This is a book summary of Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence by Jacob Lund Fisker (Amazon).
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Wow! Where to begin? This is not your average book about money, or even your average book about financial independence. This is something you’ve probably never seen before: systems thinking + lifestyle design. Jacob is a real-life example of truly thinking—and acting—differently. He shows you what is actually possible. Since this book is primarily focused on the Early Retirement Extreme strategy (vs tactics), I’ve focused my notes on that.
Fair Warning: Early Retirement Extreme will make you question everything about your day-to-day existence. It’s societal deprogramming on an entirely different level. And, it’s not a quick read (written at a college level).
If you’re looking for a video intro to Jacob and his philosophy, I enjoyed this one:
- All quotes are from the author unless otherwise stated.
- Some quotes are paraphrased (shown without quotation marks).
- I’ve organized content by my own themes (vs the author’s chapters).
- I’ve added my own emphasis throughout in bold.
Book Summary Contents: Click a link here to jump to a section below
- About the Book
- A Different Frame of Mind to Break Free
- Starting with Strategy (vs Tactics)
- 3 Pillars of ERE Philosophy
- 4 Types of People
- 7 Fields of the Renaissance Man
- 6 Levels of Expertise
- Needs & Wants
A Systems Approach to Lifestyle Design: Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker (Book Summary)
About the Early Retirement Extreme book
“This book isn’t a ‘how-to’ manual to a specific lifestyle, but a ‘how-to’ manual for ‘how-to’ manuals. The intention is for each person to create his own strategy. In this sense, this book isn’t a travel journal, nor is it a set of map directions; it’s a book that teaches you to become a navigator. I used the principles in this book to reduce my expenses to a quarter of the average person and become financially independent in five years.”
- “This isn’t a book for beginners. It’s not a book one can pick up, read, and proceed to become financially independent just as reading a textbook about physics won’t turn a person into a physicist. This only happens when the concepts are constantly applied and one starts ‘thinking like a physicist.’ Things are similar for a person pursuing financial independence.”
- “I think of this book first and foremost as a philosophy book about strategy. Like most philosophical books, it’s voluminous compared to its content because much of it is dedicated to (re)defining underlying concepts and fundamentals, trying to find the words to describe something that isn’t automatically implied by the usual understanding of the words used. The lack of concrete specifics is intentional because they won’t pertain to very many people. The approach is deliberately open-ended to make the concepts applicable to as many different situations as possible.”
- “You must be willing to change your frame of mind and conquer old habits. In particular, you must be willing to do things that 95% of the population won’t be able to understand and 99% won’t be willing to do. This means that you must be exceedingly confident that you’re doing the right thing, which is why 90% of this book is dedicated to the development of a coherent philosophy.”
A Different Frame of Mind Needed to Break Free
“To successfully break free of one’s chains, one must build an overarching philosophy of what it means to live, which is different from the consumer philosophy of ‘follow advice/orders; work; get paycheck; spend paycheck; get stuff; repeat.'”
- “Changing your frame of mind is key to escaping, but change is a challenge. This challenge can become a struggle if your frame of mind is incompatible with your adopted lifestyle. In other words, you need to believe in your lifestyle as an end rather than as a means to an end.”
- “Intuitively speaking, if either dissatisfaction, vision, or practical first steps are lacking, it’s unlikely that action will be taken. Specifically: If dissatisfaction is low, obviously no change is going to happen. Why change strategy if you’re satisfied with the way things are? If vision is low, this can lead to a situation of comfortable misery where the vision isn’t strong enough or too scary to allow change. A high level of dissatisfaction can be accompanied by low vision in cases of depression, loss of faith or vision, or by external circumstances. For example, the mistake many make when becoming frugal is that they don’t replace their previous vision of accumulating more stuff with an equally strong vision of doing something else. Giving up the current vision thus results in feelings of deprivation, and is, in a sense, a loss of faith and even identity.”
- “I offer a philosophy modeled on the Renaissance ideal of the 17th century and the craftsmen of the 18th century who wrote the Constitution of the United States at the peak of the Age of Enlightenment. This is a framework of complexity where a person is skilled in more than just one area. It is, in a way, a contrarian approach to the contemporary idea of ‘one man-one specialization.’ It’s an interlocking way of arranging one’s life. In risk management parlance, one wants to transfer from a tightly coupled linear system of financed consumerism to a loosely coupled, complex system of the financially independent Renaissance man.“
- “What I’ll describe here is another kind of life, the life of an independently wealthy and widely skilled person—a modern Renaissance man.”
Why we Must Start with Strategy (vs Tactics)
“It’s important to understand that doing the right thing (good strategy) is much more important than doing things right (good tactics). This is why this book is short on tactics and long on strategies. Strategy is about defining the end-goals. Tactics is about the means to those ends.”
- “Few consciously think about complex strategies in daily living. On a daily basis, a functional strategy is invisible. Rarely do we step back and re-examine our strategy (lifestyle design). Most of the time we simply adopt the tactics that are handed down through the system without a second thought.”
- “To increase effectiveness, the focus must be on improving on the strategy rather than improving on the tactics. Rather than using better tactics to reach goals, the goal-setting method must become better.”
- “An important part of the systems thinking approach is to continuously increase the number of different problems that the strategy aims to solve or the number of different goals that the strategy intends to meet.”
- “A good strategy solves multiple problems at the same time!“
- “For progress, it’s essential to base goals on a consistent strategy that guides individual tactics.”
- “The Renaissance strategy is based on a combination of consilience—a specific way of weaving widely different tools and ideas together to solve complex problems—and resilience, which is based on the principles of modularity, diversity, and slack (loosely coupled feedback processes) … Combining resilience and consilience defines the Renaissance man.“
3 Pillars of Early Retirement Extreme Philosophy
“These three pillars can all be pursued simultaneously and they can interact synergistically. Each reinforces the other two, but none of them rely on the others. The money saved from reducing waste can be invested, and the method leading to savings can be cast as a meaningful activity. Conversely, meaningful activities can often provide income in a way that reduces waste. In addition, savings allows one to invest in better quality—for example, paying eight times as much for something that lasts ten times longer, instead of being stuck with a low-end model that only serves to increase waste and money losses.”
1. Reduce waste and increase efficiency.
- “It’s possible to live with the same benefits as the rest of society for one quarter of what the average consumer spends. Many of these expenses are eliminated by only owning what is actually used, and maintaining what is bought. If widely adopted, the air will be cleaner, products will be built for easy maintenance, and things will last for decades. Many old businesses will shut down but be replaced by new businesses with a focus on quality and durability. People will have more time for each other. They will know the names of their neighbors.”
2. Having significantly reduced expenses, invest the difference in businesses.
- “If widely adopted, businesses producing obsolete things which are no longer in demand will shut down, but new ones will appear, and it’s a lot easier to change investments than it is to change careers. Alternatively, those with greater control over their income can choose to work less at higher efficiencies and save the money for intermittent periods without income. This works well for small business owners or contractors, who can decide to only take on the most profitable work and stop working when they no longer need money. It’s difficult to run a small-time business and make an average income, but it’s easy to make a quarter of an average income through multiple income streams. It’s a lot safer, too, compared to the risk of losing a single income stream from a job.”
3. Find something meaningful to do instead of work.
- “If your work is really meaningful to you, you can keep working, knowing that you are living a less wasteful existence and that you have the financial security to leave your job at any time. The latter in particular seems to make quite a difference in terms of what employees are willing to put up with or which customers business owners are willing to keep around. Initially, working at reducing waste will occupy some time, but once the methods are learned, this won’t take longer than the usual method of buying a gadget or hiring a professional. Instead, it’s necessary to find something else to occupy your time with.”
4 Types of People
“When a new field is invented, it’s not the salary men, the businessmen, or the working men who dominate it; it’s the inventors—the Renaissance men.”
Quick Notes to Understand Coupling & Linearity (figure below):
- Coupling: A tight coupling means that one part depends strongly on another part of the system. A loosely coupled system is less likely to fail. Loosely coupled systems have slack. They’re flexible and resilient.
- Linearity: Linearity is different from coupling. The opposite of linear is nonlinear. In general, nonlinear processes and activities have feedbacks which influence the process itself, changing it, while linear processes lack feedback.
1. The Salary Man
“Most salary men are specialized wage earners who earn money from one source only. Often, they have no control over the source of the money.”
- “Salary men have options, but they do not create options. This linearization makes them predictable and subject to indirect control. This control is exerted by providing a choice within a narrow range.”
- “With both work and consumption being well-controlled, the salary man may be thought of as a brick in a wall or a cog in a machine. The associated cash flows are relatively simple. In the simplest case, time and energy flows from the specialist into a wage-earning job. Money from the job, in turn, covers 100% of expenses. Thus, the professional puts time and energy into his work that pays him a wage income, which is used to pay for stuff that he subsequently consumes.”
- “Wage slaves are free to change their job, but they’re not free to quit their job. Wage slaves are free to choose other products as long as they can afford it, but they’re not capable of creating alternatives to buying products, because they’re too busy working.”
- “A wage slave is a wage earner who is entirely dependent on their wages. While the wage slave is free to leave the current job, he isn’t free to leave the job market altogether and he can likely not imagine the possibility of doing so.”
- “A wage slave is a person who is not only economically bound by mortgages, loans, and other obligations, but also mentally bound by an inability to perceive that there are other options available.”
2. The Working Man
“A working man is someone who doesn’t collect a salary or other associated benefits. His income is uncertain, possibly because he takes on smaller projects that only last days, weeks, or perhaps months, and he knows and plans for this.”
- “It’s likely he does some form of freelance consulting or works for multiple employers in short order, one at a time.”
- “The consumer pattern of a working man is similar to that of the salary man.“
- “The principal financial difference between a salary man and a working man is the amount of fiscal coupling.“
- “A working man should therefore not have a tightly-coupled budget like the salary man, as job loss can result in homelessness or the inability to purchase products. Therefore, the working man often establishes an emergency fund to introduce some slack into the system, which allows him to continue consuming during periods with less or no income.”
3. The Businessman
“Unlike the salary man and the working man, the businessman doesn’t risk losing his job, though he does risk losing his business. Like an exuberant artist or scientist, he is internally driven towards finding solutions and he does not wait for employment to start working—the businessman is an entrepreneur.”
- “The difference between the businessman and the working man or the salary man is that the cash flow, which is directly associated with the personal consumption of the businessman, is just a fraction of the total business cash flow he controls. The money under control is typically retained earnings from operations, paid-in capital, or simply borrowed from other investors.”
- “The salary man and the working man spend all their time working and little of their time solving complex problems using assets. This kind of problem-solving is done by the businessman in return for profit. However, the businessman still relies on other people to turn assets into profit as well as for his income.”
4. The Renaissance Man
“A Renaissance man excels in a wide range of subjects. He is also known as a universal man, a polymath, or more derisively as a jack of all trades … The main purpose of the Renaissance man is to solve a problem as a human rather than as a part of the ‘work-spend’ system.“
- “For the Renaissance man, the end goal is to blur the line between work and life rather than a balance between work and life.”
- “A Renaissance man is a person who is competent in a wide range of fields, covering intellectual areas as well as the arts, physical fitness, and social accomplishments.”
- “Generalized skills allow a Renaissance man to reach creative solutions for most of his needs. Because of his ability to solve problems, the Renaissance man is fairly independent of the marketplace since he no longer has to buy nearly as much to satisfy his needs. Rather than buying a product, he puts solutions together using social skills (borrowing, bartering), technical skills (building, reengineering), artistic skills (designing, creating), and physical fitness (human-powered tools).”
- “With a process-oriented attitude you’ll eventually master several subjects. Once a threshold is reached, the synergy between different subjects will help you create new solutions. Since all human knowledge is based on a limited number of mental models, the stronger and wider this foundation of models is, the easier it is to gain new knowledge. A similar principle holds for physical abilities, emotional maturity, social networks, economic power, technical understanding, and one’s ability to integrate with the world. Perhaps now more than ever there’s a need for people who understand and are able to connect different interdisciplinary topics.”
A sampling of what the Renaissance man can do:
- He does his own taxes and researches his own investments.
- He can fix a computer or a broken appliance.
- He knows how to drive and fix a car, but he has enough time and athletic ability to ride his bicycle 20 miles instead, or run five miles to get groceries.
- Physically, he keeps up with people decades younger than himself.
- He can play an instrument, dance, paint, or write creatively.
- He can create interesting meals from scratch rather than recipe.
- Socially, he knows who to ask for help, who needs help, and how to put people together to efficiently solve problems.
- He is a leader or an inspiration to other people, whether it is personal, local, national, or global.
Guidelines for the Renaissance lifestyle:
- Reduce wants and needs from the marketplace to a minimum to decouple the buy-work connection.
- Decrease the volume and size but increase the sophistication of your activities and possessions.
- Measure prosperity by less activity, not more. Do fewer useless things.
- Work for the purpose of earning money for no more than five years of your life or five hours a week.
- Avoid generating waste and find ways to use the waste of others.
- Learn to use the system to your advantage, but don’t be evil!
- Serve yourself rather than having others serve you. Instead, help them.
- Keep running costs down but pay for value.
- Maintain health to avoid the personal and monetary cost of sickness.
- Build up the capital to live as a capitalist or the skills to always find a new job.
- Focus on productive assets rather than stuff.
- Focus on developing skills rather than on passive entertainment.
- Gain the maximum in satisfaction with the minimum expenditure of money and energy.
7 Fields of the Renaissance Man
“For our modern purposes, the fields can perhaps be grouped into seven generic fields—physiological, economical, intellectual, emotional, social, technical, and ecological … Ideally, effort should be spread equally between all subjects, though due to personal preferences and talents a person may decide to focus more on some areas than others.”
“Many people spend more time maintaining their house and car than they do their health. Too many forget that they live in their body first and their home second. To be at home in the world is first to be at home in the body.“
Physiological goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Maintain optimal levels of physical and mental health.
- Know how the human body functions and physiologically adapts to imposed demands like stress, overeating, lack of exercise and their opposites.
- Know why and which kinds of food promote health and which kinds of food destroy health, and why.
- Maintain good eating habits and the discipline to avoid destructive foods. Know how to preserve food and how to tell when food is spoiled.
- Be able to compete in local sports competitions (does not include jogging/walking a 4+-hour marathon).
- Be able to perform physically while exhausted, hungry, or tired. Be able to perform under the worst conditions such as carrying an unconscious person out of a burning house or pulling oneself up while hanging from a gutter in case of a fall, or similar real-life demands.
- Know at least basic first aid.
“Aside from being able to think, one should also know what to think about. If thinking is the tool, knowledge is the resource. It’s only by combining these that productive solutions can be formed. There are few combinations more dangerous than an intelligent person without knowledge, experience, and wisdom.”
Intellectual goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Be able to prioritize the relevance of information and be able to quickly research and find relevant information in many different areas. Learn independently and have an interest in doing so.
- Have enough generalized knowledge to be able to understand the information and put it into the context of a mental framework, a model or a procedure, and use it to ask further questions.
- Recognize which problems the model applies to, take the solution to one problem, generalize it, and apply it to another problem.
- Be able to critically analyze the model, refine it, and combine different models to achieve an objective. Practice critical thinking in all aspects of life to reach a degree of rational certainty. Be open to new ideas but do not accept anything uncritically.
- Synthesize interdisciplinary information and laterally connect similarities which are not immediately apparent, discovering new models and procedures.
- Evaluate different methods, models, and procedures while effectively ranking them for utility, and picking the best one while recognizing the pertinence of other methods. Pursue relevant and correct knowledge persistently and consistently. Master the fundamentals.
“Emotional awareness is necessary to align action and goals with personal values … In addition to internal emotional awareness, external emotional awareness is also important. Aligning action with values requires persistence, mental fortitude, an ability to handle stress, and a strong character.”
Emotional goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Be able to appraise value in all matters to make sound decisions.
- Not waste time, money, effort, or resources.
- Not be subject to emotional manipulation or engage in wishful, magical thinking, believing things are true because he would like them to be true—or worse, believing he can influence external events by thinking positively about them.
- Have a strong character, persist, cope with adversity, be resistant to stress, be calm, and displace frustration.
- Develop a passion, appreciate the arts and what it means to be human, rather than just a ‘human resource’.
- Be empathetic and understand that people and situations are complex.
- Make social connections and increase the value of interpersonal relationships.
- Be able to patiently await a better solution and be willing to compromise and accept something that is close, but not exactly your ideal.
“Modern societies have become an aggregation of individuals. The complex structures that hold people together have been delegated to the marketplace. Instead of having a network and knowing who can fix a problem, we just pick up the phonebook, call someone, and pay them to fix the problem. Unlike in the rest of the world, we have no social capital; only financial capital.“
Social goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Get to know people outside your profession, hobby/club, religion, political party, socioeconomic stratum, country.
- Start or join a co-op. This can be anything from buying groceries to participating in a tool shop, to sharing movies with other people.
- Learn how to sell, barter, swap, and give things away.
- Learn how to network and build your social capital.
- Get involved in politics on some level.
“Economic skills are necessary to rationally evaluate and distribute resources, both personal and financial. Without economic skills, it is impossible to put a price on value (value and price are not the same thing!) and this results in inefficient and less-than-optimal choices … Being aware of one’s values, wants and needs, and being able to prioritize one’s efforts to achieve specific goals is the most efficient and least expensive way to live a good life.”
Economic goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Understand the difference between price and value. Value is psychological; price is determined by the market.
- Learn to consider more than the immediate consequences of a choice. Also consider the future consequences—for example, opportunity cost and the time-value of money. Learn to see the unseen.
- Learn to consider more than the consequences of a choice for just one group of people, but for all others as well.
- Realize that economic agents all represent special interests that typically interpret the situation according to their own interests or political views.
- Understand the difference between assets and liabilities. Understand leverage and cash flows. In particular, learn what is an investment (an income generating asset) and what is not an investment (items for personal use).
- Know the law of supply and demand, the difference between savings and investments, and the difference between present and future value.
- Understand how the stock, bond, and/or real estate markets work, both in theory and practice.
- Be able to do your own tax return, make a budget, and balance a checkbook.
“Thanks to specialization, the average person uses many more kinds of technology than he actually understands … It’s commonly thought that independence is mainly achieved through a large income. Rather than working to establish such a large income, it can, however, just as easily be gained by acquiring skills instead.”
Technical goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Have knowledge of the skills of different professions to be able to critically judge the services of professionals.
- Have a working understanding of all the technology you use to understand its limits and benefits.
- Learn how to select the optimal tools for your use, how to maintain them, and how to repair them when they break down.
- Learn a common trade to be able to barter your skills for other things.
“All systems possess ecological knowledge intuitively through evolutionary means. Being part of an ecological system, humans used to possess this knowledge as well … Aside from the continued existence of humanity, ecological understanding includes many principles about the organization of complex systems which are very useful for living as a Renaissance man.”
Ecological goals for someone aspiring to be a Renaissance man are to:
- Know the names of five grasses, five birds, five trees, etc. local to your area, and be able to recognize them.
- Know which food is in season and how much oil, water, and fertilizer it takes to grow/raise the food (out of season, out of location) and how it is sensitive to Liebig’s Law of the minimum.
- Grow and sustain a garden without using pesticides, hybrid seeds, chemical-based fertilizer, etc. A garden and indeed any system will achieve maximum integrity when it is in balance, and when growth is stable and resilient without ongoing external interference.
- Promote functional diversity to retain adaptive capacity, to allow evolution to happen when the environment changes. Adaptive and evolutionary potential should be considered before interfering. Actions always have reactions, and so action is not always a good idea.
- Always consider the system and understand both the parts and the whole. No parts exist without the whole and the whole doesn’t exist without the parts. Everything is related to everything else, mostly indirectly. Thus, changing one part will change the whole.
- Recognize multiple bottom lines, flows, and balances in terms of primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers, producers, and decomposers.
- Use the maximum power principle, which states that systems strive to maximize the rate of useful work—that is, to not waste energy to its environment.
- Understand the concept of characteristic scales in terms of change and the effect of limits on competition and cooperation. Understand the difference between positive feedbacks and negative feedbacks (both are needed) and how linking feedbacks lead to cycles, runaways, or overshoots.
- Study the structure and principles of different systems to build a collection of models, in order to understand other systems.
6 Levels of Expertise
“Since not all effort is the same and not everybody learns and develops at the same pace, it’s more useful to look at expertise by considering the following list … The purpose of education, living, interacting, and growing as a person should be to increase complexity—that is, to progress through the stages from copying to creating.”
“The first two levels, copying and comparing, correspond to defining an objective—that is, a goal.”
- “In the first stage, a person is unthinkingly copying what he sees in his surroundings. A person at this stage is entirely at the mercy of his surroundings. … Many people live all their lives at this stage. This is the novice level.”
- “In the second stage, the person becomes aware that there’s more than one way of behaving, possibly by copying other people who behave differently. Keep in mind that many people never get to the second stage. Sure, everybody probably compares themselves to others to some degree. Keeping up with the Joneses is one such comparison, but such comparisons are comparisons in degree, not in kind. … Often, though, the other way is simply dismissed as being impossible. The preponderance of people in stage one and two explains why advertising works.”
“The next two levels, compiling and computing, correspond to following a plan, which is a sequence of individual actions or tactics. Don’t confuse a plan with a strategy. A plan comprises a goal and a sequence of actions, but it doesn’t describe the guiding principles. A strategy requires all three ingredients and thus requires coordination and creativity.”
- “In the third stage, the person is actively collecting ways of doing things differently. Many personal development books and blogs operate at the third stage, compiling large lists of tips and tricks, each describing a fragment of what constitutes good behavior.”
- “In the fourth stage, the person is able to apply several of these tips to everyday life. For instance, the person will be able to make a budget and follow a plan. This stage is about implementing a plan. Many blogs, books, and TV shows also discuss this stage. Stages three and four are mostly about the technical aspects of mastery. They concern the nuts and bolts. Stage three is about collecting them and stage four is about pairing them together, screwing the nuts onto the bolts.”
“The construction of a plan—that is, the way the tactics are coordinated and created—follows a set of guiding principles. If a plan shows how to put instructions together, then guiding principles show how to put a plan together and create a strategy. Strategic thinking—that is, the creation of plans—is what separates the last two levels, coordinating and creating, from the first four levels. Compared to a plan, which may be thought of as a string of actions, subject to complete failure if it breaks, a strategy is better thought of as a web of actions. A web does not fail catastrophically if it’s cut in a single, or even a few places. It’s resilient, whereas a plan is not. This is why having a strategy is much preferred to having a plan. A web comprises and connects a person’s thoughts, ideas, experiences, memories, goals, values, desires, connections, assets, liabilities, predictions and expectations.“
- “In the fifth stage, the person will be able to coordinate and refine different tips to achieve specific objectives. There are relatively few discussing this problem, which falls under general lifestyle design. These lifestyles share the commonality of being built out of existing ways of doing things. This is the master stage. Here, the whole lifestyle becomes one big ‘tip.'”
- “In the sixth stage, a person will be able to synthesize and create entirely new ways of doing things from seemingly unrelated concepts in a lateral fashion. The important becomes unimportant and vice-versa; usually this is manifested in a ‘return to the fundamentals’, which—surprise, surprise—turn out to be of fundamental importance. Things become holistically and efficiently integrated with no superfluous expense of energy or money, and tactical side effects are either eliminated or made beneficial. This is the expert stage. At this point, the expert could be seen as copying other experts, but the expert is not copying what the others are doing, but rather what they are.”
Needs & Wants
“There are no such things as needs and wants … It’s therefore pointless to argue about the difference or make lists of needs and wants. The problem is that needs and wants don’t fit on two different lists. They fit on one list where they’re ranked according to value rather than price. Needs and wants are different in degree, not in kind … The ultimate goal is maximizing total value while minimizing the total price.“
- “The principle is to define a need or want and then proceed to fulfill that need or want with an appropriate response. An appropriate response to a problem is a solution that uses just enough resources to solve the problem—no more, no less. Since appropriate responses are rarely available in the marketplace, taking existing solutions and modifying them for things they were not intended for is a useful tactic to create more appropriate solutions.”
- “Most wants are internal, so focusing internally and ‘doing without’ is often a less complicated way to solve a problem as it mainly requires strength of character rather than skills or connections. Rendering wants superfluous requires little technical skill, but it does require motivation and self-discipline.”
- “Since humans need very little, eliminating various wants can go far in terms of solving problems.”
- “However, as there’s a point of diminishing returns to the pleasure of accumulation, there’s also a point of diminishing returns to the pleasure of giving things up. The optimal point is somewhere in the middle.“
- “For each individual, there are similar lists for eating, clothing, transportation, health, time, tools, toys, activities, status, etc., each ranging from essentially zero cost to more than one can imagine. These can also be classified into tangibles like air, water, food, sanitary, shelter, communication, transport, health, and security, and intangibles, like time, relationships, affiliation, power, and achievement. Some of these, like security and sanitation, we take for granted living in the developed world. For others, except perhaps air and clean water, there’s a large range of possible ‘consumption’ levels.”
- Eating ranges from roadkill and dumpster diving, to industrially processed ‘food,’ to gourmet meals and fine dining.
- Clothing ranges from going naked to owning just one set of clothes, to owning massive wardrobes full of shoes and tailor-made suits.
- Transportation ranges from walking barefoot to driving a ‘hooptie,’ to private airplanes and megayachts.
- Health ranges from being strong (physically and mentally), to being on prescription medicines, to being entirely dependent on advanced medical infrastructure.
- Time ranges from being a galley slave, to working 8-10-hour days in a tolerable job, to doing what you want, which may or may not include what is otherwise classified as work.
There’s so much more to Early Retirement Extreme that it’s worth reading the whole book. It will blow your mind!
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