Technically Playing with Fire is a documentary not a movie. Regardless, this past week Melissa and I were able to attend one of the eight premiers in which the lead of the story would be present, Scott Rieckens (although it would be easy to argue that his wife and daughter were the stars of the show). The movie was made in a very recognizable documentary style yet it also followed Scott’s family for one year in their quest to make better financial decisions as they join the FIRE movement. The movie will be doing a summer tour and then hopefully it will be available for download soon thereafter. It was thought provoking, well presented, and I highly recommend watching it once it’s available.*
I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises in the movie so this post will be about the question and answer period after the premier. I will say it was very enjoyable to be around people with a similar mindset to myself. Openly talking about personal savings rates and investment goals is a rarity in our society.
Below is the link to the official trailer if you’re interested.
Two question really stood out for me during the interview because they encompassed two issues that so many people deal with. These questions and answers are paraphrased but will reflect the main ideas.
Question #1 – I am currently saving 50% of my income. My job allows me to work as much as I want so I could easily be financially interdependent in less than five years. However, to do so would require me to essentially lose that time with my family and friends. How do you find a balance?
Answer #1 – This gentleman ended up answering his own question. The shortened answer was financial independence is about having the freedom to enjoy your life as you wish. Therefore, ruining your life now just to meet your goal isn’t worth it. Instead figure out what you want to do when you achieve that financial freedom and incorporate some of it into your life right now.
My thoughts – It was almost surreal that most of the audience had this same concern. Recent studies have shown that most Americans wouldn’t be able to afford a $400 emergency expense without borrowing money (or selling something), yet I was sitting in a room where people were concerned about saving too much. My big takeaway was don’t obsess too much over the end goal. By being a diligent saver you will have the flexibility to make changes as you go.
Question #2 – I love making spreadsheets. I find it makes it easy to see how we are doing (financially). However, as soon as I pull one up my wife runs away, literally. Like she got in the car and went to the store. What should I do?
Answer #2 – Not everyone likes spreadsheets. Remember to focus on the emotional aspect, not the hard math. Sit down with your wife, and her drink of choice, and talk about your current financial situation and future goals and dreams. Instead of focusing on what you are ‘giving up’ instead think about what you are gaining. Such as would you rather drive an expensive car, or work one day less a week?
My thoughts – This was a great answer. I happen to like spreadsheets and my wife doesn’t run away when I pull one up (she is a data migration consultant after all). I also found it amazing when the panel asked how many people had more that 100,000 miles on their car. Every hand went up, almost. It shows that there must be a link between cars and wasting money. Anyway, the emotional part of this answer makes complete sense. If what I am ‘gaining’ outweighs the luxuries I am ‘giving up’ then I think the decision is much easier.
Enjoy the Ride,
* I don’t remember how I came across this documentary and book, but luckily it was early enough that I was able to get tickets to the Detroit showing. We decided it would be a unique ‘date night.’ Strange I know.