Stream it or skip it?

Netflix delves further into the somewhat odd PSA / life-coach content with Get smart with money, a kind of documentary feature film in which four Americans – from the Millennial / Gen Z persuasion at the forefront – share their financial woes and get financial insights from experts. You may see yourself in some of these people, who are either burdened with debt or know nothing about investments and retirement savings. And that’s the hook, because their experiences, stripped and deconstructed, might only provide some practical application to your situation, oh average American.

The juice: Lindsey can barely get two jobs in the service industry. She sometimes struggles with depression, but she doesn’t have health insurance and can’t afford the therapy she needs. She attended a fashion school and is an expert artist in many mediums. And she’s a bit stuck here, so Paula Pant, a financial journalist and entrepreneur, sits down with Lindsey and helps her pay for her expenses and elicit ideas for side concerts that could help shift her focus to artistic ambitions. her.

Teez is a professional football player. He was the second round pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2017 draft, so his first salary was $ 1.6 million. Beautiful, is not it? Well, 40 percent went to the IRS. He bought a house for his mother. He bought a house and about $ 60,000 in jewelry. And suddenly, he wasn’t that rich. He pulled the brakes, but he didn’t know what to do next. These days, he is married and has a small child and has bounced from team to team, so he often spends many months without a paycheck. Ro $$ Mac, who calls himself a “Wall Street rapper,” steps in and teaches Teez what the S&P 500 is. If Teez had taken that $ 60,000 in jewelry and put it on the market, it could be worth a lot more – and perhaps he would feel a little more confident in his ability to provide for his family.

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Adriana is the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. She has two children, an old car, $ 108,000 in student loan debt and $ 45,000 in credit card debt. For years she has justified buying this and that and other things, groping her way through this deep hole that has her living paycheck against paycheck. Tiffany Aliche, author and financial educator, takes a look at Adriana’s situation and helps her change her spending habits and better manage her money so that those trips to Target don’t cripple her further – and maybe she and the his partner can finally afford to take the kids on vacation.

Kim and John have two kids and a damn nice house. He was fired from his job as an engineer due to the pandemic, but his work as a psychotherapist and women’s empowerment coach has skyrocketed. Now John is a stay-at-home father and Kim earns around $ 300,000 a year. But she hardly ever has time to spend with her family and they have no idea how to manage that much money. So step by step Pete Adeney aka Mr. Money Mustache, a blogger who downsized his lifestyle, invested his money and retired as a young man. He has some ideas to help Kim and John stop spending $ 13,000 a month (!), So Kim can not only afford to take a break, but maybe even retire in 10 years or less.

Ariana and Tiffany Aliche in
Photo: Netflix

What movies will it remind you of ?: This not at all traditional paper is somewhere in between FYI-fodder like Explained and tips for life along the lines of Netflix Head space series, which claim to help you learn how to meditate, sleep better, etc. Additionally, ESPN 30 for 30: Broken delves into situations similar to Teez, delves into why so many athletes go from nothing to millions and come back to nothing.

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Performance to see: Teez’s story is quite common among young professional athletes who go from modest to poor to PHAT paychecks overnight. Teez and Ro $$ Mac do more than just solve an NFL player’s problems: They also park in front of a group of young blacks, presumably athletes, to educate them about money management.

Memorable dialogue: Teez speaks for the black community when he talks about his background on money and finance: “It’s a language we’ve never been taught.”

Gender and skin: Nobody.

Our outlet: Greetings to the participants Get smart with money, who have been brave enough to discuss their lives and bank account details so openly so that billions of Netflix subscribers can judge them. It’s bound to happen, because the overbearing stop-buying-avocado-toast fuckers will look at Lindsey’s hefty takeaway expenses and wiggle her fingers. But hey, whether it’s financial education or learning to judge so as not to fear, etc., we all have room for improvement, right? And it’s inspiring to see Lindsey support that part of her finances and get enough time to get a commission for a mural and sell her products at art fairs.

If nothing else, the film will allow you to indulge some of your voyeuristic tendencies. Other people’s lives are SO CHARMING sometimes, right?

Director Stephanie Soechtig makes sure there is some small emotional component to each participant’s story: Lindsey’s depression temporarily reduces her ambition. Adriana’s old car breaks down and she doesn’t have much in the emergency fund to cover the repairs. Teez is let go by the Lions and goes to the 49ers, then he hurts his foot and is injured and lands on the Bears training team, and his future in the NFL may be short. Kim and John ONLY cut $ 3k from their monthly expenses so, OK, maybe it’s not that easy to sympathize with them, but it’s still a problem that needs to be managed.

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The paper is calculated to highlight four money management situations that are common enough to affect many middle-class people between the ages of 25 and 35. The advice given may be overly simplistic (“you can’t lose by making long-term investments in the S&P 500” is an absurdly shortened description of how Wall Street can work for the average person), but it’s a starting point that many don’t have. Sure, it’s a promotional tool for these four financial experts, but their advice is valid.

So what’s the subtext here? Well, the document is a kind of cross-section of the experience of living within modern American capitalism. YOU, CITIZEN, ARE A CONSUMER, she says, which is a little terrifying, until you realize that being a smarter consumer is absolutely to your advantage. Sometimes, our advisors hint at deeper issues, the biggest being how American education emphasizes consumerism above all else. But Soechtig avoids this, avoiding big ideas and leaning on the kind of solid, pragmatic information you could get from an advice reporter. For more information on Grand Fuer, i.e. financial education, consult your school’s library. And maybe Get smart with money II it will delve into the financial problems of the minimum wage class, which would be a far more ambitious and thorny undertaking.

Our call: Get smart with money distributes information and inspiration (for its middle-class target demographic) in an engaging way enough to warrant scrutiny. STREAM IT and then ask yourself if $ 15.49 a month for Netflix is ​​a cuttable expense.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on


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