People who follow sports know the most egregious examples. Mike Tyson, Terrell Owens, Evander Holyfield, Lawrence Taylor, Michael Vick. These athletes earned tens of millions of dollars in career earnings and endorsements and found themselves declaring bankruptcy after their careers ended.
Most of these athletes grew up in working class families, played sports at an early age, and by the time they were in their early 20s, signed contracts worth millions of dollars. The money they were dealing with were unfathomable sums of money that they weren't used to having. Giving that much money to a financially illiterate person is usually going to end poorly.
"A white man gets wealthy, he builds Wal-Marts and makes other white people have some motherfucking money. A brother gets rich, he buys some motherfucking jewelry, okay? Do you know what the fuck I'm talking about? I ain't talking about rich, I'm talking about wealth. Wealth is passed down from generation to generation. You can't get rid of wealth. Rich is some shit you could lose with a crazy summer and a drug habit."
Substitute "white man" with "financially knowledgeable person" and "brother" with "professional athlete" and you get a rough approximation of what the documentary is trying to convey. There's a very telling portion of the film in which one of the interview guests, a financial adviser, says something to the effect of "investing in mutual funds is not sexy. Turning 10 million dollars into 11.2 million dollars is not sexy. Owning bars, nightclubs, and strip clubs is sexy."- Chris Rock
This is emblematic of a larger problem in society. I've harped on about it in multiple blog posts, but it's worth repeating: people are financially illiterate. The real tragedy is that it isn't hard to become financially literate. Skimming the financial section of any national daily and reading one book each on the stock market and the bond market can get anybody up to speed with what's really going on in the country.
Having a lot of money doesn't necessarily mean you're wealthy. When you use your money to make more money, that's when you're wealthy. Wealth is about making your money work for you. Not using your money to buy things that aren't necessary. It's fun to drive a Ferrari, own a ridiculously impractical mansion, or getting bottle service at the swankiest nightclub in town, but it isn't prudent.
One thing that you constantly see in media is the portrayal of an accountant or banker as an utterly boring and uninteresting person. I'll be the first to agree that staring at a balance sheet and trying to get the numbers to add up isn't the most thrilling thing in the world. But if that's the price for financial literacy, the world could use a lot more boring people.