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Money is a fascinating topic, and many great movies and documentaries explore it in detail.
In this blog post, I share 21 of the best movies and documentaries about money.
Each of these films offers a unique perspective on money and provides valuable insights into its role in our lives.
Whether you are interested in learning more about personal finance, investing in the stock market, or the economy, these money movies are sure to educate you and entertain you as well.
Table of Contents
21 Best Movies And Documentaries About Money
Where To Find These Movies
Before I dive into the list of movies about the financial world you need to watch, know that I try to keep the post updated on where you can find them.
If the movie isn’t on the platform I list, a simple search for the movie title and the term ‘where to watch’ will give you what you need to watch it.
With that said, let’s get to the list!
#1. The Ascent Of Money
This PBS documentary covers a complete history of the financial system.
Niall Ferguson takes you through the world of finance, starting in the ancient city of Babylon through the financial crisis of 2008.
While this is a long history of finance, the documentary keeps you interested as you gain a better understanding of how this world operates.
The film is broken into parts, and you can find them on PBS.org.
And if you are interested in reading the book, you can buy that on Amazon.
#2. The Most Important Class You Never Had
This short documentary follows personal financial educators talking with high school students about various financial concepts.
This movie stands out because of the personal stories the educators and students share about money.
You learn about struggles and successes and even gain insight into the causes of why so many people have a hard time improving their financial lives.
You can watch this on YouTube.
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#3. Dirty Money
This limited series on Netflix covers various stories of greed and corporate corruption.
Currently, there are two seasons to watch with 12 episodes, each one hour long.
My favorite episodes are Payday, Drug Short, and The Maple Syrup Heist.
#4. Wall Street
Speaking of greed and corporate corruption, this brings us to the first movie on the list.
This iconic film came out in 1987 and is a fictional tale of insider trading and greed.
It is a classic film and gives a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes at investment firms.
Critics argue this is one of the best investing movies of all time.
#5. Freakonomics: The Movie
This documentary is less about personal finance and more about human behavior.
I include it on the list because money is very behavioral for humans.
In fact, an entire field of study called behavioral economics looks at questions like the following.
- Why do losses hurt more than gains?
- Why does spending physical cash make people spend less than swiping a credit card?
- Why do we have a hard time assessing risk?
- Why do so many people wait to save for retirement?
These are just a few topics that make humans and money so fascinating.
And this is why I regularly say that personal finance is personal.
I share ideas that work for me but might not work for you.
This doesn’t mean I am wrong and you are right or vice versa.
The most important thing is learning something and then adjusting it to fit your life and financial goals.
You can watch Freakonomics on Prime Video.
#6. Maxed Out
This is a cautionary tale about credit card debt.
The documentary shows how credit card companies make their money, and the impact debt has on the lives of ordinary people all across America.
The important lesson here is to remember that nothing is free, and you need to make sure you can pay for the things you buy when you swipe your credit card.
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#7. The American Nightmare
The American Nightmare is a short documentary that follows up with people 10 years after the economic crisis of 2008.
You learn of the issues these people still face today because they bought a house during the Great Recession.
The film is available on YouTube.
#8. Money Explained
This is a mini-docuseries that covers different aspects of personal finance, including the following:
- Credit card debt
- Financial scams
- Student loans
Each episode covers how people’s lives were impacted by the specific topic.
What makes this series unique is that it has celebrities narrating each one.
These celebrities include Jane Lynch, Tiffany Haddish, Bobby Cannavale, and Edie Falco.
#9. Playing With FIRE
FIRE is an acronym that stands for Financially Independent, Retire Early.
People on this lifestyle path live frugally so they can achieve financial freedom.
In many cases, these people quit working and begin retirement as early as their 30s and live off their savings.
They also work some side hustles in some cases, but the idea is to not allow money to control your decisions or try to keep up with the illusion of the American Dream.
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You can see this on Prime Video.
#10. Generation Wealth
This is one of the most underrated financial documentaries out there.
It is about the history of wealth in the United States, how our need for materialism has only grown stronger, and how many people now want wealth no matter the cost.
It also looks at the consequences of this need for social status that many overlook, including the periods of financial abundance followed by a financial crisis.
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You can find this on Prime Video.
#11. Money For Nothing: Inside The Federal Reserve
Confused about what the Federal Reserve does?
This documentary looks behind the curtain to teach you how the Fed works and the US banking system.
The film has excellent interviews with Janet Yellen, Paul Volcker, and Jeremy Grantham and can be found on iTunes and Prime Video.
#12. The Rise And Rise Of Bitcoin
You hear many stories about cryptocurrency, yet most of us don’t know what it is.
And those that think we do are challenged to explain it.
For help comes this documentary.
It walks you through the process of learning about Bitcoin and how digital currency is the future of banking.
You can watch this on Amazon.
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#13. Thinking Money: The Psychology Behind Our Best And Worst Financial Decisions
This powerful PBS documentary covers the topic is behavioral economics like one of the previous documentaries listed.
However, this one is less about all things human behavior and all about behavior when it comes to our money.
You’ll learn why save and spend our money and even see tricks that are used against us to not only spend money but overspend.
You can find this on PBS.org.
#14. 30 For 30: Broke
Produced by ESPN, this documentary interviews former professional athletes who have gone from making multi-million dollar salaries to being broke.
It is fascinating to watch how you can have all the money you want, but if you don’t understand how to manage it, you will end up penniless.
This is very similar to lottery winners.
You can watch this on ESPN+.
#15. Inside Job
Inside Job is an Oscar-winning documentary narrated by Matt Damon and focuses on the financial ruin from the Great Recession.
This film is interesting because it helps you understand how the decisions made by industry giants, like Lehman Brothers and others, impacted the world economy and the crisis.
It is two hours long but is well worth the time you invest in it.
You can watch it on Amazon.
#16. Breaking The Bank
This documentary from Frontline and PBS looks at the impact the housing crash in 2008 had on the world economy.
It shows how quickly things fell apart and how lawmakers passed the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, to try to save the economy.
You can watch this on PBS.org.
LuLaRoe was a popular multi-level marketing (MLM) business that empowered women to be their own bosses.
The problem was the product being sold, leggings, were of poor quality, and the business structure resulted in many of these entrepreneurs needing to claim bankruptcy.
It’s a lesson to remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
The story unfolds in a four-part series, with episodes only lasting 45 minutes.
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You can watch it on Amazon.
#18. Spent: Looking For Change
Over 22% of Americans are unbanked or underbanked as of 2019, according to the Federal Reserve.
That is 63 million people!
This documentary looks at what life is like for these people.
It also shows how financial ruin can come out of nowhere if you aren’t prepared.
You can see this on YouTube.
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#19. The Big Short
This movie is based on the actual life events of the financial crisis of 2008 and the book The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.
It uses humor to help explain complicated financial instruments used at the time and how the business of mortgages and banking nearly collapsed society.
You can watch this on Amazon.
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#20. The Minimalists: Less Is Now
On the opposite end of the spectrum regarding materialism is minimalism.
This documentary walks you through life as a minimalist and how giving up consumerism allows for a lot less financial stress and more happiness.
You can get this on Netflix.
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#21. The Wolf Of Wall Street
The final movie on the list is based on a true story.
The film takes you on the journey of Jordan Belfort as he takes an entry-level job on Wall Street and eventually creates his own investment firm, Stratton Oakmont.
Jordan and others defraud the wealthy out of millions of dollars at this new investing firm.
There are 21 of the best movies and finance documentaries to see.
As I mentioned, each covers a different topic or, in some cases, looks at the same issue from a different viewpoint.
I encourage you to set aside some time to watch these, as the more knowledge you have about finance, the better your financial decisions.
And this will only lead you to a better financial situation overall.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.