4 books that put us on the path to early retirement

We both like to read and learn, but 4 specific books really helped shaped our lives and put us on the path to early retirement. 

Carter’s favorite reads:

A Walk Across America (by Peter Jenkins)

I read this book when I was in my early high school years and it changed the way I thought about life.  In one sentence, A Walk Across America is about a guy who graduates from college and doesn’t know what to do with himself. He starts walking around with his dog and ends up walking across America.

The book really inspired me to think about exploring (especially America).  In the book, the author spends a great deal of time meeting new people and seeing new places.  For those of you who know me well, you know these are two things I love to do.  I guess you could say this book gave me a sense of wanderlust and made me want to get out and explore.

Common Sense: A Simple Plan for Financial Independence (by Art Williams)

Common Sense is an old school book focused on the basics on family finances.  Art Williams provides practical advice on how to save, invest, and get ahead.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this book taught me how to achieve financial independence.  I have a college degree in Economics, but I didn’t really understand how much compounding interest, investing in yourself, and spending habits at age 30 or 25 could impact my retirement life.  This book helped me apply financial principles to everyday living.  And, I still think about the “rule of 72” every time I watch our investments grow.

Holly’s favorite reads:

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy (by Thomas J. Stanley)

The Millionaire Next Door was written in the 90s, but still rings true.

I used to think people with big homes, expensive cars, and luxurious vacations had to be multi-millionaires.  But, this book taught me to look at things very differently.  It taught me that people with big homes, big cars, and big vacations are more than likely living with big debt.  It’s the mechanic who drives a 10-year old car, has staycations, and lives in a normal home who probably has millions in the bank.

I still like driving nice cars, but I keep them longer than most people.  I still like taking vacations, but I use airline miles, travel during the offseason, and always have a spending budget. I still like having a nice home, but it’s 700 square feet!

Daddy Long Legs (by Jean Webster)

This one is actually a kids’ book.  I first read Daddy Long Legs when I was a preteen.  It’s a story about an orphan and her benefactor…and, it has nothing to do with retiring, finances, or modern life! 😊

But, the style the book is written in impacted the way I tell stories.  The book is written as letters back and forth between the main characters.  As a youngster, I was fascinated with the way the book unfolded and it made me see the value of story-telling, writing, and communication in general.  Heck, I decided to go into a lucrative communication career which set us up for retirement, so this book might have just been what started me down the early retirement path (at the age of 11)!

Since we retired, we read A LOT more than we used to.  We enjoy all kinds of books.  As we were talking about the books that changed our lives, we realized we wanted to read each of these again. Are there others you’d recommend?  Please share!

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