Monday, December 27, 2010

Early Retirement Extreme - Book Review

Where do you want to be in five years?  If making dramatic improvements to your finances is one of your New Year's Resolutions start here.  I had anxiously awaited my copy of Early Retirement Extreme written by Jacob Lund Fisker and was not disappointed!  Jacob is also the author of a successful blog by the same name and has developed a growing number of readers worldwide where forums and cell groups have begun and are taking hold.  It is the wave movement taking hold across the land and for good reason.  Amazon readers give Early Retirement Extreme a five star rating and sales are doing great for this first time author.  Where else can a person read and find support for frugal, green, and healthy living and set a course for retiring in five years all at the same time?  Jacob shows how these principles can be applied with tremendous success even on a minimum wage job.

If you have read any of Jacob's writing you know that just when you are fully concentrating to understand what he is saying he cracks an unexpected joke that gets you laughing. Rather than attempt to recount the book chapter by chapter which you can do on your own I have decided to highlight some of my favorite parts:

The Consumer Dungeon - If you have not taken the time to consider the downside of the consumer driven economy in which we live Jacob has written a graphic, disturbing account that reads like the beginning of a dramatic movie.  Men especially will appreciate the details that seem to come out of a end of the world future movie that is happening all around us.  In fact, the entire book could be made into a movie recounting one man's journey to freedom and his willingness to show others the way.

The Four Economic Quadrants -  Lifestyles are categorized as the salary, working man, business man, and renaissance man.  Having had the opportunity to live in each one and move throughout during different periods of time I know that the descriptions of each and the pros and cons are straight forward and accurate.  By recognition and acknowledgement a person is much more able to maneuver the direction they want to go without succumbing to the unconscious influences that would keep them from their goals.

Goals, Strategies, and Tactics - Why do our goals fail or take so long?  Often it is because we do not take into account the opposing or conflicting factors either in our own lives or surrounding circumstances. Jacobs goal building charts show how to integrate our lives and daily habits in a way that will provide congruency and ultimate success.  More importantly is by taking a few minutes charting things out it not only finds a solution but the BEST solution when reviewing multiple options.

The Renaissance Man- Wouldn't you just like to be YOURSELF?  Sometimes does it get difficult to even know who this is when we conform, fractionalize our lives, keep up with the Jones, and spend all our money to comply with a certain lifestyle, profession, or tax structure?  It is no wonder that people have what is termed "A Midlife Crisis", or turn to t.v., weekend partying, or shopping to numb the mind.  We are so busy that it is easy to lose our own sense of identity.  In becoming a Renaissance person we are able to rediscover the curiosity and mastery we had as a child when we took apart the radio or dreamed of becoming a cowboy.  The difference is that now as adults we can combine our dreams with skills, talents, plans, and knowledge that we did not earlier possess.  Though it sounds idealistic the process is extremely practical and through the changes we gain the time and money to pursue who we are after the fashion of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

The Practical Side of Life - Detailed chapters to help you consider housing, clothing, food, and transportation choices are provided.  Another gem in this is section is the answer to the question that every person from Washington State wants to know, "Do you get more rain on you when you walk or run?"

Investing - I admit that algebra was my all time worst subject.  When I first saw the equations my eyes glazed and my mind when blank.  But as I continued to read I was excited to see that investment strategies were provided not as a specific "how to" but as a set of principles that could be applied whether you choose to invest in stocks, gold, timber, or real estate.

There is no doubt that Jacob Lund Fisker is an extremely intelligent, educated, and analytical person and for these reasons his writing may be somewhat intimidating at times because it compels us to look at and think about much we have taken for granted.  What is rare about Jacob is that he is able to take this information and break it down to it's simplest form and find methods that are ultimately practical and so full of common sense that they can be applied with success by anyone regardless of profession, education, social status, advantage, or lack of them.

The ERE Strategy is intended to be a comprehensive adjustment that will enable a person to retire in five years.  For those who are not ready to jump in for the entire lifestyle change  a modified version can be adopted that will shave years off the time needed to pay off mortgages, debt, build retirement funds, or provide the flexibility for the ups and downs in life.

As we start the new year following what has been one of the most difficult economic times in American history Early Retirement Extreme provides a method for the fast track to recovery and prosperity.  The book will pay for itself thousands of times over and can undoubtedly be the best investment for the new year.  I'm excited as I watch the principles gain popularity and momentum and recommend this book as one of the best New Years Resolutions a person can have and look forward to seeing the title on the best seller's list.


Squirrelers said...

Good review, looks like an interesting book. The amount that people need to save, in my view, is outdated in terms of commonly accepted standards and percentages. This book seems like it would be interesting to check out. said...

It is very often the case that people lean their ladder of success on the wrong wall. That happens, more often than not, simply because they fail to correctly identify what they want to accomplish--the goal.

Occam's Razor states that the most simple answer is most often the correct answer.

But it seems like that concept is too hard for most people to grasp because it seems like we are wired to go at any problem with the mindset that, the more complex the solution, the better.

In fact, the more complex a solution, the less likely it is that the average individual will be able to see it through.

But where the real problem lies is in defining the question or in this case, the goal.

If one does not correctly define the goal, then any solution devised to achieve that goal will, likewise, be wrong.

If you don't know where you're going, you will probably end up somewhere else.

What is the motive behind early retirement? Unless you first answer that question, any solution will be misguided.

In my experience, most people dream of "early" retirement for the freedom they believe it holds. So, the first question is this: Freedom from what?

For most people the answer is freedom from the rat race of the five-day, forty hour workweek.

And, certainly, there are many escape plans but when left to our own devices, many of us will make the answer much too complex.

In keeping with the spirit of Occam's Razor, the answer is simple: Work less!

Figure out your ideal work/life balance, then figure out how to live on that much income.

For me, I wanted a four-day weekend every week, so I work three days a week. Simple, right?

To be able to afford my life on what I would be earning working part-time, I used a likewise simple strategy: I eliminated my cost of housing.

Total financial independence is an easy answer as well but the most costly and time consuming as well.

And few people who dream of early "retirement" really want to be retired, they just want to work less which is not the definition of the word retired at all!

And to Squirrelers: Would you be willing to expound on your comment? What are the standards and percentages you consider not outdated?

Carol said...

Thank you both for the input. Yes, defining the goal is such an important element so that we can make fitting choices. One thing that the book tends to point out is that many of us tend to go with the flow of society and cultural norms throughout much of our lives and find ourselves going in a specific direction just because we didn't consider all the options available or realize they existed. tmg...I like your saying about the wrong wall. I've done that myself before.

adult communities long island said...

The best thing you can do to achieve successful and fruitful retirement in the future is to make an early saving today.