I first heard about David Sawyer’s book, RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money‘ (RESET) when it was featured on Monevator.
David contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing his book, and I agreed, especially as I needed to read one more non-fiction book by the end of the year to hit one of my reading goals. A signed copy duly arrived in the post.
Parts I & II
These parts were all about self-evaluation, establishing what it means to be happy, the meaning of life, your purpose. Once you’ve decided on these, it went into what you can do to improve things.
This included a guide on how to future-proof your career (embracing digital) and how to set up an escape plan should you need one.
I was surprised to see the recommendation to start a blog but perhaps that’s because I run my blog for a totally different purpose than that suggested in the book.
So thus far, whilst very easy to read, I hadn’t discovered anything new in the book that would help me or be of use to me.
And then I came across the section ‘Declutter Your Life’.
Whilst it’s absolutely true that I’ve bought very few things over the past few years, aside from being frugal, one of the reasons is because I am surrounded by things I bought during my ‘spendy’ years.
My house is full of what people would call clutter, my stuff. Yes, my friends think I live like a student and my family think I live in ‘organised chaos’!
I would say I’m fine living like this but I recognise that there might be benefits to reducing the amount of stuff I own, so this section of RESET was of great interest to me.
Sawyer talks of how he and his family tackled getting rid of their stuff and I think I could come up with a similar plan myself. I don’t intend to become nor do I want to live as a minimalist but cutting back on things has got to be a good thing.
As well as decluttering physical items, Sawyer also mentions digitial declutter and mental declutter, ie mobile phones, social media – I think I’m ok there, I can go for hours without looking at my phone without FOMO!
This section was the financial bit, the ‘how to get your F. U money plan’. Although I’ve already got my own plan, I still like to read how other people plan, in case there’s something I’ve missed or there’s some good idea which I can learn and use myself. This section talked about budgeting, frugality/efficiency and investing.
There were mentions of the brief history of FI and the essential disciplines of FI. Numerous references throughout the book to MMM and Sawyer has done a huge amount of research and curated a lot of useful and helpful links and references for further reading about FIRE (there’s a big bibliography and notes section at the back of the book).
This section encouraged me to revisit my numbers, to review what I would need to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. I’ve made a few tweaks and adjustments but nothing too radical so if anything, it was a good affirmation that my plan is the right one for me (until my next review, haha!).
RESET recommended accumulating the much-mentioned ‘spending x 25’ and advocated a safe withdrawal rate of 3.5% as opposed to the oft-guaranteed rate of 4%. It made the assumption that readers were not starting from zero, that at the point they pick up this book, they had some fairly significant pensions savings from previous employers or their own savings/investments.
Parts V & VI
Part V detailed some core principles to guide you through work and life, including the importance of ‘deep work’. One of the recommendations was to not work in an ‘open-plan office’ – easier said than done for most people these days however.
Part VI was a handy list of Do’s and Don’ts, dealing with all aspects of life.
As the blurb says, ‘the unconventional early retirement plan for midlife careerists who want to be happy‘.
RESET I think is aimed at people, not exclusively but predominantly, who are earning a decent salary (higher tax bracket), have a successful career but who are unhappy with their lives, possibly because they’ve often put their careers first.
Sure, I fit the ‘midlife’ bracket (midlife in the book means anyone aged from 35-60) but at times, I felt as if Sawyer was just talking to couples with children, couples who were slaves to their mobile phones and emails (for work and social media) and who were somewhat miserable, whose lives were unfulfilled.
I’m already nearly five years into my own FIRE journey and am content with where I am, happy with my plan, so I didn’t think I was perhaps part of RESET’s target audience.
However, that’s not to say that I didn’t find the book a good read and useful.
I enjoyed reading about FIRE in physical book-form, refreshingly from a UK point of view and written in a friendly, personable and engaging way and I reckon it would be a good introduction for people who may have come across the recent news articles about FIRE in mainstream press, who want to know more and who were not put off by the colourful but mostly negative comments which accompanied most of those articles.
The chapters are blissfully short, many with ‘actions’ for the reader to do. The section about investing included some basic investment plans which would be useful to my non-investing friends, although I would encourage them to do their own research (RESET recommends going with Fidelity or Vanguard – good choices but not the only ones to check out).
Running is referred to throughout the book (Sawyer being a marathon runner) but I guess you could just replace that with some other exercise/fitness regime where you are aiming to better yourself (that’s what I did anyway).
It’s likely that I’ll be picking the book up again, particularly to flick through the bits about decluttering but also I guess it doesn’t do any harm to reread some of the core principles and remind myself about the do’s and don’ts of life as well as aiming for FIRE.