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Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way
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Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,078 ratings  ·  128 reviews
A practical action guide for financial independence and early retirement from the popular Our Next Life blogger.
In today's work culture, we're expected to hustle around the clock. But what if you could escape the traditional path and get on one that doesn't require working full-time until age 65? What if you could wake up every day without an alarm clock and do the th
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Hachette Books
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,078 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
2 stars - Meh. Just ok.

What I did like: One short paragraph about the merits of an umbrella insurance policy.

What I didn’t like: Treating the reader as though they are obtuse by unnecessarily explaining the obvious. The more expensive your life is, the harder it is to save money.

Eye rolling motivational cliches. Get ready to dream big!

Asking the reader questions that feel like a dated middle school workbook. For example: Tough questions here, like: What does your work-optional dream life look l
Tanja Hester
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retirement, business
Early retirement has become a meme, passed through exposure to any of a number of blogs and Reddit forums focused on the concept. There are a lot of these, grown over the past five years or so. The author is one of those blog authors, following her and her spouse through their investigation of early retirement, their efforts to get there, and their life after reaching, well, the promised land, of a sort. I have occasionally read articles from their blog as well as other blogs and many, many book ...more
As a follower of Tanja's blog 'Our Next Life', I've been waiting for her book and was super excited to receive an ARC to review.
The book is set up as a clear step-by-step guide to not just plan out an early retirement but really visualize the life you want and clarify your rationale and approach to finances. I love that the exercises listed throughout the book are super clear and have multiple prompts for you to work through, not just general 'write your obituary' type platitudes. It was also g
Timothy Stobbs
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Not a bad book overall, but honestly it reads like most other personal finance books out there on early retirement. So if you had read a lot of those you won't find much new here. In fact, I'm a bit disappointed by the book since I enjoyed the blog so much. It seemed to gloss over adjusting to retirement in just a few pages which I was hoping to see more on. ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, finance
Very US-centric.
Very basic info. Nothing enlightening here.
Too long. The layout of long paragraphs made it feel even longer and more boring.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I agree with Cher's review below:
"In all fairness: This is a subject upon which I am quite educated and was disappointed to gleam very little from my invested reading time. A total novice to the personal finance world that doesn’t know the difference between a stock and a bond, or doesn't have the forethought to consider a side job to increase income, may find this more helpful than I did."

I don't want to unfairly pan this book, but I wonder why the author wrote it, because I'm not sure what th
Adam Fortuna
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a finance book or a memoir. Having read Tanja's blog for the last few years, I couldn't wait to see what she'd focus on. The result? A guidebook for how to retire early by following your own path. This one challenges you with questions, activities and thought provoking questions that help determine what could be your idealistic future. Much of the financial side may be old-hat if you read blogs or books in the FIRE community, but it's sprinkled with facts and data to help highlight th ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Intrigued by the idea of early retirement but think it sounds too good to be true? Or don't want to practice the extreme frugality that many early retirement advocates preach? Then check out this book.

Hester walks you through every aspect of the early retirement equation showing you the the numbers, the planning, the alternate routes, and the mental and emotional best practices. This is the most comprehensive guide you'll find and will make a believer (and retiree!) out of anyone who gives it a
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anyone interested in planning for or taking early retirement can find useful information in this book. I particularly appreciate the checklists provided to force the reader to think about things that are necessary to reach financial independence and retire early. I also appreciated getting some validation in my unconventional approach to budgeting that has been successful for me so far. I found this to be worth the time investment to read.
Fantastic guide for thinking not only about the finances of early retirement, but also the mental parts.
Also great worksheet and chapters about figuring out what is important to you personally for planning and living FIRE.
I strongly recommend this book!
May 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Is there nothing new on the FI topic to be said? This author is more Dave Ramsey than I prefer.

If you’re new to FI, start with MMM and read JL Collins.
Kristina Howard
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the better personal finance (and FIRE) books I've read. I like that her advice is holistic, practical, and nonjudgmental. Highly recommended. ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not earth shattering but very well written. One of the few books that discusses life after early retirement
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Financial Independence (FI), anyone not interested in FI who wants to see “what the fuss is about”, anyone who thinks they could never retire, and anyone who wants to retire but doesn’t know how or when or why. Read Work Optional!

I was lucky to received an advance copy of this book (in addition to the one I pre-ordered I’m now excited to gift) and I flew through it in less than a week.
I’ve read Tanja’s blog for a while so I expected the book wo
Jenny Thompson
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, finance
I enjoy reading Hester's blog (Our Next Life), so I suppose it is no surprise that I also enjoyed her book. I found the tone of the book incredibly refreshing. Hester explains how her family medical history indicated that she might not have the option of working until 65, and she speaks frankly about how privileged she and her husband are to be in a position where they could seek early retirement on their own terms. I particularly appreciated her emphasis on the importance of practicing gratitud ...more
Christine Lussier
Thank you to NetGalley & Hachette Books for allowing me to preview Work Optional!

Despite having some issues on my end with the downloading, once I began reading Tanja's book, I did not want to put it down. I had not yet seen her blog, nor did I know anything about her, other than I was seeing "A must read!" mentioned here & there on a few sites.

From the beginning you feel as if you are sitting with a friend having coffee discussing life. She is not preachy, nor condescending. She offers a step b
Meg (fairy.bookmother)
Of course it's relatively easy to retire early when you and your husband are making 6 figures each. There are some good insights in here, but it's definitely skewed to those making a LOT of money and lifestyle inflation.

Complimentary copy provided to me by Hachette! All opinions are my own.
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a good one! I like Tanja Hester's blog and appreciate her cautious but encouraging approach to financial independence. I also like that this doesn't have the "HACK YOUR HUSTLE, BRO!" vibe of so many FIRE books. Very good! ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so helpful and thoroughly researched. I love how Tanja addresses a variety of scenarios and makes early retirement approachable.
Cristie Underwood
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Honest and in-depth advice for reaching your full potential. This advice is presented in easy to follow language that can be broken up and applied in pieces at a time.
Chuy Ruiz
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Solid book, good advice.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of great information for those looking to retire early. While early retirement is not feasible for everyone, the concepts here are beneficial for all. I especially appreciated the discussion about considerations for health care, as that is not a topic that I see in a lot of retirement books. There were a lot of good planning tips for the years leading up to retirement. I plan to purchase the hard copy version of Work Optional, as I think there is a lot of underlining and notes I need to mak ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Bit of an odd book to read during the midst of a pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, but a good reminder of how we might approach finances differently.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I requested to read this book because the frugalism type of life and this new very early retirement type of life trend that we hear about everywhere nowadays really made me wonder and I wanted to know more about it. I really enjoyed reading this quick read and I really enjoyed how the author thought about giving plans for any situation or income that you might have if you decide to stop working. This book is worth a read for anyone who is curious about this way of living. Very informative and in ...more
Susan Graves
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'll be honest with you here retirement and saving for retirement scares me. I watched my grandparents count pennies to pay for my Grandfathers lung cancer medicine and that was in 2002 so times have changed. When given the option to read this book I was thrilled. I like how this book had plans built for any situation or income and it made saving for retirement sound easy and not hard. I just read an alarming news headline yesterday that millions of adults are not prepared for retirement because ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I have mixed feelings about this book. First, the positives. The book is well-written, and the author takes a holistic approach to early retirement--in other words, it's not just about the money; it's about life after traditional "day job" work and how to get there. There's plenty of money talk to be found in these pages, though, and I appreciated the author's conservative approach to building up retirement savings, as well as her exploration of alternatives to full early retirement such as "car ...more
Sarah Rodriguez
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Excellent. If you are interested in personal finance, I highly recommend this book. Hester includes all the regular points that other PF and FIRE authors write about (like buying used cars instead of new), but she doesn't make you feel like you have to live on beans and rice to achieve financial independence. She carefully lays out the different kinds of "financial independence" (like full retirement vs. an extended break). She also accounts for issues that you might face in the future (taking c ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, finance
In one sense, I am not the target audience for this book, as I have actually reached financial independence and left my full-time job 18 months ago. I have also done a good bit of reading, both books and blogs, on these topics. However, in another sense I think this makes me well positioned to evaluate whether this book is a helpful contribution to the literature on the topic.

Overall I felt that Work Optional is not as practically helpful as it could have been, because it spends much of the time
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book took me a lot longer than I expected, because although it does not include any worksheets, you definitely want to stop and create budgets and spreadsheets as you go through it.

Tanja Hester is a blogger and a speaker who worked together with her husband, Mark, to build an early retirement. After planning, analyzing, and re-analyzing their lifestyles and budgets, they found a way that works. Tanja shares the steps of how to get to a plan that works for you, stressing that it's not about
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Tanja Hester, author of WORK OPTIONAL: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way, is a former many things: a former political communications consultant, a former public radio journalist, a former yoga and spinning teacher, a former civil servant, and even a former money novice. Since retiring early from formal employment at the age of 38 along with her husband Mark Bunge, she devotes all her time to ...more

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