We would never have started writing this blog – nor would we be in the financial position we are today – without the positive influence of many great writers online and in print. Here are some of our favorites to help you find more inspiration.
“Vagabonding is an outlook on life. Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions. Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure. Vagabonding is an attitude – a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word.”
More philosophical than practical, Rolf Potts’ 240-page guide to the long-term travel mindset won’t take you more than a few hours to read. If you’re like me, though, you may find yourself coming back to it again and again, each time gleaning new insights and perspectives on how to approach your adventures around the world. If you’re hesitant about leaving home or venturing beyond the comforts of an all-inclusive resort, Vagabonding provides more than enough inspiration to try new things. Potts’ anecdotes from his own travel experiences are fascinating and often humorous, and he even throws in a healthy dose of philosophical excerpts – everything from Thoreau to the Tao Te Ching. I highly recommend the audio book version, read by Potts himself.
Your Money or Your Life
“Consider the average worker in almost any urban industrialized city. The alarm rings at 6:45. On the job from nine to five. Watch the clock. Argue with your conscience but agree with the boss. Back in the car. Home. Eat. Watch TV. Bed. And they call this making a living?”
Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin introduced the concept of “financial independence” to the mainstream. The concept of the book is simple: take back your life by changing the way you relate to money. While some of the specific examples they provide haven’t aged well since the original publication in 1993 (I wouldn’t go allocating a meaningful portion of your wealth to government bonds and T-bills), the core principles are as valid today as they were decades ago. Determine your “true” hourly wage. Understand your financial situation. Optimize your spending. If you’ve been reading personal finance blogs for years, there might not be a ton of new information here, but it’s a helpful a succinct guide for anyone just beginning their financial independence journey.
How to Retire Early
“At the age of 28 my wife and I had just $16.88 to our name. We begin our book at the financial low point of our lives to make it clear that even from unpromising beginnings such as these it is possible to get back on track and retire early.”
Robin and Robert Charlton did exactly that, walking away from full-time work at age 43 and proceeding to write the ultimate roadmap for early retirement. In their book, they lay out all of the how-to, from getting out of debt to earning and saving to projecting retirement income. This is my favorite book for figuring out the tactical elements of your early retirement plan. And though they retired at one of the very worst times in recent history (December 2006, not long before the Great Recession), their plan has been successful: their net worth is actually up 36% as of January 2017. See? It works!
Early Retirement Extreme
“It’s possible to live on a third or even a quarter of the median income,” author Jacob Lund Fisker writes, “putting one solidly below the government defined poverty line, without living in austerity or eating grits.”
The emphasis here is on “extreme.” When I first came across Jacob Lund Fisker’s work, I was put off by it. “Sure, you can ‘retire’ almost immediately if you’re willing to live in abject poverty,” I thought, “but who would want to do that?” Over the years, though, I’ve come to appreciate Fisker’s approach and perspectives and found his radical ideas inspirational for changes in my own life. His book provides a philosophical guide to living on less – a lot less.
The Millionaire Next Door
Another classic, the original Millionaire Next Door was written in 1998 by researchers Thomas Stanley and William Danko. The book lays out the findings from their twenty-some years of interviewing and analyzing millionaires – many of them counter to the images and stereotypes we have of high-net worth individuals. Though the book can be a bit dry at times with its frequent inclusion of statistics and tables, the takeaways are fascinating. This book will change the way you think about what it means to be wealthy.
The 4-Hour Workweek
“People don’t want to be millionaires – they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. $1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?”
Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Workweek is so popular, I bet you’ve already read it. Ferris aggressively lays out his opinions of routine nine-to-five office jobs (surprise, they’re not positive) and a plan for escaping them. He’s the counterpoint to the financial independence advice that says, “Work hard for a decade, then live your dreams.” Time is ticking, he notes; why spend another second doing something you don’t love? While I’m not a huge fan of the tactical business tips he provides in the second half of the book, which reads as a how-to on setting up an internet drop-shipping business, his more philosophical notes changed the way I thought about work and upped my urgency to pursue new adventures.
The Simple Path to Wealth
The most recent release on this list, J.L. Collins’ 2016 book on investing strategy is as straightforward as they come. The Simple Path does an especially good job of delving into the psychological aspects of investing, like panicking during a down market or overthinking risk. Though even I find the investment strategies he lays out to be overly simplistic, it’s a good introduction to how to think about investing for the long-term. You won’t get bored with it, either: Collins shares a variety of entertaining anecdotes along the way, and it’s short enough that I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting.
We read and follow literally hundreds of personal finance, early retirement, and travel blogs. Check out the Rockstar Finance directory to find many more blogs in the financial space. Here are just a few of our very favorites:
Our Next Life
Have you ever had one of those moments when you realized there’s someone out there with the same idea you had, except that they’re doing a better job than you could ever dream of? That was me when I first found Our Next Life. “Oh great,” I thought, “I could never be so articulate about these topics!” Planning to retire at the end of 2017 at the ages of 38 and 41, Mrs. and Mr. ONL share tons of insights and thought-provoking questions about the emotional side of early retirement. We love their sense of adventure and their perspectives on the privilege of pursuing FIRE. We also envy their mountain lifestyle after their escape from the big city a few years ago.
Montana Money Adventures
Ms. Montana is easily one of the kindest and most remarkable people I’ve ever met. Over the last 14 years, she and her husband have paid off $50,000 of debt, saved a $500,000 nest egg, traveled to 27 countries and lived abroad, bought their own house with cash (along with multiple rental properties), and taken a year off work – all without ever having earned a six-figure paycheck. They’ve adopted four children and had two bio, and we really admire their continued commitment to charitable giving and supporting great causes.
Think Save Retire
Steve and Courtney of Think Save Retire did exactly that, retiring at the end of 2016 at the age of 35. We appreciate their attitude of positivity and flexibility and their assertion that you don’t need a million dollars to retire. Having recently downsized from two houses to a single Airstream trailer, they’re taking their lives on the road in 2017, starting in the western United States. “We are not minimalists,” Steve writes, “We simply live below our means.”
Nomads with a Van
“We’ve visited breathtaking national parks, hiked hundreds of miles…, slept in Walmart parking lots…, run businesses while on the road, and worked as farmhands and pet sitters in exchange for shelter. It still feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Tamara and Chris write our favorite #vanlife blog. They’ve spent over two years traveling the U.S. in Red Delicious, their Kia Sedona minivan-turned-camper, all while working remotely and finding creative options for lodging to make ends meet. They share fantastic advice for aspiring long-term road-trippers: everything from ways to earn money on the road to the ups and downs of day-to-day van life. They were a huge inspiration for us in deciding that we, too, could give minivan travel a shot!
Interested in starting your own blog?
Blogging is a ton of work, but it’s been an extremely rewarding experience for us, and we’ve made some great friends online along the way. Bluehost and Siteground (affiliate links) both offer WordPress hosting for as little as $4 per month – an easy and affordable way to get started. We’re on Bluehost and haven’t had any major complaints, though many people seem to have better experiences with Siteground. Shoot us an e-mail when you’re up and running and I promise that we’ll be your first commenters. 😉