How many times have you been told that you need to work hard, save every penny, and enjoy a peaceful retirement? How many people have lectured you about this “responsible way to live”?
But what if they’re wrong?
What if, by doing what everyone else is doing, you’re actually wasting your life?
“Die With Zero” by Bill Perkins, is an awesome read that shows why everything we’ve been told about money, wealth, and life satisfaction could actually be wrong. The author talks how we can maximize our time on Earth and how to spend our hard earned money in a way that brings happiness to us and the people we love.
From inheritance, to insurance, from travel to careers, Die With Zero reveals the secret to a life that’s built on memories, wisdom, and peace of mind.
A few main points:
- why your children should inherit before you die;
- the perfect age to chase your dreams; and
- how to turn your experiences into an investment. You can probably earn more money, but you can never recapture time.
John was just 35 when doctors told him he had terminal cancer. When his family received the bad news, John’s wife Erin quit her job, and they enjoyed the time they had left together.
After John’s death, Erin was thankful for all their final shared memories.
This story may sound a bit extreme, but it reminds us of a profound truth: our time on Earth is finite. We must spend it carefully. But, when we think about the limited resources we all have, we rarely focus on time itself. Sadly, this approach can mean a wasted life.
You can probably earn more money, but you can never recapture time.
When I was in my mid-20’s, I had to have some major surgery. When they wheeled me back to my room, I was greeted by an older gentleman that turned out to be my roommate for the week. “I’m Ken”, he cheerfully said. “You look like shit. Can I get you anything?” I laughed and even through the anesthetic, I could still feel a bit of pain around my incision.
Over the week, I learned a lot about Ken. He and his wife had recently retired, sold their home and recently purchased one of those luxury RV’s that you see movie stars or professional athletes driving. Their goal was to travel North America over the next 2 years but Ken started having stomach issues 6 weeks into their trip. He finally decided to head to the Emergency Room of a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
After a battery of tests, the Dr’s suggested they postpone their trip and head back to Canada for more testing. Ken and I formed a great friendship over the week. He and his wife Elsie were an incredible couple that seemed to still be deeply in love. It was amazing to see how they interacted. Over the week, I spent most of the time with Ken and learned a lot about his life. He chatted and walked the halls with my girlfriend Darlene (who is now my wife) while I slept.
Ken and his wife had never really gone too far for vacation over their 43 years of marriage. They basically worked to pay the mortgage, their childrens education and put the majority of left over money into investments for their retirement. “Work, eat, sleep, repeat”, Ken said with a smirk. “That pretty much sums up my life so far.” Elsie wanted Ken to retire when he turned 60 as they had paid off their mortgage and were finally debt free. Ken wanted to work until he was 63, so he could get his full pension.
By the end of the week, it was time for me to go home. They still hadn’t told Ken what was wrong with him. We exchanged numbers and promised to stay in touch. Ken and Elsie wanted to get together again when we both had recuperated. A few hours after I arrived home and started to doze off, the phone rang. Darlene didn’t recognize the number so she let the answering machine pick up. Back then, you could hear who was leaving a message. “Hi Glennie, it’s Ken. They figured out what was wrong with me.” I could tell by his tone, that is wasn’t good news. Dar quickly picked up and Ken asked if he could speak with me.
“Hey Ken”, I said with a crackly voice. “It’s not good Glennie”, Ken calmly said. They found a bunch of cancer and they say it’s aggressive. Treatment starts next week”. My eyes filled with tears when he explained they were only giving a few months to live. My heart sank. Ken had been joking earlier that week that he was probably pregnant as he rubbed his bloated belly.
I was numb. Even though I had only known Ken for 7 days, we had become very close. We talked for over an hour. I don’t remember everything we talked about but one thing that stands out was how the 3 extra years of work really only added a few hundred dollars a month to his pension. As we hung up the phone, his last words to me were to look after Darlene “she’s a keeper”, he said!
I meant to call Ken a number of times over the next few weeks as I recovered. About three weeks later, Ken’s wife called. Ken had been fighting an infection and sadly passed away the night before.
Reading “Die with Zero”, got me thinking about what really matters most. A recent health scare got me thinking more about starting to slow down a bit. Even though we have been fortunate enough that we’ve been able to travel and take plenty of vacations over the years, none of us really know how much time we have left, but one thing is for certain, I’m going to be saying no to more functions and yes to more trips.