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Nomadland- How to avoid the financial pitfalls I learned from this movie

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

Last night I watched a movie called Nomadland. I was reluctant initially but at the mention of Chloe Zhao as the director (Best Director award and director of The Eternals) and Frances McDormand (Best Actress award for Fargo and Three Billboards) as the main actress, my interest was piqued. Nomadland opens with a woman named Fern who was grieving the death of a loved one, her job and home and suddenly she took off in a white ratty van which she ironically named Vanguard (this company is one of the largest asset management in the world). She lived out of that van preferring to call herself “houseless’ rather than ‘homeless'.

It was a slow, heavy movie but rich with the raw reality of life. Nomadland hit home a few truths about what happens to people after the wake of the Great Recession in the US in 2008-2009. Many are displaced due to losing their savings to job loss and lack of job security. Also, perhaps lack of financial education as well.

What was startling about this movie was that many of the actors are not ‘real actors’ but ‘real van dwellers- middle-aged and middle-class people who are out on the road due to unemployment, lost of pensions, home price collapsing, etc brought on by the recession.

We humans are inherently wired not to maximise performance but rather to minimise regrets and pain. And in so seeing this movie, I felt a deep tug toward ensuring that, while we are living in a pandemic right now and in a lockdown, my finances are geared towards making sure my middle age years will be golden. Some of the things that I am doing: 1) Plow any existing monies which are not utilised in any way to be in a investment account – an investment I understand. Money which is idle does not bring in compound interest. Which in my last seminar with Shell, I mentioned that compound interest is simply: Money which makes money, makes more money.

2) Prune expenses that are not necessary at this period so that more resources can be deployed toward growth for the future. Is there an item or three which is not used which you can sell off and put the money away to growth?

3) Gain more knowledge in a field that would increase my net worth in the future or increase my ability to get a promotion. This also means weekends are taken in improving myself further.

4) Take time to think about what is important. While I cannot predict the future, I can learn to be happy with my situation right now so that I have more capacity for selfcare either in the form of exercise, eating well (this also takes some work) as well as resting when needed. Selfcare would mean that I can last the long haul of earning money.

To wrap up, while the thought of going around US or Malaysia seeing all the lovely sights sounds beautiful but I would rather it be a planned holiday and not a necessity born out of a recession. Be safe everyone during this trying times.

Amelia Hong

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