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Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence Paperback – September 30, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jacob Lund Fisker retired at 33 and wrote Early Retirement Extreme to share his systems-theory approach to personal economic efficiency with others. His ideas have been featured in articles in Forbes, USA Today, US News & World Report, The Guardian, PBS Next Avenue, The Atlantic, and many others.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145360121X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453601211
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jacob Lund Fisker has lived and worked in three different countries and visited 14 more. He speaks English, Danish, a depreciating amount of German, and he can order beer/wine in Swedish or Japanese if necessary. This is, however, not necessary because he makes his own.

Having pursued a goal of skill-based self-reliance, he has spent less than $7000 per year for the past 15 years while saving the rest of his income while developing the skills to maximize the value of every dollar spent to easily achieve an inconspicuous middle class standard-of-living. This highly unusual behavior of saving money led to financial independence at age 30 and he hasn't needed to work for a living since then.

His main priorities in life are competence, access, and optionality in order to experience the many things in life that can't be bought with money or requires more than two weeks of vacation to experience. This has lead to a rather eclectic set of experiences.

He has lived out of suitcase, out of an RV, and currently lives in a fully paid off house in the outskirts of Chicago. He has a PhD in theoretical physics and he has published over 40 research papers in 10 years of work mostly concerning arcane details about neutron stars, nuclear reactions, and the origin of the elements. He is a self-taught cabinetmaker and has built most of the furniture in his and his wife's home. He will build you a trebuchet if requested. He was the main trimmer in over 100 yacht races in the San Francisco Bay leading to a couple of top regatta placements. He was also on the winning team as a center forward in the local hockey league four seasons in a row. He has read somewhat over 2000 books as well as a depressingly larger number of inane online comments regarding himself. He wrote the first popular blog on financial independence and extreme early retirement and is often referred to as the grandfather of early retirement blogs despite the fact that people having been doing this for decades before.

He has also been a freelance copy-editor for math and engineering journals, fixed bicycles for a women's shelter, and served two years as a founding member on the board of a nonprofit. He is always open to new experiences especially when they concern the solution of hard problems. Compensation no longer required. He was recently hired by a proprietary trading firm in Chicago.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Sims on October 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is for anyone who aspires to create a different reality for themselves. If you are comfortable slaving away at your "career" for the next 40 years, saving 5 to 10 percent of your income with the hopes of one day retiring, then this book is NOT for you. If you work so you can buy things, then work to service the debt required to buy even more things, then this book is NOT for you.

However, if you think that the American Dream is alive and well, yet albeit not in the traditional sense, then you need to read this book. If you can be focused, patient and disciplined to attain a goal that is within reach of anyone who wants it, then you need to read this book. If you dare to be different, if you enjoy finding an alternative to the mundane same ol', same ol', then you need to read this book.

More specifically, this book is for anyone who is looking for the philosophy of living a different lifestyle, one that frees them from the chains of the typical corporate life.

First, let me explain what you will not learn in this book. You will not learn the next great investment strategy. You will not learn how to flip real estate, how to make millions on the Internet or how to turn a small investment in a penny stock into millions. This book is about so much more than getting rich. In fact, it is not even about getting rich, rather it is about becoming wealthy.

What you will learn is a philosophy for living detached from the economy. You will learn how to provide for yourself by being efficient and sustainable. You will learn how to change your perspective so that you can see how it is possible to live on less while living more.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Dienekes on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished the book and I can honestly say it has changed my outlook in life and my frame of reference and has already changed my habits and behaviors. Even as a PhD in economics, I learned some really important insights about economics and human behavior. Specifically, I enjoyed the author's take on the role of consumption and production in our lives. In a modern economy, we use specialization and comparative advantage as a method to organize production but also, unfortunately, as a way of organizing our own lives. However, the author's key point is that an individual's level of happiness/satisfaction is a function of more than just consumption--it is also very much based on producing things--and not just one type of output related to work (e.g., writing memos). So, how does this relate to retiring early? It turns out a lot. Rather than focusing solely on increasing one's income via greater specialization (which typically just leads to a proportional increase in one's consumption levels or even greater debt), the author suggests focusing on reducing consumption--radically. However, this is not a book about denying consumption per se, it is about redefining the role that consumption has in our lives.

This is simply one of the best books I have ever read. It is a life changer. The book has more than paid for itself. As a society, we tend to spend hundreds or thousands to make ourselves feel better (e.g., shopping sprees, "experience" vacations, expensive hobbies with lots of gadgets and gear) all the while returning back to a steady state of "getting by" after a few weeks. Instead, why not find a better steady state.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Douglas E. Thompson on October 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
This gem of a book will be helpful for anyone trying to rid themselves of the consumer mentality. I will keep it on hand to refer to whenever I feel the "need" to buy something. The author gives many alternative solutions to everyday needs that can be had for little or no money. Although, it is most definately not the typical thrift manual that tells you what to buy and what to eat and what to do. It is more of a philosophy of living where the author shares what has worked for him and also offers a complete realm of other ideas as well a how to think about and analyze the many choices for each situation.

Similar topics are covered as in the blog [...] but they are covered much more thoroughly. The book is NOT a simple copy of the blog.

Topics discussed are philosophy of lifestyles and consumer mentality, different philosophies of working, and then onto more practical matters such as transportation, housing, food, exercise, investments. The author also touches on dealing with a spouse that isn't "on board" with the lifestyle and dealing children while trying to live thoughtfully which I found to be very accurate.

This would be an excellent addition to the library of anyone interested in decreasing consumption, retiring early, saving money, and developing wortwhile activities.
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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By brauh on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Why would a 69 year old retired engineer review an "Early Retirement Extreme" book, well there are several reasons. This is a unusual book, a little hard to do a standard review, like in High School or College. It is a live book, which to me means that sections will be reread several times or scanned for highlighted text. It will go into my books to grow old with library.

I believe that most useful ideals in life boil down to what is often called "bumper stickers." These are usually simple saying that reflect cultural beliefs. Two of my bumper stickers are; "There is no predicting how long it takes for the obvious to become apparent." Also "Gold is where you find it."

ERE is an attempt to make the obvious apparent for those who read it. I think ERE is Gold.

What if an artist, magician, or Harry Houdini wrote a book on how they did what was thought to be impossible for an ordinary person to achieve. ERE is a guide book on how to put together your own life navigation plan, regardless of your age or retirement status. A bit of a Rosetta Stone that translates ones' education, work, training, etc. into a real world plan for living life more efficiently. It is not a list to copy, but a "how to manual" for "how to manuals."

I have been reading the ERE blog for over 2 years. The posts flow in a reasoned, logical manner, with complex theories explained, with examples from everyday life. Math avoiding readers would be comfortable reading this blog and this style of writing was extended to the ERE book. I believe ERE will become a classic over the next several years.
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