Five Things Indiana Jones Can Teach Us About Personal Finance

Indiana Jones Lego

I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (among all the prior movies).

Was it as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark?  How many movies are?

Was it a lot of fun to watch? Absolutely!

I got to thinking about ‘ole Indy.  What makes him successful in his movies?  What is it about him that keeps him coming out ahead?  And can those qualities be translated to personal finance?

Here are five things I think Indiana Jones can teach us about personal finance:

Indiana Jones doesn’t need a lot of stuff

When he goes off on an adventure he has a few items: His whip, hat, jacket, side bag, boots, pants, shirt, gun holster, and notebook.  This is basically his adventure “uniform” and it doesn’t change.  Indy makes do with what he has and makes his stuff last.  Ever see him buy a new hat?  How about shiny new boots?

How this translates for us: Find out what you need in your life.  Note the word “need” and not want.  Don’t clutter your life with stuff.  Stuff takes up space and uses up money. Also it usually pays to buy quality when you can. If you take care of a good item it can last many years (like a trusty fedora hat).

Indiana Jones has focus and persistence

When he has a goal he goes after it with all of his focus until he can’t continue any more.  Do Nazis stop him?  Angry cult member?  Communists?  Even his enemies recognize this quality in Indy.  Think of the times he’s been caught, kidnapped, or blackmailed into helping the enemy.  Indiana Jones is the go-to guy if you want an artifact found.

How this translates for us: Create personal finance goals and stick to them.  Are your goals worth fighting for?  Will you retire?  Will you be financially independent?  Develop persistence and focus to stay on track with your goals and complete them.

He’s daring, brave, and well educated

There’s times where Indy is doing some crazy things (climbing into an archaeological dig surrounded by Nazis anyone?).   What keeps Indy afloat when he goes off on a daring adventure?  Luck has a bit to do with it.  But it’s his education that tempers bravado. R emember, not only is Indiana Jones an adventurer he’s also a doctor of archeology that teaches at the university level (and a Boy Scout).  A big part of why he’s successful in his adventures is because he’s already done extensive research on what he’s going after.  As wild as he sometimes seems he doesn’t blindly go off looking for adventure.  He’s put years into learning his subject.

How this translates for us: Don’t blindly make investments or make purchases without out doing your homework first.  Educate yourself about personal finance.  Keep learning.  Know why you are putting money into an investment and understand what the risks are going in.  When making a major purchase study up on different brands and their reliability and consumer responses.  Try to find the best value and price (maybe you can pick up a really good hat).

He carries a notebook full of information

We see Indy go back to small notebooks all the time.  Whether it’s looking up a map or deciphering a language, he keeps notes on all his research.

How this translates for us: Keep your own notebook.  Track your expenses to see where your money is going.  Keep notes of things you did that saved money.  Make to do lists to stay on top of your life.  Write out grocery lists so you only buy what you planned on.  And these days there are so many apps out there for notes that you can’t use not wanting to carry a notebook as an excuse.

He tries to do the right thing

There are many times Indy can get quick cash by obtaining an artifact and selling it.  But he doesn’t.  He tries to do the right thing.  Whether it’s saving children from slavery or keeping biblical artifacts from Nazis, Indy does the right thing.

How this translates for us: Act right in your life.  Don’t lie to your spouse about finances however small the lie may be.  Don’t take part in get rich quick scams – they don’t work.

There you have it. Five ways we can learn about personal finance from Indiana Jones.

Can you think of any more?

photo by Gaetan Lee

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Published or updated August 21, 2016.


  1. MoneyEnergy says:

    It’s interesting to think about fiscal archetypes in film. I’m not very familiar with the IJ series, but another great archetype might be Jason Bourne:)

    Bourne is completely self-sufficient, even when he has no memory access. He takes advantage of opportunities, he can speak several languages (technical, fundamental, growth, value, etc.) he pays attention, he plans ahead, anticipating what the “market” will do; but he also keeps his goal in mind and this guides his actions.

    I wouldn’t want my investing experience to be as high-octane as Bourne’s adventures, but I would want to feel that self-reliant with my own financial decision-making. He’d be the type to make money in any kind of market:)

  2. Glen Craig says:

    Great analogy with Bourne. I liked that series too (though I like Indy better). One thing though, Bourne was somewhat brain-washed with that information. Jones sought out his research through hard study and research. Still, it would be nice if there was a voice in the back of my head that knew what to do in any financial situation!

  3. Greener Pastures says:

    I like yours tips. That movie is one of my favorites. I have another Indiana tip – stay calm, no matter what crisis is presented to you.

    I’ve been wanted to catch this latest IJ movie. Thanks for the thumbs up review. Next rainy day, I’m there.

  4. This was a really cool way to look at it. Great post.

  5. Don’t forget “he sticks to what he’s good at”. 🙂 Managing your money is a lot like that; know how to work it and STICK to working it!

  6. Complete Indy junkie here. You know, you might consider him the forerunner of lifestyle design. He teaches during the year to provide a steady income that allows him to then gallivant across the globe.

    Also, he is excellent at choosing the right weapon for any given situation. In terms of personal finance, that means choosing the right investment vehicles for our purposes.

    Thanks for an entertaining post!

  7. Glen Craig says:

    @ Greener Pastures – You’re right. He always has his mind in order which helps him decide (though some things he does seems questionable at the time).

    @ Sarah – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed!

    @ Hank – True. He knows his skills and uses them to the best of his abilities.

    @ Sara – Great insight Sara! I have to figure out a way to work part of the year and globe-trot the rest!

  8. Mrs. Micah says:

    Good stuff and I like Hank’s point too. I sometimes feel like I say it too much, but knowing yourself—knowing what you’re good at, what your risk tolerance is, what you want—is key to personal finance. Or getting to know yourself, since I don’t think we really ever fully know ourselves.

  9. Glen Craig says:

    @ Mrs Micah – Getting to know yourself is a lifelong goal (well, should be). In that is how you are with personal finance.

    I don’t think you ever say too much!

  10. Interesting article. Jones’ other contribution to finance was that he held 2 jobs. By day a teacher, by night he was a dealer in rare antiquities, robbing tombs and graves and selling to museums. I think his biggest contribution was his work ethic, taking his passion in a creative new financial direction, etc.

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