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Book Review – "4 hour work week" Play a string

Timothy Ferriss 4-hour workweek does what only the best books can do. It strikes a chord deep within us, confirming thoughts we have always vaguely felt to be true, and points us to a path that offers new hope for the future. Some of the highlights that the author covers are:

1. Retirement as a goal is flawed. Doing the same thing for 8 hours a day until you have a nervous breakdown or permanently stop is the wrong way to live. Ferriss says alternating periods of activity and rest are necessary to survive, let alone thrive. He advocates distributing “mini-pensions” throughout life rather than accumulating the recovery and enjoyment of the retirement years.

2. The question one must ask is not “What do I want in life?” Or “What are my goals?” but the real question should be “What would excite me?” To focus more, you need to ask yourself, “What would you do if you couldn’t fail or if you were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world?”

3. Being fired, despite being a surprise and leaving you struggling to recover, is often a godsend. Someone else made the decision for you and there is no way you will sit in the wrong job for the rest of your life. Most people are not lucky enough to be fired and suffer a slow spiritual death for 30-40 years of putting up with the mediocre.

The author describes several interesting ways to free up time for mini-retirements.

1. Start your own business, then give the kidneys to someone else to do the surgery for you. You become the owner of a ghost. As Ferriss quotes the Guardian of the Gates of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz, “The orders are that no one can see the Great Oz! No one, or how!”

2. Outsource your work to national and foreign virtual companies specialized in outsourcing.

3. Negotiate with your current boss to work at home instead of working at the office. This allows you to focus your efforts on the important aspects of your job and do it more quickly and efficiently.

While I think these are all reasonable options, this is where I part ways with the author, in terms of how I approach passive income streams.

What works for me is buying repair houses, repairing them and renting them. The work is charged up front with the initial purchase and repair of the property. After that initial boost, like the 4-hour workweek, it requires a minimal contribution and can allow time for mini-retirements.

For me, the advantage of real estate is that it provides both long-term and short-term benefits. Long-term from the average 5% increase in equity and short-term from monthly rental payments and tax deductions. If you hand over your rental properties to a management company, you travel for free.

This does not take anything away from the 4 hour work week. On the contrary, the book is worth reading because it is eminently thought-provoking and written in a tremendously entertaining style. (His hilarious Mad Lib job resignation letter to fill in the blanks is the work of a mad genius.) As I mentioned, however, the book goes beyond this by examining deeper issues of life and work. that are rarely addressed in a fascinating way.

Another excellent book that also takes a meaningful look at issues related to work and money is “Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Joe Domínguez and Vicki Robin.

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