This post contains affiliate links. I’m in a few finance groups on Facebook, and recently, several of them raved about Die with Zero by Bill Perkins. I got the book from the library, and it revolutionized the way I think about money and our future, financially and otherwise.
About Die with Zero by Bill Perkins
Most financial books encourage readers to learn new strategies to save and invest. The idea is to have a large sum of money when you retire so you can retire comfortably and do all of the things you were too busy to do when you were working and raising a family.
Perkins says that idea is flawed. Often, by the time people get to retire, they aren’t healthy enough to do the things they could have enjoyed when they were younger. Instead, Perkins encourages people to take grand adventures when they’re younger and healthy enough to enjoy them. He doesn’t want readers to miss out on life because they were too busy saving money. To him, the greatest tragedy is when people die with a large sum of money because they haven’t been able to use that money to enjoy life. Instead, they spent hours of their lives working for essentially nothing because they weren’t able to use the money.
Likewise, Perkins shares the story of a frugal woman who died and left two million to charity. Perkins thought that was a waste. He would have preferred to see the woman give money throughout her life because charities need your money now, rather than 50 years from now when you die.
My Thoughts on the Book
I’m risk adverse, so I don’t think I would feel comfortable dying with zero. (For people like me, Perkins suggests taking out an annuity or considering a reverse mortgage in old age.) However, reading this book has changed the way I think about activities and spending money. Specifically, our kids are now 17.5, 13, and 11.5. If I want to have adventures with them and create memories, it has to be now, not when I feel we are financially secure enough to do so.
Since reading this book, I’ve tried to make having adventures with the kids a priority. I’ve also tried to make finding time to talk with friends and family a priority because we simply don’t know how long we have.
My only complaint with this book is that it could have been about 50 or 75 pages shorter. Perkins gives examples from his own life, such as renting out an entire island and flying all of his friends and family there for a week for his 40th birthday party. Most readers will never be able to afford this extravagence, and, honestly, including the story felt like an opportunity to brag.
I give Die with Zero 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.