read and edited my book for me. Their help was invaluable and they actually really enjoyed being part of the process.

4) Never Make a Stupid Decision and Expect Good Results

So, rather than make the food, Charlie Brown enlists the help of his dog Snoopy to “cook” their Thanksgiving dinner. I am not really sure why he was surprised when everyone was disappointed in the meal of toast, pretzel sticks and popcorn, after all, it was prepared by a dog. I see clients make crazy financial decisions all the time and then wonder why they have poor results.

If you run up your credit card with money you don’t have, you shouldn’t be surprised when you end up paying finance charges. If you don’t invest your money outside of a checking account, you shouldn’t expect to earn much. If you invest your portfolio in one stock rather than an ETF or a mutual fund, you shouldn’t be surprised when your portfolio moves up and down like the EEG of someone on crack.

5) Always Have a Plan B

After letting down his friends with a Thanksgiving dinner of toast cooked by his dog; Charlie Brown thankfully had a very generous grandmother who invited everyone over and saved the day.

When I prepare financial plans for clients, I always force them to think of a plan b or the worst-case scenario. It’s not comfortable to think about death or job loss; however, there are no guarantees in life and it’s not only wise for your money, but also for your mental health to think through those scenarios.

Are there Thanksgiving themed movies you enjoy? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?


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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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