4 Takeaways From Netflix’s Money Shows

Better money management can come from thinking about your emotions as well as challenging traditional money narratives.
Chanelle Bessette
By Chanelle Bessette 
Edited by Sara Clarke

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In the past year, streaming service Netflix has released two financially focused offerings: the film “Get Smart With Money” and the series “How to Get Rich.” Both feature powerhouse financial influencers who help people reevaluate their approaches to money to educate and empower them. Here are four takeaways that you can apply to your own life, no matter your financial situation.

Takeaways From 'Get Smart With Money'

The “Get Smart With Money” documentary features well-known financial writers, bloggers and podcasters who share their expertise on how to become better at managing money. Here are a couple of lessons they imparted.

1. Emotion management is key to money management

In “Get Smart With Money,” some of the featured participants were dealing with significant debt or with the challenges of living paycheck to paycheck. The stress, fear and frustration that come with money can significantly impact how you manage it.

Tiffany Aliche, a financial educator also known as The Budgetnista, talks through this fear and encourages people to face their money head-on to see what they owe and where they need to save more. If you’re afraid of your money, that’s going to affect how you manage your money, she says in the film.

2. Money is a tool to help you create the life you desire

Aliche tells one of the show participants to create a “dream fund,” a special savings account for goals outside of regular bills and emergency fund budgeting. This takeaway is a great reminder that money is meant to be used for things that will make you happy in addition to paying for daily expenses.

Takeaways From 'How to Get Rich'

Ramit Sethi, author of bestselling book “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” hosts this Netflix series and helps participants define their goals and make moves to achieve them. Here are some of the lessons and tips from the show.

3. Think about what makes you happy

One of the pillars of Sethi’s advice is the concept of “a rich life,” meaning the financial ability to do things that bring joy. He emphasizes that a rich life comes in many forms, like being able to take time off from work when you want to, fly in business class for long trips or even help a parent retire, as was the goal of one of the show participants.

Mindy Jensen, a host of financial podcast "BiggerPockets Money," had an aha moment with Sethi when she was a guest on his podcast. Sethi’s podcast is separate from his Netflix show, but he emphasizes a lot of similar money guidelines. As Sethi discussed the concept of a rich life with Jensen and her husband — who are both financially independent, meaning they have enough money to pay their living expenses for the rest of their lives — they realized that even with their large net worth, they weren’t spending enough money to make life more enjoyable. After the conversation, the couple decided that they wanted to spend more money on travel with their two teenage daughters.

“We don’t need or want more things, but we want more experiences,” Jensen told NerdWallet.

Looking back on her journey to financial independence, Jensen also realized that there was more she and her husband could have done to start their rich life earlier.

“You can continue to contribute to your retirement accounts and investments, but it doesn’t have to be this frantic mad dash to the finish line,” she says. “You can do it a little slower and enjoy your life.”

4. Homeownership doesn't have to be a financial goal

It can be hard to break away from the idea of homeownership as a major financial achievement. In America, the mythos of the “white picket fence” is often part of the way people describe success. Sethi’s perspective on homeownership, however, differs from popular convention. In “How to Get Rich,” he advises participants to keep in mind all of the additional costs that come with homeownership compared with what’s covered by a landlord.

Homeownership means that everything falls to you, on top of whatever you pay for your mortgage, home insurance, homeowners association fees and property taxes. If you find a rental that leaves enough room in your budget to allow you to invest more, the math can sometimes work out better for your net worth in the long run, Sethi says.

For people who are getting started on their financial journey — as well as those who are well on their way — these shows can provide inspiration and information about how to make your money work better for you.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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