Top positive review
Authoritative and approachable
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2019
I'm a reader of several FIRE (financial independence, retire early) blogs, including the well-written Our Next Life blog, and wasn't sure what I would learn that was new. Turns out, the book is very balanced in getting a reader to look outward to learn about the nuts and bolts of work-optional life and to look inward at what factors would make such a person (this person) want to pursue such a life. The book starts with an introspective effort to craft one's money mission statement by identifying common themes across different times in our lives. I had a great time reliving my 12- and 21- year-old dreams (although I'll take the life I have now, thanks very much). It then delves into the essential components of a financial plan. The book really shines here: the money-related details are presented efficiently and authoritatively. The part on healthcare costs is a standout for its fair treatment of the various options that are currently available. The part on "bulletproofing" plans shone as well. The emphasis on the "non-penny pinching" from the title is evident as Hester focuses her tips on containing the biggest expenses (housing and healthcare in retirement, and housing and transportation in pre-retirement) as well as giving practical tips to further accelerate progress. The final section of the book transitions back to the reader's original vision of work-optional life and advises how to "make the big leap," with gentle reminders for self-care and living a purpose-filled life.
This book is highly recommended for those who are curious about FIRE as well as those who are at any point in the accumulation phase. It's an easy read for its conversational tone, but make no mistake, the book also challenged me in thinking through aspects of FIRE I hadn't considered. There are helpful checklists at the back of several chapters to ensure you don't inadvertently tune out a crucial theme.
I thought it might be helpful to give a sense of the non-penny pinching approach to the book, which makes it very approachable to recommend to others. From the index, here is how many pages are devoted to the following topics:
Avocado toast, biking to work, or restaurants: 0
(Ok, there is one reference to the restaurant Per Se: 1)
Money mission statement: 14
Bulletproofing your plan: 20
Life vision: 51