Books and Movies that Fire Me Up, Financially

With the expanded cable canceled and football season a distant memory I’ve gone on a bit of a scavenger hunt through the house looking for things to fire me up. A couple years ago I ran across a book on CD that totally changed my outlook on finances. I’ve decided to dig that out of the archives and listen again, along with a few of my all-time favorite movies and books on finances, motivation and perseverance.

  • totalmoneymakeoveraudio5.jpgThe Total Money Makeover Audio CD. This has become one of my favorite books of all time. So much so that I recently re-read the book for a review here on Frugal Dad. Just after I took a job in another city a few years ago I picked up this audio book on kind of whim. I thought it would give me something to listen to during the commute (I commuted for a few weeks until I could move my family). Since I was already a fan of Dave Ramsey’s radio show I thought there was little risk of me not agreeing with the books ideas. I can still vividly remember driving down the dark highway in the early morning hours listening to this book on CD and realizing my financial life up to that point had been one of missed opportunity, over-indulgence and mismanagement. It was time to get my financial life in order. I was starting a new job, we were expecting our second child, and we were relocating to a different city. I give this CD, and this book, a lot of credit for my own financial turnaround.
  • pursuitofhappyness.jpgThe Pursuit of Happyness. The story of Chris Gardner is one of sheer perseverance. Gardner overcame unbelievable odds to become a very successful stockbroker, and went on to start-up his own firm, eventually selling it for a multi-million dollar minority stake. The movie inspires me in several ways. Financially, it reminds me that things could be worse. We have a roof over my head, food in our refrigerator and clothes on our back. Sometimes we take these things for granted and focus on the negative aspects of our situation. When compared to the idea of facing homelessness with your child, not being able to afford a new plasma screen or worrying over some credit card debt seems trivial. There are examples all around us of people overcoming much tougher situations than us. Use their struggles to put your own life in perspective.
  • yourmoneyoryourlife.jpgYour Money or Your Life. This might be the best finance book ever written. It totally changed the way I think about money, retirement and careers. Up until reading this book (review) I resigned myself to the fact I would probably be working until a ripe old age. The thought of stepping away from the rat race was just a dream reserved for lottery winners and trust-fund babies. Your Money or Your Life broke down that dream and made it a reality for me. Now my 9-5 is simply a means to an end, and that end is finding truly fulfilling work to spend my remaining life energy – something I’ve always wanted to do, but could never afford to do.
  • cinderellaman.jpgCinderella Man. Similar to “The Pursuit of Happyness,” this movie reminds me that life can knock you down. Those who survived The Great Depression speak of things that none of us can even fathom. My grandfather grew up during the tail end of the Depression era, and for his family the “depression” continued on for some time. Cinderella Man reminds me of the importance of putting your family first. One particularly moving scene shows main character, James Braddock, giving his dinner (a slice of fried bologna) to his daughter because she said she was “still hungry.” Braddock tells his daughter about a dream he had about eating a big steak with all the trimmings. “I’m stuffed,” Braddock tells his daughter before heading off to work on an empty stomach. It’s enough to choke up the toughest tough guy.

I’m interested to hear your favorite motivational movies, especially those related to finances. Please share your own list in the comments section.


  1. I love this idea. I don’t know about financially, but Gladiator and Requiem for a Dream get me fired up like nothing else. Stephen King’s On Writing does it for me too. Hemingway’s A Movable Feast is great too. I could go on and on.

  2. Writer’s Coin – Like you, I have a small collection of movies that have inspired me over the years – Rudy, Hoosiers, Braveheart, Gladiator, 300, Rocky, etc., etc. I was trying to identify those that had some relation to finances, simplicity, frugality, etc., but it was hard not to list my other favorites. I might have to compile a “50 Most Insipiring Movies” post down the road!

  3. “Your money or your life” is too one of my favorites. When you attach time spent to earn a purchase it certainly alters one definition of a want and a need! “Millionaire next door” is another favorite. I liked the fact that many interviewed for the book were frugal despite the fact they were wealthy. I recently found your
    website via Zen Habits and enjoy your insight.

  4. Actually, now that you mention it, I did like 8 Mile and that pertains to never quitting. I especially like the ending where he goes to work even after “winning” the battle. Never stop.

  5. Great list! I love Cinderella Man too! Oh, the tears, though! I am such a girl, I ball like a baby every time I see that movie! I agree though, that movie and the Pursuit of Happyness are both very inspiring!

    The books are great too, but I really love the visuals of the movies-very motivating!

    Take Care


  6. Wow, I have to really agree with Pursuit of Happyness. Loved it and was shocked at what a man can do when driven. Cheers for him. I have lots of favorites and now I’m mentally trying to link them to frugality. I’ll have to ponder this some more.

  7. I was really surprised by Pursuit of Happyness, i thought there was no way that i would like it but i really did enjoy it.

  8. Fun With Dick and Jane (Jim Carrey version) always reminds me that change can be right around the corner.