Key takeaways and what I did

I finished Die with Zero in 48 hrs, absolutely loved it. I feel like I was already kind of doing that but wasn’t sure. So it’s more a validation of how I carry my life, rationalize it, and learned new insights from him. My key takeaways:

  1. Life is about accumulation of experiences, not monetary wealth.
  2. Memory dividends. Do you feel the same satisfaction and joy when you look back at old pics? that’s memory dividends. When you invest in experiences, you are investing in your future memorable moments too.
  3. There are three variables to maximize life wealth (not monetary wealth): health, time, money. When we are young, we have health and time, but not money, so we can’t get the experiences we wanted at the time. When we retire, we have money and time, but we don’t have the health/energy to do things we had in our 20-40s. In middle age, assuming we have a stable job, we are likely to be comfortable with money and still good health, but time is limited given the obligations of work/life/kids/parents.
  4. Prioritize in getting/staying healthy as long as possible as it’s the basis for the other two variables to work.
  5. Be mindful of timing of the experiences, especially those that require good health and interests of other people involved (kids, parents, friends).
  6. Pay for others. Abandon the idea that others need to pay for themselves. If you really want someone to be there to share the experience, be willing to pay for it if you know the other person doesn’t have the financial means.
  7. How much do we really need to save for retirement. He provides a simple way to calculate that amount, depending the life style you think you want for when you retire. He argues that the peak should be way earlier than retirement age.
  8. Give money to whoever you want to leave inheritance, but now. They could get more and better experiences if they get the money earlier than later.
  9. When you are not sure about spending x amount of $$ in some experiences that you feel like it’s a lot of money. Ask yourself: would you rather have this now or two of these in 10 years? which is what the compounding interests yield if you save the money.
  10. Write a bucket lists of things you want to do without concern of the financial and time feasibility. See which ones you need to do soon and which ones you can delay. Some activities you need to do when you are with good health, or your kids want to do it with you. Or when your parents are still alive and with good health.

I already prioritize experiences over material things. With these knowledge, I feel even better to spend on experiences. Before going out crazy, I first review our 2022 finances. I am happy that we spend the money according to our values and our saving rate is still high. So, I went ahead and booked few more trips 🙂 Our schedule is looking busy

Feb: I’ll go solo to Argentina for few days to bring my dad remains back.

March: mom and hubby will go back to Shanghai for a week. I will take the girls to Club Med Bintan as it’s their school break. I’ve been undecided about this for a while. This is the perfect opportunity to do it as I’ll be alone with the kids, so it would be much easier if the resort has organized activities for kids.

April: Bali to meet with their Manila friends. And probably will book another trip to visit Komodo island during school break.

May (TBC): a hiking trip.

June (TBC): China for the summer break.

As I finished the book, I shared the main ideas with hubby and he kept nodding. He comes from a frugal family, his parents still don’t spend a penny. Sometimes we enter into arguments given his propensity to be frugal. But even him, he agrees with these ideas. When I suggest that I take the girls to Club Med while he’s in china, he was super supportive and told me to book already.

Funny thing is that my mom also told me yesterday about not saving money. She’s not aware of me reading this book. We were just on the way back from a facial, and she just told me about her friends who are still saving in their 70s, how crazy is that. She then told me: really, you don’t need to worry about the money nor to be frugal. Life is too short. What a wise woman!!! 😀

What’s your saving style? How do you make financial decisions? Do you have a saving/retirement goal?

5 thoughts on “Key takeaways and what I did

  1. This is so interesting to me because I come from a family where the sense is wealth is meant to be passed down to children, either while the parents are alive or otherwise. (My family is from Taiwan – is this common in other Asian countries?) For example, my grandparents paid for my college, and my parents gave us a lot of the down payment for our house. The idea then is that because I don’t have to go into debt for college or a house, I can start to save earlier and have the same kind of resources for my kids when they need it. I don’t know if this generational idea has been said to me explicitly, but I do have the feeling that I was lucky to graduate college debt free so I want my kids to do the same. Even with providing such things, my parents and grandparents were still able to grow their wealth through careful investing and well paying jobs and frugal living so they could do both – spend on big experiences and also be generous to their grandchildren.
    I think where I get conflicted is that my husband and I do not have a high paying jobs so often there is a conflict between spending money for on present day experiences, and saving for our children’s future security. Ironically, my parents have also started spending down their money by gifting it to us and our children, so maybe their saving priorities or goals have changed.


  2. I fully understand what you are talking about, very asian culture. In my case, while my parents worked hard, I somehow did my life without their help. They did pay half of my college tuition (other half scholarship) and paid zero for my graduate studies. So I guess, I feel more accomplished when I know I didn’t have too many advantages, which allow me to appreciate even more where I am now. I’d like to pass this opportunity to my kids too. Obviously we are in a better financial situation than my parents, so my girls are privileged already by going to international school and have many experiences. I plan to help them if they need when they go to college or after they graduate to start family… but I wouldn’t let them know already. They default is that they have to work to get the life they want. I’m happy to provide them with all the tools to get there.
    Yet, my husband is from the traditional asian family so if left to him, he’d want to pay everything for our girls. Fortunately he’s slowly changing his mentality.


  3. My husband and I are definitely frugal – him more so than me. Our industry is sooo volatile so the chances of one or both of us losing our job is pretty high. So that has impacted how we spend/save. But we do value experiences over things and are on track to be able to retire pretty young – like possibly in our 50s. We wanted to be in the position where we wouldn’t have to replace our income level if one of us lost our job. My colleague/mentor is retiring this spring at age 53. His wife is 10 years older than him and she twisted about 3 years ago. Their financial advisor told them that any money he made going forward would just go to their heirs as they have more than enough saved to support their lifestyle.

    I grew up middle class and was 1 of 5 kids so my parents did not pay for college. They helped in other ways, like each of us got a car in HS and they helped with gas and other expenses. But I paid for college with scholarship money and student loans. I like that I had to pay for my education. I feel like I learned really valuable lessons about how to manage my money/save. But my husband’s parents paid for his college even though they were both public school teachers. And he is the most frugal, financially responsible person I know so I can see that you can have things like college paid for and still learn how to manage money.

    Our approach is to have a quarterly meeting to look at our various account balances. We also met with a financial advisor in 2020 which was super helpful. Seeing the results of the Monte Carlo analysis was helpful in making me feel like we are on track to not need to rely on our income levels through retirement. So hopefully I will be like my colleague and have the option to retire early. I would find ways to stay busy, like board involvement, etc. But it would je nice to sort if step off the ‘hamster wheel’ of feeling so busy all the time/traveling. But I recognize that I am extremely lucky to be in this position.


  4. thanks for sharing Lisa. It’s so interesting to know that you and your husband’s different family background resulted both into being frugal. Another evidence of how little parenting matters. hahaha… but it’s great that you can retire in your 50s. I don’t think I’ll retire before 60, other than work side, I like the life style of being able to live in different countries that come with my job. when girls go to college, we will be freer to choose locations without having to think about schools.


  5. I loved this post albeit I am very late with my comment 😉
    I grew up in a very poor Russian family. After coming to the US to study, I saved every penny and had two jobs as well as getting my teaching degree at the same time. I paid my own way through school: out-of-state tuition since I was an international student.
    My husband grew up very poor as well, except in the US. He moved away from his family at 18 and never went back to Maine except to visit.
    Neither I nor T received ANY kind of financial literacy education. I think we had to learn as we muggled through. I was an extreme saver, he-the opposite. I graduate with no loans and no debt. T got his bachelor’s and his master’s in his 30s by way of student loans.
    In summation, our parents gave very little since they simply did not have money. I think if they did, they would have contributed, but then again I don’t know for sure 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s