Even superheroes have to take care of their finances. And while Batman and Iron Man may back their latest missions with seemingly bottomless funds, other superheroes are more likely to be spotted at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a pile of statements and bills, just like the rest of us.
It turns out that superheroes make pretty good financial teaching examples. The Avengers showed kids how it was done when they took on Mole Man in the 2012 special comic “Saving the Day” from Marvel Comics and Visa Canada. “Saving the Day” introduced kids to basic personal finance concepts including budgeting worksheets and financial terms.
Everyday money matters
Since most of us do not have the deep pockets of Green Arrow or Iron Man, it’s a pretty safe bet that we share some of the same financial concerns and woes as many superheroes.
While renowned inventor and scientist Henry Pym has the wherewithal to fund his ongoing research, we’re not sure if he’s thought about how he’ll coordinate his finances with his partner, Wasp (Janet Van Dyne). The Winsome Wasp is known for her intelligent, crafty leadership, and Giant-Man could end up butting heads with her if they don’t work out how and if to pool their money.
Okay, maybe we can’t relate to Iron Man’s crazy-deep financial ledgers, but even Tony Stark has his limits—and we’ve seen him drive himself to bankruptcy on more than one occasion. The superpower Tony Stark most needs to exercise is self-control. He approaches missions with the same zeal we so often apply to, say, holiday gift-giving. If you can’t avoid holiday debt completely, then at least learn how to clean up holiday debt carnage without your own Pepper Potts.
Poor Peter Parker works multiple jobs trying to make ends meet; which means he’s predictably broke on an ongoing basis. Maybe he should take a few nights off from web-swinging to set up a smart budget to make sure his basics are covered every month. While he’s at it, he might as well go ahead and research long-term care insurance for his elderly aunt. Elder care could knock the stuffing out of anything he could ever hope to earn delivering pizza or selling freelance photographs.
You don’t quit a day job somewhere like the Daily Planet to blog full-time without considering the implications to your taxes—just ask Clark Kent. Now that he has to cover self-employment tax and make estimated tax payments every quarter, some automatic savings plans would make sure he always has enough saved up to meet those obligations.
You can manage your money like a superhero by taking a page from some of their best tactics.
- Acquire your mission. Don’t spin off like a rogue agent with no guidance. Choose a financial goal (vanquishing debt, perhaps?) as your mission, and pursue it with determination and grit.
- Name your nemesis. We like to think of debt as The Joker—a classic villain. Maybe your villain is more insidious, like spending outside your budget. Whatever you struggling with, put a name and a face to it in pursuit of your overall mission.
- Set your rules and limits. Just as Batman and Superman function without harming the innocents around them, you need to set certain bottom-line rules for your financial mission, too. If you’re funneling money toward your debt, for example, keep the pressure bearable by setting a reasonable limit for discretional spending each month.
- Break the rules when it works. Superheroes and smart consumers should both know when it’s smart to shake up the status quo. Don’t be afraid to break from conventional wisdom when a financial move seems right for you.
- Ready your arsenal of incredible gadgets and gizmos. Not every superhero relies on innate powers; some, like Batman, rely on technology to get the job done. Harness technology that works for you: online banking, mobile apps for budgeting and spending, and apps that make mobile payments easy and convenient.