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How My Wife and Die with Zero Book Changed My Mindset on Money

Like most of the folks out who just started their financial journey and are in awe of the F.I.R.E (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement, I am not shy to admit I am one of them too. I am a guy who lives a very minimalistic lifestyle, below my means, and seldom spend money on myself at all. Most people call man like me to be “kiam siap” or “stingy”. In fact, ever since I graduated from University and started working, the most expensive non-necessity item bought for myself is probably a Nintendo Switch which costs just below $1,000 SGD. Unlike my other friends who bought cars, branded watches or branded shirts, I live like a “beggar” as compared. I don’t own a car, no watches, and my clothes are all from Taobao (bought during great sales).

My thinking is instead of spending money on these materialistic stuff which will definitely depreciates in value, I would rather invest all the money in assets that will (or with higher probability) appreciates. Doesn’t that make more sense?

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From the very beginning, my wife and I have differing thoughts about using “money”. I am the one who wants to save and invest as much as possible, practice aggressive delay gratification like what most personal finance bloggers or influencers preaches. On the other side, my wife is the one who want to spend in activities which create experiences or memories. Her rationale when confronting me is we earn money so that we can spend them and there are things we should spend rather now than later. By thinking from another angle, I would say we are a good combination whereby we trade-off each other right? Maybe that’s why we are a couple. ­čÖé

Over these years, I began to try understand and appreciate wife’s mindset. I think she sort of have successfully influences me to a certain degree. I’d also read a book called “Die with Zero” which make me really re-think my mindset of money. The book emphasises on Net Fulfilment instead of Net Worth, which I think struck some sense or enlightenment to me.

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With all these new knowledge, life experiences, and my wife’s influence these years, I concluded that maybe going down this extreme path of F.I.R.E is not ideal me personally, and I would preferred a more balanced, less extreme or delayed approach of achieving F.I.R.E.


You only live once. Spend on experiences.

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All of us only live once, and there’s things if we don’t do it now, we won’t be able to do it when we are old. Let say if one of your life goals is to go Switzerland for paragliding or hiking. The best age to do so is when you are still young (20s – 30s). If your plan is to do it after you reached F.I.R.E or after you had certain amount of money, this may not turn out well or realistic eventually. It could be that by the time you have accumulated enough money or reached F.I.R.E, you may already be in your 40s or had other medical condition like hypertensions which deters you from achieving your life goal. Experience when you are young as a 20s is a totally different experience when you are in your 40s. In summary, don’t procrastinate spending money on experiences or goals that you want to achieve when you are young. Money can be earned at the later stage, but when youth can’t.

Don’t save on family activities that create memories or you will regret in life.

You know what, memories is what’s left when you are at old age. You won’t find that much fulfilment sharing how much money you have at your senior years. Instead, sharing memories like your past family travel experiences in Japan or Korea is much more valuable and memorable. When you are at senior age, there’s much things you won’t be able to do too. What’s the use of having that much money or high net worth. As children, I think we play a part in our parent’s net fulfilment in life too and it is our responsibility to participate and create memories together. Trust me, you won’t want to be too extreme on saving money and skipping family travel yearly. Time flies and when your parents become older, they may not be healthy enough to fly on planes anymore. When this comes, you will regret not creating enough memories with your parents while you still can.


Do you really need to retire that early?

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Sometimes, I wonder what’s the reason why most people want to retire early? They said that if you truly find passion in what you are doing, you won’t need to retire ever. Most likely people who needs to retire early are those who are not doing things that they like. If so, why not starting investing time when you are young to start doing things you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy your current job, maybe find another one or start doing passion side projects that can hopefully turned into a full-time gig.

I can’t comment on this as I didn’t hit F.I.R.E yet but there are some stories which I came across where people from reached F.I.R.E may enjoy it in the first few months, but life starts getting dull and they are again on the road to find “something to do” in life.


Die With Zero. You can’t take your money with you when you are gone.

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Everyone dies at the same net worth, bringing $0 along with them. One valuable lesson that I grasped from Die With Zero is that your net worth should start decreasing as you reached the senior years and hopefully by the day you left the world, you will have $0. Leaving with zero will be the most optimal scenario. If you are at older age and your net worth is still increasing, then this is an indicator that you are not making full use of your money for your life fulfilment.

net worth to zero
Source: Die With Zero

There are also older generations who have this mindset that they wanted to leave “sum of money” for their children before they leave. What i learn is that we should give money to your kids as soon as they are ready instead of saving for them. Most often, this sum of money will be able to deliver a bigger impact in their early life. They can use it for their own investment or pursue and endeavours early.


Wrapping Up

Hope you find the above thoughts interesting. These are just some new perspectives about money which I learnt over the years myself. I hope maybe someday this will resonate with others who may be on a similar journey or experience. Personally, I am still working towards F.I.R.E, but with a more balanced approach. If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

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