This article was first posted November 1, 2011.
Back in 1994 when I retired from my engineering job at age 38, my coworkers thought I was extreme because I'd long favored renting a small apartment rather than buying a heavily-mortgaged 3,000 SF home. Extreme Early Retiree Jacob Lund Fisker takes it a step further, ditching the apartment for a $17,000 used RV and a $475/month parking space.
Early Retirement Extreme outlines Fisker's philosophy of life. He argues for aspiring early retirees to become Renaissance men with a variety of skills that can generate multiple sources of income and/or allow one to handle tasks that would normally be contracted out at some expense. He also favors hobbies that can be done for free, or ideally generate some income.
Fisker's training as a Theoretical Physicist (he has a Ph.D from the University of Basel, Switzerland) is evident throughout the book. He discusses many concepts in term of degrees of freedom in three planes, contingency analysis, and the fish-bone diagrams commonly used by Systems Engineers. Personally I liked his presentation, but it may be more complicated than it needs to be for readers without a technical background.
I particularly liked the discussion of Things (i.e., possessions or personal property.) Fisker points out that "things" cost money, take up space, require maintenace, can be stolen, and yet, are often hard to dispose of. Leading to the conclusion that limiting your inventory of things should accelerate the date of your financial independence and retirement.
The author spends quite a bit of time describing his money saving techniques. He's a big fan of what he calls bodging, the art of improvising a MacGyver-like solution to a problem using the materials and resources at hand. For example, he explains how to make commonly used household cleaners and soaps from their much cheaper constituent chemicals which can often be purchased at a small fraction of the cost of the finished product. (He also helpfully warns not to mix the ammonia with the chlorine bleach.)
The last chapter of the book covers the "Foundations of economics and finance." It's a review for a lot of people with a technical or math background. And the equations probably scare everyone else.
Early Retirement Extreme offers an unusual take on early retirement and contains a wealth of useful information. It's worthwhile reading.
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