“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!
Cashflow projections help with any Die With Lots or Zero plans…
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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 services, we 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. 🙂
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Mark and Joe.