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Financial Lessons From the Cinderella Man


Do you ever find yourself pulling life lessons out of your favorite movies? You might discover some amazing acts of leadership from a movie like Braveheart, or maybe you learn the power of hope while watching Castaway, or perhaps your notion of love is completely changed because of a movie called The Notebook. I find myself pulling life lessons out of movies all the time, but for some reason, they are always related to finance (who would have guessed it? ;)).

There is one particular movie that always keeps me coming back, and I always seem to learn a new lesson every time I watch it. It is hands-down my favorite movie of all time — “The Cinderella Man”.

The Story

The opening scene begins with James J. Braddock in the pinnacle of his boxing career. He is effortlessly defeating all opponents that enter the ring, and he’s quickly rising to the top of the of the heavyweight division. Fame, money, and a beautiful family – he had it all.

Enter the Great Depression. Braddock now staggers around his small apartment with an empty wallet, a shrinking stomach, and a mountain of bills. Broken bones and a bad economy have torn Braddock down into poverty. It seems that there’s little hope of escape, but then he receives his second chance.

James suddenly has the opportunity to fight once again. With a healed hand and a bit of hash in his stomach, Braddock enters the ring swinging. He was quick, he was light on his feet, and he suddenly had a punch with some pop. He began to rise through the ranks once again, just like the Braddock of old.

Of course, the press caught wind of his recent win streak and they all asked the same question, “How is it that an old washed up Braddock is now a contender for the heavyweight championship title? What’s your motivation?”

“Milk” was Braddock’s simple response. He was winning because he now knew what he was fighting for. That powerful fist across the face would have knocked him down before, but it doesn’t even phase him now. With gut-wrenching thoughts of hungry little Rosie in his mind, there is absolutely no reason for him to fall to the floor. James was now fighting for the life of his family, and that’s what made all the difference in the world.

What Are You Fighting For

So why is it that you want to be financially responsible? What motivates you to do more and want less? Is it your spouse? Your children? Maybe you’d love to serve in a developing country, or you’d at least like to have options other than working an 8-5 job that you hate. Perhaps you dispise the idea of debt and just want to get rid of it once and for all.

Whatever the case, be sure to keep your “why” in front of you at all times. Without it, you’ll no-doubt lose your focus on your financial goals, but with it, you can achieve anything!



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I remember falling asleep during Cinderella man. If I remember correctly, it moves very slowly. It taught me that you shouldn’t pay a lot of money to go see a movie and then fall asleep.
    I have seen a lot of people post pictures of their families in strategic places. When they want to give up, having that picture handy to remind you “what you’re fighting for” is a huge motivator.

    • Lol! How could you fall asleep during that movie?!?! Yes, it is a little slow, but it has so much meaning! I think I just love the rags-to-riches stories of the Great Depression.

      • It was a good movie. So hood that after I saw it in theatres I bought it to watch again. Great message. Inspirational. But painfully slow at times.

  2. My kids make me want to do more and fight my way to financial freedom. I don’t always find lessons in movies because I am looking at it technically or artistically which pulls me in a different direction.

    • I took a film class in high school and it absolutely ruined my ability to enjoy movies for a while. All of the sudden I was noticing that the camera position was low on the person, making them look large and powerful, and then I noticed the panning views and thought about the significance of that….ugh. Finally, I am now able to watch a movie in peace again. My mind is no longer picking every movie apart based on the artistic features….

  3. Derek, I remember the film and loved it as well. I thought the performances by the actors were amazing and very moving. One scene I recall is when Braddock’s wife goes to the apartment of the manager to tell him off (for not helping them) and then sees that he is not living much better than they are.
    I had forgotten the line about Milk. What I recall is that his kids thought that he was fighting to get a turtle (not a title) and in the end he did indeed get them a turtle.
    A great movie and a great lesson. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    • Finally, another lover of this movie! Ha, I do remember that title turtle part! I think it’s about time for me to dust that movie off again. 🙂

  4. I never saw the movie, heard it was a good one.

    I agree with you on the why. Until we figured out why we want to save and when we want to accomplish our goals we could never manage to save. Now we want to do it even more because we are not seeing as “saving” instead we are just seeing it as a house or a vacation.

    • I would really suggest that you watch it. It’s amazing.

      Yep, the “why” is absolutely important. Once you figure that out, there suddenly isn’t a question of what you should do with your unexpected cash. 🙂

  5. Never saw the movie. Sounds like a good story. I am fighting my way out of debt. I am sick of it and mad as heck!

    • Sounds like you’re putting up a pretty good fight against your debt! Good for you! That’s going to really take you places pretty soon. Imagine if you owned all of your assets fully? You’d have a pretty solid net worth wouldn’t you? 🙂

  6. I haven’t seen the movie either, but I am very tempted to watch it now.
    It sounds a little similar to Sylvester Stallones Rocky story. Except that he chose to struggle so that he would have a clear picture of his why.
    The hunger for a better life is what drove him to ultimate stardom.
    It definitely helps to keep things in perspective, focusing on the WHY. With a clear goal in mind, even the big sacrifices are worth doing if you know where it will ultimately take you.

    • It is a great movie – I definitely suggest that you watch it. Once you know what you’re fighting for, the battle suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.

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