I went to see this movie on Wednesday with my wife. It was in Tampa 2 1/2 hours distant. I had a second ulterior motive. Tampa is now home to a recently opened Hot Dog chain from Chicago. Obviously someone retired from the Chicago chain to Tampa and built a couple stores as a side gig. It’s named Portillo’s and my wife LOVES Portillo’s Italian Beef sammy’s, on a croissant, with sweet roasted pepper, French Fries and Root Beer. We used to go when I was a resident in Chi but her experience predates our meeting so it’s a long part of her history. t was so fun to spring that on her on the way over and then watch her light up at the experience. That alone was worth the trip. I like me some Portillo’s too.
The movie was a disappointment and pretty disturbing. It was pitched at “retire by 30” and was a cross between Tony Robbins, Crossfit culture, Amway and a time share sales pitch.
The story was about a couple and their absolutely adorable baby living in a San Diego beach community in a 1.4M crib with Beemers, a $2000/mo food budget bla bla bla. One of the shots is the guy in his speed boat fishing in some San Diego bay with a gorgeous sunset caught on drone footage. The guy makes video and the wife telecommutes and they haul like $150K/yr, already something doesn’t compute. The guy catches wiff of FIRE on TV and gets a hard on. He badgers his wife into ripping up their life and they leave SoCal to go stay on their parents couches “to save money” first the wife’s parents then the husbands parents. The husband is from IA so they are living in rural IA fishing in creeks and such “saving money”. Still fishing no boat. (should have bought a rural IA crib for 25K and saved some real money)
The wife is paying the bills with her telecommuter job working 8 hours a day. Her goal is to spend time with her baby but that becomes Grandma’s job. Hubby is supposed to have some kind of “remote job” never spelled out so pretty much he’s a dead beat with big ideas, while his wife pulls the train and the parents foot the rent and babysit.
Eventually he starts flying around visiting (and filming) FIRE types and flying to conferences and goes to FIRE camp where they sit around the campfire and squawk about being retired by 30, and the FIRE types are quite happy to pitch him. All the luminaries are there, but wait there’s more! He goes to see MMM and get’s video of him riding his bike “to save money”. ALL of these FIRE types are running huge media empires to supplement the 4 x 25. He has a lot of drone video of Vicki Robbins palatial estate on a Washington State island with the caption “retired by 26”. It’s such BS. It’s like saying Dave Ramsey is “retired”.
Eventually they wear out their welcome at the ‘rents place and fly to HI with the kid for a vaca sleeping on their friend’s couch. There’s a typhoon or something and the place floods and they have a “bad time”. Man what a gyp! They go house hunting and wind up in Bend Oregon, a well known destination for Cali ex pats, and buy a new crib. Downsizing to these people is buying a half a million crib in Bend and trading the Beemer for a perfectly functional Honda. The guy buys a bike and a trailer so he can ride 2 blocks to the piggly wiggly to shop and “save money” and returns to his mortgaged half mil crib and they make a months worth of breakfast burritos and freeze them “to save money”. Oh the Pathos!
They meet JL Collins who advises put every dollar you can into VSTAX AND NEVER SELL so we get to see them stuffing 3K into a brokerage account and they keep flashing their “emergency fund” balance of $12K and keep flashing how much they are saving and how many years to retirement. The wife is pretty miffed at this nonsense having given up her previous life but eventually comes around to the “frugal life” WINNING! All of it is geared around retire by 30 and even making the movie is an obvious sop to this guy trying to create a payday out of cliche’ (nice alliteration ehh?) It’s all boiler plate. Millennial Revolution hawks their party line (her book was released only the day before I saw the movie, (I’m sure her rags to riches story is ripe for movie picking) MMM hawks his line, JD Roth his line, Mad Fientist, Vicki Robbins (retired at 26 and now lives in a multi million crib in Island WA) hawks her line, and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.
The audience was full of kids trying to find out how to retire by 30 so they too can live in Bend Oregon with a half a mil crib and 2 paid cars and a bike. AMWAY!!! AMWAY!!! AMWAY!!! I’m all for people living their dreams and building their futures with their own two hands and creating their own narratives. God knows I did it, but because I did it and I get what’s really involved and I think it does the community harm hawking this nonsense. I wonder how these jokers are going to fund their kid’s college? What about health care? So much risk so little insight. Just once I’d like to read the tales of people who flunked FIRE. Suzy Orman tried to convey some of that in he Pound interview from letters she’d received about failure, but she was shouted down. You’re not allowed to fail and if you do, YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG! Not sure how something like getting cancer is doing something wrong. Not sure how 3K in a brokerage 12K in emergency and a half a million mortgage constitutes FIRE.
Another thing that bothers me is who pays the bills? America and FIRE is predicated on productivity. If America isn’t productive your bank account won’t last 10 years. You are not a tycoon, you are a flea living on the economy’s ass and you go where it goes. If productivity tanks it’s game over. We are the most productive people in history. Were do the taxes come from to pay for the roads and schools and military? The reason we are the reserve currency is because of our military who protects that store of value and the military is dependent on our productivity. The whole pitch was about “I got mine!!!” You only got yours till the government confiscates it. You can watch the Sound of Music for more details.
All in all it was a good time. We had a good time hanging with each other, a too fun meal, a nice trip over and a nice trip home and some interesting discussion dissecting the movie. My wife is not a FIRE type at all this was her first official foray into the topic but she’s naturally parsimonious and she knows BS when she hears it. I tweak the finance she tweaks the budget. I think this over selling and zealotry is why virtually no one pays attention to the FIRE rap. The flaws are too obvious