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Mary Poppins flying in front of a mansion

What can the new Mary Poppins movie teach us about life and money?

Mary Poppins Returns, although merely a shadow of the original film, has many financial life lessons that apply today – the importance of personal protection, estate planning, compound interest and investing for the future.


Michael’s Wife (Personal Protection)

When we are young, we have the view that “it won’t happen to me” and “she’ll be right mate” attitude. But unfortunately, bad things do happen to good people. Mary Poppins Returns is based around a grown-up Michael who loses his wife early in their marriage and is left to raise three young children. This puts considerable financial pressure on the household and as a result Michael is required to take out a loan with the bank just to keep the lights on and food on the table. If Mrs Banks had an adequate life insurance policy the family could have received enough money to have assisted with the transition in their life and given Michael the time he needed to grieve, continue to look after the family and move on without the pressure of a loan. As Michael explains in the movie the loan was part of the downward spiral that led to a number if things falling apart including him defaulting. This highlights that such devastating events do happen and if the proper mechanisms, such as life insurance, aren’t put in place the above outcome is quite common.

Tuppence (Compound Interest)

In the original movie Mary Poppins, Michael as a little boy acquires tuppence (two pence) that he intends to use to buy food to feed the birds however the Chairman of the bank and Mr Banks (his father) suggest investing it with the bank which, with time and compound interest, will grow. A young Michael doesn’t enthusiastically make the decision to invest as he doesn’t see the benefit. At the end of the first movie Mr Banks gives the money to the bank Chairman, Mr Dawes Snr, and says “There’s the tuppence, the wonderful supercalifragilisticexpialidocious tuppence, guard it well.”

At the end of Mary Poppins Returns, Mr Dawes Jnr informs Michael that he doesn’t need to sell his shares as he has plenty of money invested with the bank following an investment that was made 30 years ago, by his father Mr Banks, on behalf of Michael. This highlights the benefits of investing, compound interest and the benefits of starting early.

Compound interest calculator

‘Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’ Shares (Investing in Growth Assets)

George Banks, portrayed as a wise man, invests in shares in the major British bank for which he works. Over a long-term investment, 30 years, the shares in the bank go up significantly in value and can easily pay out Michael’s debt. The story exemplifies how investing in growth assets holds powerful benefits in wealth accumulation. It also shows the benefits of investing earlier than later.

Would you like to hear a perfectly marvellous joke, a real snapper? There are these two wonderful young people, Jane and Michael, and they meet one day on the street and Jane says to Michael “I know a man with a wooden name leg named ‘Smith'” and Michael says “oh really, well what’s the name of his other leg?” ”

Mr George Banks’ Estate (Estate Planning)

Upon George Banks’ passing, his possessions were left to his children. However, Michael and Jane have no idea where any documentation is stored. The share certificate to the fidelity bank shares Michael has, in fact, drawn a sketch of his family on. Disorganisation and carelessness with important documentation is very irresponsible to say the least and the storyline highlights the importance of estate planning, filing and securing documentation and communicating the location with family members.

The Mary Poppins film franchise has many financial life lessons for children and their parents. It spells out the importance of personal insurance, estate planning and investing – all things that a Certified Financial Planner can advise you on. If you need help from a financial adviser contact Elliot Watson at Elliot Watson Financial Planning 02 4038 1623.

The information within, including tax, does not consider your personal circumstances and is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account any of your individual objectives, financial solutions or needs. Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statements and seek personal advice from a qualified financial adviser.

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*Photo: Image AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Elliot Watson

Elliot Watson*

Elliot Watson is an award-winning Certified Financial Planner with over 15 years' experience. He is passionate about helping people grow and protect their wealth.

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