The Childfree Wealth Podcast, hosted by Bri Conn and Dr. Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP®, is a financial and lifestyle podcast that explores the unique perspectives and concerns of childfree individuals and couples. In this episode, Bri & Dr. Jay discuss the book “Die With Zero” by Bill Perkins.
You’ll hear some of their greatest takeaways as well as Bri’s initial reaction to the book. Although the book isn’t a childfree book, it provides a great concept for how to balance your life when you have different amounts of time, money, & health.
Next Month’s Book: The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
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Disclaimer: This podcast is for educational & entertainment purposes. Please consult your advisor before implementing any ideas heard on this podcast.
Hey all you Childfree Wealth listeners. So this one's going to be a little different for those of you that haven't picked up on the earlier episodes. Bri is working to become a CFP® and she studying and part of what I said with Bri was as she started to work for Childfree Wealth was we’re going to start a book club, I'm going to read a different book each month and review it and talk about how it impacts finances, how it impacts childfree folks.
And we were going to do this as like just a professional development thing. We said, why not record it for the podcast, then share it with you, so be frank. Don't really know where it's going to go. So we're going to have a good discussion about the book. We're going to try to pick up a book each month if you want to read the same book.
Of course works for you. And but the downside is we're going to already have spoiled it for you. So, you know, just spoiler alert on that. And today's book is Die with Zero. Bill Perkins.
So, Bri, I want you to start with, like, okay, let's go back to, like, fifth grade. We do like the click book report of like within 60 seconds. What is Die With Zero about?
Die With Zero it is all about using your money in a way to get the most fulfillment out of life and talks about your different life cycles, how you have time, money, and health at different points of your life. And there's going to be times when you have more time and money and times when you have more health and different things like that and how you can overall kind of balance those things out to create the most enjoyment and fulfillment out of your life.
So, Bri, what's your first reaction to the overall concept, the book, the I mean, what do you think?
This is a book based on the title alone that I would have never picked up had it not been for the work we're doing just because the title would have freaked me out. But as I read the book, my opinion completely changed and I'm like, I really like this book. It's a really good concept, good ideas and it opened up my mind a lot more to different ways to handle and manage finances and life in general, too.
Yeah, and for those that haven't read the book, it's not made for childfree folks. It's got a whole chapter on kids and a whole lot of mentions about kids, but I find a lot of childfree folks. The concept works of dying with zero. They don't want to run out of money, but they want to like have their last dollar in their hand as they die, if at all possible, but also, there's a whole lot of things that are in there about like ways you look at life and the balance and all that.
So what is so for those who are listening, whenever Bri and I have a meeting, we have a way we do debriefing and it works pretty simple is what works? What didn't what would you change? We're going to start with that with the book. So kind of what's the one thing you think works in what Perkins presented?
I like the way he talked about life and how money is help there to help you get the most enjoyment out of life throughout. And so sometimes you're going to have more money, sometimes you're going to have less money. So you need to adjust how you do things. But just because you don't have as much money doesn't mean you can't have as much fun.
That's something that I you know, I try not to equate money and fun because I don't want it to be I can only have fun if I'm spending money. And I think he did a really good job of presenting that in the book and reminding people that because it can be hard to remember, you can have fun without money.
Yeah. And he presents the concept of this relationship between time, money and health. It's kind of interesting. And the childfree stuff. I talked about time, money, and freedom. I'm kind of going he might be right on with the health, but, you know, later in life, you have more money but… and more time but less health. And earlier on, you have less money, but you have no time.
I don't know. I mean, I'm with you. I'd like that. So what's one thing? You kind of go, Yeah, I don't agree with it.
I don't know if there was a specific part. I was like, I don't agree with that. I understand the concept of wanting to spend more money and the bell curve, but it still just makes me a bit nervous because all the running, the worry of running out of money, even though you build a plan, you set things aside, it still makes me nervous.
I like the concept, but I'm not quite fully there yet. I'm like, Yes, I can do this 100%.
But you know, I don't know that the book would help you with that. I've I've worked with clients and it takes, I don't know, 3 to 6 months of working with them before they go really, I can spend my money and actually enjoy my life. And it's it's a complete mindset shift. So I'm with you. So now, Bri, the last question is so if you were rewriting the book, what would you change?
I think I would emphasize the health a little bit more in there because as you get older, you typically don't have as much health and it can be easy to forget that. And sometimes you don't always you being people in general, don't think about the fact that you can lose your health at any time. And so doing things now is really important and enjoying life, not just waiting for later.
So I would emphasize that a little bit more. He kind of does with the personal interest rate saying how much somebody would have to pay you in interest in order for you to do delay and experience. I thought that was a really good point and really good idea to put it in there because that's something I hadn't thought about, but I'm thinking more about that.
I would just emphasize the health a little bit more.
And you're right, I mean, let's be real. It wasn't a health book, but, you know, like it's a big concept. I think when I was reading through the book, the AHA was look, at some point in your life you either need to start spending your money or giving away your estate, which for childfree folks is not a priority there.
My nephews get everything is left over. If they get 10,000, hundred thousand, I'm okay with it. If they get a million, I screwed up. And the health component is kind of like, well, when do you want to enjoy it and can you enjoy it? And I've worked with people, you know, in their forties and fifties that had a stroke or a major medical that never would have thought they would have had a health issue, but all of a sudden got smacked with it.
And that's hard. I mean, you know, you think, oh, I'm going to be healthy until my seventies or eighties or whatever it is. But you don't know, even some of the people I've worked with it like we're the healthiest person, you know, they're out running marathons and then all of a sudden have an issue. I don't know.
I mean, what do you think?
I personally think that it is very true. You don't know if your health is going to last you forever or if it might be gone tomorrow. And you do need to save for the future, but also find a balancing act between doing the things that you really want to do now because you might not get the chance to do those later.
And so it is a good point that people can have strokes in their forties and fifties that they never would have expected. And now all these things they wanted to do, they can't. And that is really hard to be that person. But also to see that.
Yeah, it's it's harder on everybody around. I mean, the family, everything else and you know, it's just reality check. But let's, let's go to something happier because, you know, we can go down this path too long. So just for everybody listening, when I work with clients that want to embrace that concept, die with zero, really what we're talking about is I want to die with as little money as possible at the end.
Not necessarily like I want to be broke at the end because you don't want to run out of money. And that's kind of like one of those balancing acts. And Perkins has some apps and some things that he's worked on, but I have a slate of her which is to die was there. We do three things. One, we figure out a long term care plan.
So like, are you paying for a pocket or are you going to share something to pay for long term care. Two, put off Social Security until 70. And the only downside there is I don't know if social care is 100% going to be there in my future. So three, we put a little cash cushion for the end. You know, a year or two expenses, whatever your magic number is, but then you can spend everything in the middle and that's a shift from I want to always grow my net worth.
And if you look at the data, the childfree, a single childless women have the highest net worth over 55 in the US, but it's only by a couple thousand dollars and people go, oh, why, why don't childfree people have a higher net worth? And I think part of it's because they're effectively embracing day zero when they know the book or not and saying, Hey, I don't care about passing on a new generation.
So just putting together a giant net worth is not a value. And that's where I saw I like his book and the work we do, at childfree kind of come together. Do you see anything else that popped out to you?
Bri yeah, that definitely popped out to me. But also just he talks a lot about, you know, people who do you want to leave their money behind? They leave it behind. And by the time the people who are the heirs are getting it, it's typically too late in their life to make a difference. So I was like, Oh wow, this concept can really be applied to anybody because it does make a difference when you get money in your life and when you don't.
And it made more sense to me because I always thought, okay, I'm going to die and I'll leave a bunch of things behind. And then, you know, I have places that I wanted to go to and organizations will and they can have it, but why can't I do it while I'm still alive? And that was a good kind of reminder in the book and a little wakeup call I guess.
Yeah. I mean, if you if you're charitably minded, you're probably going to A) get more tax benefit by doing it now and B) be able to enjoy it a bit more by being part of the charities now versus when you die. Yeah, but then I hope hear people well, but I might need that money. Well, that's why we set aside long term care.
So, you know, we put a little cushion and then you can actually, you know, live and give and do whatever you want to do with your life. Now, my take on that, my spin on it is that's when you can invest in yourself too. So we talk about the FILE lifestyle. And, you know, going back to school, starting a business, doing the job, changing jobs, do whatever you want.
We're like, Hey, I don't have to work for a retirement in the end in a giant estate. Maybe I can shift my life now and he talks in die with zero about, you know, you know, being generous to your family and having, you know, parties and giving their cool. That's all you can do all that, too. But you could also invest in yourself. And and I think that's that's a shift, you know.
So some of my colleagues really have problems with this day with zero book and they say it's because it takes on too much risk. And I think part of that is because the system is built to like assume everybody wants to just constantly gain more money. So if you if you've worked with a financial planner, they have software which does what is called Monte Carlo simulation.
And those simulations are usually a thousand simulations, all based on the question of are you going to run on money? So it'll say like you have a 99% chance of success. Well, 99% chance of success in a Monte Carlo simulation is a 99% chance of failure in die with zero because it's inverted. And the other part of it is and this is just kind of one of those and we'll have to do a whole podcast on this separately, but there's some conflicts of interest in the financial planning models that do what's called assets under management (AUM) fees.
They charge 1% of all your assets, and they're hoping they go up for your life. So if you as a person wanted to go down like you're cutting your financial planner’s paycheck, so you may end up in a conflict of interest of what the goals are. So I don't know if, like the die was zero concept, if some of the people that challenge is just because like they have a vested interest in it or if it's because like they just fight against the standard life script.
I mean, what do you think Bri? Do you think it's a conflict of interest or just like ingrained or what do you think?
I think it's a little bit of both because typically, you know, you have been told you want to grow your money forever and keep going up and up and up. And when there's somebody who has a stake in your assets and gets part of those every single year, they're not going to like if it goes down. And I know I wouldn't want my paycheck.
Granted, there is no assets under management with Childfree Wealth, but that wouldn't be enjoyable for me and I could see how other people would fight against something that essentially promotes that.
Yeah, I don't know. I mean, so for those that get deep into the research, there's this concept called the hedonic treadmill, which is we just got to keep earning and buying and earning and buying and earning and buying and getting a bigger hit on it. And some point we’ve just got to break that cycle and be like, No, I just want to do what I enjoy.
You know, I call it Marie Kondo’ing your life. Focus on the things you joy. Get rid of the stuff you don't. And that's what I was here. I was really about like live your best life now. I mean, I don't know, maybe, maybe because we're childfree and we throw out the standard life script or life plan, we can do this while others are like, No, I must pass on generational wealth.
And I love the generational wealth thing because we all say, Well, the baby boomers are going to pass on all this generational wealth to Gen X and Gen Y. No, they aren't that to spend on health care and long term care, but people will just ignore that part. But you know, like, I don't know. So you said this this die with zero still scares you.
Because the thought of running out of all my money completely and not having a home or a car or a place to live or anything like that is honestly my worst nightmare.
So how much money do you have to have? So one of the ways to reframe this is if you want…. dying with zero really scares you that much. You say, okay, if I have $1,000,000 net worth, I can spend every other penny or, you know, some other magic number. And we call magic numbers because they're all pulled out of the air.
They're not, like, real. Is there a magic number you need to have when you die?
I have not figured that out yet, but we've talked about long term care being $1,000,000 by the time I'm that age. So million dollars per year. So enough to cover long term care for me. That would be great. But I don't I don't know.
That that's where long term care insurance can check that box. And then you don't have to have the cash on hand.
That is true. That is very true. But I don't have a magic number for what I need to have when I die.
So what's the biggest shift in your own finances or your look at the world? That die with zero did for you.
Maybe I should stop being such a tightwad sometimes when my wife wants to do things.
Oh, I'm laughing because I call this the blueberry problem. I spend more time with my clients. I love spending money than saving money. And they're like, okay, I've been saving forever. And I buy the frozen blueberries because a dollar cheaper than the fresh blueberries and I'm look at their net worth. I'm like, you got them over $1,000,000. You're never going to run out of money in this situation, whatever it is.
And I go buy the blueberries. They're like, Really? I can get the blueberries. And I'm like, Yes, the dollar extra for blueberries is not going to impact your financial plan. But like, if you're in that like saving mindset, it's hard to like then start spending money.
Yeah, it is. I mean, last night my wife was cooking and she was making some breakfast sausage and she's like, Oh, this is maple. This is really good. I was like, Yeah, I finally bought the name brand stuff like, you've been asking for.
An extra dollar, right? $2.
It is. That is it. But I just wouldn’t do it for the longest time.
So in other words, you're so cheap that your wife can't have the sausage she likes.
I'm even cheaper than that. I guess I. This is embarrassing, but she's in hotels all the time being an airline pilot, so she brings home all the bar soap. And I will not buy soap. I will only use the bar soap that she brings home. So, yes, I'm very cheap.
My father, a bus driver growing up and we lived on hotel amenities for a long time. I just kind of is. But it's funny, like I have people reach out to us and you know, so I'll have people reach out all the time say, I'm worried about running out of money, and then I'll do the math for them and I'll be like, you're not going to run out of money.
And they're like, well, but what about this? And they just start going down, Well, what about inflation? What about this? And I'm like, first of all, turn off the news, like, because you're watching too much of it. But I'm like, I get to a point where, okay, we did your finances, we've done it. The software. Look, I got a PhD, an MBA, & a CFP, and I'm saying you're okay.
And they're like, well, but I'm like, but what? And then finally clicks and they're like, oh, I can do something else with my money. And their brain just explodes. Where I see a lot of this is people forties, fifties, and I'm like, okay, at some point and you can actually track this part of the die with zero is you have to bring the networth down over time.
And if you see the research on fire and see if what you already talked about, 4% safe withdrawal rate, that assumes you want to keep the principle you want to not die with zero. So we had to bend that curve at some point. And I said at some point in your career, you are earning money for an estate you don't care about.
And they're like, What? Like if you want to keep working, you go right ahead. But you're not going to use the money and like, it just challenges everything. And Bri, I mean, you're young enough that you shouldn't have these things in, you know, like ingrained in your brain already.
I know, but I do. They're just, like, stuck in there, and sometimes I need to chill out a little bit. So that's what this book has taught me.
How to chill out. All right, great. So I know you also took a whole bunch of notes and had some questions. So anything you want to, like, challenge, question or jumps out at you.
The one thing it was, I'm one of the very first pages of the book, but one of the lines says “Living as if your life were infinite is the opposite of taking the long view. It's incredibly short sighted.” And he later goes on to talk about a hospice nurse who said, you know, the number one deathbed regret is not living a life true to oneself.
And when people are so worried about saving money, saving money, saving money, I do think it's very easy to forget what you want to do and actually enjoy those experiences because you're afraid you're not going to have money later on.
I'm with you.
So that was one of the biggest takeaways for me.
Let me challenge you here Bri. Okay. And I am going to pull the generation card on this one. Does that mean YOLO? We just go for it and don't I mean, because that's what you just said.
No, that is not. You don't just you need to save for the future and that's important. But also, you know, you can buy the good sausage like it doesn't have to be an all or nothing ordeal.
See and this is the problem with like financial advice online. And by the way, I understand we're doing a podcast online too. I'm buy finance. So like there's, you know, we're timing ourselves, I guess, but there's either like YOLO kind of like, just do whatever you want, run your credit cards up and screw it and see what happens.
Or there’s like the miserly, like save everything and it really will pass that some like finding a middle ground. But the problem is it doesn't sell on the Internet. Like, you know, like that's not fun. Like, hey, I bought the good sausage and the blueberries. It's like, it'd be more like, really? That's what you're bragging about?
Yeah, there's no show about middle ground. You know, there's extreme cheapskates, and then there's my lottery home, like, or something like that, where you're spending a lot or you're not spending anything. And it can be easy to fall into either one of those two traps when those are what's on TV all the time.
Yeah. And if you actually are interested in the finances around this, there's a process they call setting guardrails for your spending where it's like, you know, spend at least this much no more than this. And that shifts based on how your investments are doing and how your income's doing. So there's a way to, like, find that middle ground.
That's the finances of it. The hard part is the mental part. Yeah. Like I go through a phase in life where I'm like, yeah, I'm not spending any money, you know? Yeah, I'm working on a goal. It's all going to the same, it's all going. And then I get done with that and I'm like, well, can I afford to go out to dinner?
Like, no, I got to say, for that goal, I'm like, well, no, I already hit the goal. You have to reprogram your brain. And it's not numbers. It's a way of living, a way of life. I think the other one and that kind of balance that I challenge a lot of people with is like, you go to your job, you make a lot of money, cool.
You make 100,000, 200,000 or whatever it is, but you're not happy. Your job, what you really just told me is it takes it. You're willing for 100,000 or 200,000, whatever your salary is, to be miserable people like, no, that's not what I said. I'm like, no, that is what you just said for a number. I'm willing to. And that's where the die with zero approach says you've got time, money and and health and you're wasting it on a job you don't want to be doing. It would be actually okay to take less money and be happier. By the way, also not popular on the internet. But that's okay.
Yeah. But it is true though, because if you're continuing to stay in a job where you're miserable for the money, what good is it because you likely don't have the time to do the things you want to actually use that money? So finding something you enjoy more and can have overall better quality of life could be more beneficial to you.
Yep. So what are like three takeaways from the Die with Zero Book that you're going to put into your life?
There's a bucket approach and it's talking about the bucket list people usually make later in life of, oh, we want to do this. But he says, no bucket out your life into like five year time periods and say, during this five years of my life, I want to do these things and then this five years I want to do these things and then this five years I want to do these things.
So that way you can kind of plan the things that you want to do in life. And of course, those can change over time. But I did like the idea of, okay, it kind of gives you more of like time constraints to say, alright, you said you wanted to do this during this time. Well, let's do it then.
Why are you not doing it and gives you the ability to sort of plan ahead versus reacting. So that was a big one. And then other things I wrote down was talking about what life experiences you want to have and how often you want to have them. Because that is something I didn't think about with how often I thought about, oh yeah, I want to do this, but I've never thought about, you know, how often do I want to go take a vacation?
Like, do I want to do that once a year or twice a year or maybe three or four times a year? And about how long do those want to be? And different things like that, thinking a little bit more depth about it other than just saying, I want to take a vacation, which is rather general, and then oh, another one he said was outsource things that you don't enjoy.
And that is something I'm working on because I have historically said, no, we can't do that when I'm absolutely miserable doing certain things. And so it would be better just to pay somebody else to do it, because otherwise I'm spending my time just moaning and groaning and hating what I'm doing every second. So that was another big takeaway.
I'm with you. I my property, I have a whole bunch of acres of land and I'm looking outside behind my computer and I'm watching the person mow the lawn. And that is the way to mow the lawn. I don't want to do it. I outsource it, like just, yeah, I'd rather pick up another client and do some more work at my day job than have to go deal with the pollen and the other stuff and fight with the mower and the heat.
And that it's a good point. So Bri, who should read Die With Zero?
Honestly, I think everybody could read it. It was such a good, good thing. And I… everybody will get a different takeaway more than likely. Out of it but out of all the books I've read, this is probably one of the best.
Dr. JayThat's a pretty good, you know, recommendation. And so the next book really is The Simple Path to Wealth. It is a good one for, hey, I want to understand financial planning basics. And for most people that'll do it all. I mean, you could just read The Simple Path to Wealth and leave it there. The interesting thing is, though, the simple path to wealth is back to the normal assumption of I want to grow my wealth over time, so we'll have to look at the balance between those two, but we will pick that up next month.