When you think about “personal finance” movies, you probably would think about intense, cut-throat investing like in the movie “Wall Street”. But what about other personal finance topics like saving money or retirement?
On that note, one of my favorite movies dealing with the subject of retirement is a dark comedy from 2002 called About Schmidt starring Jack Nicholson. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised – it was somewhat under the radar. It’s a movie about a man who reaches the age of retirement only to discover that he is still trying to figure out his life and its meaning. It is definitely worth watching, and I’ll tell you why …
About Schmidt’s Storyline:
The movie starts off with old Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) sitting a dark and dull office watching the clock. It hits five and he quietly leaves without saying goodbye to anyone. It was his last day at work, and he is now retired.
The days go by and Warren is finding himself with nothing to do and no enthusiasm. He comes across a commercial to adopt a child from Africa, and so he does. He begins to write a pleasant letter to a young boy named Ndugu, but the letter quickly spirals out of control into a rant about how displeased Warren is with his life and career. He blames his wife for holding him back and confesses that his daughter’s fiancée is a complete loser. There will be several more very personal letters throughout the movie to Ndugu. It is clear that Warren has no one to talk to.
Shortly thereafter, Warren’s wife dies. He later learns of an ancient affair between his wife and his best friend. Alone and enraged, Warren begins to fall apart.
In a moment of clarity, Warren decides he will try to stop his daughter’s wedding. He gets in the Winnebago he and his wife were supposed to go traveling in and heads across country to see her. Along the way Warren has a few adventures and starts to come to grips with his loss.
The finance’s family is a total nightmare (mother played by Kathy Bates). At the wedding, Warren is unable to prevent it from happening and reluctantly stands by as everyone is happy for the new couple.
Defeated, Warren returns home a failure. His career has failed. His marriage is gone. He laments how his life hasn’t made any difference to anyone.
But then he receives a much needed surprise ….. (I can’t spoil the ending for you!)
As depressing as that storyline is, I have to remind you that this movie is actually very funny and entertaining. And for all the gentlemen out there, there is even a nude scene with Kathy Bates (yummy!)
But seriously, there is a lot to take away from this movie. Here a few of the simple lessons I take away from About Schmidt:
• Don’t retire without a plan. Warren unfortunately found himself without purpose in the days after he left work. When you finally retire, have a game-plan. Find a hobby, volunteer, join a group, do something!
• Don’t look back in regret. Don’t spend your life waiting for your career to be over only to quietly exit having never made a difference to anyone. Stand out and matter to those around. And don’t blame others for your own mistakes!
• Don’t take for granted those you love. Warren later regretted how much he took his wife for granted, but unfortunately it was too late. Similarly, his relationship with his daughter had become too distant to make an impact on her decision for marriage. Don’t let the ones you love slip away. Love your spouse and family now while you can.
Readers – Has anyone besides me seen this movie? What are some of your favorite “personal finance” topic movies? And what have you learned from them?
Photo Credits: Amazon, IMDB