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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jake's Take: Stranger Than Fiction - Have A Cookie!

Deriving financial insights from today's blockbusters and yesteryear's classics.

Stranger Than Fiction
When it comes to the movies, the character of Harold Crick is perhaps the best example of what Dave Ramsey calls a “Nerd”—a person who manages money with facts and figures and spreadsheets and has a difficult time letting go of all the numbers. Played by Will Ferrell in the quirky comedy Stranger Than Fiction, Harold is an IRS agent and he just doesn’t know how to have fun.

Then he meets Ana, a baker he is auditing. She is the complete opposite of Harold, an anarchist, an artist—the essence of what Dave Ramsey calls the “Free Spirit,” a person who doesn’t know how to manage money and is too busy having so much fun that they don’t even know the kind of financial straightjacket they’re in. That’s Ana.

There is a wonderful moment in the film when Ana offers Harold a fresh-baked cookie.

“I don’t like cookies,” Harold says.

“You don’t like cookies? What’s wrong with you?” Ana says.

“I don’t know.”

“Everybody likes cookies.”

Not Harold. He was raised in a family where the only cookies they ever ate were store bought. His mother never baked. So Ana gives him a nice, warm chocolate chip cookie and instructs him to sit down, dip it into some milk, and eat it. Which he does. And it is one of the most thrilling, eye-opening moments of Harold’s life, a moment that begins a sequence of events throughout the film that open up Harold’s world beyond the numbers and spreadsheets that he’s obsessed with.

Now, admittedly, I advocate for the Free Spirits because I am one, which is why I like this movie so much. I know, I know, us Free Spirits can get you nerds into a whole heap of financial trouble, I’m not saying we don’t have our own problems to reign in, but a Nerd that doesn’t know how to let go of a little bit of control is a real downer.

For us Free Spirits life is about having fun—going out to eat, seeing a movie, riding a roller coaster, taking a trip, eating a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie. We don’t care what it costs, we just need to live a little. I know that's dangerous. I'm not saying that we don't have our quirks, but when we’re confronted with someone who is always trying to reign us in we feel suffocated.

So if you’re like Harold, lighten up. And if you’re like Ana, be sure you offer your Nerd a cookie. Preferably freshly baked.

Keep pinching’ :-)

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