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Playing with FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early): How Far Would You Go for Financial Freedom?
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Playing with FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early): How Far Would You Go for Financial Freedom?

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,614 ratings  ·  186 reviews
What if a happier life was only a few simple choices away?

A successful entrepreneur living in Southern California, Scott Rieckens had built a “dream life”: a happy marriage, a two-year-old daughter, a membership to a boat club, and a BMW in the driveway. But underneath the surface, Scott was creatively stifled, depressed, and overworked trying to help pay for his family’
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 11th 2019 by New World Library (first published January 1st 2019)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  1,614 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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Leigh Anne
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Maybe they struggled, maybe it was white privilege.

The first thing you need to know right off the bat is that the couple featured in this book earned over $142,000 a year, lived in California, belonged to a boat club, and owned a BMW at the beginning of their journey. Realizing that selling the BMW and quitting the boat club were HUGE epiphanies for them, so you can imagine how the rest of this goes. Add in not one, but TWO sets of parents willing to let them live with them RENT FREE, and I almo
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: whatevs
It's a fun intro to FIRE for anyone who can't adult and handle personal finances. Really, it sounds like a dream that you can hop from being ignorant about how your 401k works at age 29 to having a net worth of over 300k.

This book ignores some pitfalls of FIRE. It also dispenses inaccurate advice and misuses the word "hack" so terribly that I wonder how smug the author must be.

As someone who says (and I paraphrase) "I want to show how an average American family can FIRE and not be extremely chea
Natalie K
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance, nonfiction
Not a bad book if you know absolutely nothing about finance, but for those of us who have more than a basic knowledge, it's kind of redundant. I appreciate the shout-out to Vanguard funds (I'm a proud Vanguard investor), but his description of a Roth conversion ladder was just... not right. Remember, friends, you can't ever avoid the tax man. You WILL have to pay taxes if you convert your 401k (deferred tax) to a Roth IRA (taxes already paid). That's just how it works. This PSA courtesy of your ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great short read on both the idea of FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) and the FIRE movement. I had heard of this movement before but didn't know much about it. It was an interesting and personal read about a family choosing to abandon living the typical upper-middle class California lifestyle to a frugal life that allows for the savings necessary to achieve financial independence. The basic idea is to decide upon a set amount of annual expenses per year for your family and m ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: finances
The more I think about this book, the more I reevaluate my feelings about it. I'm a huge finance nerd so I definitely enjoyed the process of reading the book. However, as many of the critical reviews suggest, the extremely privileged situation of the author and his family is tough to ignore. It was still interesting to learn about the principles of FIRE and learn about their story but the reality is that it is not at all relatable to the majority of people who will read this (and while that isn' ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am mad because the book is somehow surprisingly even worse than the movie. I mean who can afford to start their financial independence journey by dropping $500k on a house, not working for many months and traveling to various conferences? This does not really add up and in fact goes against every principle of the FIRE movement.

By the end of the book I was not really sure what was the purpose of this book. Basically a relatively privileged duo let go of their BMW and their country club members
Dec 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: money
This book is just a man sharing his family's year-long financial adventure with us. I don't feel like his mission was to teach anything. They had an extravagant lifestyle. Therefore, most of the steps they took are really not applicable for most people:
- Drop the BMW (savings: $400/month)
- Opt for a daycare, instead of a nanny (savings: $700/month)
- Cooking instead of buying lunch & coffee EVERY SINGLE DAY
- moving out of the beach house
- Save $50k in one year by travelling around the country, l
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Playing with FIRE combines what you need to know about retiring early, wraps it around an approachable, relatable story, and lays out why it matters. In short, family, satisfying and fulfilling ways to spend your time, and feeling empowered about money instead of owned by it.

I've read the blogs, listened to the podcasts, and this book wraps it neatly into one package. Scott writes with humor, candor, and isn't just selling an extreme frugality approach. Even if you're in the FIRE movement and on
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
About a year ago I went to a hackathon and the key takeaway for me was that I needed to retire as soon as possible because I won’t be able to upkeep myself in the world controlled by various of AI. And yet, nothing really happened but gradually I saw it in other people’s life and then I saw FIRE, it gave a very simple yet critical insight to help me rethink what I want my life to be and what I treasured the most was not the great paycheck I got, fancy big title in even more fancier company, and ...more
An enjoyable read. Although it's more memoir and less how-to than I expected, it's a good introduction to the concepts of radical savings for early retirement (FIRE, Mustachianism, what have you). It's no Mr. Money Mustache, but then again, for an introduction to the topic, maybe that's a good thing. MMM is like an Olympic athlete of the extreme early retirement movement. A more moderate path to the same ends may reach a wider audience. ...more
Christa Maurice
Oct 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF. This is the literary equivalent of a toddler digging something out of his diaper and proclaiming it something brand new that he discovered. Financial independence has been around for as long as there has been money, but the author writes as though his personal experience is groundbreaking. And it's ALLLLL his personal experience. I have no interest in WHY this yodel did this, I want to know HOW.

Read Your Money Or Your Life, Affluenza, and The Tightwad Gazette instead.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Helpful to those new to the FIRE experiences who want to hear a story of someone's introduction to FIRE. Would suggest 'Your money or your life' or 'Early Retirement Extreme' for more practical examples though. ...more
Jenny Thompson
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, finance
A quick read that will feel very familiar to most of its likely readers (people who already read a lot of fi/re blogs). In fact, the target audience is a bit unclear. For people in this community, there is nothing new, and you can get better info elsewhere.

I have to assume it's meant as an introduction, but the Rieckens' journey will not be accessible to any readers who are genuinely struggling to stay afloat. The author detailing his painful decision to sacrifice his boat club membership and h
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Less a 'how to' and more of a 'what happens when'.

If you are loking for a 'how to' book for financial independence than this isnt the one. It follows the authors decision to follow FIRE and his ups and downs including trying to get his wife on board, dealing with friends and family views on FIRE. It discusses how he and his wife felt like quitting and regrets when they splurged to feel like they used to when they didnt think of how they spent their money. A very worthwhile read for anyone thinki
Trish Barlowe
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent introduction to FIRE. I devoured it in a day and a half. When I first started looking into FIRE, everything seemed a little bit overwhelming. This book provides a quick overview of FIRE principles, introduces you to the key players in this movement, all while following real people with real examples. After reading this book, many of the FI blogs made more sense and I knew which resources to grab next. Highly recommended!
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retirement
Reading a book on Financial Independence nowadays is a combination of pleasure and pain to me. It happens the same way with many of these recent crop of FIRE (financial independence, retire early) books. I start reading and have an immediate negative reaction. Why? I’ve been on this path for roughly 30 years, and I haven’t hit the finish line yet. It’s because I tend to the conservative in investing, and it’s because I have lived life and found that my wants and needs are constantly evolving, an ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
They have a story that I think is relate-able to lots of people, and the book was filled with lots of good information/things to think about....however I didn't enjoy reading it, something about the tone of the narrative did not resonate with me. He also made a documentary about this same topic, and even though I wasn't a fan of the book, I still want to see it. Sounds like his background is more in the documentary/production world and maybe that was the difference and why this book fell flat fo ...more
Kate M. Colby
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Playing with FIRE provides one example of one family's journey toward financial independence and retiring early (FIRE). It also laid out the core strategies of FIRE (increasing income, decreasing expenses, and building investments until the interest outweighs your expenses) and explained the reasons why people want to reach financial independence and retire from traditional employment early.

As someone who wants to be a full-time author-entrepreneur, the tenants of FIRE appeal to me a great deal
Greg Golz
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
My wife and I have been living a life were we always saved for retirement aggressively. However, since learning about the f.i.r.e. movement, it had really focused or goals and discussions about finances and hopes for our present/future. This book is another great resource to focus our discussions. It was a quick read since the author really humanised his families story about their journey.
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As someone who just finished their debt journey, looking forward to the next financial adventure and this book inspired me and might just be what I’m after in life. Highly recommend it and learning more about FIRE
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Good Starter Read

Interesting introduction to concepts while remaining pretty non specific. Enough to get you interested in investigating further on the topic.
E Fluellen
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Quick, approachable read on FIRE movement.
Evan Bassford
Mar 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Wealthy California couple learns what frugality is. The entire book is about basic personal finance philosophies. Nothing in this book seems to resonate with people who have low to mid level incomes.

Reading on, I discover the couple moves to my hometown. Again, wealthy Californians move to nice town driving up home prices and make it difficult everyone else to afford to live.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent starting point for FIRE -- especially since Scott focuses on the emotions, relationship changes, and mindset shifts you need to make the transition.

Where other books focus on strategies and tactics (the "how"), "Playing with FIRE" focuses on the "why" and "what." As such, I think it's a much easier starting point than many other, similar personal finance books.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Financial independence Retire Early book made into a move. Read this in a day! Informative and inspiring path to save $ to retire early. I look forward to seeing the movie soon!
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Insightful book with lots of practical tips for developing a personal path for reaching FIRE. Still might not work perfectly for people in high cost of living areas with low income levels and/or lots of financial strain.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

This was a great book about a real family trying to figure out personal finance in an age of mass information, while also learning what is truly important in life. I found this book highly inspirational, and am making changes based on the insight I received reading this book.

Open your mind, be real with yourself, and get set on FIRE.

And one more thing: it’s been a long time since I read a book with no noticeable typos. I am impressed.
Rosanne Macek
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think every young person starting out on their own should read this book. The concept of FIRE is simple: spend less than you earn, invest the surplus, and avoid debt. There is a very useful exercise in the beginning of the book to write down the 10 things that make you happy. It's likely that most of these don't involve spending money. So, aligning your spending with your goals is a key concept in the book and can lead you down the path of retiring early to focus on what really makes you happy ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Hmm, this wasn't quite what I expected. This book is definitely more like a companion to the documentary. The documentary sounds interesting as it sounds like it includes more stories from others who are on the path or have already reached FIRE status. I haven't seen it and it's not showing anywhere near me in the PNW so I can't comment on that. Yes, there are some details on how to work toward FIRE in the book, but it's mostly memoir and I didn't find myself connecting with the author and his w ...more
Jenny Belardi
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's a lot of privilege in the FIRE movement, but Scott at least acknowledges it in the opening pages (unlike most!). He's a bit early on the journey to figure out if this will actually work for him and his family, but it was an entertaining read and gave my husband (a total personal finance nerd) and me some good things to discuss. ...more
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#debtfreecommunity: August: Playing with FIRE 1 10 Jan 03, 2020 03:41PM  

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