die with zero

Die with Zero: How to Maximize Your Time, Money, and Health

My uncle, who is childfree, said,” If I die with only $10 left in my pocket when I die, I will be a happy man”. My uncle wants to die with $10 in his pocket to make the most of his money and invest it in exploring life experiences. To him, having money left over means that he’s worked for free and wasted valuable time working when he could have spent his time doing this he enjoys, like bike riding, going to NBA games, or going on a cruise. If you are a person who wants to live life to the fullest and leave nothing behind, here are the six steps on how to die with zero. 

Before we get into the steps, it’s essential to understand that this technique is only for some. If it is not utilized correctly, you will not only die will nothing, but you will also live with nothing. Whether or not you use the steps below, I hope they will help you analyze your financial goals and remind you that we are not promised a tomorrow.

Now that I have gone through some of the cautions, here are the six steps to die with zero or $10 in your pocket.


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Maximize Your Time, Money, and Health to Die with Zero

1. Maximize Your Life Experiences: 

Eventually, everyone’s health will decline over time, and when the time comes, you will die. The essential question to discover is how you will make the most of your time on Earth. I am not saying to spend all your money on a luxurious vacation. The goal is to maximize fulfilling experiences across your life span and plan how you will spend your time and money to achieve the best experiences with the money you have. 

Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • If today was your last day, would you be happy? If you are unhappy with it, how could you begin living like it was your last day?
  • What is your ideal version of yourself? What does it look like, and what action can you take to get there?
  • How can I actively seek out new experiences that align with my values?

2. Utilize Life Expectancy Tools

None of us know precisely the day we will die, but we can predict it. Using a life expectancy calculator, they will ask questions about your age, gender, height, weight, life habits, and overall health status to forecast how long you will live. Knowing an approximate range of when you will die will help you make better money decisions about earning, saving, and spending. 

3. Account for Longevity Risk

There’s a level of uncertainty when planning to die with $10 in your pocket because there’s always a possibility that you may live longer than you expect. The best way to avoid running out of money is to convert some of your assets into an income stream. However, it’s essential to be aware of the effects of inflation on the income stream you choose. Here are the most common ways to limit longevity risk: 

  • Annuities: Unlike life insurance which covers morality risk, annuities will give you a fixed or variable payment. 
  • Delaying Social Security: If you decide to wait to receive Social Security benefits, your benefit will increase until you reach age 70.
  • Pulling Money from Home or Utilizing a Reverse Mortgage: Using your home as an income stream can be helpful for those who don’t have a diverse range of assets. 

So I do not suggest using all our savings and buying an investment product. However, if there are tools that can help you avoid running out of money and help you feel more secure if you have a low-risk tolerance, you would be doing a disservice by not looking into it. 

4. Give Money When It’s Impactful

Don’t wait until your dead to show your generosity. Putting your valued organizations and individuals first means having a deliberate plan to provide gifts throughout your lifetime. If you are leaving money for someone in the form of inheritance is leaving the outcome to chance. 

Giving to Individuals: As you maximize your life experiences, forming memories that compound over time is essential. When you get older and can’t physically do activities as before, your ability to enjoy these memories declines over time. As your children age, every dollar you give them goes less far, and at some point, that money becomes less valuable to them. Therefore, it’s critical to consider what age you want to give someone money so that it makes the most impact.  

Giving to Charity: With donating to a charity, there’s never a better time than now, especially if you want to die with zero. However, many charities don’t use the money they receive right away. Hence, it’s essential to ask charitable organizations how soon your gifts will be used. Using tools like Guidestar, you can research an organization’s leadership, financial statements, and mission. 

5. Consider Your Physical Health 

Your ability to enjoy experiences and the money needed depends on your health. If you can invest in one thing to improve your health, you can improve your future adventures. For example, improving your eating habits or doing more physical activities may reduce the number of doctor’s appointments, major surgeries, or the time you need long-term care. The money required to provide care and create lasting memories will increase as your health declines. Being deliberate about balancing your money, time, and health as you age will lead to more personal fulfillment.

6. Know When To Stop Growing Your Wealth

Often, people continue to grow their wealth until they stop working. When the sense of security of having a stable paycheck is taken away, many people hesitate to dip into their principal. To make the most of your life experiences, you must use the money you have built up to invest in ventures yielding beautiful memories. 


Here are two rules of thumb to know when you a ready to stop growing your wealth:

  1. Calculate 80% of your current annual income to estimate your annual retirement income
  2. Multiply your yearly retirement income by 25 to determine the total retirement assets needed

Whether you are planning to retire soon or in the long-distance future, the goal is to spend your money with you in reasonably good health to enjoy your future years to come.

Bottom Line

It’s about more than ensuring that there’s exactly $10 left in my uncle’s pocket. It’s about his effort to live to his fullest now: chasing memorable life experiences and giving money to charity while still alive. The key to a fulfilling life is the acquisition of memories. 

How will you die with zero?  

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Financial Planner, Tax Professional at Spark Financials | Website | + posts

Danielle Miura, CFP®, EA, is the founder of Spark Financials, a life and financial planning firm specialized in helping those planning for retirement to organize, simplify, and empower them through every life turn. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I help my clients protect their assets, manage their wealth, and dream about their future.

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