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

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  739 ratings  ·  92 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, 226 pages
Published September 30th 2010 by Createspace
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Community Reviews

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outsyncof
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
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
...more
Mulligatawney Thursdays
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
Jim
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
...more
Don Gillette
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
...more
Beth Gordon
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
...more
Sean Mcguire
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
Shane
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
...more
Floris Wolswijk
“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
...more
Stephen Beagle
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
...more
David Shimazaki
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
...more
Clay Compton


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

...more
Matt Faus
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
...more
John Farr
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"
...more
Chase
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
Anikowitz
What the eff was this? I was expecting something along the lines of a 4-hour workweek type guide but ended up with an off topic rant about the evils of the economy, complete with mis-defined concepts and edgy faux quotes. I agree with some of his ideas about materialism but the way he presents his arguments almost makes you want to take the other side. He comes off as a neck bearded 19 year old trying to pwn noobs on some Internet forum with his superior intellect, you can almost smell the Cheet ...more
Nancy
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
Adam
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
...more
Aldra
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
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
...more
Scott
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".
Phredric
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.”

************

Fisker
...more
Kathleen
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
Jing
Unlike a lot of other financial independence related books which spend a fair amount of pages talking about investment, this book is primarily about saving money, and doing it to an extreme. That does not sound sexy, I know, but the idea of having enough money and don't *have to* work does sound sexy as hell. That being said, this book is a little bit extreme as the title suggests. But it did make me reflect about my buying behaviour(like whether buying this iPad I'm currently typing on was a go ...more
Holly
I agreed with the overall concept of the book, but not some of the details. My major conflicts were that he included a whole chapter about exercising but only three sentences about growing your own food. He also seems to have a lot of confidence that he could also support children in his $10k a year plan, but he does not have children. I also do not have children, but I imagine they are a lot more complicated then he is making them out to be.

All in all, a good read. I really liked how he went in
...more
Steve Bedford
First off, I want to say the low rating is not due to a disagreement about the concept of early retirement via extreme savings and pared down lifestyle. I am very intrigued by this concept, and thus wanted to read this book to get a better grasp on it. Unfortunately, the first half of the book is entirely him pontificating about his particular world views on work and economics. It drags on for 100 pages, and is neither original nor interesting. The second half actually addresses some of the conc ...more
Henry Barry
The author got a PhD in theoretical physics, then lived for 5 years saving 75% of his income, which gave him enough to retire. This book is his philosophy behind his lifestyle. It is definitely more extreme than I will do (he lives in a trailer), but I really like a lot of the ideas he puts forward, about minimizing waste and realizing how riduculous many aspects of our consumer culture are. If you can learn the discipline to save enough, you can become truly financially independent, living off ...more
Marshall
This is a pretty awful guide to early retirement and financial independence. He talks about the subject only tengentially, while the main content of the book is his philosophies about living, working, spending, and education. For example, he spends a chapter on the differences between the renaissance man, businessman, working man, and salary man, complete with a graph broken into four quandrants. In another chapter, he talks about how some expertise is "modularized" or "strongly connected."

In th
...more
Brad
This is a book full of interesting ideas about work and money. It seems that none of the ideas is original, but the particular combination and emphasis is original. Unfortunately, the writing style and organization are pretty poor. My recommendation would be to copy the bibliography and start reading the books on the list. I can see how people like the book, but I'm a bit old-fashioned in that I hold pieces of paper bound together with a cover to a higher standard than a collection of words on a ...more
Monica
JLF took a philosophical systems-approach to how one can have an alternative view of the work-spend cycle that most people are trapped in and from which most people think that there is no escape or alternative choices.

While there were many suggestions on how to live a frugal life in the second half of the book (which are nice to read but are not unique since there are tons of tips online on how to live frugally), it is the first half that would be an eye opener for most. This is the portion (es
...more
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4410745
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
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“To paraphrase Einstein, you can't solve your problems with the same mindset that created them.” 1 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?” 1 likes
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