A Review of Playing with FIRE

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Maybe you’ve heard there is a documentary out about the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement. It’s called Playing with FIRE. I’ve seen it a couple of times now and so I thought I’d write a review.

I was a backer of the film which meant I was emailed a link to watch an early release. My friend, Shari & I first watched it in the comfort of my living room. The second time was with my local ChooseFI northeast Ohio group in a movie theatre in a suburb of Cleveland. At the end of this post, I’ll explain how you might be able to catch a showing.

Playing with FIRE

Firstly, here is the official trailer of the movie:

The movie documents the journey of Scott & Taylor Rickens as they change everything about their lives in order to truncate the number of years they need to work. It really is quite remarkable the number of changes they make in order to settle in on what is just right for them in this pursuit of financial independence.


Scott heard about the FIRE movement and presented it to his wife, Taylor. He asked her to think about and list what she considered the ten most important things. While they were living an expensive lifestyle in Coronado, California, it was revelatory that her list contained things which could be done anywhere and without big amounts of money. It mostly centered around her daughter and Scott.

I would like to pause here and say that this is a worthy experiment for anyone to partake of. Seriously, sit down and write the ten most important things you value in life. Think long and hard about that and list them. The next step is the key to financial freedom.

Now, look at your spending. Does it match your priority list? Are you spending lavishly on things you don’t really value? It doesn’t even have to be lavishly but if you are spending a decent percent of your income on things you don’t value, you may want to rethink it.

Radical Changes

Once Scott & Taylor came to an agreement that they were ready to make some radical changes in their lives, they set out on a journey and decided to document it along the way. Scott quit his job and focused mostly on producing this movie. Additionally, they moved from a high cost of living area.

Next, they traveled around the U.S. and met up with some pioneers of the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement to review their financial situation and to further understand the principals of financial independence. They sold an expensive car and stayed with both sides of their family for many months. Taylor works remote so they could make this happen and save big amounts of their income.

We, as the viewers of this documentary, get to see how these drastic changes affected their net worth and emotional well being. It was quite a roller coaster ride. Eventually, they found a place to settle in and budget which was just right for them. So they bought a new house in a new location which fit into their financial independence budget.


It’s not easy to be so vulnerable and let the world watch as you are trying something new. Additionally, to have the world peering on as you share your raw emotions about the whole process is really rather brave. I say kudos to Scott & Taylor for taking such bold steps in the first place. Seriously, they left everything they knew and embraced life differently.

Furthermore, to document it for the world to see and learn from takes another ounce of courage. It’s well worth the watch.

Photo by Mari Pa on Unsplash

Other Highlights of the Movie

In addition to following along with Scott & Taylor’s story, the film sprinkles in different people of the FIRE movement. It’s fun to see these people expound upon the concept of financial independence and how these principles have impacted their lives.

Moreover, the film is really well done. If you know nothing about financial independence or FIRE, you will walk away with a new understanding of what all this is about. Perhaps you’ll even walk away with a new goal.

I really jumped into this movement when I first learned about it. I was rounding the last lap of my debt payoff journey and it gave me something to aim for. I like the idea of going for financial independence but I’m not so concerned anymore with retiring early.

The things I like most about this movement are intentionality and value-based spending. I’ve found that I can have a strong savings rate just by employing those tenants into my life.

How You Can See The Movie

So I probably should have posted my review earlier after I watched the pre-view showing but I didn’t. Sorry! Anyway, there have been a bunch of local showings all over the country and there a bunch more to come.

Go to this link below to check out any future showings of this awesome movie:

Playing With FIRE 

If you want to host a screening you can also sign up to do so at that link as well. However, there is a threshold number of tickets which must be sold.

I know with our local ChooseFI group here in northeast Ohio, we went above the threshold but we were all working hard to promote it. It’s a fun movie to take someone who’s not familiar with the concept since it’s got it all – a story and explanations.

A mostly filled theater in Willoughby, OH.

Closing Thoughts

Even if you aren’t into this whole FIRE things, I think this is an entertaining documentary to see. However, I do think it’s powerful enough to get you thinking differently about how you spend and save money.

Money is a tool and/or a vehicle. It’s not going to bring you happiness but if you learn how to manage it, it can bring you peace. Additionally, I think it’s rather fun to bless other people once you’ve mastered this tool.

Theme pic by Peter John Maridable on Unsplash

Reader Questions: Have you seen this movie? If yes, what did you think? Do you think this whole FIRE movement is sustainable? What can we learn from this FIRE movement?




4 thoughts on “A Review of Playing with FIRE”

  1. I’m the guy who’s watched it 8 times! 4 times with my Kickstarter backer link, plus the Premiere in San Diego, the event in Atlanta, showing in Tampa, and the big event in Richmond VA with ChooseFI guys hosting. Honestly, I’m still catching new things each time I see it!
    Taylor is truly the star of the film, as we watch her journey of accepting and embracing the FI tenets, even though some of them can be hard at first. She also provides a ton of comedic moments, and the audience laughs quite a bit (which is something I missed those first 4 times I watched it at home, alone).

    1. You are the winner winner chicken dinner!!

      Truth be told I’ve seen it three times and I liked it best when I saw it in the theater with our local group. Agreed on Taylor being the star! 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.

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