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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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,053 Ratings  ·  176 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 03, 2012 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
Don Gillette
Jan 22, 2014 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
Kevin Wortman
Nov 24, 2010 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
Nov 13, 2010 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
Mulligatawney Thursdays
Oct 14, 2012 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
John Farr
Jan 10, 2013 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"
Nov 08, 2015 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
Dec 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 07, 2012 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
Beth Gordon
Sep 16, 2011 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
Clay Compton
Apr 07, 2014 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

Igor Packo
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've spent a quite bit of time reading and researching financial independence / early retirement / budgeting / frugal living / investing blogs and articles and this book kept coming up as a "holy grail" of the whole movement. I don't really understand why it took so much time for me to get to it. Anyways, I found it deeply motivating, showing a lot of underlying principles and uncovering mental biases we're committing every day. This is a must-read for anyone interested in at least improving the ...more
David Shimazaki
Feb 21, 2015 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
Jaroslav Tuček
Sep 23, 2015 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
Nov 05, 2010 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 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.

Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Not your typical retirement book, yet much more informative (and thus useful), even though it’s not advanced economics or it doesn’t reveal any “secret” – and perhaps this is why it really does work. This is going to be a summary of the actual “early retirement” part (with some added info by me). The book is so much more, and I’d recommend it above all for Jacob’s insights and musings (e.g. his reflection on our current world, or his bullet points for the goals of a Renaissance man).
This is a su
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two books in one.

The first is a philosophy much like Taleb. It's a way to see the world anew, maybe even more "accurately" and become more robust.
The second is how to act within the new philosophy but mostly stops short of what.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Philosophy, strategy, tactics, fitness, personal finance... this book has it all! Totally recommended.
Floris Wolswijk
Mar 29, 2015 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 f
May 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
If you're tired of the same old "Click here for 25 ways to cut your spending" ideas, this book has some suggestions that are so extreme, you may not believe what you're reading. Sell your house and live in a tent! Sell your car(s) and ride a bike! Switch to cold showers! Eat every other day! "Culturally speaking, we have been programmed to believe that an empty feeling in the stomach is undesirable and a full belly is good." I'm so brainwashed.

That being said, his applications do have some huge
Jan 10, 2016 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
Matt Faus
Mar 26, 2012 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
Steve Bedford
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mmm
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
Jun 24, 2014 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
David Albert
Mar 29, 2015 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
Apr 17, 2015 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
Oct 18, 2015 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
Jun 06, 2011 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
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book to help you think about the water you're in, and how to beat the game. I think it's worth re-reading this book every few years to re-groove all the good habits it instills.

Finally, I'm grateful to Jacob Lund Fisker for putting into words all the things I felt were "wrong" or "off" about consumer society but could never fully articulate myself. This book is a true gift to those willing to think about and process what's in it.
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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.

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“For instance, why do we still work eight hours a day, 50 weeks a year, when we're twice as productive as we were 50 years ago?” 4 likes
“To paraphrase Einstein, you can't solve your problems with the same mindset that created them.” 2 likes
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