Apr 30

How do I embrace the die with zero approach?

We've mentioned the "die with zero" approach several times here, and now it's time to discuss it in greater detail. Let's take a look at why you might want to consider this strategy when it comes to planning your Childfree finances. 

Die with Zero

The "die with zero" approach comes from a book of the same name: Die With Zero: Getting All You Can From Your Money and Your Life, by Bill Perkins. The concept is pretty simple. At a certain point, you will have made enough money that you don't need to earn more to live out your life. Perkins is a big advocate for getting the most enjoyment out of your life that you can, and not leaving behind a pile of money (and regrets) when you die. This means using your money at the right time to be of the greatest benefit, and knowing when to stop working and enjoy your life, rather than continuing to work just to amass wealth. This is something a lot of people struggle with. 

For example, you should travel while you're still young and healthy enough to enjoy it. If you want to help family members with your money, do it while they're still in a position to get the most benefit. If you have nieces and nephews that you're considering leaving money to, according to Perkins' argument, it would be better to give them that money while you're still alive and they're still in the stage of their life before they have the potential to be financially secure (such as when they're young adults – they could be middle aged by the time you die). Perkins' book is a great read (although it does also discuss this approach from the perspective of parents, it still applies to Childfree and childless people) and is worth picking up – or checking out from your local library. 

I found that 95% of the Childfree and childless people I work with and have interviewed don't care how much money they have at the end of their lives, as long as they don't run out. Once you make this decision, it becomes a numbers game to plan around it.

What should you consider if you want to die with zero? 

It's important to have a long-term care plan in place, no matter what your situation is. This will involve a lot of the aspects we've already covered, such as long-term care insurance, making a will, and so on. Your Childfree Wealth Specialist® can run numbers for you and create simulations based on a variety of financial conditions. Choosing to die with zero doesn't mean embracing YOLO (you only live once; a phrase used to justify many poor decisions), but rather, figuring out your life and your money so you get the most enjoyment and utility out of your financial situation and your health while both are at optimum levels.
Jay Zigmont, PhD, MBA, CFP® is the Founder of Childfree Wealth®, a life and financial planning firm dedicated to helping Childfree and Permanently Childless people. Dr. Jay is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Childfree Wealth Specialist, and author of the book “Portraits of Childfree Wealth.” Dr. Jay is the co-host of Childfree Wealth Podcast. His Ph.D. is in Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut.

He has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, and many other publications.