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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  556 ratings  ·  78 reviews
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 wh...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published September 30th 2010 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
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.
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
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".
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.”


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
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
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
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
Tushar Tyagi
There was a time when I was totally burning away all of my income for the pursuit of happiness, this is called short-sightedness in economic terms because in such cases when one really needs money in case of emergencies, it's almost never there. I was lucky that no such emergency came up and I developed enough brain power to realise that money should work for me and I shouldn't work for it all my life.

The age of retirement has been fixed at 60 by the world and there this dream that is sold of ol...more
Jon Humphrey
I first learned of Fisker's work from browsing through the recommendations on Google Reader. They had put up one of his posts on education. I found his views intriguing. Having read this book (and a good number of his blog posts), I can say that most of Fisker's views are intriguing. The intrigue isn't "wow, that's a great idea, I need to try that," but it is the "wow, I never thought of it that way before" variety.

This book is too often described as a personal finance book. It's not. This is a...more
Ravi Raman

This is book is not like any of the other "retire early in 10 easy steps" is a full-blown life plan for making it happen, and not for those who aren't willing or able to take massive action to change their current consumerist habits.

I've read a ton of blogs and books on financial management and investment, but this one has a very counter-intuitive and yes - EXTREME - approach to retirement that can be achieved relatively quickly. The overall thesis is that by saving a majority of one...more
Joe Davoust
Wrong Title. This book has very little to do with retirement. It has everything to do with getting off the conformist treadmill and living frugally and still feeling complete, but that is different than retirement. Retirement is:

The action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work.
The period of one's life after leaving one's job and ceasing to work.

This book gives no advice on how to "cease work." In fact it has lots of strategies on how to work much harder at living a better life, bu...more
A neutron star theorist achieved financial independence, retired in his early 30s and wrote this book. It documents his thoughts on consumerism, frugal lifestyle, financial independence, money, structure of modern society and life in general.

His anti-consumerism descriptions might be accurate to some extend, but it definitely does not apply to all. I believe some parts of the salary-consuming system have a positive side. For example, I would believe that some salaried jobs stretch peopl...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
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