It’s a Wonderful Life

Every year in December I look forward to watching the 1946 black and white movie It’s a Wonderful Life. I normally am not a fan of most old movies. However, I actually enjoy this one so much that I make an effort to find out when it is on and watch it every year.

The Story

I won’t ruin the story for those who haven’t seen the movie yet but here’s a little background. The movie focuses around a family that runs a small Savings & Loan (a bank) in town and shows the struggles of a smaller business against a local tycoon. The owner runs into troubles and the local tycoon is breathing down the neck of the small Savings & Loan.

The owner considers committing suicide so the life insurance payout will help his family survive the rough times. My guess is life insurance policies were a bit different back in the 1940’s, because this wouldn’t work today. An angel arrives and shows the main character what life would be like without the owner being around. You’ll have to watch the movie to see how it all turns out but it is a great story.

That isn’t the only reason I enjoy the movie though…

A Different Time Period

It’s a Wonderful Life was filmed in the 1940’s, a time very different from today. I grew up in the age of having video game systems, personal computers and cell phones. The life they live in the movie is completely foreign to me. I try to imagine how different it would be to live life in that time period but it is so different it is hard to grasp.

Part of me thinks I’d enjoy living back in the time before computers, tablets and the technology of today. I’d actually know my neighbors and have a personal relationship with most of the businesses I dealt with. Life would be much simpler when it comes to making decision and there would be a lot less noise (visual, media etc) assaulting my senses non-stop all day long.

We live in a time when, for the right price, you can have instant gratification. Some people are smarter than others and delay or limit this possibly endless instant gratification. They choose to do this to put themselves in a better position down the road while still living a decent life in the present. I feel like back in the 1940’s people probably appreciated the things and experiences they had much more than a lot of people do today.

Money only existed in cash, coins and checks. You’d definitely have to know how to write a check and credit cards wouldn’t be an option so no cash back credit cards for you.

Granted, there would be a lot of sacrifices as well. I’m sure that many of the tasks that take almost no time today would take up entire days of work. Laundry would definitely be one of those tasks. There would be no quick runs to the grocery store in your car… if I would even be rich enough to have one. There is no way you could just hop on your computer and get directions from Google Maps either! It’d be a completely different lifestyle for sure.

Some things never change though. We all still have families, friends and a lot that we should be thankful for. I hope you enjoy your day today, no matter what you’re doing.

Take a few minutes and realize how well off we all are compared to others around the world. Be thankful for what you have and have an amazing day, hopefully with your families and friends.

Have you seen It’s a Wonderful Life? Would you turn back time and live in a different time period than today? I think it’d be neat to see what it was like but after growing up with the many conveniences of modern life I’m sure there is no way I could do it!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I absolutely LOVE that film!!! 🙂

  2. Sadly I am one of the FEW who’ve never seen it. I don’t know why, but I never have. Though if I could go back in time it would have to be during the Civil War. My undergrad is in History and I just love that era.

  3. That’s a great movie. I’ve always loved it. My wife had never seen it but, undaunted, I got it for her as a stocking stuffer one Christmas. She had heard of it and was a bit hesitant since it was so old and in black and white and all that, but she watched it, and of course loved it. Now we look forward to watching it every year!

  4. I think there is always a fondness for the simpler life. I think we still have a choice to make our lives simpler and meaningful. We need (as individuals) to determine how we want to live and what is important to us. Happy holidays.

  5. One of my all time favorite movies. I think the past might be a place I’d like to visit but I don’t think I would want to live there. Too many modern conveniences to give up. I would actually be more interested in going 50-100 years into the future. Of course, that might disrupt the space time continuum and destroy the very fabric of the universe as we know it.

  6. I love the film! I think I prefer the modern age of money where I can buy stock online for a few Jacksons. Back in the day, only the rich had enough to invest. It’s much easier to be an investor and entrepreneur.

  7. I love that movie too! If I had to choose I probably would live in the 60s, although the women didn’t have that much freedom.

  8. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I’ve seen the movie a few times. It’s very touching. Not despondent, but happy George Bailey is a great role model. We have come a long way since the filming of the movie, but the message is still great.

  9. My mom loves this movie and talks about it often, but I never felt the desire to see it until this post haha. After learning about personal finance it’s easy to get caught up in the details of money, but you hit it on the head that it’s important to enjoy the journey =)

  10. Adam Dietetich says:

    Greatest movie ever made. Frank Capra is genuine and genius. We watch this movie every year and this year we watched it with friends who had never seen it and they loved it.

    I have no desire to live in an earlier age but I do marvel at the resourcefulness of humanity to survive without everything we’ve grown to take for granted. Just the thought of no air conditioning in northwest Florida makes me sad.

    Merry Christmas

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