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Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosphical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence
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Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosphical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,175 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
A strategic combination of smart financial choices, simple living, and increased self-reliance brought me financial independence at 30 and allowed me to retire from my profession at 33. Early Retirement Extreme shows how I did it and how anyone can formulate their own plan for financial independence. The book provides the principles and framework for a systems theoretical ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 30th 2010 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Mar 28, 2012 outsyncof rated it it was ok
Jacob Lund Fisker's Early Retirement Extreme is a convoluted, disorganized, melting pot of pseudo-philosophical ideas. Don't get me wrong--I realize that there aren't too many role models out there for those of us seeking to attain the elusive dream of "Financial Independence". I just don't think that I connected much with Jacob. His somewhat scientific approach to the frugal lifestyle was unnecessarily complicated and for the most part failed to resonate with me. Fisker often repeats that this ...more
Kevin Wortman
Mar 03, 2012 Kevin Wortman rated it it was amazing
My Amazon review:

My high school required all students to take a home economics course, which involved cooking potatoes, sewing a shirt, and basic pantry keeping. What a lost opportunity! The world would be a better place if that curriculum were replaced with a semester-long study of this book. I wish my peers and I had been exposed to these ideas before we left for college and started making life-shaping economic decisions.

The book is densely packed with ideas and difficult to summarize. That sa
Mulligatawney Thursdays
Oct 18, 2012 Mulligatawney Thursdays rated it it was amazing
Not your typical finance book. The trippy ideas presented are not meant to be read in the usual straightforward manner. This is not a How To, but a reformation of our inherited consumer-based, work-spend hamster wheel lifestyle. Boiled down, you can look at it as a simple solution, yet learning to question your motivation for everything you do/buy/covet is not as simple as it sounds. I'm not finished with it, but then I never will be. I borrowed this from the library, but this is a book meant to ...more
Don Gillette
Jan 22, 2014 Don Gillette rated it did not like it
This book had very little to do with retirement, but I can sum it up for you in just a few sentences or steps and you won't even have to read it:
1. Work for a while.
2. Learn how to be frugal and then learn how to be cheap--really, really cheap; e.g., put your clothes into a bucket with some soap and water and drive down a bumpy road (no kidding--that's one of his tips).
3. Self-publish a book and call it "Early Retirement Extreme" even though it has no blueprint for retiring early.
Here's a conden
Beth Gordon
Oct 01, 2011 Beth Gordon rated it liked it
The concept was definitely compelling. Stop the cycle of lifestyle inflation, cut back expenses in an extreme way, and retire early.

The philosophy early on in the book was similar to mine. For instance, I think it makes no sense for houses in the suburbs to have postage stamp, individual lawns to take care of with the associated lawn equipment when it can be obviously more efficiently done by one person who is dedicated to taking care of all of the lawns.

As the book goes on, the author focuses
Sean Mcguire
Oct 07, 2012 Sean Mcguire rated it really liked it
I've read a lot of books about personal finance. I wish I had read this one twenty years ago, which would have been difficult given that it was published two years ago. It is a very detailed book that really appeals to my mathematical and systems-oriented nature. Despite the book's claims, it doesn't really say anything hugely new. What it does, instead, is take some of the axioms of conventional wisdom, mix them with a healthy dose of simple living philosophy, and then take them to their logica ...more
Nov 13, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This is another blog I came across that has morphed into a book. Here is my Amazon review:
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 w
John Farr
Jan 10, 2013 John Farr rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best book I read in 2012.

ERE is a philosophy book more than anything else. Fisker offers a way to get off of the 9-5 treadmill, mainly by radically cutting expenses and saving a high percentage of your income for a long enough time to get to the point where you have many multiples of your annual living expenses.

It is not a "recipe" personal finance book. Rather, he asks some very fundamental questions about the nature of work, advocating that people become "renaissance men"
Jaroslav Tuček
Sep 23, 2015 Jaroslav Tuček rated it really liked it
I've read this book years ago and thought it gave a great account of the ridiculous race of consumerism that the Western world has plunged into - and of the endless grayness of 9-to-5 days required to pay for it. Fisker offers a vision of a radically different life - a life of self-sufficiency and conscientious simplicity, a life of freedom to pursue your true interests and passions, a life of purpose and meaning. Having just taken a 30 month sabbatical - paid for by some of the principles espou ...more
David Shimazaki
Feb 21, 2015 David Shimazaki rated it really liked it
I probably wouldn't have read this book if I came across it on my own because the IDEA/ CONCEPT of "Early Retirement" let alone "Extreme" (translating to 20s and 30's of age) hadn't yet entered my scope of thought/ interest as an average 24 year old. But, an accounting friend of mine that saves aggressively and loves to talk about his dividends recommended this book and as a decent friend I gave it a read.

The book is a lot of common sense: Save early and aggressively until it hurts and then save
Nov 11, 2010 Shane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-books-read
This isn't your typical personal finance book. In fact, it turns most popular personal finance thought on its head. If you spend all your free time wondering why you spend all your youth working only to be able to do the things you want, that you can't physically do anymore, when you retire, this is an excellent book for you to pick up.

Be warned, it is a thinking mans(or womans) book. It will make you think and it will make you question the things that we all do in our day to day lives.

Pick it
Sep 09, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it
This book is not about retirement or financial independence.
It is about happiness.

Anything to challenge conventional thinking is a welcome contribution.
This book does just that.

Be prepared to be confronted with your own futility of life and happiness.

Floris Wolswijk
Mar 29, 2015 Floris Wolswijk rated it really liked it
“By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest." - Agesilaus

Lessons learnt:Align your goals, let them build on each other. Money should work for you instead of the other way around. There are better ways to live than the 9-5 lifestyle.

What is money to you? Is it something you always spend when you have it? Or is it something you save up for a rainy day? In the Early Retirement Extreme Jacob Lund Fisker proposes another way of thinking about money: as your employee. Instead of working for
Stephen Beagle
Aug 02, 2014 Stephen Beagle rated it really liked it
I am an advocate for simple living so my values align well with Fisker's, and there were a lot of good reminders in this book. The guidance provided focuses more on ways to change one's thinking about things more than steps to early retirement. I really liked some of the simple suggestions like reconsidering "wants" and "needs" and realizing that most things are wants and that your lists should be things like "types of shelter". "House" is not a need, a place to sleep is.

Some of the reviews of
Feb 29, 2016 Reid rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
As Fisker makes it clear in the intro, this book is unique. It's a mix of unconventional advice around lifestyle design, specific recommendations for reaching financial independence earlier, and very conceptual expounding on modern life and economics. My reaction was mixed too; while I especially enjoyed some of Fisker's more actionable advice and perspectives, the more conceptual stuff was mind-numbing at times. Here's a sample quote:
"With proper diversification, if one income-generating module
Nov 08, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it
Fisker's basic philosophy for early retirement is simply spend less, save more, get used to doing the former, and you will be able to retire within 5-10 years instead of 30 years. The opening part of the book is devoted to explaining the phenomenon of the "lock-in" of wage slavery and consumerism prevalent in our society today. This part becomes a boring, rambling rant in verbose English after a while, since it goes on for so long. It becomes not much different than the typical anti-capitalist s ...more
Clay Compton
Apr 07, 2014 Clay Compton rated it liked it

I wish I read this when I was 21. Today, as an actual thirty-something retiree, I'm not sure how useful it is to me.

Jacob Lund Fisker is a guy who lives a kind of extreme lifestyle. He lives in a mobile home with his wife, spends less than $10,000 a year, foregoes appliances (like a washing machine) that many of us consider essential, and doesn't own a single thing he doesn't use at least twice a year. On the plus side, he retired at the age of 33. This wasn't an "I'll spend a year hiking the Pa

Matt Faus
May 02, 2012 Matt Faus rated it really liked it
First 3/4ths of this book goes into great detail to describe the closest thing I've seen to an "equation for modern living". It reads a lot like a math textbook I remember from undergrad, but the systematic breakdown what it means to be human is enlightening and brings comfort to those of use who are always looking to abstract existence into a set of variables with a range of possible values.

The last 1/4th outlines specific details on how to achieve rudimentary comfort on $7-10,000 per year per
Oct 18, 2015 Alok rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: John Murray, Peter Nilsson, Tom Wing
Everyone who must choose a path in adulthood, which is to say everyone older than 12, should read this book. Far from a book on early retirement, this book argues strongly the the constraints on our lives are not imposed by society, but by ourselves. It is a book-length exposition of how Plato's Cave applies to our world. The approach to life exposed by this book is very much to take things to first principles, to decide what you are trying to do, and then in the words of Herman Hesse's Siddhart ...more
Dec 26, 2015 Anca rated it it was amazing
Best finance book I ever read! I read Jacob's blog since many years and this book didn't disappoint me. It's refreshing to listen to someone seeing The Big Picture, someone not getting lost in details when there is a forest to see.
This is not a book about retirement only - don't be deceived by its title. I have no plan to retire soon - or ever. This is a book about personal freedom, the freedom to choose whether to work or not, the freedom to go your way uncluttered by peer pressure and the fre
Dec 20, 2013 Chase rated it it was amazing
Shelves: frugal
This is easily the best book I've ever read. I hate telling people the title of the book because they write it off as some "10 steps to retire in your 30's" book. Fisker does an incredible job conveying his point, and since I'm an engineer graduate as well, I really enjoyed his use of pragmatism, practicality, insight and graphs. I encourage everyone to read this book and think about the ideas presented; like Fisker said, don't expect this book to give you directions on how to live your life... ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Bethany rated it liked it
After hearing rave reviews about this book from many, including Joshua Sheats of the Radical Personal Finance podcast, I broke down and bought it to read. I was excited to learn oodles of new information.

Unfortunately, I kept waiting to get to "the good part". I was still reading the philosophical part of the book, waiting for the good part, when I looked down and realized I had read over 40% of the entire book. Wait! I paid $10 for this book, and I want to get to the good part before I'm done!

Jun 17, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
I learned about this book via the blog Mr. Money Mustache (, which is a fun and irreverent source of information about taking ahold of your financial life. If you are new to the concepts of early retirement/financial independence, that blog is a better place to start. This book is a slog to read and I think there’s a lot of unnecessary math to illustrate concepts. But if you’re hungry for information on this topic, it’s definitely an excellent source of out of the ...more
May 25, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
When I started joking with my family about retiring at 35, my grandma clipped out an article from the newspaper referencing this book and author. Jacob graduated with a PhD, started working and spending money. He soon realized that with student debt and future mortgage payments, he may never escape debt and would have to work the rest of his life to stay ahead of his spending. This didn't sit well with him, so he worked for 5 years saving 80% of his income. During that time he learned to work th ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it
Good book. The beginning was long in philosophy about looking at the consumer market differently. the last 30% was mostly about life changes that you could make to make a difference. A book best read after warming up to the idea retiring early, likely too much for the initiate and dull.

I thought the part about investing was truncated and hasty comparatively to the beginning of the book. Fisker talks about investing in very general terms and quickly ends up with the idea that you need enough asse
Nov 17, 2010 Aldra rated it did not like it
Desperately needed an editor, but had some overall compelling concepts. A much better read covering the same issues (with far more info and greater analysis) is "Survival +" by Charles Hugh Smith. I would suggest folks read Smith's book and the classic "Your Money or Your Life" first. If more reinforcement is needed, then check out Fisker's book from your local library.
David Albert
Apr 13, 2015 David Albert rated it it was ok
I recommend you read the epilogue first. It's like an intro, giving you the author's background and context.
Then, chapters 6 and 7. These are the only chapters filled with useful, specific advice.
The beginning of the book, more than half of it, is a treatise on the wastefulness of the typical modern lifestyle. If, like me, you are someone already in this path and looking for more useful advice from someone who has already retired, then, like me, you may find this half of the book rather annoying
Oct 21, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
Masterfully lucid writing, despite the authour's academic training. Principals over passive tips, philosophy over superficial of-the-times tidbits, this book will interest anyone who both seeks a thoughtful life and is willing to "think through" rather than "lazily adopt".
Feb 17, 2014 Phredric rated it it was ok
The king’s messenger came to find Diogenes, who was squatting in the street, eating his simple meal of lentils. “The king invites you to come live in his castle,” said the messenger, “and be one of his court advisors.” “Why should I?” asked Diogenes. “Well for one thing,” said the messenger, “if you’d learn to curry favor with the king you wouldn’t have to eat lentils.” “And if you would learn to like lentils,” replied Diogenes, “you wouldn’t have to curry favor with the king.”


Feb 26, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Although a bit late for me, since I retired in 2012, this book provides sound basis for retiring VERY early, By reducing expenses and thus saving a large portion of one's income -- over 50% -- retirement is possible after only 10 years of working. If expenses are reduced by even more, less time will be needed to save enough money to generate passive income. This book, while delving into the finances a bit, mostly deals with how to live a satisfying life with very little money. The trick is to be ...more
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I'm a recovering physicist currently working as a quant.

I run a blog about personal finance and have published one book about the same topic.

I'm currently working on an investment book, a beginner's book on financial independence, and a book on ethics.

I've also written a chapter in a book about peak oil, some creative stories for an ezine, and about 30 papers in academic journals mostly concern
More about Jacob Lund Fisker...

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“To paraphrase Einstein, you can't solve your problems with the same mindset that created them.” 2 likes
“The question you need to answer is what you want to do with your life given that you don't have the time to do everything? Do you want to spend most of your life paying off the interest of a 30-year mortgage and working so you can fill increasingly bigger houses with increasingly more stuff while being stuck in your daily commute in increasingly nicer cars? Or are you prepared to give up the stuff so that you can do whatever you want, whenever, and wherever, within reason? What will your legacy be--what you owned or who you were?” 2 likes
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