Die with Zero – Review and Giveaway


“The real golden years – the period of maximum potential enjoyment because we have the most health and wealth – mostly come before the traditional retirement age of 65.” – Bill Perkins, Die With Zero.


Any intuitively, we all know this.

Yet so many of us might be giving up years of semi-retirement or retirement enjoyment only to find out we’ve saved too much or put off many valuable experiences for far too long.

This is the theme of Die With Zero, by author Bill Perkins.

“Our culture’s focus on work is like a seductive drug. It takes all of your yearning for discovery and wonder and experiences promising to give you the means (money) to get all those things – but the focus on the work and the money becomes so single minded and automatic that you forget what you were yearning for in the first place. The poison becomes the medicine.” – Bill Perkins

For today’s post, we’ll review what we liked, highlight some memorable quotes while offering some caution to future readers about Die With Zero.

As valued reader of our site, we’ll raffle off one (1) copy of this book to you!

Die with Zero – Review and Giveaway

Perkins’s main proposition is simply that we should strive to die with as little money as possible. A worthy notion for sure otherwise before you pass on, there are wouldas, couldas, and shouldas.

At Cashflows & Portfolios, we generally agree. We like the idea of enjoying the here and now, as much as possible, while protecting some financial assets to fight longevity risk.

The concept of financial or life-buckets is nothing new but for those not used to breaking down larger issues into more bite-sized, actionable steps, Die With Zero might be an eye-opener. Perkins asks the reader to write down everything they want to have done by the end of their lives, then divide their anticipated lifespan into a number of five-year increments. Once you look at your activities and certain age ranges, you might realize you have some work/enjoyment to do – and that enjoyment, for most, generally needs to accelerate in your 50s and 60s instead of your 70s and 80s.

You might shrug at this concept, but Perkins reminds you even if you remain fairly fit and active well into your 60s and 70s, the reality is, your body will simply not recover as well nor as fast as it once did. Father time will eventually win. By looking at your lifespan at a deeper level, you can leverage the Die With Zero concept to get after some activities should happen sooner than others.

Die with Zero – Give Now, Not Later

Another theme in this book is the refrain about giving assets now, not later.

We also like this theme, and we see it growing with some of our members and fellow DIY investors who have saved and invested well over the years – to help the younger generation.

The reasons are easy to understand:

  • In Canada, there are no taxes on gifts. This means that any amount of money that’s considered a “gift” does not need to be reported, and won’t be taxed as income. Any resident of Canada who receives a gift or inheritance of any amount, except from an employer, or as a tip or gratuity due to their employment, will not have to include this in their income. That’s why many (smart) people prefer to pass on an inheritance — or a portion of it — to their children in the form of cash while they’re alive. This way, they can actually see what value is being derived of the gift.
  • Children, and maybe more importantly charities need money, now. Sure, if could be great to maintain wealth/money over time and take advantage of compound interest, but money gifted later, when your kids could be retired themselves – will have less impact.

Another concept we liked in the book, was about creating a “memory dividend”. No, not the memory of earning lots of dividends from your portfolio (although we like that too!) but rather it’s the memories from experiences that you make, over time, that compound and support life’s enjoyment. So, if you take a cruise to Greece, as an example, you can hopefully draw on that memory for years to come – and the more memories you create – that can have a compounding effect over time adding up to higher life satisfaction.

Die with Zero Review – Quotable Moments

Here are some quotable / punchy moments from the book:

“Granted, money has absolutely no value to you when you’re dead…”

“Given your own health and history, think about when your enjoyment of those activities is likely to start declining in a noticeable way on an annual basis – and how the activities you love will be affected by this decline.”

“Realize that at every moment you have a choice. The choices you make reflect your priorities, so be sure you’re making those choices deliberately.”

Die with Zero Review – Questionable Moments

Of course, this book does include some questionable content and moments, and our review would not be complete if we didn’t offer some fair criticisms…

For one, there is a theme of privilege throughout that’s hard to miss since Perkins does share often, he is a multi-millionaire and has a few multi-millionaire friends, so it’s hard to relate to folks preaching financial independence when they cannot possibly outlive their abundance of wealth.

Second, while the book concepts are good and offer some opportunities for personal reflection, Die With Zero can be rather repetitive.

Finally, there is no recipe for “how-to” Die With Zero. Although there are a number of mentions about annuities (as one vehicle for this – essentially creating your own pension), Perkins fails to acknowledge these products might not appeal to many investors or retirees for a few reasons.

Die with Zero – Review and Giveaway

Using a few personal experiences, including those of his father’s final days, Bill Perkins suggests most of us should at least consider a path to Die With Zero. He encourages us to be more intentional when it comes to spending money, now, versus hoarding too much money for a day that may never come. Perkins provides a few rules/guidelines in the book to consider when it comes to your financial drawdown plan:

  • Rule 1: Maximize your positive life experiences/optimize your life
  • Rule 2: Start investing in experiences early, and keep doing it
  • Rule 3: Aim to die with zero, and why
  • Rule 4: Use all available tools to help you die with zero, how to spend your money wisely
  • Rule 5: Give money to your children or to charity when it has the most impact, sooner than later
  • Rule 6: Don’t live your life on autopilot, strike a balance
  • Rule 7: Think of your life as distinct lifespans, time-bucket your life
  • Rule 8: Know when to stop growing your wealth, “know your peak”
  • Rule 9: Take your biggest risks when you have little to lose, be bolder earlier life!

Die With Zero is a very quick personal finance read, one that offers some time and ideas for reflection, which might be an enabler to put a much more robust retirement income and asset decumulation plan together on your terms.

“Although we all have at least the potential to make more money in the future, we can never go back and recapture time that is now gone.” – Bill Perkins.

Now, as promised, win a free copy of this book for your own reflections!

Simply enter the giveaway below and we’ll notifiy the winner on this site and over email in the coming weeks. That’s it!

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Cashflow projections help with any Die With Lots or Zero plans…

Needless to say, we enjoy helping other DIY investors. We are only happy to give free stuff away and take up some of our personal time to write and update free content on this site.

Cashflows & Portfolios remains a free site moving forward this year that will continue to share free, unfiltered, DIY personal finance information and free financial case studies by DIY investors, for DIY investors.

With our free newsletter, we’re committed to sharing new and updated content every month that supports DIY investors at any age with cashflow concepts, determining the best products or investments to consider when it comes to building wealth and growing your cashflow, and sharing ideas about how to manage and navigate that cashflow and your portfolio in retirement. We simply enjoy producing the content.

We also enjoy helping others with their retirement income readiness…but in a low-cost way…

As passionate DIY investors ourselves, we’ve grown a bit tired of the high-fees charged by some professionals for some services and believe there is a much better way for many DIY investors to get answers to their questions, including bouncing ideas, concepts and perspectives off other like-minded savers and investors as part of a membership forum and community.

With our low-cost serviceswe offer a couple of high-value, low-cost financial projections solutions to help meet the needs of any DIY investor. We’ve offer these solutions to Canadians because we believe saving, investing, portfolio building and monitoring should be a process – one that needs a bit of maintaince and ongoing support – but any reporting support shouldn’t cost you thousands of dollars.

As founders, owners and content managers of this site, we simply offer up our time, expertise, services and solutions to other like-minded DIY investors – without any strings attached. We believe, full-stop, the cost for any retirement readiness solutions shouldn’t be for the wealthy so the pricing needs to reflect that. We also offer a money-back guarantee for all our solutions, services and time – try finding that somewhere else. 🙂

If you ever want to reach out about our services or just say hello, please contact us here to get started.

We enjoy the emails and engagement with you. We look forward to sharing more free content and providing more giveaways this year.

Mark and Joe.

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33 thoughts on “Die with Zero – Review and Giveaway”

  1. I really enjoyed this book, with probably the key takeaways for us being memory dividends and taking advantage of being physically able to do certain activities. I’ve heard some criticisms of the “know your peak” math though, that it’s over-simplified. What are your thoughts on that, and how would you change the math so that you can more accurately “know your peak”?

    Thanks guys!

    • Yes, that was good and we highlighted that in our review – we agree with experiences over stuff in our personal lives too!
      Nice to hear from you Cynthia, onwards and upwards for 2024!
      Mark and Joe.

  2. While on a cruise to St Petersburg, before the Ukraine invasion of course, we visited Catherine’s palace and the story was told that she died penniless as there was no money left to pay for her last pair of shoes. Whether true or not I do not know but it was put up as a life well lived. Albeit not by any ordinary Russian.
    As for myself I have told my kids that I will endeavour to enjoy the money I have saved through my employed life and leave them as little as possible. Many factors may influence that outcome but I try to enjoy what I can.
    Personally I would prefer to live as long as I can with as much money as I can. Not much use to dying broke. If I have enjoyed myself and something is left over for the younguns that is just as commendable, if not more so, that spending it all. I do not intend to spend my last nickel (no more pennies) pulling a slot machine. Although maybe buying each of my kids a Lotto 6/49 might be nice.


    • Ha, you’re not alone I don’t think:

      “As for myself I have told my kids that I will endeavour to enjoy the money I have saved through my employed life and leave them as little as possible. Many factors may influence that outcome but I try to enjoy what I can.”

      Thanks for your comment and engagement here.

  3. This is where we are in life, it is what we talk about for our two adult children, I’d like to read this book to see if we can apply anything to our retirement.

  4. I’m all about spending money on experiences and now we’re helping out our kids with home renovations and car payments. Planning on giving any inheritance we might receive to the next generation where they could really benefit.

    • I think a fair number of CAP followers are lucky enough to have the option to help those who follow us while they are establishing themselves. We, and they, can could ourselves lucky.


      • Indeed, 100%. Many folks that follow this site understand that cashflow is and has always been king and are simply looking at optimal or close to optimal ways to enjoy it. Kudos to them. 🙂

  5. I too like the concept and it’s one my own mother folllowed. As my husband and I purchased our first home and started our family she was there to help with an interest free loan or a gift of money. When she died a few years back at the age of 97 she had less than $15,000 in the bank, but by this time she didn’t need anything. Her final gift to me was a life insurance policy which helped fund our own retirement. I too plan on sharing this with my own kids, and enjoying the remainder in our retirement.

    • Super smart, Donna. We appreciate that lived experience since we see a few clients having “enough” but in some rare cases, are now faced with taxation or other decisions since they kept money too long. It’s a delicate balance for sure, there is no ideal plan, but the concept of giving money now, even in small doses to family makes sense for many reasons.

      Good luck to you!

  6. An interesting concept. I would like to read more about it. My thoughts – enjoy doing the things I do while I can and give semi annual gifts to my nieces and nephews. I will temper this with an cushion to make sure I do not outlive my money. My heart would break if I did.

    • Great stuff, Jan. I think your approach to give some small living inheritances is very wise since both the provider (you) and the recipients (kids) can both see and enjoy things at the same time! Too many folks wait far too long.

      Good luck with the giveaway!

  7. I look forward to the Cashflow and Portfolio emails and the idea of sharing with your loved ones is one we’re doing right now as we’re helping our 39 year old son with paying for RPN course.

    • Thanks very much, Arlene. Happy to know you and others enjoy them!

      Great stuff, helping your son – very much what Die With Zero supports.


  8. With 30+ years of retirement now ahead of us, my spouse and I are grappling with the decision to spend more and give more. We take pleasure in reviewing our portfolio and its projections throughout our retirement. However, we realize that this does no one else any good. So far, we’ve set up and are funding five RESPs for our grandchildren, a decision we made to invest in their future. Yet, we feel the need to do more. I would welcome the opportunity to read ‘Die With Zero’, hoping it might provide some insights to nudge us in the right direction.

    • Great stuff, Bob. You seem to have saved and invested well, which now allows you to afford (literally) to do things with your wealth. We find clients/members of ours as they age, as we discuss these very subjects during any projections work, it becomes crystal clear to almost everyone that life if very finite and there is only so much wealth needed to be happy. The ability to have your health as you age and have some means to enjoy things you’ve worked so hard to build is true joy to most!

      Good luck with the giveaway!

  9. The concept of time buckets really resonated with me, it’s the concept of how you might navigate through different life phases and what you may get physically be capable of. That and living inheritance when it would make the most impact.

    • Indeed, we liked the time buckets concept too – makes natural sense given we all have only have so much ability when we are young.
      Good luck and thanks for your comment!

  10. This sounds like an interesting book….I have told many a financial planner…I want to die with 0 at age 98….the trick is you might pop off at 87….darn…or you might live to 102….yikes that’s a bigger darn…always sounds great on paper. Thanks for the coles notes version…and the blogs…best of luck in 2024

  11. Then you might not make it to 60 so don’t wait till your old to enjoy life, be frugal but spend so you don’t have regrets. I’d rather enjoy my younger years and be frugal in my 80’s. My father lost many friends in his 50’s, so retired at 55 and enjoyed life. He got Altzheimers at 75 and was gone before 80. You never know when your time is up. I’ve lost friends in my teens and in my 30’s. Time is not garaunteed to anyone.
    Live well.

  12. I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace “Die with Zero” – as in zero estate value when I (we) pass, but I’m very interested in ensuring we don’t Die with an unspent fortune that could have been leveraged to improve our retirement. I’m super curious about this book and what I can learn from it.

    • Ya, that’s our thinking as well James and very much aligned to the work we do here to support others.
      Good luck! Hope 2024 is starting off well for you.

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