5, 2019

9 min read

This story originally appeared on GOBankingRates

In 2007, Tim Ferriss published the 4-hour workweek, which promised that anyone "can flee from 9 to 5, live anywhere, and join the New Rich" if they followed the guidelines outlined in the book. The 4-Hour Workweek became the New York Times # 1 best seller, published in 35 different countries.

But since 2007, the economy has turned 180 degrees: banks fail, pension funds shrink, and many Americans are losing their jobs. How do the book's money lessons stand the test of time?

Lesson 1: Retirement is worst-case insurance.

Ferriss said on the 4-hour work week that retirement shouldn't be the ultimate goal.

"It should be viewed as nothing more than a hedge against the absolute worst-case scenario: in which case it becomes physically incapacitated and needs a reservoir of capital to survive," he wrote in his book.

Ferriss said if you enjoy what you do, you don't have to retire until you absolutely have to. He also noted that even if you saved $ 1 million, it is "a sucker move in a world where traditional retirement could be 30 years. … The golden years are returning to lower-middle class life."

Find Out: What It Takes To Save $ 1 Million For Retirement

Does this lesson last today?

Although Ferriss wrote his book in 2007, it is widely believed that $ 1 million is the golden amount needed for a retirement nest egg. Ferriss said that $ 1 million wasn't enough to lead a good life back then and in many cases wasn't enough to get you through retirement now.

He also said doing work that you love is important so that you don't feel the need to retire once you turn 65. This advice is right in 2019 if many people of that age can't even retire if they wanted – a survey by GOBankingRates found that 42 percent of Americans will go broke.

Lesson 2: Limit tasks and reduce working hours.

Ferriss stands by the 80/20 principle – that 80 percent of spending comes from 20 percent of spending – and Parkinson's Law, which states that a task becomes as big and complex as the time it takes to complete it.

Combining these two rules, Ferriss said that you should limit your tasks to those who perform the most and limit the time you give yourself to get things done by setting short and clear deadlines.

Does this lesson last today?

If Ferriss' lessons were taken to heart, Americans should now work fewer hours than they did in 2007. According to Statista, the average employee worked 34.6 hours a week in 2007 and 34.4 hours a week in 2017 – the last year for which is data available. Although the reduction in working hours is barely noticeable, in some cases it may be due to efficient prioritization of tasks and the setting of deadlines.

Lesson 3: Check Email Only Twice a Day.

Ferriss called e-mail "the greatest single disruption in the modern world". To be most productive, people should only check email twice a day: once at noon or just before lunch and once at 4 p.m.

"[Noon] and 4pm there are times when it is ensured that you will get most of the replies from previously sent email," he said.

To enforce the rule, Ferriss said you should speak to supervisors, staff, and customers first to let them know of your schedule, and set up an automatic response that directs people to call you in the event of a real emergency.

Does this lesson last today?

In a world where everyone has a smartphone and expects you to be available 24/7, it's hard to imagine obeying the Ferriss Rule. However, this was not the case when the 4-hour work week was originally published. The first edition of the book came out in 2007, the same year the first iPhone arrived – and the phone wasn't released until June of that year. In comparison, people are much more connected to their email in 2019.

Lesson 4: The Cabin is Your Temple.

"The booth is your temple – do not allow casual visitors," wrote Ferriss. He believes that employees who come into your cubicle are “intruders” and should be fired or ignored so you can focus on your tasks at hand.

Don't Miss: 21 Time Management Hacks Successful People Make Everyday

Does this lesson last today?

Cubicles are like this in 2007. As of 2017, 70 percent of US offices had low or no partitions, The Chicago Tribune reported. It's much harder to dodge employees when they can walk straight to your desk than just looking into your cubicle.

Find out how these 16 entrepreneurs spend their lunch break instead of avoiding employees. Note: it might actually involve eating and socializing.

Lesson 5: Hire a Virtual Assistant.

Ferriss devoted an entire chapter to automation, saying the first step is hiring a virtual assistant – even if you're not an entrepreneur. This frees up more time for meaningful work that is worth more.

Some of the tasks that virtual assistants can perform include scheduling interviews and meetings, doing research, running personal errands, making online purchases, proofreading, and transcribing.

Does this lesson last today?

Hiring a virtual assistant has never been easier, and the cost can be minimal. Ferriss gives an example in his book of someone who makes $ 50,000 a year, or $ 25 an hour, and pays another person $ 30 an hour for tasks that take eight hours of their work per week. Although it costs $ 240 a week, he said the cost is well worth it to free up an extra day.

Now you can hire virtual assistants for even less money. For example, on the TasksEveryday website, you can hire an assistant based in India or the Philippines for just $ 6.98 an hour.

Lesson 6: Automate Income Streams.

The core of Ferriss' book – the part that makes you one of the "New Rich" – is automating your revenue streams. He suggests doing this by starting a product-based business and explains the different ways you can do it: reselling a product, licensing a product, or creating a new product.

Ferriss recommends product development as "the least complicated, most profitable option open to most people". Instead of selling a physical product, Ferriss is supposed to sell an information-based product like a book or a DVD based on your expertise.

Does this lesson last today?

Do people still buy books? Although book sales previously declined, they are on the rise again, according to PwC's Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report. So writing a book is not a bad business idea.

According to Variety, physical disc sales fell 14 percent between 2017 and 2018 due to the popularity of streaming. So unless you sign a deal with Netflix, it is likely that it will not be profitable to distribute your information in DVD format.

Lesson 7: Extend Remote Time.

The subtitle of The 4-Hour Workweek promotes the idea that you can "live anywhere" while continuing to make money. Whether you've fully automated your income as an entrepreneur or you're still working for someone else, Ferriss said you should negotiate with your employer or your employees to work remotely as much as possible.

Does this lesson last today?

Since 2007, working remotely has grown from a niche practice to an extremely mundane one. A 2018 study by remote workspace provider IWG found that 70 percent of employees around the world work remotely at least one day a week and 53 percent remotely for at least half the week or more.

"The biggest driver is digital change in every industry in the world," IWG managing director Mark Dixon told CNBC. "On the one hand, the way real estate has to be offered is changing, but there are also companies that want something different in the digital world."

Dixon said that having employees working remotely benefits employers in two ways: it saves money on real estate and it can increase employee productivity.

"If you allow employees to work where they need to be, rather than where they are asked to work, it completely changes the way they see the company – they are more productive," he said.

Lesson 8: Replace Your Vacation With "Mini Retirement".

Since retirement is not the goal for Ferriss, he believes in redistributing 20 to 30 years of retirement throughout your life. He recommends moving to a place you plan to visit for one to six months so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. There is an economic case for this lifestyle too, he wrote, since living abroad is often significantly cheaper than living in many of America's largest cities.

Does this lesson last today?

If you work remotely or freelance, there's no reason you can't take Ferriss' advice and live abroad for months. And his argument in favor of moving overseas remains – many countries have much lower cost of living compared to the US. Even if you want a traditional retirement, living outside of the United States can help you save money and retire earlier.

Click through to find out how science can make you more money.


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