A couple of months ago I was contacted by David Sawyer to review his book; RESET . Being an avid reader and never having read a UK centric Financial Independence book before, I happily obliged.
One of my goals for 2019 is to read more Financial Independence orientated books, so RESET was a great first one to pick up!
My all time favorite FI book is ‘Early Retirement Extreme ’ by Jacob Fisker. This is the book that lead me down my current financial path, the book that swayed me to buy a smaller, inexpensive home and to get rid of my expensive car. It took me away from a stressful life and instead lead me toward happiness and financial freedom.
Another favorite of mine is ‘How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World ’ by Harry Browne which changed the way how I think about business and helped inspire me to start my current businesses and even this blog.
Can RESET compete? Let’s find out.
In the first section of the book, David paints an excellent picture for why we should care about Financial Independence. He’s really quite excellent at presenting the facts in an enjoyable and thought-provoking way, setting each problem up with an introduction, story and conclusion, leading the reader to a natural resolution. I love the way the book content is presented like this, it makes what is a difficult subject easy to understand.
This section also includes lots of insights into David’s life and how he himself began this journey. It reads almost autobiographical, keeping things fresh and exciting.
Financial Independence / How to write a blog?
After the book sets you up for wanting to pursue Financial Independence and find true purpose, I was a little derailed by the next section. Here David talks about how to ‘digitise your life’ so you will effectively not get left behind and lose your job.
As a 27 year old programmer who has lived and breathed ‘digital’ throughout my whole life, I couldn’t help but get glazed over a bit whilst reading this bit. Now, it’s clear by the synopsis of RESET that it’s aimed at mid-life professionals which are over the age of 35, but I still think that most 35-40 year olds I know would gloss over when reading about how everything is now online. Maybe my worldview is a bit skewed as most people I know are Software Engineers?
David also goes into a lot of detail about setting up a blog, he emphasises that everyone should own one to promote their personal brand. He even goes as far as explaining how to set up a subscriber list and newsletter for your blog which felt a little out of place. This wasn’t quite what I was expecting to find in an early retirement book. I couldn’t help but think that all of this bit belonged in a different book all together. Maybe aimed at older professionals who work in a field that is rapidly turning digital (like PR, such as David).
It’s clear that he included this section due to the autobiographical nature of the book and it was part of his personal experience, so I can’t fault him for including it.
Decluttering your life
RESET contains a whole section about minimalism and decluttering and takes a lot of inspiration from Marie Kondo’s book; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying . I really enjoyed reading about how David and his family discarded masses of items and felt much better and clear headed afterwards. Minimalism shares a lot with the Financial Independent movement and David explains quite nicely how it all fits together. He talks about simplifying not only your items, but your finances too.
His family altered the Marie Kondo method a little to suit their needs. It was good to get a different take on the approach before I start my own minimalism journey. For anyone thinking of trying to declutter themselves, Davids quite thorough section on the subject was definitely easier to digest than Marie Kondo’s book. There’s no talking about speaking to your clothes here!
David thoroughly explains a bunch of different investment techniques, including compiling a Fidelity portfolio that you can rebalance yourself each year and a ‘set and forget’ portfolio with Vanguard Lifestrategy. He ticks all of the boxes with this one and advises only low fee passive index funds. He also creates quite a compelling argument for setting your safe withdrawal rate to 3.5% which was a really interesting read.
RESET is a very big book. In the end, you’ll have read through almost 300 pages. David’s writing skills are superb and each chapter is easily consumed with thought-provoking and sometimes funny examples and stories from his past.
It’s quite obvious from the content that David poured his soul into this book, and that he is very well read in the subject of Financial Independence. He touches so many different subjects from so many different authors and bloggers, I’ve never before seen a single resource quite like it.
This however means that if you’re already an aspiring FI seeker and have read many of the pre-existing FIRE content, expect RESET to simply reaffirm your knowledge. It’s fun to read about David’s experience and journey, but the meat of the book is more of a collection of knowledge from other sources than a unique take.
You won’t find the detailed graphs and implicit depiction of the Renaissance Man ideal that you’ll find in Jacob Fiskers book . You won’t get the detailed breakdown of the full Marie Kondo method like you would if you read her book yourself. But what you will get is a lot of information relating to both of these movements, and a lot more. It’s almost like a world buffet instead of a specialist restaurant, which is awesome, and a great first book to read to get a taste of everything.
I will say that I got quite annoyed with the way the book focuses on the ‘mid-life professional’. David is an excellent writer, he uses powerful writing to talk directly to the reader, it’s almost like he’s in the room with you. Because of this, when he’s passionately assuming that I must have children, work in a stressful middle management job and know nothing about the digital world, it’s a bit derailing. A lot of his readers may feel the same way if they don’t match his criteria.
RESET has quite thoroughly compiled all that is FIRE and translated it into a language that the UK can understand. It was nice to gain the insight of what the best investment approach for the UK FI pursuer was, and definitely from a writer as thorough at research as David is. I think from this point forward, I’ll start applying the 3.5% rule!
I commend David for being the first to jump onto the FIRE subject on this side of the pond. Awesome job!
Buy the book below, there is currently a 40% discount on Amazon, get it whilst you can!