The Green Swan - Book Cover6th June 2016 – 

In case you haven’t already figured it, ‘Find Your Beach’ is actually a metaphor for finding whatever you consider your slice of paradise (happiness, life-meaning, fulfilment) once you retire. However, in The Green Swan”, ‘Work Harder, Work Smarter and Retire Early’ does mean exactly that.

It’s not often that a new book on financial independence and retiring early comes along. That’s probably because there can’t be too many new ways to engineer and create this lifestyle, and “The Green Swan” is no exception.

JW Brooks’ book is not intended as a comprehensive instruction manual on how to maintain a life of scrimping, saving and living a frugal lifestyle on the path to early retirement. It’s a guide based on his and wife Lucy’s own strategies and experiences.

In saying that, “The Green Swan” does give the reader a proven template to follow should the lure of retiring from full-time work aged 40 be attractive. And who wouldn’t want to consider that for at least a moment?

JW’s book has appeal to anyone, young or not so young, who is seeking financial independence. It uses not only real life examples from JW and Lucy’s life, but also  a couple of real life case studies that demonstrate the key principles of The Green Swan and how you can adapt them to your own life.

So who is JW? Growing up in a small town in the U.S. Midwest, JW describes his upbringing as fairly typical middle-class.

His hardworking parents (dad, a banker, and mom, a nurse) were conscious of how money was spent but JW and his siblings got what was needed to fund their sports and education as well as annual family vacations which were often taken by car and occasionally flying further afield. As JW describes their lifestyle, “Not necessarily frugal but not spoiled.”

Through the lessons of his parents, JW learned early that to get ahead in life you have to work for it. Nothing was handed to him on a silver platter which he is thankful for. Although his parents helped put him through college by paying half, he was happy to work through high school and college to pay for the other half, as well as any ‘fun money’ that was required.

As a result, on completing college, neither JW or any of his siblings graduated with any student debt.

JW credits wife Lucy with much of their financial success and the drive to continue this path to financial independence. With a similar background and hard work ethic, Lucy has been instrumental in achieving their current level of net worth and lifestyle.

So what is the secret to creating your own Green Swan lifestyle? If you’re not familiar with the Financial Independence/Retire Early (FIRE) way of living, what do you have to do to allow yourself to reach your own goal? What do you need to do to reach financial freedom at age 35 and then choose to stop working at 40?

It’s not really any secret. JW hasn’t discovered any  new, revolutionary path to instant wealth. Yes, the usual ways still exist. Winning the lottery or inheriting a fortune are still great ways to reach financial independence but for pretty well most of us they are not viable options. One of the fundamentals of reaching these goals is that it’s going to take time and it’s going to take some effort.

Work hard, make money, track and budget expenses, invest……

That’s all there is to it. The four key principals to being able to give up work forever while still maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.

Nothing new there, so how does “The Green Swan” work?

If you’re familiar with the online FIRE community, you’ll probably be familiar with JW’s regular blog site, coincidentally called The Green Swan.

Like many FIRE bloggers (Get FIRE’d asap included) JW has been sharing his insights and experiences on the journey to financial freedom with a loyal following of readers.

“The Green Swan” (the book) is a consolidation of the ideas and strategies that have allowed not only JW and Lucy to be where they are today, financially, but will be very familiar to many others on the same pathway, myself included.

So who should read “The Green Swan”? If you’re currently on the FIRE bandwagon the book may offer some new strategies to help you reach your goal quicker. At the very least, it’ll reaffirm that what you are doing is extremely worthwhile and that the goal of not having to work ever again is really not that far in front of you.

However, if you are in lucky enough to be finishing high school or college, or have just joined the workforce, or you are a parent of kids at this stage in their lives, then “The Green Swan” deserves to be one of those books you give them. Along with all of the other valuable advice well-meaning parents offer.

If you’re like me and a little further along in life, it’s not too late either. In fact, it’s almost never too late to begin the financial independence journey and JW includes an example of how this can be achieved if you are at a later stage of your working life. However, that said, the earlier you start, the sooner you can reach your goal.

As previously mentioned, it’s not a comprehensive, ‘how to’ manual, nor is it heavy on detail but provides a proven, practical guide for anyone who wants to live a more balanced, financially prudent, less stressful lifestyle that isn’t dictated to by the need for a regular paycheck.

And if you’re currently happy with the way your life is now, happy with the career you’ve taken and plan to work until the normal retirement age or no longer can work, keep going and enjoy it. However, that feeling may not be the same in 5 or 10 or 15 years. So read “The Green Swan” anyway. That way you’ll know that there is actually a worthwhile alternative.

Perhaps, now is the time to find your beach.


The Green Swan eBook is over 30,000 words, 82 pages on normal 8.5 x 11 paper, and over a year in the making to help you get on the path toward financial independence!  To find out more, visit The Green Swan eBook page.

11 thoughts on ““The Green Swan – Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach” – JW Brooks – A review”

  1. Sounds like an interesting and intriging book! I love reading about people’s strategies on how they achieves FI, even if they aren’t that different than the normal course. I didn’t realize Green Swan had a book out but I will need to check it out! Nice review!

    1. It is a good read, Thias. Worth picking up a copy even if it just confirms what you’re already doing. You can always give it to someone who might benefit from some advice on living frugally . Could change someone’s life for the better. Thanks for the positive feedback.

    1. Hi there TPE. Yes, it’s not a bad read. Like I say, if you’re already living a frugal lifestyle with clear FIRE goals, you may not learn anything new but it does reinforce what you are doing is right. Maybe get a copy for a friend and get them on the ‘right’ track.

  2. Hey Martin, thanks for the review, I’m glad you liked reading it. I also read Green Swan’s website so it’s nice to see his project out in the world like this.

    Even though you’re where you are on your FIRE journey, is there anything you took from the book and will add to your habits?


    1. Hi Tristan, yes, GS does have a good site and I’ve enjoyed his posts too. That’s why I offered to do a review on his new book.

      Hmmmm, what have I got out of it? I’m probably not his ideal target audience as I’m well down the path of FIRE. In fact, I’ve recently done the early retire so I’m pretty well there.

      I guess what I did get from it was that I could have done things a lot better when I was younger. If I had the knowledge I have now, back then (that old cliche) I probably would be a whole lot richer and could have retired 5 to 10 years earlier.

      If you’re already going down the FIRE pathway, then it may reinforce what you are already doing is right, as well as give you some new ideas for improvement. It is a bit US-focussed with some of the detail, however, the same lessons can be applied wherever you live.

      Worth a read I say.

    1. Thanks for your comment OFE. I’m sure JW will be pleased to hear that you’re planning to read his book. Just click on the link at the bottom of the article to take you to his purchasing page.

      Once you’ve had a chance to read it, feel free to drop back here and leave any feedback you have.

  3. Thanks so much for reviewing my book! It’s been in the making for a while so I’m glad to finally have it out there and hopefully help others on their path toward FIRE.

    1. You’re welcome GS. I’m honoured that you let me review it and share in the excitement of launching your book. I hope that it does well and gets to become one of the must-have personal finance books. Let us know how it’s going.

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