The Retirement Gamble: although this PBS special was produced in 2013, it’s just as relevant today as it was back then. Fair warning: it can be a downer at times, but you’ll come out feeling supercharged with knowledge in just 52 minutes! Produced by the well-researched, unbiased team at PBS Frontline, I consider it the mother of all personal finance documentaries. And it’s interesting, too! You can stream this exposé on the financial services industry for free from either the PBS website or the PBS app.
Playing With FIRE: as the antidote to the harsh realities of The Retirement Gamble (above), this 2019 documentary sparkles with hope and possibly. It follows a young couple who jumped head first into the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement as they give up their comfortable (and expensive) life in San Diego in search for something more aligned with their highest values. Along the way, they interview leaders from the FIRE community to get guidance and inspiration. This movie provides a heartfelt introduction to how anyone can adopt (maybe to a lesser degree) a similar mindset shift and see steady improvements in their own lives.
If you prefer a personal finance podcast to enjoy during your daily walk or commute, here are two of my favorites:
Millionaires Unveiled: this show is like the real-life interview version of the unassuming Millionaire Next Door types. This is the only podcast that I’ve listened to EVERY episode in their archive… and they have a couple hundred in there!
ChooseFI: this is a top podcast for the FIRE community and for good reason! The research and expertise of both the hosts and their guests is undeniable. With hundreds of episodes to pick from, you may want to get started with the category filter on their website to find a specific episode that fits your immediate situation. From there, I would stream that episode number from a podcast app on your phone and then make it a part of your weekly routine for continuing education. If you jive with their approach, they’ve created a network of local ChooseFI groups around the world, so you can find a likeminded tribe to make new friends and find moral support IRL (in real life).
The Automatic Millionaire: this book is an easy read that goes into the psychology for more mindful spending, some specific exercises, and real-world examples of people who embody the habits of a modern day millionaire. Once I set up systems like the author lays out, it was a great feeling to relax and know that my retirement was on track.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: this is a classic, often mentioned by millionaires as their favorite personal development book. In it, Robert Kiyosaki compares the examples of his biological father who followed the established path of higher education and consumer debt and his friend’s dad, who became a father figure to him, who bucked the system by laying the groundwork for his wealth early on. This book is written to be very accessible to any reader and will help with the critical element of financial independence, which is the mindset shift.
Acorns: get a head start with both saving and investing. By rounding up to the nearest dollar, you’ll start developing good habits to “pay yourself first” so that bigger savings goals no longer feel as daunting. It’s all about behavior modification. So while the fees may be controversial, I like this website and app as an option to start the process of developing better habits with saving and investing.
Vanguard: not the most user-friendly website, but they’re known for having the lowest management fees of any brokerage. As one of the main takeaways of The Retirement Gamble, 1-2% management fees can erode 2/3 of someone’s nest egg over the course of their career. Vanguard is a favorite among the experts from the PBS special above and the FIRE documentary, so this has been my go-to for my investments that supplement my 401(k) at work.
Mint: this free website and app tracks all your spending so you can check your credit card and debit card charges at a glance, while also plugging in investment accounts like Vanguard, Acorns, mortgages, and even physical assets like real estate and vehicles to give you a comprehensive real-time snapshot of your net worth as it rises over time.