It’s Get Smart With Money Day!

Let’s jump right to the real news here:

  • There’s a Netflix documentary that just came out TODAY* called Get Smart With Money
  • Somehow old Mr. Money Mustache and several friends got lured into playing a role in making it. And I’m very happy with the results!
  • And you can watch the results here (which will be a huge help to the movie’s success!): https://www.netflix.com/title/81312877

Now for the real story behind this weird situation. Why did I agree to this? Aren’t I supposed to be retired? Do you get paid a lot to be in a Netflix movie? And does that mean you become “famous” and your life changes? Read on to find these answers and more.

The Origin

One sunny afternoon in December 2020, I got an email from the co-owner of a filmmaking company with this title:

Feature Documentary – personal finance

Inside was a very well written description of her idea for a movie, and a heartfelt invitation for me to be one of the people featured in it.

I immediately went through my usual series of reactions: Feeling flattered that someone would actually want me in their production. Then dread at the idea of signing myself up for a bunch of “work” when I’m already way too busy doing fun, meaningful stuff as a retired person. Then a motivated excitement to write back immediately to say, 

“Thanks so much, I’m honored, but no thanks, and good luck and maybe I could help out by email just as a casual consultant if you need any ideas.”

Well, that failed. Because this filmmaker turned out to be Kristin Lazure, who then pulled her co-founder Stephanie Soechtig into the conversation, and together they run Atlas Films, not just another documentary company but one of the best ones in the country. 

Atlas has made super-incisive films on food, public health, guns, political cover-ups and so many more things, all of them highly watchable and action-oriented. As I reviewed their earlier titles, I realized that Atlas does not exist just to crank out entertainment or profit from cheap controversy. They are willing to do the real work to dig out the deeper stories, with the goal of creating positive social change.

“Shit”, I thought. “How can I say no to this, if my goal with this MMM hobby is really to try to make a difference in the world?” 

I realized that sure, doing screen and camera work is hard and sometimes inconvenient and it would suck away some of the time I would normally put into writing blog articles. But in exchange it would almost certainly reach a lot more people for each hour I invested into it, and equally important it would reach new people, Netflix watchers who are probably a different group than blog readers. 

And, if you set aside my serious-eyebrows-pretend-grownup charade of being all concerned and logical, I also thought it would be a lot of fun to be part of such a big, exciting, new experience. And shit man, how neat to be able to go over to a friend’s house and dare them to put on YOUR OWN NETFLIX MOVIE!?!

So I said yes, and the giant ball started rolling really fast, and suddenly we spent the entire 2021 hopping through a series of occasional filming days, and recorded zoom calls, and other silly, interesting experiences.

Some of it was indeed hard (like being squeezed onto my deck along with a dozen production crew in the full blazing solar onslaught of a July afternoon, pretending to act natural while answering interview questions, pausing only to wipe away the occasional gallon of sweat from my forehead.) But almost all of it was loads of fun. And it led to wonderful new experiences and friendships for all of us.

One thing you’ll notice if you watch the movie, is that I talk a big game about how hard this all was, yet in the movie I just seem to pop in occasionally, do a couple of bike tricks and play with power tools, and oh yeah sometimes drop a few sagely financial one-liners to help my students along the way. This is because our content was edited down by probably a 100:1 ratio. They cover a lot of ground in this movie with a lot of people, and yet somehow it all feels natural and coherent. 

My favorite part is probably that my old concept of the “Purchase Justification Machine”, first described in this 2019 article about me not buying a Tesla, made it into the movie in the form of a glorious and silly on-screen animated graphic – grinding away at Kim as she browses Amazon while riding her Peloton.

Money and Fame

Oh, and no, we didn’t get paid much at all, especially if you work it out on an hourly basis. Documentaries like this have a high production budget when it comes to top-quality crew and equipment, but they somehow manage to get us on-camera participants to willingly almost donate our time. 

If you value fame or exposure, that alone could be considered a valuable form of payment. But in my case, any added fame would be a downside – there are very few real-world benefits and quite a few downsides related to privacy, which in extreme situations can even lead to danger. However I figured I’m just one of many people in this movie, and it’s a small fish relative to the overall ocean of Netflix. When I weighed that against the benefits of sharing better financial and lifestyle habits, I took an optimistic guess and decided that the good aspects outweighed the bad. I’ll let you know how this goes now that the movie is out!

So What’s The Movie About?

Atlas films rounded up four financial gurus, all of us with different backgrounds and styles (Paula Pant, Tiffany Aliche, Ro$$ Mac, and myself.)

Then they had us send “casting calls” out to the Internet, summoning our ideal students with the offer of a year of free coaching – in exchange for it all being filmed and shared with the world. 

Surprisingly, we got loads of responses – in the form of personal video stories from singles, couples and families, all of them charming and heartfelt and leaving me wishing I had time to welcome and try to help all of them.

 In the end, I chose a young family of four that falls into the same demographic to which I target these blog posts: people with high incomes and high spending, who are wondering where all the money is going.

I taught my couple, John and Kim, how to streamline their initial $13,000 per month spending budget (!!), through things like more efficient grocery shopping and dining, keeping a closer eye on impulse purchasing, thinking about housing and neighborhoods and school choices (private versus public), and whether to consider side income streams over the longer run to allow them to scale back on work.

 As you’ll see in the movie, the end results were both subtle and dramatic at the same time. And I’m happy to report that these subjects are now real-life friends and even live nearby so we get to enjoy the results of their more fun new lifestyle together.

So, I hope you enjoy both the movie and the backstory. I’m very happy that I said “yes” after all, even though I can guarantee that I won’t be coming back for a sequel or an ongoing series. The camera vans have long since left and my schedule is back to its normal blissfully open state.

With this little report to you now wrapping up, it’s back to my construction projects here at the house for the rest of this week, then off for some camping deep in the mountains this weekend. Seventeen years in, this version of retirement remains the right life for me.

And I wish you your own version of living the dream this week as well!


*September 6th, 2022

In the Comments: Did you watch the movie? If so what did you think? How could it have been made even better if you were doing the cuts?

My candid criticism, being a details person, is that they tried to cover so much that they didn’t have much time for the details. But then again, you can’t teach all the details of such a broad subject with just a documentary, while also keeping it fun to watch. So I’m hoping that the easy breezy approachable nature of the movie leads people to start thinking about these things on their own. Once the right seed is planted, better money habits can catch on pretty easily.

  • Kendrick Sharpe September 6, 2022, 1:01 pm

    Looks great, congrats on the role. Your blog has been instrumental in my personal financial decisions, and I look forward to watching it later on Netflix!

    • Carmen C September 28, 2022, 5:44 pm

      Have followed your blog for years, made made decisions that have led us closer and faster to FIRE. I think this documentary will inspire those that are interested. Great to have a variety of coaches and stories and if people want to-all the tools can be found on your websites. It’s not easy and you can’t make someone financially responsible but this movie can spark something in someone and if they look any of you up and follow your advice they will change their lives!! So grateful for what you have taught us!

  • Ed September 6, 2022, 1:18 pm

    SELLOUT! lol I haven’t watched it yet, but you have certainly had a positive impact on the world through your blog, so I appreciate you taking the opportunity to create something on a more mainstream medium. I will surely give it a watch later tonight!

  • Chris September 6, 2022, 1:24 pm

    Already in my Netflix list, can’t wait to watch this!

  • Physician on FIRE September 6, 2022, 2:17 pm

    I’m excited for this!

    I’ve known Kim through a mastermind group we’re in together, and we’ve secretly been anticipating the eventual release of the project.

    I’m glad you said Yes, and I’d like to think I would do the same if given the opportunity.


  • Tom Kinsky September 6, 2022, 2:20 pm

    Looking forward to watching this one of these evenings soon. Three years in, I think I have enough up and down experience to hopefully relate to what you and the others are saying. I agree with you that doing a Netflix video is a new (and hopefully, fun!) way to broaden your reach. Mustache on!

  • Ann Christensen September 6, 2022, 3:01 pm

    Really enjoyed this show! It provides a good overview of money management but most of all it provides hope. Money is something that we can control! As someone who grew up without a lot, learning how to manage my money and passing on this knowledge to my children has been one of my proudest achievements. You are right that it doesn’t have a lot of details but it will point its viewers in the right direction.

  • Marty J September 6, 2022, 3:09 pm

    Irony — I just quit Netflix as an extraneous expense.

    • Tom Kinsky September 6, 2022, 5:39 pm

      @MartyJ – Hah! Talk about pre-emptively using the lessons from the documentary, lol! :)

    • Morgan September 16, 2022, 8:54 am

      I quit Netflix in February too, so maybe I will find an opportunity to watch with someone who still has an account.

    • Sandra September 18, 2022, 7:10 pm

      Ha, so did I…but I signed up for Crave in Canada to catch up on HBO shows. When it expires, I will probably switch back. Hope it’s still there in about a year

  • Tom Kinsky September 6, 2022, 3:31 pm

    Just finished watching this. To be honest, after about 25 minutes I switched to 1.25 playback mode, then to 1.5, then skipped forward quite a bit. Heavily edited and overlong in my opinion. While I’m glad for the four people/couples profiled, who all seem to have turned their initially quite bad financial situations around with the coaching of the four featured investment gurus, I have to say that the advice given was really not much more than what’s been out there infinitum already: cut your spending, invest consistently, try out some side hustles, focus on what’s most important in life, etc. So, overall, I don’t think this documentary added that much to the discussion. Again, though – congrats to the individuals/couples who now have a better financial outlook, and kudos to the advisors who helped them

    • Nisha September 6, 2022, 4:52 pm

      I couldn’t agree more with you! I was pretty disappointed that one of the gurus was suggesting NFT’s as a side income. I only watched it because of Mr Money Mustache but I found the rest of it kind of bland and a bit too basic. My husband who isn’t great with personal finances was also laughing, he felt like the show was telling him what he already knew but struggled to do. Spend less, earn/save more. He said that people already know this, it’s like telling a fat person to eat less. Thanks, genius. Often the reason why we are spending more or eating more is a lot more deeper than the basic answer of spend less, eat less. Why are we spending more? Why so many takeouts? Is it because you struggle with budgeting, cooking, feel guilty for not buying healthy stuff at the supermarket? Go deeper.

    • Orda Hackney September 7, 2022, 3:16 pm

      • Mr. Money Mustache September 8, 2022, 1:05 pm

        Yeah, I enjoyed (and had a laugh at) that Guardian review too. I can’t complain about his perspective, because everyone has their own opinions.

        But I do think he missed the point, which in my view is that EVERYBODY sucks at money here in the US, regardless of income level. So we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just teaching the people who happen to have the lowest incomes. Especially given my own main mission, which is to reduce the natural resource consumption of humans in general. And us rich people are by far with the most consumption/destruction power.

        Plus, the same tactics work even better as you go down the income scale: stop doordashing your dinner and start stocking up and Costco and doing simple/awesome/fast home cooking every night instead. Don’t ride around town in a truck, live closer to work and walk and bike more, learn more skills, don’t buy stuff on impulse.

        The same changes that allow people like my students John and Kim to scale back on work and spend more time with the young kids, can make the difference between being able to afford basic housing and food and health care, for someone in a lower income life.

        • Ciaran September 12, 2022, 4:59 pm

          I’m 25 minutes in, so I haven’t got to your intro yet, and all these people are blowing my mind. They all have so much stuff! The bartender who’s living paycheck to paycheck has an art studio room with so much stuff in it! Lighting equipment, sewing machines, pink skulls, tables, paints, fabrics, an expensive mirrorless camera! It’s clear why they’re all in debt. So far, the most sensible person is driving round in a Range Rover despite having no income!

          • Dickrog September 16, 2022, 8:29 am

            I agree. I think the one that ‘hit me the most’ since now that I’m half a decade into my mustachian conversion is the lady who was a Target/Amazon addict.

            What struck me was how she was *seemingly* going to Target without any purchases in mind, it was as though she was going there just to see what would strike her that she *could* buy. In my early 20’s, I thought this was a completely fine way to spend a free Saturday. But now? I just see it as a really, really sub-optimal way to live your life.

            I appreciate that maybe they just set the filming up this way to portray that narrative… but I also know that so many people ‘go to the mall’ for something to do.. Crazy behavior!

        • Sandra September 18, 2022, 6:12 am

          I’ll add this documentary to my watchlist, and read the Guardian piece with interest. As a 40-something living in the UK, I credit happening upon the MMM blogs with fundamentally changing my mindset towards money, and retirement, and making me realise how much money I had frittered away over the years, for example, on my habit of changing my car every 1-2 years and always buying them from new. However, since that epiphany, I’ve found Martin Lewis’ advice and tv show (moneysavingexpert.com) to be much more useful from a UK perspective, offering up to date, topical, tips and insights on a range of financial matters. He’s also a proactive campaigner on issues such as fuel poverty in the UK and his advice is invaluable for those that are genuinely struggling on the lower end of the income scale.

        • Chrishana October 4, 2022, 5:36 pm

          Hello,I was so inspired by the the Netflix save money show. I desperately need a lot of help saving money. ARE YOU STILL HELPING PEOPLE WITH THESE SITUATIONS.

          • Johnathan October 10, 2022, 6:53 pm

            Yes, Fallow the blog and you’ll have all the tools you will ever need.

            Just re-read and research!

  • Findependenceforty September 6, 2022, 3:32 pm

    On my Netflix list and will be watching it as sonn and the kids are in bed.

    Can’t wait for it.

  • Waterfall September 6, 2022, 4:41 pm

    Self-promotion? Why I never. *faints*

    Good job there, MMM.

  • Emily September 6, 2022, 5:29 pm

    “The ultimate goal of money is to not have to think about money.” Loved this.

    Full disclosure: I watched this from my hotel on the east coast, where I’m a few days from flying to my early retirement home of Portugal. I’m putting my little green men to work full-time now. :)

    I’m sure that, like, 99% of the footage had to be edited, but I really loved the MMM focus on money as a tool for quality of life. That said, I do think the documentary is valuable because I imagine that EVERYONE who struggles with money will see themselves somewhere in the subjects, and the advice offered by the experts (even the ones besides Pete) will resonate somewhere.

    • GC414 September 8, 2022, 5:55 am

      Hey Emily! I’m from Portugal and I find it interesting that many people are coming here for their retirement while I think the best option for me is to continue my early retirement somewhere else. What led you to choose Portugal?

      Hope you enjoy your stay!

      • Gallagher September 15, 2022, 6:59 pm

        GC, there have been a bunch of articles in the news in the US recently about how Portugal is one of the best places in the world to retire. Relatively inexpensive, good weather, good healthcare, safe. My wife and daughter visited a few months back on a reconnaissance mission. Don’t worry. We’re cool. You’re going to love us!

  • Bryan September 6, 2022, 6:00 pm

    It was cool seeing you do the carpentry work on video and the blue Honda minivan still going strong. I didn’t learn anything new, thankfully you and J. Money set me free many years ago. Hopefully new watchers and readers will be set free as well.

  • Maggie September 6, 2022, 6:49 pm

    I don’t have Netflix. See aforementioned extraneous expense. Based on the trailer and some early reviews of the film, it sounds like a great resource for those who don’t have much experience with personal finance basics to get them on the right path. My comment is directed toward MMM’s statement in this post that the target demographic of his blog posts are “people with high incomes and high spending, wondering where all the money is going.” Reading that stopped me in my tracks. Here I was thinking that he was talking to ME and others of any income or previous spending habits who want to prioritize personal freedom over the endless pursuit of money. Of course, I can still find the advice of MMM useful even if I’m not the audience he’s trying to reach, but choosing a family that makes $300K on one salary (more when hubby gets back to work) and spends $1200 per month on food (!) out of the hundreds of people who applied for coaching is very disappointing (even if it was the producers of the film who made that choice rather than MMM). High-income earners aren’t the only ones wondering where all the money is going, and they’re certainly not the ones who have the most cause for concern when there’s no money left to save or invest at the end of the month. MMM – have you determined the demographics of your actual readers? If so, I’d love it if someone pointed me to the results.

    • 9unk September 11, 2022, 4:01 am

      Heya Maggie, there is one young lady in this that doesn’t have as much money that is helped. I thought the group chosen to be mentored was well rounded enough. I didn’t get loads from it however and found it a bit dumbed down to meet the needs of those with no real clue about money. Sorry if that seems harsh. I think it was still really well done and watched it all at regular speed.

    • Morgan September 16, 2022, 9:10 am

      We have had incomes around the US median, and I know there are a ton of readers that also have average incomes. I have been reading MMM since 2011, and have noticed the examples go from average to a bit above average to “holy cow, I can’t even fathom making $300k per year.” So, the examples have become far less relatable in recent years.

      • Andreas September 20, 2022, 5:23 am

        I imagine it would be easier if you have a big paycheck to remove wasteful excess. But the advice is still solid for anyone looking to improve their own economy.

        Stop wasting money is a skill anyone should learn.

    • GMullet September 21, 2022, 7:23 am

      I find it a little perplexing that you’re commenting critically on the details of the documentary without having watched it. If you do decide to splurge on Netflix and watch the documentary then you’ll find that a cross section of society was chosen: from a young woman on the poverty-line to NFL neo-pro.

    • eyesonthehorizon September 25, 2022, 2:21 pm

      As MMM says in the article he chose that family because they represent the demographic that he’s targeting with his blog – not because he thinks they need the most help getting control of their money, but instead because they have the greatest effect on the rest of the world with their out-of-control consumption. That these people act as powerful pumps to turn wealth into pollution, & the most wealth to do it with, is the motive to dissuade them from the standard American way of life; teaching them that consuming less will benefit them, too, is just the self-interested incentive that gets them to go along with it. It’s a win-win for everyone when these extremely spendy people replace their thoughtless consumption with happiness.

      Of course everyone with more than they need can learn from mustachian philosophy, but the goal is to save the planet from wealthy first-world consumption habits, for everyone’s sake. People with less astronomical incomes are no less able to do the important work of leading good, fulfilling, less-polluting lives, building healthy, engaged, resilient communities.

    • Brad Felmey February 24, 2023, 11:55 am

      Relatability is certainly important, but I think there was a not-so-subtle stroke of genius in the guest choices. There are a plethora of people in (especially) America who think the solution to their problem is money. What cases such as Mr. Tabor and the lovely CO couple brilliantly demonstrate is the fallacy of that mindset, because it’s crucial for people to stop thinking that money by itself will solve everything. People with bigger money can – and do – simply get in bigger holes. Without discipline, without focus, without a careful evaluation of the value of choices, bad habits will kill a golden goose of any size. Just ask the 70% [!] of lottery winners.

      So… MMM was kinda channeling his inner MythBuster here, contextual to the likely target audience.

      • Terri Romberger March 14, 2023, 8:13 am

        Habits it is. We just have to breakthrough the whole tradition of buying “new” houses, cars, iphones, watches etc. spending so much on takeout/delivery/convenience and force ourselves to see that “could be life” with not having to work for 40 years, but live a more authentic life with our chosen people and pure moments together.

  • Dan September 6, 2022, 6:53 pm

    Just watched it- very well done! You were great- and so was everyone else. While indeed most of us know most of this stuff already, the average person will learn a lot and find all the subjects relatable and really be rooting for them.

  • Rachael September 6, 2022, 7:00 pm

    I just finished watching it and I thought it was very well done. My older sister is finally ready to turn her relationship with money around and has asked me for help. I’m going to have her watch this to start the conversation. I’m optimistic that she will see that she’s not alone and that there is hope (plus proven strategies). Great job!

  • Jane September 6, 2022, 7:16 pm

    This is a great intro film for people who are just starting their money journey. Hopefully it will start some much needed conversations about money in households who really need it. This plus Playing With Fire and then the Dave Ramsey student loan doco coming out, should be a helpful watch list for anyone trying to figure out money with a view to financial freedom.

  • Lori September 6, 2022, 8:19 pm

    Wow! That was great! I have never actually seen you in action, and you are much more of a sweet guy than I expected. I always hear you yelling in my ear about being a car clown, as that was the first post I ever read.
    I think I teared up when the family went to Costa Rica and you said it was money well spent. I am so happy for them!!

  • Gavin September 6, 2022, 9:52 pm

    Highly awesome to see yours and the NFL player’s sections in the movie. When the couple was downsizing their house I was like “you got Pete to help you work on your house!!” That was the ultimate. Did you charge them or was that a pro bono project? HAHA

  • kmassale September 6, 2022, 10:26 pm

    It’s a Soul Cycle bike, not a Peloton : ) thank you MMM for your support. We had a wildly transformative experience and I’m sure the effort you put into this film will change many people’s lives for the better. We cannot thank you enough my friend.

    • Emily September 7, 2022, 6:12 am

      Congratulations! Wishing you and your family every good thing!

  • Treller September 6, 2022, 11:54 pm

    I thought it was pretty good, MMM readers obviously didn’t learn a great deal but for the average American worth the watch I would say. Some things felt a little off, like suggesting someone buy Apple and Facebook stock, I wouldn’t recommend individual stocks at their stage plus the segment with the lady cooking her own meals with her partner and the next segment they are playing video games in front of what looked like a takeout box. Hmmm.
    It would have been nice to have some deeper follow ups, kinda felt like an we just got to know the people and it ended.

    • Lori September 7, 2022, 3:53 pm

      The Apple and FB stock purchase surprised me too!

      • 9unk September 11, 2022, 4:06 am

        This was the only thing that left me cringing. I know it’s better than spending it on jewelry and clothing but his limited knowledge of the stock market meant he was buying on a whim. Shouldn’t the advisor have told him to stick with the NASDAQ, S&P500 index funds to spread the risk?

  • JT September 7, 2022, 2:43 am

    I watched this last night. Every single one of the participants desperately needed a patented Mr Money Mustache face punch at the beginning, My jaw was on the floor seeing their spending and debts (but also incomes in most cases). How you restrained yourself when they said they wanted a $100k retirement income is beyond me – or did they have to edit it out and cover the bruises with makeup?

  • Alicja Duchiewicz Fotografka September 7, 2022, 4:56 am

    Mr Money Mustache! Thanks a lot for all your knowledge served in the show! It was pleasure to watch :)

  • Barbie September 7, 2022, 5:44 am

    Hubby and I watched the show last night and it is very well done. True, as others have pointed out, it is really targeted toward folks who are unsophisticated about investing or even just saving but that’s most of America. The target audience is NOT those of us reading this blog or other FIRE blogs. I was surprised at how mellow Pete seemed and approachable. No clown car comments, face smacks or hard lines drawn which is the gentle approach people just starting a financial solvency journey might need.

    Bravo…I’d watch a series like this one!

  • Bill September 7, 2022, 5:47 am

    Really enjoyed it. I agree that it could have gone into a little more detail and been less surface level. But I knew when it opened with the Lunch Money Lewis song it was going to be a good time!

  • Rich September 7, 2022, 7:07 am

    Congrats! What a cool opportunity. So glad you let us know. I watched it last night with my wife and we enjoyed it a lot. I was so glad to see that the advice of all 4 coaches can help so many people in different situations. It was a great reminder of how no one is alone. We all struggle with most of the same financial challenges. I enjoyed seeing you in the process.

  • Debbie Fodor September 7, 2022, 7:17 am

    I loved the documentary! It was so nice to watch the film subjects learning about money, facing their fears and growing their knowledge, skills and confidence relating to their finances. I liked that the film subjects were in four very different situations financially. It is vitally important to teach people good money skills and to help them understand how to save, invest and make their money work for them. When I left my parent’s home as a young woman I was good at saving money, but knew nothing about insurance, mortgages, credit or investing. I didn’t know what a ‘share’ was. I excelled academically at school, but life skills were not part of the curriculum and my parents taught me nothing about finances. That was way back in the pre-internet days. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I couldn’t even go searching for information to educate myself. In Australia we have a man known as ‘The Barefoot Investor’. He brings financial education to the regular people and helps people gain control of their finances and so their lives. He wants children to be financially educated. He even wrote a book aimed at families to help parents raise financially literate kids. I wish that someone had taught me about money and investing when I was young, but I am happy that now information is being shared via mediums such as this documentary to promote financial knowledge and understanding and to help people make good financial decisions.

  • Matthew Pence September 7, 2022, 7:31 am

    This is a really good approach for you. You’re no sucker for stardom or camera fueled frenzy. You’re also extremely selective on what consumes your most finite resource – time. If you felt it was worth the investment and putting your humble reputation/name on it, the documentary has to be a great resource.

    There is a certain irony about appealing to the wasteful consumerist lifestyle on a platform like Netflix that is not lost on me. I don’t have Netflix as I rarely sit around consuming fictional media. (personal preference, even before I discovered your blog). I’m sure it’ll turn up on YouTube one day where I’ll be able to watch it alongside my engineering and electronics videos.

  • Nick F September 7, 2022, 9:02 am

    First time commenting on a MMM post despite all the help this site has given me over the years. Anyway, I checked out the other financial gurus from the film (and their associated hyperlinks) and I couldn’t help but notice a disturbing pattern of this “I will teach you to be rich (if you pay me for my services) ” crap being sold by so called “personal finance experts”.

    I guess all the years of reading MMM has my eye keen to spot scams (like paying someone a monthly fee for “inside coaching” and “personalized budget help”) that will only detract from financial freedom.

    Without having seen the film yet, I suppose I just want to give a shout out to MMM for providing sensible, actionable, advice on this website that helps people… as opposed to these other financial gurus who make money selling money advice (false profits as I will now refer to them).

    • brandon September 8, 2022, 6:22 pm

      Whoa whoa whoa, don’t you go lumping Paula Pant into that group.
      MMM also makes income from this website as he freely admits, receiving compensation for creating value is NOT a bad thing!
      Paula does sell a very well done class on real estate investing, (no I have not taken it) her podcast is fantastic and some of the best combo of entertaining and informative on the “Ask Paula” shows that she hosts with Joe Saul Sehigh.
      They go in depth into framework thinking about problems that they’re asked about and do their best to reveal personal biases and give helpful and thoughtful insight for the questions.
      I got into the FI community because of MMM and am so thankful for that introduction and change in mindset, but there are also other great people in the community and MMM is friends with many of them!
      No tribalism needed other than being glad there are many paths to FI and that someone else will vibe better with a different voice.

  • Chris B September 7, 2022, 10:53 am

    Hehehe… MMM I saw you biting your tongue while working with the family who managed to cut back to “just” a $100k+ per year lifestyle. Such a waste. With their income, they should be on a 4-5 year plan not a 20 year plan! It was good to see them downsize, although I wonder what happened with their double-late-model-SUV money incinerators.

    If you ever do another such project, maybe put out a casting call for someone who is willing to give you full financial control over their lifestyle for a year, put them on the MMM hair-on-fire diet, and force them to reach $100k in 12 months. You’d be overwhelmed with responses, sure, but “Money Facepunch” would get some attention I assure you.

    • EJ October 25, 2022, 1:58 pm

      At the end of the documentary Pete’s couple (I’m assuming Pete and not MMM due to no face punchings) were reported to be saving 8K a month instead of the previous 0 when their spending was 13K. Technically this could be from higher income but I assume they eventually got spending down to a reasonable 5K per month, really not bad if it includes a mortgage and health insurance. There had to have been way more unseen “detail” work to get from the we’ll do the easy stuff and save 3K a month to the we’re selling our house and now we save 8K (a very mustachian 61.5% savings rate).

    • Brad Felmey February 24, 2023, 12:05 pm

      I would take that rather awesome idea a step further. A documentary exercise where MMM holds sway over more than just the fiscal genre. One of the things I enjoy about MMM is that he pairs his practical financial posture with health, charity, and big-picture impact at the personal level, all of which he is endeavoring to instill into his children; raising the next generation of citizens to to not only be personally successful, but to be *good people*.

      THAT is the show I’d like to see.

      • Mr. Money Mustache February 26, 2023, 11:11 am

        Very kind of you to say those things Brad. I too would love to see a documentary (or even an ongoing series) like that, except instead of me being on-camera, it would be someone who has more time and enthusiasm and skill for TV work.

        Luckily I think there are many such role models out there, already creating TV shows and Youtube videos. For my part, I learned long ago that for a sustainably happy life, you gotta focus on what you enjoy most.

        For me, that is doing mostly offline, in-person stuff and then OCCASIONALLY typing some shit into the computer. And if any TV/movie/Youtube producers see this and want to create such a show, I’d be happy to help in a very casual, no-contracts way that could still help get it going in a good direction.

  • RJ September 7, 2022, 11:02 am

    Was really excited to watch, and somewhat bored with the result. NFL and MMM segments were best. Agree/acknowledge that the target audience is not me. Curious about the grocery spend of 13-14k/year. This doesn’t feel too far off what we spend for a family of 4 in Canada. We’ve optimized all other aspects of our spending, but can’t seem to find material savings in this bucket. Yes, we shop at Costco, yes we cook almost all of our meals and eat left-overs. We don’t eat much red meat. We do eat well, however. I was really intrigued when MMM offered to grocery shop with the family…but ultimately didn’t find any nuggets of wisdom. I’m sure we could find 10-15% of savings if we tried harder, but would never be able to cut it in half. Perhaps groceries are more expensive in Canada. Anyway, congrats on the movie. Very cool.

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 7, 2022, 1:28 pm

      Yeah, in “number of dollars” terms, I find that groceries are about half the price here – for example a two pound brick of Colby Jack cheese might be $6.50 here and $13 in the area of Ontario where I grew up.

      After adjusting for the currency differences, the values are closer ($13 CAD = $9.90 USD at the moment), but things are still cheaper here. Especially the “sin” items like cars, gasoline, alcohol, etc. Houses, taxes, electronics, bikes, plane tickets and so many other things are cheaper in the US as well, with the notable exception of medical procedures.

      When you combine all this with the fact that we have relatively high salaries, this is why I often claim the US is an unusually easy place to achieve early retirement!

    • Frugal Steve September 13, 2022, 4:42 pm

      Interesting. Maybe as MMM said, it might have a lot to do with price differences in the US vs Canada. We (family of 7) have a grocery budget of about $500/month. I have to give my wife most of the credit. She shops the ads and plans our food around what is on sale, buy a lot in bulk from COSTCO, and cook mostly from scratch. We eat pretty healthy and good meals (not just rice and beans). However, we eat a lot of produce but hardly ever buy organic because the price is so much higher (we do have a garden which helps). We limit any prepared foods and packaged stuff (We only let the kids eat cereal twice a week and the other days are oatmeal, pancakes, eggs and toast, etc…). We do go through a lot of milk and have been trying to cut back because the price has doubled in the past few years. My wife and I eat our dinner leftovers for lunch the next day and the kids either do school lunch or pack a sandwich and fruit. After school snacks are typically fruit, yogurt, nuts, and sometimes crackers. It’s a little bit strict of a lifestyle and our kids complain sometimes, but overall it works well for us. I think the main thing is that we have to be very intentional about our food purchases. Most purchases are planned and we rarely “splurge”. The $500 doesn’t include our eating out budget. We typically go out once a week (alternating weeks 1 with family, the other just the two of us). That is usually about $30-$40 per week. We typically share meals (portion sizes at most restaurants are huge) and usually only get water with out meals.

  • BryanD September 7, 2022, 11:06 am

    We watched ‘Get Smart With Money’ last night. My wife is a huge Mr.Money Moustache follower already so we knew alot of the techniques that he showcased for the couple. We found MMM’s approach to be the most thoughtful and reliable of all the finance coaches featured. We had to laugh as the area of Costa Rica that they went to we just returned from after a 9-week holiday..something we were able to do with our kids using many of the ideas that MMM has taught us. Thanks for all your help and wisdom!

  • Julie September 7, 2022, 11:43 am

    I watched it last night and found it to be relatable and informative, but I wish it could have gone deeper! Do we see a Netflix series coming, maybe ?? MMM was by far my favorite coach, but I’m probably impartial due to my gratitude and fondness of this blog. The advice given by Pete was the only to offer a specific end goal (25X spending to achieve FI) and that is what Mustachians know and love. Bravo, very well done and I hope that this helps to expand MMM’s reach to a new generation of readers and students.

  • Francisco H September 7, 2022, 12:21 pm

    For a introduction it’s ok, but maybe a serie would be better to go deep in the information. I was waiting more information but It should say that it’s for entry elevel.

  • Jenny September 7, 2022, 1:09 pm

    I just watched it. I thought it was really well done. I could sympathize with all the subjects. I didn’t get the sense that your couple was necessarily into early retirement, as much as the mom wanted more balance in her life. I don’t blame her! More time with my kids was my biggest motivator.

  • CheapskateWife September 7, 2022, 2:26 pm

    Watched it with my own mini-moustache today as part of our homeschool Economic lesson. His biggest take away was the woman who’s credit card debt and spendypants habits were causing her real panic, totally did it to herself. Then we went on line and bought a couple more ETF’s with his lawn mowing money. Liked the show as a tool for conversations. I have a bigger mini-mustache who is a man-child out on his own. Totally doesn’t want to hear it from mom, but he might listen from some perfect strangers in a fun highly edited documentary ;-)

  • GeneP September 7, 2022, 2:50 pm

    Great gig MMM! I thought that your protégés hit the jackpot when they decided to downsize their house and you were their advisor. Right in your wheelhouse! All those Rigid tools (most of mine are Ryobi)! I thought, though that all those people needed a face punch, really bad. All four of the advisors treated them with kid gloves. I was hoping that you would show your couple how to squeeze the last bit of tooth paste out with a vise. Great documentary though! Thanks for sharing!

    Question? What is the make and model of the $40 hair clippers that you use?

  • Larry September 7, 2022, 3:40 pm

    It is very well edited and very watchable. However it felt short on a few things. (MMM asked for constructive criticism hence my comments below)
    1) the selected participants were very biased. The experts sent out a call to find them therefore the participants already kind of knew the basic concepts or at least had heard of them. It was not at all random. A more diverse and less privileged crowd would have been interesting.
    2) the format felt wrong. It would have been more suited for a series with each expert helping a person and covering a specific angle (debt, optimization, investing etc…) per episode
    3) There were big jumps in some of the stories with missing explanation (about debt reduction and saving rates for example). A monthly follow up with more data would have been interesting.
    4) I didn’t learn anything new but I understand that I am not in the target audience. However I wonder if ordinary poor and broke people would find much useable information either. It seems very targeted to privileged middle class people (see point 1) It reminded me of a saying I heard recently : it is useless to tell an hungry man to eat less food.

  • Keaton September 7, 2022, 4:59 pm

    I skipped through to the MMM and NFL segments because I found them more interesting. The film’s decision to have 4 different interventions at the same time was its biggest strength and biggest weakness. Almost anyone can relate with at least one of the people who are changing but few will find all of it interesting. I almost wish they made 4 separate shorts and went more in-depth with each, but I suspect this wasn’t possible for a variety of reasons.

    I do think it’ll introduce Netflix viewers to MMM who wouldn’t have otherwise found you, which is great. I found your blog a couple of months ago and have been bingeing it ever since!

  • MarciaB September 7, 2022, 6:01 pm

    Really well put together (fun music and excellent graphics). I enjoyed every minute of it. My favorite thing though was the diversity of both the financial pros and the featured individuals/families. Way to go!

  • Bart September 8, 2022, 5:05 am

    Congrats on the documentary! I watched it yesterday evening. Overall it was well-balanced, informative and inspiring. I agree with you on the lack of details, but thats rather unavoidable. The only thing i really missed was the lack of talk on dividends.

  • Barbaneros September 8, 2022, 6:30 am

    My wife and I are Mustachians from Germany and we just watched the documentary yesterday. Glad that this is available on the german Netflix too! Here it has the name “Der smarte Umgang mit Geld”.

    We found ourselves stopping and discussing the movie pretty often. Most of the times we were shocked about the absurd monthly cost of living of all four parties. Kudos for letting the public know nevertheless. And I’m glad that you all are further ahead than you were a year ago !

    MMM really was humble and nice to the outside, whileas his inner voice must’ve been screaming haha. But I guess it’s a first step to bring average consumers closer to financial literacy.

    We learned one new method:
    Wants / needs / love / like

    While we don’t need this approach since we are far more mustachian, we felt that this method might be a good starter to get average consumers on the right track.

    Thanks for a nice evening with lots of meaningful discussion !

    • Chris B September 8, 2022, 9:25 am

      I was also intrigued by Tiffany Aliche’s Needs/Loves/Likes/Wants model. It seems we buy garbage we like or want instead of funding our needs and loves. This is why we have too much stuff we bought to make ourselves feel good, but have lasting despair because we’re not addressing our needs or loves. E.g. I need and would love to be retired early. However, because I keep buying plastic garbage I “like” and dopamine items I “want”, I cannot have what I need and love. I feel there is a lot more one could say about this way of looking at consumption.

    • Kate October 30, 2022, 9:28 pm

      Us too!
      We loved that visual of
      Need and Love
      Want and Like

  • WAN September 8, 2022, 10:01 am

    HI, I found you on Netflix… I’ve already through your blog.. This give me new energy as i became a new housewife. My husband and I want to upgrade our portfolio. My husband give me fully support for me to keep updating my financial literacy. In my country, we’r rarely talk about financial literacy, I hope I can give as much knowledge for my future kids.

    Question ; Why you times 25 for SWR?
    Thanks again

    • CRich September 22, 2022, 9:37 am

      To answer your question, a multiplication of 25x spend rate gives you the required nest egg with a Safe Withdrawal Rate of 4%, individual Risk tolerances may vary…

  • Gary Grewal September 8, 2022, 10:34 am

    I enjoyed when they did the PBS and WSJ documentary versions of the FIRE movement. This one looks enticing because of the “reality” theme. Don’t have Netflix, but looking forward to watching more than the trailer soon!

    The good news is it seems financial literacy is more prevalent now than ever before, and more people are experiencing the opportunity for prosperity.

    • Conor September 17, 2022, 12:17 pm

      Could you provide the full titles / links for the PBS & WSJ documentaries on the FIRE movement?

  • Geoff September 8, 2022, 11:57 am

    A lot of these people’s financial situations were cringe worthy. I agree that it was too superficial and lacking in detail. I kept seeing numbers like $3,000 in monthly expenses and would think HOW and What is that being spent on? I also thought that some of the “expert” advice was just down right terrible. The one that really sticks out was Ro$$ Mack telling Teez to buy the S&P 500, NSADAQ and then applauding him for buying FB and Apple! I think there’s somewhere around an 80 stock overlap between in the NASDAQ 100 and the S&P 500. So he’s super over weighted in tech and has no international exposure. Far from educating Teez on investing it seemed like he just made him dangerous. I applaud everyone’s efforts though. If this documentary helps spur education and change in people’s financial lives for the better that would be great. Too that end, I would have liked to see some resources at the end to help people become financially literate.

  • JD September 8, 2022, 12:36 pm

    Great show. I particularly loved the fact that the mentees in this case came from 4 vastly different starting points. The lack of details were made up for by that fact. A big problem with FIRE is often the fact that for lower income folks it isn’t even an option given their starting point. This show proved that no matter where you start from or what your end goal is, YOU CAN improve your standing when it comes to money. So uplifting and powerful. I recommended it to a lot of people I know whom I would never dream of talking about FIRE with.

    As for the MMM part…I loved it. I could see where it was going and MMM did a great job of being patient and allowing his mentees to discover things on their own after he got them to take a few small steps….You could see them progress from barely making a dent but then really overhauling their lifestyle when the reality began to set in for them of what was possible!!

    We need a sequel lol

  • LVCubed September 8, 2022, 8:13 pm

    My husband and I enjoyed it. While it does seem like a basics show, this is for the masses and not many have the knowledge. Your message shared widely! The graphics were cool, and made it easy to understand the content. Great job and thank you for lending your talents!

  • ClaireB September 8, 2022, 10:39 pm

    I watched the MMM parts on netflix and loved it!!! I have to ask, where did the family move after they sold their house? Did they stay in Colorado or move to somewhere with no income taxes like Texas?

  • Three Wolf Moon September 8, 2022, 10:44 pm

    Watched it today. Constructive criticism:

    While I get they can only go into so much detail given time constraints, I thought they really missed an opportunity when I got to the end of the film. In the summary segment for the couple you worked with it said on screen that the final step they took (downsizing their home) left them with an extra $8k per month to invest. So if they started with $13k/mo in (exploding volcano of wastefulness) spending that means at the end they only had $5k/mo going to expenses. But in the previous segments they were working toward a retirement budget of $9k/mo, giving them a retire early goal of $2.7M in investments. Now, maybe they personally wanted to keep that level of spending for their retirement lifestyle, but I thought it would have been incredibly informative to go through the math on screen to show how much more attainable early retirement would be if you reduced your goal as you reduced your lifestyle expenses. Also, how much faster could they retire if they only needed $5k x 12 x 25 = $1.5M in investments? This would have really reinforced the power of cutting expenses vs. earning more income for the viewers.

    Also wanted to say that in addition to the MMM parts I too really enjoyed watching the NFL player segments. It’s easy to criticize the big spending that comes with those big incomes, but watching Teez struggle to understand even the most basic aspects of investment and seeing the light come on for him as he went through the process was very revealing. I hope the community involvement work they showed him doing makes a difference in the lives of those young people there that grew up without the financial background/education/resources everyone should have.

  • Nuno September 9, 2022, 4:05 am

    I don´t usually comment, which I actually should do more to show appreciation for your content.
    But today is different as I just went to IMDB and saw this Documentary has a 5 star rating, which equals to garbage in IMDB metrics. Not that the documentary was a masterpiece, but it was good and most important of all, it brings awareness to overspending and the importance of budgeting. Most of the people and the only review it has as this time, view these topics as a scam, and I think that just wrong. So if you are like me and would like this type of documentary getting a better reputation, maybe just go there and give it a good review if you liked it.

  • Derek September 9, 2022, 8:57 am

    I thought the documentary was well done overall. Most of the information was nothing new to me but I think for other people that are struggling with personal finances, this documentary can serve as a catalyst in making some lifestyle changes. It was a good idea to demonstrate 4 cases of people with different situations and priorities. Much like what MMM mentions, I think there could have been some more key details presented in the documentary to make it more appealing. For example, Ro$$ Mac mentioned the S&P 500 many times as investment to the NFL athlete but there was never a graph that showed up on the screen of its return over an extended period of time. He made it seem that investing in the S&P 500 was a no brainer but never talked about risk horizon, risk tolerance or asset allocation. Then he is proud when the athlete goes out and buys Facebook and Apple – individual stocks that I myself have also invested in the past, but maybe this is not the best strategy for an NFL athlete just being introduced to the world of investing? FB has been quite volatile in the last year – can someone new to investing stomach this type of volatility in the short term?

    • GeneP September 12, 2022, 12:27 pm

      Meta (Facebook) has problems with its business model and may not go up for a while. Ro$$ Mac’s advice to a newby, especially to buy individual stocks, was a questionable approach indeed. I would have gone with a total stock market index fund, instead of the S&P 500 index, as well.

    • Chris September 20, 2022, 10:12 am

      If you pause the film you can see that Teez only buys 1 or 2 shares of individual stocks. The bulk of his investments are in index ETFs.


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