8 documentaries that will make you smarter about money

Freakonomics docNetflix Screenshot‘Freakonomics’ will teach you about incentive-based thinking.

The wealthiest, most successful people continually self-educate, which is why most of them spend so much time reading.

If the classic finance books don’t work for you, there are other ways to get smarter about money.

Here, we’ve compiled eight documentaries that will keep you entertained and teach you valuable lessons about how the economy, the business world, and the markets affect your money.

'The Ascent of Money'

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This four-part series details the creation of the world's financial system and the history of money, starting from the ancient city of Babylon and finishing with the 2008 financial crisis.

Based on Niall Ferguson's book, 'The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World,' the 2008 film is narrated by Ferguson himself, who delves into how our financial system has evolved over time and shaped our world today.

Watch it on PBS.

'Broke'

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Part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series, this 2012 documentary examines how professional athletes have gone from rags to riches, and then managed to lose those riches in only a few years.

The heartbreaking accounts from former players who have lost tens of millions of dollars teach an important lesson about lifestyle inflation -- and although 'Broke' focuses on athletes, anyone is susceptible to financial ruin with a few bad choices.

Watch it on Netflix.

'Inside Job'

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This Oscar-winning documentary gives you a front row seat to the 2008 financial crisis, examining how corruption in the financial services industry led to the recession. 'Inside Job' is split into five parts, starting with how the economy was set up to fail, and closing with who was accountable and where we go from here.

Anyone can learn from this 2010 film -- from those who haven't read the news or followed the markets in a decade, to the most experienced investors.

Rent it on Amazon.

'The Retirement Gamble'

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This PBS film will make you want to drop everything and ensure your retirement plans are on track. It reveals how the majority of Americans don't have nearly enough saved up for retirement, nor do they have any idea how to improve their situation.

'The Retirement Gamble' also highlights the excessive, and often hidden, fees involved in retirement savings accounts that can drain your savings.

Watch it on PBS.

'Something Ventured'

This 2011 documentary portrays some of the most successful venture capitalists and shows how they helped build American tech giants, such as Apple, Google, Atari, and Intel.

'Something Ventured' reveals how extraordinary risk reaped unprecedented rewards for these venture capitalists, who essentially laid the groundwork for America's start-up economy. It will also give you a crash course in venture capital and a modern business history lesson.

Watch it on Netflix.

'Maxed Out'

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'Maxed Out' details America's credit card debt crisis. Additionally, the 2006 film uncovers the sneaky practices that some credit card companies use to take advantage of consumers, and depicts real people who were unknowingly fooled by creditors.

Although it's nearly a decade old, there are still valuable takeaways for today's consumers, such as the risks involved with carrying too much debt and the danger of paying only the minimum amount on your credit card.

Rent it on Amazon.

'Freakonomics'

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Although 'Freakonomics' is not strictly financial, it sheds light on why people do the things that they do -- specifically, the scientific and economic concepts behind human behaviour.

The 2010 film, based on the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, will open your eyes to what motivates you as a consumer -- or what is motivating your customers, if you own a business.

Watch it on Netflix.

'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room'

Screenshot from Netflix

The 2005 documentary 'Enron' is a cautionary tale. It's a deep dive into the fall of Enron, the energy company that was at one point valued at $70 billion but filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

It's become one of the most well-known cases of financial corruption and accounting fraud, and this film explores the psychology behind and fallout of the collapse of an empire.

Watch it on Netflix.

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