Disney is practically printing money using the success of the Marvel studio franchises. Since Iron Man, they’ve made over $10 billion dollars! And Warner Bros is no fool either. They hope to capture some of that market share with their upcoming line-up of DC-based comic book action movies.
So, what exactly is the draw to these movies? Why are they so irresistible? And what makes us have to rush out on opening day with the whole family to spend +$50 and be the first to see them?
When I was a kid, my favorite super-hero, by far, was Batman.
I was right about at that tender age of 9 when the Tim Burton mega-hit was released back in 1989. To a young boy, that was just about the coolest thing I had ever seen! Batman embodied everything there was about being amazing. By day, he was the incredibly wealthy Bruce Wayne who lived in a huge house, threw lavish parties, and was smooth with the ladies. But by night, he was an unstoppable, kick-butt, crime-fighting machine with sweet gadgets, a cool car, and incredible ninja moves.
What was it about the Batman story that was so particularly intriguing?
Maybe it was because it was easy to relate to Bruce Wayne’s dark and complex character. Or perhaps it was the very thing that Batman stood for. He was the product of a horrible crime. His parents were shot by a street mugger, and that caused him to seek revenge on all those who do injustice. Batman was there to help people who could not help themselves.
How can he do this?
For me, this is the truly interesting part. He was not a mutant. He was not from another world. He was not enhanced with super powers of any kind.
He was simply rich.
Money and Batman
Money was thing that enabled Batman to do the things he could do to fight crime.
I thought the Christian Bale Batman / Christopher Nolan series of movies did an incredible job of depicting this. Wayne Enterprises had a defense contractor division of inactive weapons that it had developed, and this allowed Batman to have everything he needed: His suit, his car, his weapons, etc.
Could there have been a Batman even if Bruce Wayne (or his family) was never rich? I suppose so, but it would not have been nearly the same. Money certainly helped greased the wheels and enable him to get all the tools that make Batman so unstoppable.
So, I ask myself: What can I learn from this? How does money enable me to do more “good” in the world? … to help people?
Using My Money As a Super Power
The thing to keep in mind is that “helping people” can take on many faces and happen in many different forms.
When I was a teenager trying to decide what I wanted to do when I got to college, I briefly decided that psychology would be a cool major to pursue. Why? Because I wanted to understand how the mind worked and, more importantly, help people to overcome their problems.
As I’ve become older, I’ve realized that “problems” come in many shapes and sizes. And, likewise, helping people can also be done in a variety of ways.
For example: I originally started this blog as a way to help people be better with money. I was discovering all kinds of simple tricks and strategies to help build wealth, and I wanted to share that knowledge with the rest of the world.
The same is true for the ebooks that I’ve been writing. I’m not pumping them out with the hopes of making thousands of dollars in income. I’m writing these ebooks with a focus on quality to help answer specific money questions in a very structured manner; like a how-to guide that you can use to fix very specific issues you might be having.
Ever since my bout with cancer, I’ve been thinking about what role money could play in my legacy from a much, much larger perspective.
One thing that has particularly perked my interest is the idea of creating a trust. Unlike a normal trust used for estate planning reasons, my idea is to create a living, legal entity of money that will do something “good” even after I’m long gone.
Starting a Legacy:
For example: Let’s say in 30 years I’m able to set aside $1,000,000. (That might seem like a large number to you, but every time I run retirement scenarios in FIRECalc, most of the outcomes show that over time my wealth will grow to levels far beyond my conservative estimations thanks to the wonders of compounding.)
What if that million dollars was converted into a trust that paid out for the college tuition of my grandchildren? Imagine that – “free” tuition to help enhance my grandchildren and beyond for generations to come. We’d be like the Kennedys!
How amazing would that be if your parents or grand-parents had set aside such a fund for you to enjoy when you went off to college? Using a simple 4-percent withdrawal, that’s an inflation-adjusted $40,000 per year that my descendents could use.
Is this possible? You bet it could be.
First of all, it wouldn’t take very much to get there. A present balance of $131,367 with no extra money added has the power to potentially grow to an inflation adjusted one million dollars in the future.
What about the longevity of such a thing? First of all, we know that a withdrawal of 4% or less is pretty conservative level from retirement planning that will help ensure we don’t run out of money for at least 30 years. On top of that, we can also reason that not every year would there be a withdrawal since most people only to college for a limited number of years.
College is just one example. You could take your money and support all kinds of other causes. You could even make multiple funds. The possibilities are endless!
And how was all of this possible? Because of your money. Because you put a little bit of effort and planning into it, and were able to grow your money into something that both you and future generations from you can enjoy.
Let Money Enhance Your Ability to Good
Though I may not have a dark cape and be able to kick crime butt, to me, the ability to create a financial legacy like the one I just described would be a pretty close second. By using my knowledge of compounding returns and being forward-thinking enough to set aside small “seeds” of money that could grow and grow above and beyond anything a regular person could earn or save in a lifetime, I could do a lot of good! I could help myself, my family, and anyone else that I wanted to use my super powers on.
It starts now with exactly what we’re doing: Planning. Financial skills like saving, investing, and planning aren’t just things that will help us retire early or achieve financial freedom. We can think bigger! We could use both the money we’re going to generate and the knowledge of how to get there to make a tremendous amount of difference in the world.
And if I’m able to pull this off, I think I’ll get the honor of saying (with pride) the iconic phrase: I’m Batman!
Readers – How does money give you special super-powers? How do you think you could use your money or personal finance abilities to make a difference in the world? What was your favorite super-hero?
Featured image courtesy of IMDB