This book is mostly biographical in nature, with a healthy dose of complaints about subsequent generations. It does paint a picture of Vermont, and moThis book is mostly biographical in nature, with a healthy dose of complaints about subsequent generations. It does paint a picture of Vermont, and more specifically Fair Haven, VT and its uniqueness, and contributions to the state and country. ...more
I have not written a lot of reviews, but I am definitely having a reaction to this book so I thought I would try a different approach, and write the rI have not written a lot of reviews, but I am definitely having a reaction to this book so I thought I would try a different approach, and write the review as I am reading the book.
This review WILL contain SPOILERS. I am saving the rating until the end, as I have no idea how the review will unfold.
CHAPTERS 1 - 2
I picked up this book after reading its praises in an article on MSN.com. By the end of chapter two I have to say I am not learning anything I did not already know. If you are philosophical enough to have realized that our payment from our employers (for those that do not run their own business) is in exchange for some freedom and for a significant part of your life's time, then you will get the basics of the first two chapters. If you use any software to keep track of your spending (to balance your checkbook and other accounts) as I already do then you won't be adding any significant steps from the first two (out of nine).
It is notable that when you calculate your "true hourly rate" (adjusting for time and money spent outside of work that is in the service of your employment (commuting time, gas, clothing, lunch hour, lunch)), the book does NOT encourage you to factor in other parts of your employment PACKAGE (and I do understand that these are benefits that not everyone receives; for those that do, they should be factored in to the equation). The company's cost for healthcare, 401k contributions, short-term and long-term disability to name a few. The book also assumes that you wouldn't want to take a vacation except as an escape from work, this is not an assumption that I am willing to make.
CHAPTERS 3 - 4
These chapters ask the reader to categorize income/expenses, and to determine monthly if the life energy/money spent gave enough fulfillment. The reader is also asked how these expenses might change if you didn't have your current (or perhaps any) job. These chapters also provide a quiz to help you determine your level of life satisfaction. If you already know what you would rather be doing if you didn't have to work (spoiler: the author hopes your answer will be altruistic), these chapters may be of particular interest.
This chapter has you start to graph your income and your expenses. The premise is that the very act of graphing your expenses will result in your finding ways to reduce your expenses.
Chapter 6 encourages you to cut expenses in sometimes extreme ways. I really find it troubling that that the book encourages readers to consider "gleaning" food. As an example the book notes "The Portland Fruit Tree Project 'organizes people in the Portland community to gather fruit before it falls, and make this valuable resource available to those who need it most...'" I really question the ethics of considering yourself as someone "who need[s] it most" on your way to Financial Independence!
This chapter has you separate the concept of "work" from earning wages, and it encourages you to increase your income. There is some food for thought in this chapter.
Now it is time, in additional to graphing income and expenses, to also graph capital (and income generated from the capital) looking for the "cross-over" point. That point at which the capital could generate enough (and a little bit more than enough) to cover your greatly reduced expenses. You have my attention.
The moment you have been waiting for! The original idea was to invest your capital in Treasuries... back in the day this could generate 6-10% or more in interest. Long gone are those days! Even the book (updated for current times) acknowledges that this is no longer realistic for generating the income needed, leaving one to look at some conservative ETF's.
I didn't find this book to be terribly interesting. For the first time I did buy some treasuries for two reasons, I can get a better rate for my emergency fund than just keeping it in a higher yield account and I like the idea of not paying taxes on the interest. But that's about it for "changing my life"...