A Homeless Man Loses $100,000 in Six Months
Financial Management

A Homeless Man Loses $100,000 in Six Months

I’m not sure how I missed this before as someone just informed me about it. There was this documentary filmed awhile back that was trying to answer a question on how if you simply give people money will it solve their problems? I wasn’t able to find a copy of the video to watch and so instead I watched some brief clips and read a story synopsis of it. The film documentary is called Reversal of Fortune where the film makers followed the life of a homeless person as we see his life of living under a bridge and recycling cans for money. Apparently they actually pre-screened the person by doing things such as a medical exam and so this wasn’t merely say a crazy homeless person.

One thing that got a reaction out of me was how they showed clips of him smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol which in some ways is like he wants to remain poor as while obviously he doesn’t make a lot of money, I’m pretty sure those two habits must cost him a lot every month. I’m guessing this would be more true for him as buying alcohol can be a full day of work for him.

There was a twist to this as during the person’s daily rummaging to find cans to recycle, in one of the garbage bins the film makers placed a suitcase that had $100,000 in it. This was given to the homeless man and he would be able to spend it in any way that wanted. He immediately began to tell friends and family members about his newly found fortune and was confident that he would never be homeless again.

One of the first things that he did with his money was that he gave it to some friends and even purchased a new car for a person he knew from the recycling center. Afterwards, he even bought himself a truck. Just that alone was over $34,000.

He also visits his family and they are all excited about his new fortune. He was also given advice to find a job and to seek financial advice which was provided for free. Instead, he objects to the advice that was given to him and instead kept spending his money on things like smokes, alcohol and playing video games all day. To top it off, he even got married. He basically just kept living a free life and says that he made so many new friends as well and also gave away so much money to others for things such as paying off their debts. In about 6 months, he lost everything. With no real income coming in and continually spending without thinking about the future he eventually became homeless again. He even mentions how no one wants to associate with him anymore now that he doesn’t have anymore money and that he has more debt than before and is worst off.

Too bad I didn’t actually get to see the full video as it doesn’t seem to be available here, but I think I got the idea of the main story and what happened. I personally think this is so true in general on how just giving people a lot of money does not solve anything as you have to start with the root of the problem. You can even change this to a lot of lottery winners who became instant millionaires and the story is about the same.

Another thing was the comment about making a lot of friends when you have a lot of money. In some interviews I read the person kind of blamed others and condemned them for how he helped them when he had a lot of money and they wouldn’t do the same for him afterwards. As harsh as it sounds, you really have to take responsibility for that I think as it is your choice in say giving away a lot of money to people you don’t know too well. I guess the main thing that I do all the time is to try and find consistency with people before I associate with them to really find out how genuine they are.

Most people that I know who are well off financially too don’t really show it as in they don’t say wear thousands of dollars in jewelry or drive the most expensive cars as a way to expose their wealth. People usually mock more famous people such as Bill Gates for having what looks like such a cheap haircut for a wealthy person, but you’d be surprised on how many people are just like him where they look like a simple person because they don’t want to attract all of the phoney people who are only after your money. I guess this documentary clearly demonstrates that.

This was a very fascinating idea I thought. While I kind of expected it to end the way it did, it’s interesting to actually see it take place and hopefully a lot of people will learn from this. You first really need to be financially educated as when you are given an enormous amount of money without doing so you won’t know what to do with it and can end up hurting yourself even more financially and emotionally.


  • Stewart Marshall 3/18/2007

    Interesting post with various things to say about money and wealth. It brings me back to balance again. Whilst I don’t desire homelessness I do think that money changes the way you interact with people. Time is a far more precious commodity which is why sometimes you see wealthy people donating not money, but their time to a cause. I’ve met a few people who have the ability to slow down time, some of these have been very wealthy and some very poor. In the end money won’t hide the failings of your character …

  • Ruben 4/3/2007

    This story film documentary is on Demand if you have Comcast cable.

  • ralph m. 8/17/2007

    What i would like to know is, how was this money raised for this documentary and how did you… ”The team” that put this together feel about the HomeLess mans action regarding the way he handled the money….
    I think i would have been so fustrated.

  • Susan Harrison 9/15/2007

    I have to post because my internet and cable are going to be shut off any minute, don’t think I can access my email anymore. You could try smartesusieq@yahoo.com if you would like to respond.
    Well first here is what he could have done:
    His family were all living in mobile homes.
    He could have easily purchased a single wide used mobile home for $10K if not he could easily find a town where you can get those.
    Then he could have purchased a good used vehicle, one he would have liked for 10K
    Then he could nicely furnish his place for 5K
    Oh, a years worth of lot space, utilities, insurance, registrations, and gas groceries, ciggerettes and supplies 8K
    MOST IMPORTANTLY he could have started a small business that he knew most about!
    For about $20 he could have rented a small peice of land with a small building and started his own recycling business!!! He could even have set aside money for a part time high schoold student (senior) or another homeless fellow to look over the business in the mornings so he could nurse his hangovers.
    He could have fixed his teath with dentures for about 3K or 10K for implanted teath.
    He would own a home, a business, a car, and be bill free for a year. Hopefully by then his business could bring just enough in to cover his expenses maybe more… or in a year apply for ssi.
    This would have left him with app. $48 K to be really stupid with… or take the free investment opportunity… or start a family, save for a rainy day, improve upon his business or buy a run down bar.
    PLEASE SEND ME 100K. I am basically a single Mom of 4 kids, two disabled, I have to stay home to care for them mostly but I do have a few housekeeping clients. My husband only shows up when he is unemployed, so I have to feed more a month. Money would purchase a restraining order. Or I would leave town.
    I work hard, love my kids, and have dedicated myself to my family.
    I WOULD NOT WASTE IT… here is what I would do:
    Double Wide used mobile home in nice lot for children:
    Reliable used vehicle to transport them to doc’s
    (don’t currently own a vehicle)
    Utilities for a year and living expenses:
    Furniture and household supplies, needs for kids:
    To finish college for Paralegal
    Start my own Paralegal business
    Help my parents/grown child/grandchildren not at home:
    Invest through a free investment counsellor $20K

    $10K remaining- Pay my tythe, save for medical, living expenses, birthdays, and Christmas…. the rest!

  • Pondering The Thread 12/21/2008

    I think the issue is that money is a portion of what’s needed

    Hand a kid a guitar for Christmas but fail to give him lessons…..it will probably collect dust under a bed.
    However, educate the kid on how to use the gift you have given him and the success chances are far greater

    Point being…these folks don’t know how to handle money in small quantities…..why would we expect any different in large quantities?

    Try the same study with someone assisting, (some financial training) and let me if it turns out any differently 🙂

  • angela 5/13/2009

    i saw the whole show and he was given 1 million not 100,000. and yes he was broken in a year

  • Alan Yu 5/17/2009

    Not really sure if you saw the same documentary Angela as there is also a screen capture of the movie above showing the note stating $100,000 as well.

  • Margaret 5/27/2009

    🙄 There are some homeless people who simply need access to a full bathroom and laundry and a safe place to sleep at night.

    Food isn’t really that hard to access. And most don’t know what to do with money. We must work on the cleanliness and warmth. And the ones that want this are the ones who are easiest to help in all ways. M

  • Donita 11/16/2009

    I saw this too he was given a million dollars. He also got his teeth fixed

  • scarlet stanley 11/20/2009

    I wish someone would give me that money and follow my life to see what i do with it.I sure wont blow it.I have been looking for this movie so my fiance can see it for some time now.At least i have the name of it now.Sad story all the way around.

  • scarlet stanley 11/20/2009

    Ok guys the note above has the amount let’s get our zeros corect ladies.scroll up to the image of the note.

  • Lindsay 3/8/2010

    I know I have worked all my life untill I wasn’t able. Now I am on Social Sucurity. I don’t have enought to live on, pay Dr. bills, bills at home, ect. If someone gave me one hundred thousand dollars I’d sure be thankful and have a much better life. If you’d like to help I am lrluper on yahoo.

  • Lindsay 3/8/2010

    I do have paypal.

  • Orik 6/1/2010

    Ok first of all he was given 100 k not a million ladies I just saw it yesturday the whole thing which is only about 53 minutes long by the way a lil short I though when they were really trying to explain what he was going through…he was a good guy with a good heart which was apparent with the way he spent his first money buying his friend a car…but other then that once he moved and started going to bars it went downhill he loved the attention he was getting from all these nasty ugly alcholic females… He though he was a real pimp taking them all out on dates and getting lobsters and wine… Some days he would go on 2 dates in one day obviously spending a bunch of money on each one…he just loved attention and really 100k is not that much money if you are not working and just spending like that…it’s not like he could put 100k in a savings account and live lush on it’s dividents…maybe If he had 100 mil then yea he prolly couldbut with 100k he needed to get a job that was a perfect opportunity to get yourself a place to live a cheap car that doesn’t eat gas like the truck he got and just work with the rest of
    money in investments like stocks or bonds

  • scarlet stanley 11/7/2010

    i would really like to see this movie again s if anyone knows where i can go i have tried everywhere…scarletshere@yahoo.com let me know thxx

  • Lori 9/7/2014

    all of u are very naive and just plain ignorant… its easy to say when its not u but u have to take a good look at it he was a middle aged man with middle age man problem he must have been on the streets for many years building up the head strong help me myself AND the world attitude of a homeless person some one who knows what it means to have nothing its easy to say hey if i was given that money i wouldn’t fuck it up…. but now lets take a step back and actually look at it so u want 100 000 well first you have to go live on the street for 20 years build up the drinking or drug habit that lets u wake up every morning and NOT kill your self that drug or drinking habit that will allow u to hear every day how much of a peice of shit u are how u will never amount to nothing look at ur self day after day never amounting to what u wanted to be ur stuck…. now oh wow look theres 100 000…. YOU STILL HAVE UR SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM, YOU STILL ARE NOT JUST THINKING IT BUT ARE CONVINCED UR NOTHING BUT A FAILURE ULL NEVER AMOUNT TO NOTHING U’VE BEEN HEARING IT FOR 20 YEARS HOW COULD IT NOT BE TRUE… like he said it means more to give then receive hes a good man just made some bad choices…. i honestly think each and every one of u would fuck it up… in ur own way u would ALL look back at ur selves and say shit wish i did that different…. atleast he made a few others lives alot better… ask each and every one he help what it TRULY DID FOR THEM …. i think u may be presently surprised

  • Half Moon Flare 12/23/2014

    I finally just saw the film (or most of it). 1st, I’m noticing a lot of people using it as an excuse to be cheap. It’s less a question of this seemingly vast amount of money (some people can flush it down the toilet in one night) than THE DIRECTION OF ONE PERSON without much note as to what he was qualified to do for employment or the over-priveledged ijits who are lured into addictive pass-times and substituting it for reality. I imagine he fell as many do; thinking that something will come along when not even that aha moment rings the doorbell.
    In short, I don’t think the movie was a charitable work so much as a “let’s make a splash and run with it” deal.

    Homeless people come from many walks of life. They have different problems. Sometimes it’s simply because they lost what little there was to hold on to and once out there, it’s all but impossible to get anywhere. Would $100k make a difference to a chronic homeless person? Who knows? So far we’ve only seen just one.

  • Carter 6/8/2017

    Yea I grew up rich and my parents buy me everything and even now I don’t even pay for myself and I got some people that complain and try to make it so I can’t live for free by talking shit

  • Jeff 3/17/2018

    100k is not a lot of money. He bought himself a truck and helped some friends.. It could have been spent in worse ways? How far do you think 100k really goes? It would maybe buy a small house buy then he still doesn’t have a vehicle or a way to make money. I’ve blown 100k in a year as well, it’s not an amount of money that will substantially change you life for a long period.

  • Vishal 5/18/2020

    One of the comments I strongly agree with here is that of Lori’s. We can keep fooling ourselves about making the best use of the money, but we will act just the same as the homeless man. Without putting ourselves in his shoes, we can keep ridiculing his life choices. Or we can try to empathize and understand the challenges and barriers that kept him from profiting off of the money. What he needed was counselling and financial education. Someone who can guide him. Homelessness is not a personal problem. It is a social problem.

    If all is not lost, he could rent his truck or make deliveries.

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