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Die With Zero by Bill Perkins

Review: 4 / 5

Die With Zero was a really fast read that had just a couple of key ideas, stretched out and repeated enough to reach book length. Most books of this type end up just having a few things to say and a lot of filler, and that was basically Die With Zero but the author kept it short, the writing is simple and easy to consume, and the core ideas are interesting enough that I’m glad I spent the time with it.

Perkins’ core idea is that life is made up of experiences, and that to live a rich life, we should fill it with experiences that are meaningful and memorable to us — building up our memory banks with memories that we can look back on fondly at the end of our lives. This is how my wife and I try to live our lives; although the pandemic put us in a rut on that front like it did millions of others. We have started being more intentional again about investing in experiences and I picked this book up to see if there were any lessons I could learn as we rebuild that part of life post-COVID.

The most interesting idea to me was Perkins’ advice to use “time buckets” as an alternative to the traditional bucket list. Instead of a list of things you want to do before you die, think about the things you want to experience and group them into the time when you want them to happen, and when they can happen. This takes into account that you may have dreams that you want to achieve that require a high level of physical fitness and great health (climbing K2, say). Those dreams probably shouldn’t be put off until you are in your 60s and less likely to be healthy enough to achieve them. The idea of time boxing those big dreams and investing in making those experiences happen before it is too late is a really concrete way to think about what you want your future to be. Working backwards from there to finding the time and resources to achieve those dreams feels natural.

Overall, I didn’t find anything Earth shattering in Die With Zero but I really enjoyed Perkins’ perspective on what is important in life, and his encouragement to think about more than just accumulating wealth until you are too late to enjoy any of it was a refreshing change from a lot of the financial advice I’ve read in the past. Worth reading through if you are feeling stuck planning for the future or want to hear a new perspective on saving for retirement without depriving yourself of things you want to do now.


Title: Die With Zero
Author: Bill Perkins
Published: 2020
ISBN: 9780358099765
Buy it from your local bookstore