RESET Book Review

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!


12 thoughts on “RESET Book Review

  1. Thanks for the review, Savings Ninja. I think I’ve read a few reviews, interviews and perhaps even the Kindle sample of this book. Fair play to David to getting himself out there and for writing an engaging tome, but the digitally clueless mid-life middle manager take didn’t appeal to me as not all of us are devoid of digital knowledge and skills and it’s frustrating to have our cohort pigeon holed as such. There is always room for autobiographical takes on FIRE though so perhaps I’m being too harsh.

    1. A large portion of the book did seem to be dedicated to this, and his synopsis didn’t quite mention the ‘digitally clueless mid-life careerist’, just ‘mid-life careerist’ 🙂 I’m making my way through all of the FIRE books I can read in 2019 so I’ll let you know which one’s my favorite!

  2. Nicely written review (better than mine, I think, haha!)

    However, looks like we came to the same conclusions with regards to the book mostly being aimed at unhappy midlifers with kids who haven’t embraced the digital age. I can see why David has asked us to read his book as we can post reviews on our blogs but we are already on the path to FIRE, so probably not his real target audience – a lot of it, as you say, was affirmation as opposed to learning something new.

    That said, I think we both agree that the decluttering section was wery useful (which I will get onto myself!) and that a huge amount of effort has gone into collecting all those references and links.

    1. Thanks Weenie!

      It is harder to review it as someone who the book isn’t aimed at, but I tried my best 😀 I loved reading about his own journey, I wish he wrote about that more actually. If he’s actually achieved FIRE? What his saving rate was? etc.

      I’m starting my first category tomorrow! Gonna pile all the clothes in the house up in the living room haha. I’ve already written a pretty lengthy investigation into the ‘perfect’ state of the category, now just need to do the discarding and organising 🙂

  3. Ha! Sounds like I don’t have to add that to my list 😉

    Just curious, what do you have on your reading list for this year? I really like the BOOK BINGO idea that weenie is following 😛

    I don’t have a set goal to read a certain amount of books, or even read books within certain topics. At this point I just read whatever I feel like (both fact and fiction – I really like biographies lately).
    I might have a go at the book bingo though, just for the fun of it 😛

    1. I’m sure you could learn from how to digitize your life Nick!? Your graphs are SO un-interactive and bland :))

      My Goodreads target this year is 30 books. I’m also focusing on FIRE/self-help books. I read the WHOLE of the Robin Hobb fantasy series last year (literally took me the whole year, it’s huge!), they were some of the best books I’ve ever read, but I need a break from fantasy before I dive into another massive series. I’m already starting to get a bit bored though from being 75% through ‘The Millionaire Next Door’. I read before bed so it’s a bit of a boring thing to read at that time, so I might have to add in some other fun books to read along-side these. Again though, I’d like to give some other categories a go, I’d quite like to read some good horror books like Misery or The Shining!

      The book bingo thing looks really cool, I’ve got too many books on my reading list that I’d like to get through this year though! 🙂

      1. I enjoyed Millionaire Next Door – but I read it a long time ago. The take home was valuable back then ie most millionaires tend to run average businesses and aren’t conspicuous spenders as it did result in a mindset shift. But I wouldn’t revisit it.

        I’m finding that many non-fiction books don’t warrant reading from cover to cover to get the main points of value from them. It’s quite refreshing to put one down after 50 mins and think “I could read this book for another 2 hours, but I think I’ve got 80% of the value from it”.

        1. Pareto book reading… I like it Chris!

          @Ninja – You’ve given the book a pretty fair review from what I can see here (I haven’t read it all yet though haha) – I got the feeling from reading the first chapter or so that it probably isn’t really aimed at me, I’ve been on the FIRE path for 6 years now so I feel I’ve got most of this sh!t locked down and am on cruise control. But I will give the rest a skim and see if anything pops out. We could always do with more decluttering in our house so that section is definitely worth a read!

          But for the person who has recently discovered FIRE it sounds like a really great resource and I really hope it gets out to as many of that demographic as possible.


          p.s. you have a typo in “Renaissance Man ideal that you’ll find in Joe Fiskers book” – should be Jacob (feel free to delete this part of my comment once you’ve fixed it)

          1. Oooo, nice spot! Updated, thanks 🙂

            Yeah, he’s done a great job with jam-packing the thing with links and footnotes to other great resources too!

  4. As a newcomer to FIRE and an unhappy employee in my mid-40s with two children, I found this book really resonated with me…apart from the going digital chapter, but I also work in IT.

    It’s always refreshing to read a UK-based, lifestyle management book. It takes all the mental translation out of the picture, which makes it an easier read.

    The ‘kids’ factor is also a big one for me. So many books gloss over the financial/time constraints which limit parents’ abilities to get stuff done.

    1. Yea that is a fair shout on the kids things… the majority of FI blog writers I would venture to say do not have children. So it is nice to get the other side of the perspective on that one (Full disclosure: I have a child)

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