Work Optional

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

This book took me a lot longer than I expected, because although it does not include any worksheets, you definitely want to stop and create budgets and spreadsheets as you go through it.

Tanja Hester is a blogger and a speaker who worked together with her husband, Mark, to build an early retirement. After planning, analyzing, and re-analyzing their lifestyles and budgets, they found a way that works. Tanja shares the steps of how to get to a plan that works for you, stressing that it's not about stopping work entirely, but about having the option not to work if you don't want to (or can't).

I enjoyed answering her questions to create a life vision, a spending philosophy, and a money mission statement. It definitely gave me a deeper insight into who I am and what I value. These thinking projects work from the general to the specific to really drill down into what you want out of your life if you don't have to spend it working.

Something I wish there was a lot more of is actual financial advice. Hester goes into great detail about the different sorts of health plans and investment styles, which made me very happy. However, she didn't really lay out any budgeting projects, relying more on the idea that everyone eventually jus finds their fit. For a book stressing early retirement, although it is not purely a book on financial planning, I think there could have been a more specific project in there like there were for the other aspects of the Work Optional future.

Tanja stresses the importance that early retirement is not about the money. It's about the freedom. The lifestyle. She points to research that states that:

Those who live lives that feel purposeful are happier than those who simply seek happiness.
I heartily agree, and believe that as more people who achieve work optional lives, the job market will perk up, peoples' personal happiness will increase, and the environment may very well benefit from retirees' slowing down.
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Almost everyone would like to be able to retire early and make Work Optional. But few can do it. This book provides a step-by-step plan to move from a stultifying 9 to 5 job to a more fulfilling life.

Work Optional begins with a refreshing approach. Rather than determining how much money is needed to retire, first decide what are your goals, wants and needs for retirement. This not only will determine your financial requirements but also serve to motivate you to save more to achieve your goals quicker. The book concludes with how, and when, to let your employer know of your retirement plans. It also describes how to accept the changes that retirement brings.

This is an excellent choice for people just beginning to think about retiring in 5-10 years. 4 stars!

Thanks to Hachette Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley & Hachette Books for allowing me to preview Work Optional!

Despite having some issues on my end with the downloading, once I began reading Tanja's book, I did not want to put it down. I had not yet seen her blog, nor did I know anything about her, other than I was seeing "A must read!" mentioned here & there on a few sites.

From the beginning you feel as if you are sitting with a friend having coffee discussing life. She is not preachy, nor condescending. She offers a step by step "guide" to retirement by sharing what they have chosen to do. You can take it, leave it, or make it your own. There are exercises throughout to give yourself a better understanding of where you are & where you are headed.

I plan on re-reading this book, slowly, & have already begun recommending it. I have just started following her blog & enjoy that as well! (less)
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Honest and in-depth advice for reaching your full potential.  This advice is presented in easy to follow language that can be broken up and applied in pieces at a time.
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While Work Optional quickly touches on many considerations which are necessary for early retirees, the book lacks depth. It is a mile wide and an inch deep. Perhaps my perspective as a personal finance blogger for the past decade colors my view of the subject matter Tanja covers, but I did not believe that I learned a lot of new material. I wish that she did a deeper dive into the considerations necessary.

For example, she provides a brief run-through of the types of accounts that you can have, yet she neglects to get into the details of them. Before reading that section, I believed this book was a good introduction to the concept of early retirement for people in their late thirties or forties. Now, I believe that you are better off reading something free such as Mr. Money Mustache's blog to actually dive into the details of early retirement. While the book isn't bad, I would not recommend it to others.
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Early retirement has become a meme, passed through exposure to any of a number of blogs and Reddit forums focused on the concept. There are a lot of these, grown over the past five years or so. The author is one of those blog authors, following her and her spouse through their investigation of early retirement, their efforts to get there, and their life after reaching, well, the promised land, of a sort. I have occasionally read articles from their blog as well as other blogs and many, many books on the subject. “Work Optional” covers the bases, discussing the concept of early retirement, the financial know-how required to be able to do it, and the ways your life can change after retiring younger than the average worker. Much of the book is how-to, with some sections of the author’s own experience. Anecdotes from the author and other early retirees are mixed in throughout the book. 

I found the author on the whole covered what I expected, but added some unique suggestions. The best of these was near the beginning of the book when the author walks through a series of questions to document personal goals. I found this very similar to personal mission/vision/values training I’ve been through in my job, and going through this looks beneficial. The author does not prescribe a detailed financial plan, instead describing many options and some basic plans discussed widely in those online sources. The key here is that the advice offered is basic. I’ve found that individual situations are often nuanced so that basic advice is really just a place to start, and I’ve found no book that covers all bases. This one does a reasonable job with the basics, and replicates the financial discussions of many blogs and online groups. One of the biggest issues for early retirees is acquiring medical insurance. The book describes the options as they currently exist, but does not forecast any changes that could impact early retirees. I’ve always found ongoing availability of medical insurance is a great leap of faith when retiring earlier than the Medicare eligible age, and this book didn’t allay my concerns, although it does provide the author’s own story – successful so far. The shortest section is the author’s description of what it is like to be retired early, but that’s not surprising since her retirement has only lasted about a year when this book was written.  This book includes some useful web links at the end, and has detailed end notes that many books do not share. Most of the writing of people in the author’s age group that have retired early is in short blog entries across dozens of blogs. Having a personal story at book length is appreciated. The author’s story of planning and attaining her early retirement is a welcome addition to the early retirement literature.

I received a pre-release copy of this ebook from NetGalley.
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Lots of great information for those looking to retire early.  While early retirement is not feasible for everyone, the concepts here are beneficial for all.  I especially appreciated the discussion about considerations for health care, as that is not a topic that I see in a lot of retirement books.  There were a lot of good planning tips for the years leading up to retirement.  I plan to purchase the hard copy version of Work Optional, as I think there is a lot of underlining and notes I need to make.  I was not familiar with Tanja before reading this ARC, but I am now enjoying her blog and podcast. 

I received an advanced reader copy via Net Galley.
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Gives the usual advice on spending and saving, stocks and bonds, and budgeting with a plan and a partner. Has math-stats on where you will find yourself if your money-related habits are so and so.     

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.
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Skimmed it, thanks for the arc. Not much beyond common sense within these pages, but a great concept to expound on. Hopefully anyone inspired would seek other resources before making a dramatic leap.
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As a follower of Tanja's blog 'Our Next Life', I've been waiting for her book and was super excited to receive an ARC to review. 
The book is set up as a clear step-by-step guide to not just plan out an early retirement but really visualize the life you want and clarify your rationale and approach to finances. I love that the exercises listed throughout the book are super clear and have multiple prompts for you to work through, not just general 'write your obituary' type platitudes. It was also great to see examples of other people's take on various stages of this planning including anecdotes from Tanja and Mark's life. However the main focus clearly remains helping you, the reader, to map our your early retirement or work optional life.
It was also great to see that all the advice and processes accommodate a variety of motivations and backgrounds, whether you want to homestead or RV at 40 or choose to volunteer or take sabbaticals while also being realistic about what this would take. I'm excited to download the resources that are going to be available in the companion website. 
This book is a great read for someone looking for an overview of the whole process as a beginner as well as a great planning resource for anyone who has already read a bunch of Personal Finance and FIRE blogs and books. Highly recommend!
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I read of  Tanja Hester on her blog ournextlife.
I jumped at an opportunity to know more about her approach to retirement.
I like the "Endless Winter" concept. Its like treating everday as friday or celebratng your birthday the whole week.
High income debt introduces you to the reality of high-earners living paycheck to paycheck. Safe retirement is not only about how much you earn but also about how much you save, to begin with. its like anyhting that needs to be sustainable to be a long term solution. Your expenses have to be under your earnings or savings.
Is that residential real estate investment property worth it? 
With easy to understand advice and details of others who have retired early, you can do so too.
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I requested to read this book because the frugalism type of life and this new very early retirement type of life trend that we hear about everywhere nowadays really made me wonder and I wanted to know more about it. I really enjoyed reading this quick read and I really enjoyed how the author thought about giving plans  for any situation or income that you might have if you decide to stop working. This book is worth a read for anyone who is curious about this way of living. Very informative and interesting!
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I'll be honest with you here retirement and saving for retirement scares me. I watched my grandparents count pennies to pay for my Grandfathers lung cancer medicine and that was in 2002 so times have changed. When given the option to read this book I was thrilled. I like how this book had plans built for any situation or income and it made saving for retirement sound easy and not hard. I just read an alarming news headline yesterday that millions of adults are not prepared for retirement because they are paying for things for adult children. This book is worth a read for everyone. Truly eye opening.
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