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Early Retirement Extreme: A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence

Early Retirement Extreme: A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence [Kindle Edition]

Jacob Lund Fisker , Zev Averbach , Ann Beaver
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Early Retirement Extreme provides a robust strategy that makes it possible to stop working for money in just a short number of years. It provides a paradigm shift in economic perspective from consuming to producing. Your value to society is not how much you earn or how much you buy. It is what you create and produce for yourself and for others. It is what you leave, not what you take. Consumers are often locked into expensive options, but producers have the flexibility to create appropriate solutions at a quarter of the cost. The resulting savings (the difference between income and expenses) is one's monetary contribution to society. When savings are put to work through investments, society will pay dividends which cover the remaining expenses resulting in financial independence. The strategy can also be used to pay off debt, travel the world, volunteer, go back to school, or work on otherwise nonprofitable endeavors without worrying about the next paycheck. It offers a compelling alternative to the default choice of graduating high school, getting a college degree, buying a car, getting married, buying a house, filling it with furniture, clothes, TVs, washing machines, lawn mowers, and electric egg boilers, and then spending the next 40 years working 9-5 to pay it all off.

About the Author

Jacob Lund Fisker retired early at 33 years old. He did this by figuring out how to spend very little money by living simply and learning many skills to become more self-sufficient thus reducing his need for money to a quarter of the average person. Instead of spending the other three quarters of his money on stuff, he invested it for income to pay for the few things he can not make himself. This meant he reached financial independence at age 30 and no longer works for a living.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like the ideas, but . . . 9 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Where does this book miss for me?

Overall, the author takes a systems theory approach to working out what is worthwhile in life, and has come to interesting conclusions that are plausible, and seems to work for him. This is a superior approach to the eclectic "life hacks" offered by some competing books. (My worst example was a book suggesting using cans of beans instead of dumbells to save money on exercise equipment!) However, the book had weaknesses, and overall, I probably prefer the author's blog to this book.

He presents the results of his systemic thinking rather than the process he followed to come to his conclusions. He gives a lifestyle that works well for him, but probably would not suit many of his potential audience. Taken as examples of thinking outside the box, this is interesting (live in a caravan - or RV - anyone?) but less useful than guidance on how to explore these issues for yourself, with a view to reaching your own conclusions.

I got a strong sense that his philosophy of lean living was not universally scalable, as in a great part it depends on the remaining 99% of us to live wastefully so he can grase on our surplus. (The author is a physicist. This does have a reductionist approach to modelling the world as opposed to - e.g. - engineering, which embraces the world in all its complexity, and might lead to a more holistic philosophy if the same process was followed.

The author does not have any kids, so for those of us with families, his message is less convincing. (He hypothesises about this, but has not had to meet pester power in person.)

I personally did not find the authors writing style made for enjoyable reading. Another review has pointed at his use of calculus terminology to explain his concepts.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making You Think 23 Oct 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was one of the first books I bought for the Kindle that really began to use the additional features that the machine offers. Specifically, the ability to cut and clip paragraphs that you find notable and the ability to make your own notes as you read were very useful as I worked my way through the text. For me, the most enjoyable thing about this book was that it offered quite a different take on the world of money. Instead of giving advice on how to amass a fortune that might allow you retire early in comfort or luxury, it challenges the whole notion about what exactly you need that money for? Coming to think of it, why are you working every hour God sends to spend the small amount of free time you actually get lying exhausted on the couch, surrounded by gadgets you have no notion of using and people that you have little energy to really interact with? Yes, of course you can retire early, but before you do it, think long and hard about what you will do with the time and how much money you will really need to enjoy that time in a way that you will find personally fulfilling.
I really enjoyed the section of the book entitled "The Lock In" that examines the almost insane cycle most people have got themselves into in Western society - working and working to buy largely meaningless stuff in exchange for losing the time that they could use to enjoy the stuff that they've bought! In this way, the book is more a philosophical examination of our society and values than a text book that will help you save and invest for a life of retirement luxury.
For those of us who actually largely enjoy our job and the world of work, there is still much to take away from the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rethink of the way we live 21 July 2011
By jpstill
Whilst some of the ideas in this book are an extreme alternative to the way most of us live (hence the title), the book certainly causes a fundamental rethink of the way a lot of us live our lives. Whether or not you wish to enact some of any of the ideas contained in this book, it certainly causes you to think, and to re-evaluate many aspects of the way we live.
I only gave it four stars because I am not a mathematician, and parts of this book (involving formulas/equations) went over my head. Be warned - it is very heavy-going in places, for the average reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the blog! 22 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
As a follower of the author's blog, I decided that I would read his book, to see if he can develop his posts into a coherent book. I am very glad I did, as it is absolutely fantastic - the ideas mentioned in his blog are developed and in much more detail, as would be expected, and the book flows well from one idea to the next. Highly recommended for anyone considering early retirement, or interested in alternative lifestyles.
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A nice framework for rethinking your approach to retirement that will allow most people to retire at least a few years earlier. However, on a practical level, unless you're earning more than £40K/ year in the U.K. you almost certainly won't be able to achieve the 5 year to retirement gold standard mentioned in the E-R-E blog, unless you're prepared to put up with extreme privations (squatting in a tent in a field for 1500 nights anyone?).

I've given the book four stars because it has helped me (on £40+K) work out an 8 year E-R-E plan, but I had to dock one star because of the lack of generaliseablity to the 85% of people on lower incomes than me.

Below is more of a selected summary rather than a review. There is quite a lot more in the book that I don't include (such as his sytems-thinking theories/ ideal-types/ maths formulas. I also don't mention it below, but anyone familiar with the likes of Ivan Illich, Eric Fromm, and Zygmunt Bauman, and anything written from a broadly eco-anarchist perspective will find echoes of these throughout the text.

This book is not a step by step guide about how to achieve early retirement. It is a critique of the paucity of normative ways of thinking about work-consumption-retirement and an overview of an alternative way of thinking about this nexus which ultimately means working and consuming less and retiring a lot earlier than normal.

If I could pick one single stand-out idea which captures the ethos of the book it is this: If your current yearly income is £10 000 and you spend 75% and save 25%, it will take you 3 years to accumulate enough savings to take 1 year off. If you invert this ratio by spending 25% and saving 75% then after 3 years you can take 9 years off.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
It changed my outlook in life in few ways. I have been looking to retire as soon as possible, this book helps you the reach your goal in the easiest form possible. Read more
Published 8 months ago by walter
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly interesting.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a rigorous critique of conventional wisdom with regards to careers and personal finance..... Read more
Published 10 months ago by T. R. Goss
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading
I bought this after reading a reference to it in an article in The Guardian. I think this is a GREAT and very timely book about about the consequences of being tied into a salaried... Read more
Published 11 months ago by The Grand Mother
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be part of the school curriculum.
This is a really important book. It presents "the other side" of the economy, the side we're never taught in school. Read more
Published 20 months ago by J. Selin
2.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and well reasoned, but ultimately unconvincing
I'm a fan of books of this genre. My life-changing read 20 years ago was Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial... Read more
Published on 10 Nov 2011 by madjack
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Retirement Extreme
A beacon of light in an otherwise morose, enslaved, Orwellian future. Nothing short of genius. Purchase this now and cast of the manacles of debt to a richer and freer existence in... Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2011 by hellofreedom
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Popular Highlights

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A very common and very good piece of career advice is not to work to earn money but to work to learn new skills, gain new connections, and create new opportunities. &quote;
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Second, having significantly reduced expenses, invest the difference in businesses. &quote;
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It's important to understand that doing the right thing (good strategy) is much more important than doing things right (good tactics). &quote;
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