Do You Want to Be a TV Star?

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One of the most memorable experiences, that I haven’t shared with you yet from FinCon last year was that I was filmed for a movie!

The “Playing with FIRE” documentary is the brainchild of Scott Rieckens, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, who after listening to Mr.Money Moustache on the Tim Ferris podcast, had a “Harajuku Moment” where he describes his earth-shattering revelation that FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) is the change in his life that must happen and he simply could no longer live without.

So distracted was Scott by his new revelation, that he ended up being an hour and half late for work. After that day, he obsessed over FIRE and quickly got his family on board within two short months. Thus began his 7-year FIRE plan and his family’s expenses dropped by 70% after making FIRE his new life goal.

Scott wanted to share this gift of FIRE with the world by making a documentary, and as fate would have it, he met another Hollywood filmmaker, Travis Shakespeare (yes, that is his real name—I asked) who is the Emmy-winning director of Ice Road Truckers, Life Below Zero, and the Deadliest Catch, and many others. And guess what? Travis is also a previous Chautauquan attendee, like Scott! So together, they are now working to make “Playing with FIRE”, a documentary that will (hopefully) be shown on Netflix! (see what I mean when I say Chautauquans start all sorts of cool projects together?)

Travis Shakespeare, Emmy® Award Winning Filmmaker, director of Playing With FIRE


Scott Rieckens, Emmy® Award Nominated Filmmaker, Executive Producer of Playing With FIRE

So you can imagine my absolutely shock when Scott and Travis asked me to if I wanted to appear in his documentary while we were at Fincon together.

Needless to say, that was a pretty nerve-wracking morning, trying to figure out how not say anything vapid or idiotic during my filming session. It also didn’t help that I woke up to find a zit the size of Mars on my face.

Good thing there was a drugstore nearby, as I proceeded to buy the most amount of makeup I’ve ever bought in the span of 10 minutes.

During the filming, I was expecting to talk about housing, but it actually went down a completely different path. The segment had Travis asking me all sort of deep, meaningful questions about the psychology of money, privilege, poverty, and what FI means on a global scale to society. I’m actually really glad we went down that path, and I was able to share inspirational stories from reader cases on this blog, those who, like me, grew up in poverty (MAS immediately comes to mind), how they pulled themselves out of it, and how FIRE is not only for those who grew up rich.

Since we talked about growing up in poverty, this really struck a cord with Travis, and he e-mailed me recently asking for inspirational reader stories.

So my awesome readers, for those of you who are firmly on your way to FI or nearing FI, I would love to hear your stories about:

a) Growing up poor, or

b) Any funky/unusual approach to increase savings rate (like Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme who lived on $7000/year in NY by growing mushrooms in his toilet).

Comment below or e-mail me to let me know. I will then forward these to Travis, and if the stars align, you may appear with me in the documentary “Playing with FIRE.”

And in other TV news, I was recently contacted by a casting director at CBC about a new show they’re putting together called “Stats of Life.” I seem to be on a lot of TV producer’s rolodexes these days. Weird.

Basically, the premise is that it’s a show that takes a unique look at the statistics that define Canada—exploring how really Canadians live—how they save, invest and get out of debt.

So if you’re Canadian, want to be a TV star, and fall into one of these categories:

1) You are a two parent or single parent family or individual on fixed income, who has changed their spending habits significantly to get out of debt and save for the future

2) You and your partner are high earners and you have investing habits that you think a lot of Canadians could learn from

3) You / your family feel like you’re drowning in debt and don’t know what to do about it or feel like you are one paycheck away from being homeless

4) You are a saver and your partner is a spender and it’s becoming a big problem for your family and future

Please click and respond to the casting call here.

I’ve already been on TV. It’s weird, but also pretty awesome. Now it’s your turn.

Write, respond, and click. And if you do get famous (or infamous like me), don’t forget which stupid-ass blogger got you there!

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39 thoughts on “Do You Want to Be a TV Star?”

  1. I’d be all in on this with you! Prison, drugs, lies, second chances, success, money, and Fire. Sounds like a Hollywood movie. Let’s do this! If you’d be so kind, forward them my interview with you:

    And also here is the article that was published on MSN, CNBC, and Yahoo, with pictures:

      1. Well thanks for all the love, and making a guy feel like part of your crew. I’ve got your back and will always remember where I came from, and the people helped me get to where I want to go. I’m always cautious when dropping links in comments, so thanks for letting me into your party here!

  2. Nice.
    One question? You guys recommend Vanguard in US but they do not open accounts for us Canadians Non-US Residents. How did you guys managed to get your account open with them?

  3. That’s really exciting! I hope it ends up on Netflix so we can stream it, and maybe brag that we kind of know you. 🙂

    I’d love for the FIRE community to get more press, too. I still feel like it’s pretty niche.

  4. I sure hope you meant rolodexes instead of “TV producer’s Rolexes”, because otherwise it’s probably not something to share with the internet. 😉

    1. I would buy a watch with FIRECracker’s face on the dial, but I probably couldn’t afford a Rolex.

  5. Hello! I introduce my sister to your blog a few years ago. She actually took the trip out to England to meet up with y’all. Anyways I think that our story will be great for the documentary.
    We came to America in 1992 because my dad was a South Vietnamese Officer. He qualified for a program to allow US’s allies to immigrate to U.S. after the war. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment with another family of 4. That 8 people in a 1 bedroom apartment. After a series of jobs, promotion, etc we were able to move to a suburb in FTW, TX in 2003. Through my parents’ hard work and sacrifice, it gave my sister and I an opportunity to escape the rat race. My parents don’t know or trust investing, and their view are drastically different then the FIRE’s community when it comes to money. I think our story is unique because the FIRE mentality is different then what we were raised on. Although my sister and I are not financially independent (yet), we are taking the steps in that right direction. I’ll be more than happy to give more details, I just don’t feel like sharing a lot of personal info in public comment section. Please me know.

  6. Very exciting to be on TV – Congrats!

    I didn’t grow up poor, but my parents were (and still are) both very good with their money. We were able to stretch the budget much farther than most people with similarly “normal” or even higher incomes. I’m very thankful that they taught us many valuable lessons about savings, investing, planning, etc. My wife and I are working hard to pass on these values to our own children, too.

    Although not unusual for the FIRE community but certainly unusual for Canadian society in general: Bike to work! I started biking last summer (45 mins each way) and loved it. I chickened out in the winter, but very soon I expect to haul my bike out again.

    There are so many common refrains against riding to work: It’s too far. It’s too cold. It’s not safe. I’ll get all sweaty. But complainy-pants are not allowed in the Urbaniak household. And the reality is that most of time it is very enjoyable and safe to bike. Just pick your route and your gear wisely. Get out of the car and get some free exercise 🙂

    1. Yes to bikes! I bike to work year round in Whitehorse, and it’s not too hard to do. Instead of thinking about it as starting to bike in the winter, think of it as…not stopping biking in the fall. Each day is incrementally different, so you can adjust as you go day by day and before you know it you’re winterizing your bike for deep freeze conditions, have outerwear and light rituals and you’re on your way. In my case, I have had the pleasure of being a sanctimonious asshole biking passed parked traffic while 9 months pregnant. That was checked the time I was passed by a dude biking to work with x-country skis on his back for his lunch break, but that may be more of a Yukon factor than anything. You can consider a commuting partnership which my buddy did, he biked in while friend drove, then he drove home while friend biked. One car, 2 bikes, happy people.

      1. Hi Em Jay – Thanks for the encouragement and virtual high-five 🙂 You are definitely more Mustachian than I…

        That’s a really neat idea about the commuting partnership, too!

      2. You bike in Yukon? Hardcore, Em Jay! And you did it while 9 months pregnant?! Whoa. Love your grittiness 🙂

    2. Love it! Biking is definitely a great way to not only give fit, but also to save lots of money. We didn’t bike as much in Toronto, but ended up walking to work–because there was a subway strike–and it ended up being a blessing in disguise.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. A FIRE documentary would be a great way to expose more people to the financial independence movement.

    I have tried to forward people to the big blogs like Millennial Revolution, MMM, jscollins, etc, but they get intimidated by the volume of posts. Condensing the basics into a 90 minute +/- film would be a great way to give people a taste of the lifestyle this movement supports.

    Look forward to seeing it!

    1. Yeah, I hear you. Blogs are a bit hard to sort through, especially if there are years of material built up. That’s why movies are a better, more succinct way to introduced the general public to FIRE.

      Let’s see how it turns out! Hopefully FIRE will go mainstream this year!

  8. i still want to see a comedy about the financial independence movement. nobody listens! i guess my friends and i were poor as adults. the economy was really bad in the late 80’s and early 90’s. we couldn’t afford the utility bills and couldn’t find jobs so we would just toss the bills in the trash without opening them after awhile. we all pulled out of it and fast forward some and we ended up debt free and paper millionaires in about 12 years. it’s easy when you know how.

  9. Such a great time to be alive. Imagine if 20 years ago you’d have said that the Internet and FINCON would allow bloggers interested in FIRE to come together with Emmy-level producers who were producing a documentary for an Internet streaming service. You would have been asked what you were smoking lol.

    The level of connectivity that is possible today with modern communication and transportation is truly astounding.


  10. Firecracker, I sent you my story in email. It’s a long one but I hope you can find some inspiration there!

    Psyched for you to be on the documentary and looking forward to seeing the movie!

      1. Awww! Many thanks to you all for inspiring me. I literally looked at my spreadsheet today since I’m coming up on a year. I was like, yes, according to Personal Capital I’m $15,000 ahead of schedule and it just motivated me to try going carless. I think that’s the key: motivation. The fact that I maxed the 457b (which I didn’t even know about before), the 403b and the Roth IRA last year, wow! And now that I finished my taxes I’ve learned that putting more in my retirement means lower AGI, which means lower student loan payments. Yeah!!! This site has motivated me to try harder to save even more because I believe it will make a difference and one day I might be FI. I’ve also found three other sources of income and I honestly believe I would not have been as motivated to search for things had I not started with your blog. Now if only I could get over the house horniness. ??‍♀️

        So, again. Thank you!

        BTW: I loved the shout out.

        1. MAS, you rock so hard! $15K ahead of schedule? That is freaking amazing and I’m SO proud of you! And on top of that you minimized your taxes, lowered your AGI, AND found 3 other sources of income! I have no doubt in my mind you will eventually become FI. Keep being amazing and inspirational! I love sharing your story!

  11. I love to be on this! My husband emailed you our story but he forgot to include my background of being raised by a single mom with poverty line income in Toronto! My husband and I are now progressing towards FIRE movement and we are definitely inspired! Hope we get picked to share our story!
    If you come across a story that starts out with $750,000 in debt on a $40,000 income that’s us~
    Thank you for sharing all your stories.

  12. Certainly! Becoming a TV star can be an enticing dream for many, but it’s crucial to consider both the pros and cons of such a career path. While the glamour and recognition may seem appealing, the industry is highly competitive and demanding. It often requires relentless dedication, long hours, and the ability to handle fame and public scrutiny. Moreover, success in the TV industry can be unpredictable, and not everyone achieves the level of stardom they aspire to. It’s essential to pursue a career in television for the right reasons, such as a genuine passion for the craft and storytelling, rather than just the desire for fame. Ultimately, whether or not one wants to be a TV star should be a deeply personal decision based on their interests, talents, and willingness to navigate the challenges of the entertainment world.

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