Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

BOOKing myself in for next year.

How I hate to miss a goal.

I set a goal to read 80 books this year. Actually, in my first flush of enthusiasm, I set it at 100, but then when my mad maths skillz kicked in and I realised that was 2 books a week, I brought it down. Once I’m retired I could do that no worries, but nowadays with the job and the commute and life itself, I thought 80 might be more manageable.

But clearly not.

Ryan24 said to me, “Why don’t you just read some Dr Suess books? You’d reach 80 by lunchtime!”

I have 2 books on the go, but I think I’ll leave them to start off 2019’s reading target with a (slight) headstart.

I read mainly novels, with the bulk of the non-fiction books being about North Korea. I did my research both before and after I went there earlier this year. (Links to my posts about North Korea are at the end, for those who are interested in peeking inside the bubble.)

But seeing as this is the FI/RE blog and not the personal blog, which ‘Money’ books did I read this year and what did I think of them?

I heard about this one from The Simple Dollar. This book was written over a century ago and is the autobiography of a man who was living, working and raising a family in the middle of London and his realisation that he wants something more out of life – something simpler. It’s not a ‘personal finance’ book as such, but it’s interesting to peek back into the past. All those tiny house/homesteading/frugal living blogs being written at the moment aren’t coming up with new ideas!

  • First-Time Investor: Grow and Protect Your Money – Merriman

Honestly, I don’t even remember this one. I gave it a one-star rating on Goodreads so there’s clearly a reason why it’s slipped from my mind. No linky-love for this one.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to preorder this one! I love the original ‘Millionaire Next Door’, so I was very keen to read the update. I liked that the FIRE movement was mentioned quite a bit and it was pleasing to see that the tried-and-true ideas fleshed out in the original still hold true today. Seiko watches rule!

This was one of the books I bought to research which book I was going to give my sons and nieces for Christmas this year. These guys have a podcast on property investing, but this book is primarily about budgeting and keeping track of your money.

It wasn’t really what I was looking for. Their tracking system was great if that’s what you’re looking for, but it was so involved to set up that I knew that it would turn the kids off ever getting a plan for their money. This book is more for people who are already self-motivated to do something about their finances, not someone who’s just dipping their big toe into the water.

I’d recommend this book to someone who doesn’t mind the initial slog of setting up a system that will clearly be very beneficial as time goes on.

This is the book I ended up buying for the 19 – 26-year-old sons and nieces. I wrote a review here.

Many people are familiar with the blog Freedom is Groovy, written by Mr and Mrs Groovy. I love this blog, as they’re people in the same age bracket as myself, who also started late and who have really made things move and shake as they’ve gone along the path to FI.

This is a good book to read, particularly if you live in the US. The writing style is clear and conversational, so the information gets absorbed easily.

I read this novel when I was in North Korea. This is a fascinating look at the breakdown of society when the US has borrowed so much money that it defaults on its loans. If you know even a smattering of how the financial system works, this is a gripping read. Even though I read it back in April, I still think about incidents and characters. It’s definitely worth the time to read this.

I wrote a review here. It’s rare for a novel to have this much financial information in it.

Oh, how I loved this book! After I read it I bought another one to give to my brother-in-law for Christmas. It’s all about growing up in Australia in the 1960s and ’70s. I’ll be writing a ‘Lessons from Literature’ post about it soon, because there are so many observations he makes about money, finances and how things were different back then.

It’s his memoir. It brought back so many wonderful memories, but also brought up things I had never heard before. I had no idea, for example, that Australian women had to get their husbands’ written permission to get a passport right up until 1982…


Again, it’s not a finance book as such, but there’s a lot about money woven in.


That’s it for 2018 ‘Finance’ books.

I’m looking forward to reading ‘Atomic Habits‘ by Clear early next year. I got the school library to order it in, so with a bit of luck, it should be available when I get back. There are a few bloggers releasing books next year too, so I look forward to reading them. Of course, I’ll be reading with an eye towards which book should be the next one I purchase for the kids’ Christmas presents.

I’m setting my next Goodreads target at 80 books again. Why not? Though seriously, if I stopped reading blogs, Facebook and Twitter I’d probably be able to get 150 books under my belt!

Oh! Nearly forgot. Here are the links to the North Korea posts I did, with all the photos and info of what we did when we were away.

Dancing With Frogs. This is my personal blog, where I write about anything and everything, including travel. I wrote exclusively about my China and North Korea trip in the entries from April 2018 – September 2018. Just look at the drop-down menu at the side and you’ll be able to find them. Lots of photos and stories.

On this blog, I wrote 4 pieces, summarising the more ‘finance/advertising’ type of things that I saw.

#1: Where Leaders Are Larger Than Life.

#2: Where A Picture Says A Thousand Words.

#3: Teach The Children Well.

#4: The Bigger, The Better!

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s all make 2019 a year to remember, for all the right reasons!


  1. Aussie HIFIRE

    I didn’t realise there was Next Millionaire Next Door, I’ll be checking that out!

    Did you consider reading Meet the Frugalwoods? It’s by a FIRE blogger and her philosophies seem to be pretty similar to yours.

    • Frogdancer Jones

      There was a bit of controversy about their income. Turns out it’s pretty easy to decide to save 80% of your income when you earn around 200-300K a year… I read the review on Get Rich Slowly when it came out and I thought I’d maybe borrow it from the library one day. After all, there are lots of books and lots of time. You’re talking to the woman with literally 25 books stacked up beside her bed that still need to be read!


      • Aussie HIFIRE

        Oh wow I didn’t realise their income was anything like that high! Reading the book it never seems as though she earns a huge amount so presumably the husband is on great money. In any case she seems to have the same idea of buying quality stuff and planning for the long term that I get from your blog.

        • Frogdancer Jones

          Yes, I agree. She likes a bargain and to make things last just as much as i do! ________________________________

  2. simplywendi

    thank you so very much for this wonderful book list! super excited to see several books that i have not even heard about, thank you so very much!

    • Frogdancer Jones

      I don’t know how anyone could be bored in a world with books in it! ________________________________

  3. easypeasyfire

    This inspires me to read a bit more. I did 6 books this year, mainly constrained for time due to studying for the CFA which is a major time commitment for myself.
    Once I finish that in June 2019, there will be plenty of time to read!

    • Frogdancer Jones

      ENJOY! ________________________________

  4. Cath

    I had a 50 book goal this year but it went by the wayside when we were hit by a major illness in our family – love love love hearing about others’ reading adventures! Would love to hear your top 5 non-PF reads of the year too!

    • Frogdancer Jones

      I was wondering if people would be interested in that.


  5. Tread Lightly, Retire Early

    I so want to keep track of the books I read in 2019 now.

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Hop onto Goodreads and start an account, then join their reading challenge. It keeps you accountable. ?

  6. moneyflamingo

    Thanks for sharing! I read quite a few from your list myself this year, currently halfway through The Next Millionaire Next Door. I like the idea of doing the Goodreads challenge next year. I didn’t know Mr. Groovy wrote a book, will check it out! It seems that pretty much every US FIRE blogger out there has a book in the pipeline for early 2019, so things might get a bit repetitive…

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Yes, it seems like writing a book is the Next Big Thing for FIRE bloggers.
      Still, can’t say as I blame them. Time was when I wanted to be an author myself…

  7. weenie

    Very impressed with your 73 books completed, even though you missed the goal you set.

    I only set myself a goal of 25 books this year and have just finished my 28th book, so I think I’ll try for 30 books next year.. I’d love to be able to complete 52 books in a year but I don’t think I’m a very fast reader, plus I often read big tomes of around 700-800 pages which take a while to consume. Perhaps this will be a goal for when I retire!

    Good luck with hitting 80 in 2019 and happy new year!

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Every time I selected a big tome I knew I was doing myself a disservice – but sometimes you just have to do it. I read very quickly, so a big book like that would take me a couple of days to read, if I have the time put aside to really dive in. ________________________________

  8. chasingfiredownunder

    I am *impressed* by the books you’ve read! I have completed a grand total of 2 books so far in 2020, haha! I set myself a goal in 2019 of one book a week and I managed about half of that at the time. That said, many of the books I enjoy reading are quite dense and long, so I don’t mind that I take longer to get through them! (On the finance side though, my list of ‘books bought’ continues to exceed the list of ‘books read’… oops! I always have such good *intentions* about making time to read them, but then I get sucked into the blogs and quick-fix reads instead of settling down with a nice long book like I used to do!)

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