Tom MacWright

I read Die With Zero by Bill Perkins on


This book was an exceptionally good read.

It’s for a particular person - a middle-to-upper class person with earning potential who has already absorbed some financial dogmas, like the imperative to constantly save money for retirement. And it’s by someone in particular - Bill Perkins, a hedge fund manager whose net worth is, as he reiterates, less than a billion dollars but certainly in the tens or hundreds of millions. And it includes lots of American context, our failing healthcare system, high cost of living, and high salaries.

I was enthralled by this one and read it mostly in one sitting. It’s a really impressive output by Perkins: it’s concise, avoids most of the best-seller tropes, and is genuinely thoughtful and useful. The premise is familiar, matches what I’ve seen in reality with so many people who work and save and delay gratification indefinitely. Including, well, myself.

The specifics are also great - the exercises and thought experiments that Perkins recommends to understand how life is limited and how we can shape our spending & saving curves so that we can take that hiking trip while our knees are still mobile.

This is, of course, a specific book for a specific problem and solution, a problem that a lot of people don’t have. As Casey Neistat succinctly put it, money does solve all your problems when your problems relate to not having enough money. Poverty, in all its various degrees and forms, is very real, and this book doesn’t really engage with that, because it’s not about that. It’s a book for people with some degree of success in their fields, forming a plan for how to live, spend, and maximize their happiness while they’re alive. And it does an incredible job at tackling that question.