Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life

Bill Perkins, Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020

What is your most valuable possession? It is your memories! Your memories are your most treasured possession, the one thing that defines who and what you are. Consequently, spending money to build up memories is the best use of your money. One should spend your money acquiring experiences, not things. These experiences can be alone or with friends or with family. Whatever your preference. Your experiences will define who you are, so think about what experiences you will appreciate. Also, think about when it is best to acquire these experiences. A road trip–staying in hostels or other inexpensive places–might be best at a young age. Arduous treks are also best when you are young; you might enjoy hiking the Appalachian trail, but if you are out of shape it might not be best when you are 70 years old. Think about your “go-go”, “slow-go”, and “no-go” years. The author deeply regrets not going with his friend through Europe, staying at hostels, in his early 20s. At a later age, he would not have appreciated such a trip as much.

What about giving money to your family–say, your children. For them, too, receiving an inheritance would be much more useful at an early age, such as when buying a first home, rather than at retirement age. The idea is that if you die of old age with money in your bank account, you have lost it; you haven’t used it to acquire experiences. And while you could will it to your heirs, they will not receive it at the best age to take advantage of it.