I happened to read Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan and Die With Zero by Bill Perkins around the same time. While her book says it’s folly to act as if we can predict what’s to come in life, his says we don’t need to over prepare. Different messages on the face of it and yet I found there to be a half-dozen shared themes.
For fun, tally which quote from each pair below has more meaning to you. (Note: This is not a competition, it’s only an exhibition. Please – no wagering.)
MH: “The best way to navigate uncharted territory is to have an energetic, future facing and long-term ambition in mind.”
BP: “I’m reminded how many (or how few) weekends I’ve got. I’ve got only so many Christmases to enjoy, or so many summers or autumns.”
Like sands through the hourglass, says the voiceover guy.
MH: “If all the uncertainty were eliminated, so, too, would be excitement and meaning.”
BP: “Many people live as if they forget that [experiences are] the point of earning, saving, and investing money.”
They would likely toast to this, that life is an adventure of exploring unknowns.
MH: “There are no magic formulae that accurately anticipate financial markets.”
BP: “To make the most of your hard-earned money, you must crack open your nest egg earlier.”
Ms. Heffernan comes to us from the look-before-you-leap point of view, whereas Mr. Perkins says jump.
MH: “Perfection can be a problem when it makes people passive, afraid to experiment.”
BP: “Some people’s fears are irrational: They have plenty of resources, so if they plan right, they won’t need to worry about running out of money.”
Here the authors seem to share the belief that we should be willing to take risks and bet on ourselves more often.
MH: “As the end of life approaches and the certainty of death becomes tangible, we continue to have choices.”
BP: “The question we all must answer is how to make the most of our finite time on earth… to maximize fulfillment while minimizing waste.”
Seems that sloganeer at Nike is on to something.
MH: “It doesn’t matter where we start, only that we do.”
BP: “So what are you waiting for?”
These are the last lines in each book. Just do it indeed.
For what it’s worth, I’m Team Perkins. While Heffernan’s book is educational with British flair, his has changed my life permanently with its powerful message that it’s stupid to have wealth growing throughout our so-called golden years. The time is now to live, to give, to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard for.
Consider one more quote of his:
“[These] are the people I’m writing for – people who are saving too much for their own good.”
I’ll drink to that.
If you have anything to say about this, kindly post it below (rather than emailing me). Thank you!
From my perspective, Covid put many things on hold while we viewed the world from the safety of our bunker not realizing that time continued to march on. Counting the number or earth orbits we have left may be only a brief time and definitely very brief in geologic terms.
Choose your favorite idiom to live those years; Carpe Diem, Seize the moment, Laissez les bons temps rouler, L’chaim, etc.
Terrific points, Mark… and you have me scrambling for translations. Thank you for all of it!
I’m Team Perkins too. I think each person’s golden years can be defined a bit differently depending on whether you have children, how old you were when you had children, what other obligations you have, and most importantly, the state of your health.
He writes a lot about “But What About the Kids?,” Evelyn! And in sum, it’s: what you earmark for your children is their money, not yours. I was SHOCKED to learn that he advises we aim to gift funds to them when they’re 26 – 35, but naturally that makes sense as this is the age range when perhaps they’ll be most in need. Regardless, exhausting your funds before you pass on means the inheritance already happened… and was likely happily spent. 🙂
Thanks for the creative juxtaposition of ideas, Chris. My two cents; both perspectives are valuable — they are akin to the Yin & Yang of financial planning.
Here’s a thought that may help synthesize the two perspectives: perhaps investors should read the book that they’re most likely to disagree with in order to balance out their views? A quote by Ray Dalio comes to mind: “If you’re not worried, you need to worry. And if you’re worried, you don’t need to worry”
Fabulous idea, Chris. And how timely for you to share a Dalio quote on the very day of his big announcement. Lately, I’ve been working on reading more points of view, especially ones from “the other side.” Thank you!
I can’t choose a team. My late father, a retired neurosurgeon, planned poorly for his and my Mom’s golden years. The 2008 crash motivated him to sell his shares rather than wait it out. They lived too well in their younger years and not so well in their old age. My husband retired a year ago and is panicked about how my parents were living before they died (just social security and a modest annuity) and has been saving like crazy for most of our married life of 35 years. I like the middle! I have begun to travel this year and plan to (with or without him LOL) do more before physical limitations set it. I already had a couple of health scares and intend to not wait around to travel and enjoy life so maybe I’m closer to Team Perkins…
Reena, what a post! Hearing your story is enormously enlightening and thought provoking. And you’re likely correct that truth (whatever that may mean these days) lies somewhere in the middle. Much appreciated!