Bill Perkins: I’m Planning to Die with Zero Dollars in the Bank and You Should Too | E288

Bill Perkins: I’m Planning to Die with Zero Dollars in the Bank and You Should Too | E288

Bill Perkins: I’m Planning to Die with Zero Dollars in the Bank and You Should Too | E288

Bill Perkins showed up at the New York Mercantile Exchange every day until he got a job as an assistant peon. He started with a salary below $16,000 per year and drove a limo in the evenings to make ends meet. Yet, he dedicated his nights to reading books on trading, the oil market, and options. Through unwavering determination, he became a millionaire by 30. Today, he is one of the world’s most successful hedge fund managers and entrepreneurs. In this episode, Bill shares his wisdom about making money and how to spend it. He also explains why your goal should be to die with zero dollars in the bank instead of as a millionaire.

Bill Perkins is a hedge fund manager, film producer, and high-stakes poker player. He trained on Wall Street before finding success as an energy trader in Houston, TX. He’s the author of Die With Zero, which advocates prioritizing experiences over wealth accumulation for retirement.


In this episode, Hala and Bill will discuss:

– Bill’s foray into finance

– His advice for aspiring millionaires

– What commodities hedge funds do

– His approach to taking calculated risks

– Why he prioritizes experiences over possessions

– Money as a tool to drive fulfillment

– The balance between work and play

– The pitfalls of saving yourself out of a life

– The peak utility of your money

– The fear of dying broke vs. not living life to the fullest

– Planning for optimal fulfillment with time bucketing

– And other topics…


Bill Perkins is a hedge fund manager, film producer, author, and high-stakes poker player. After studying engineering, he trained on Wall Street and later moved to Houston, TX, where he made a fortune as an energy trader. During the 2007-2008 financial crisis, he profited $1.25 million in one week trading Goldman Sachs stock. His fund saw gains of over 100% in 2021 and 208% in 2022 by betting on rising natural gas prices ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His book, Die With Zero, advocates prioritizing memorable experiences over wealth accumulation. Bill views his career as an engine for personal growth and spends his time exploring the world, savoring his relationships, and taking in all that life has to offer.


Resources Mentioned:

Bill’s Twitter:

Bill’s Book, Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life:

Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez:


LinkedIn Secrets Masterclass, Have Job Security For Life:

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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Young Improfiters, our whole lives we've been told to save our pennies. Save our pennies for a rainy day, for when we're old and gray. But what if I told you the goal should not be saving millions or billions of dollars when you die, but the goal should be to die with zero. It sounds pretty crazy and it's not something we hear often, but that's exactly what my guest today, Bill Perkins, believes.

Bill Perkins is one of the world's most famous and successful energy traders, and he's made a lot of money in his life. And he's spent a lot of money, because he's all about living an enriched, fulfilling life in the now. He believes that waiting until you're 70, 80, 90 to spend your money doesn't make a lot of sense, because money doesn't have the same utility at that age.

Well, this was definitely a really inspiring conversation. It helped me think a lot differently about how I should be spending my money and when, so I can't wait for you guys to hear it without further delay. Here's my conversation with Bill Perkins.

Bill, welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:02:25] Bill Perkins: Thanks for having me. Good to be here. 

[00:02:27] Hala Taha: Yeah, I'm so excited for this interview. I feel like you're going to give a lot of value to my listeners. So you are actually considered one of the most successful energy traders in history, but you actually have worn a lot of different hats over the years.

Energy trader, investor, art collector, poker player, just to name a few. So curious to understand what hats you wear today and how you would describe the work that you do. Bill? 

[00:02:49] Bill Perkins: I'm a husband, I'm a father, I run a hedge fund, I have two startups. I have things that I'm curious about and I'm interested in and I do those things.

I like to wake surf, I like to travel, I like to learn about new cultures, different worldviews, different perspectives. I'm just like everybody else trying to answer the universal why, why are we here? What can we learn about ourselves and our journey? 

[00:03:15] Hala Taha: That's awesome. And so now you're really huge in the finance world, like I was saying.

But you originally went to school to be an engineer. So talk to us about why you first decided to get into finance and pivot into the finance world. 

[00:03:28] Bill Perkins: I don't know if I'm really huge, but I would say that I was in school for engineering. I wanted to learn engineering, but it's not something I wanted to do.

It wasn't a life journey that I wanted to have, but it was something that I was interested in. And that was something that I figured out at a career fair that was like, Oh, this seems like hell, this job progression and promotion, et cetera. I didn't really want to go through that. What I did want to become was rich.

I wanted to have options and I want to have choices. Like most people, I didn't really figure out what I wanted to do. I just knew what I wanted to be. And I wanted to have that freedom and financial freedom was very attractive and alluring to me. And so I wound up in commodity trading. 

[00:04:12] Hala Taha: And so, like I said, you didn't really have a finance background when you first got your foot in the door.

And I thought your story was really inspiring of how you basically persisted to get an opportunity in finance. Can you tell us about that? 

[00:04:24] Bill Perkins: I got a chance to be assistant assistant peon on the New York Mercantile Exchange floor when it was open outcry, but they were really trying to hire someone else. I just kept showing up and waiting downstairs.

Are you going to take me? You're going to take me. And eventually I got the job as assistant peon. And when I got to the exchange floor, I had fallen in love with it. It was a casual atmosphere. It was chaos. There was reason, logic, applied math, but not so heavy that it would be grueling. That's when I started turning things around and realized that I really wanted to apply myself and I really wanted to get ahead in this field because this field offered what I considered a very reasonable chance at being rich.

[00:05:08] Hala Taha: So I love working for free back in the day when I was in my 20s, I worked for free at a radio station for three years. And now fast forward 10 years later, I'm the podcast princess, top 100 podcast. 

[00:05:20] Bill Perkins: You're crushing it. 

[00:05:21] Hala Taha: Yeah. And it's because, you know, I gained a lot of experience younger, almost my whole 20s.

I either worked for really cheap or worked for free and just got a ton of experience. So I'd love to hear from you. What were those early years like in terms of how you lived, some of the sacrifices that you made, because you were basically working for cheap to gain experience. 

[00:05:41] Bill Perkins: You're investing in yourself.

You may not look at it that way, but you are. You're absorbing information from people who have gone through it around you. You're in the room. You're learning firsthand. And. Yes, it's not for riches and gold while you're grinding it out at that point, what you're doing is you're integrating lots of information.

You're going to leisure learning classes at night, you're absorbing as much as you can, and you're investing in yourself, which is one of the greatest investments you can make. And so that as you become more proficient, you understand what's going on and you fuse your own ideas into that field and your own personality or on your own tank or your own wisdom.

You are able to take off and you have a better shot at success later in life. And so when you go to school, you invest in yourself. You're getting an education and you're investing in yourself. I went through the school of life in this career called commodities. You went to the school of life in.

Broadcasting and journalism and entertainment. And so these things paid off for you and they often do, they don't always do, but they often do. And life is about taking risks. And if I'm going to take a risk, one of the biggest investments I want to make is in myself. 

[00:06:50] Hala Taha: And speaking of taking a risk, you ended up going to Texas to take your career to the next level and you became a millionaire.

Before the age of 30. So I'd love to hear your advice for other young improfiters listening that want to be a millionaire by 30 or 40. What do you think they should do? 

[00:07:06] Bill Perkins: I would often tell people there's so many different fields for every field you can think of. There's a millionaire in that field. So one of the things is to pick the field that you really are going to put in the effort and you're going to enjoy enough to actually do the thing to become a millionaire, whatever that is, whether it's in, I don't know, waste disposal.

environment, trading, podcasting, whatever it may be. The second thing is why do you want to become a millionaire? I don't advise people putting hours and sacrificing the time to acquire money that they're not going to spend. So what is the, why you want to become a millionaire? The base level is I want freedom and I want to be able to pay my bills, et cetera, but if you live, I don't know, in Denison, Iowa, where it's a There's not that much to do and the housing costs are really low, etc.

Do you really need to be sacrificing your life doing this job in order to acquire the money to have the life? Maybe don't maybe you can have that life without the money or that level of money And so that's one other piece of advice. I give people is why know the why 

[00:08:12] Hala Taha: I think that's really good advice So we have a lot of listeners that are looking for new careers, they're young, they're curious.

A lot of people probably don't know what a commodities trader is or commodities hedge fund. Can you explain what it is a bit? What are some of the things that people do in that type of a role? 

[00:08:32] Bill Perkins: Essentially we're speculators, we speculate on things like the price of oil, the price of natural gas, the price of corn, the price of wheat.

We take in all the information available to us. And we do with my friend, we do fundamental analysis and we figure out what supply and demand is and where prices will go in the future when we're right, we're rewarded. And when we're wrong, we often get kicked in the teeth, as we like to say, but on average, we're a positive expected outcome.

We're able to make money for our investors and ourselves. And so it's a lot of homework and a lot of studying in order to figure out what prices will do in the future. Not too dissimilar from stock trading. 

[00:09:13] Hala Taha: With your career, you did really well because you were known for taking really calculated risks and then you won big with those risks.

Can you tell us some examples of you doing that? 

[00:09:23] Bill Perkins: All of us in our field, there are a lot of successful people in commodity trading that are fundamental traders. A lot of times people who are on the side who are indifferent to what happens to pricing as long as they hedge, for example, if you're a natural gas producer and the forward market, somebody is willing to pay you 3 in the forward market, you will sell it.

You don't care if the price goes up or down, you're going to make money because it only costs you, say, 50, 70 cents to make it right, and we're speculating that it would go up a lot of times in our market. There is only a certain amount of storage and we can run out of storage and prices can drop precipitously.

A lot of my earnings over my career had been betting on prices going down, not actually up because. I believe in the ingenuity and the productivity of Americans. And so generally we tend to overproduce. We tend to get better and better at producing something cheaper and cheaper, and we don't grow storage as fast.

And so we have things what are called containment and prices collapse. That's a risky position to be betting on something going down, right? There's a lot of disruption. A lot of things can have it go up. But fortunately, I was more right than I was wrong and was able to be successful at it. 

[00:10:35] Hala Taha: And what drove you in this career?

It seems like an exciting thing to like bet on things. Would you say that's true? 

[00:10:43] Bill Perkins: I was very delusional when I was young and like most young males, I did it for the opposite sex, right? I wanted to, I wanted to be rich and famous and have all the girls love me and that type of thing. And as you get older and you start to ask yourself, well, why, aside from hedonistic pursuits, why am I doing this?

What is this money going to be afford me? It's like, Now that I can afford these things, what are these things do I really want in life? And so I think the reasons Why I got into it, like just to be rich, got a little bit more developed and more meaningful as I got older and I started asking the deeper questions of myself.

[00:11:25] Hala Taha: So one of the things that you got into as you were older is poker and you end up being, I think a professional poker player, at least. 

[00:11:32] Bill Perkins: Definitely not professional. 

[00:11:33] Hala Taha: Not professional, but at least doing some notable poker playing, right? 

[00:11:38] Bill Perkins: In my job, I'm not allowed to gamble. It may look like I'm gambling, but I'm not.

I'm making very detailed, positive, expected outcome bets, a series of them. Poker is risk adjacent and it's an imperfect information game. And when I first got into poker, I looked at it as this is my entertainment to go gambling. Gamble and play. Obviously it's a very strategic game and the people that are professionals, they're taking lots of positive expected outcome.

That's not going, Oh, let me just bluff. Just cause let me experiment. They actually know what's going on. And so later in my, let's say poker career, quote unquote career. You know, I treated it a lot more seriously and played larger events and started doing well in tournament play. 

[00:12:26] Hala Taha: So something that I thought was really interesting with your poker playing and all the risks that you've taken, you talk about something called CFRM, Counterfactual Regret Minimization Models.

So I thought it'd be fun for you to tell us what that was and the traditional ways that people use it and then how that's related to your new book. 

[00:12:45] Bill Perkins: It's essentially what if analysis, right? Yeah. Absolutely. If I do this, is this the best outcome? If this happens in a series of them so that you have the least regret when you play a chess computer, it's a CFRM for not losing in chess for not being checkmated and checkmating you in poker.

It's what decision leads to the highest probability of me making money, right? Whether that's bluffing, folding, going off the river, calling in life. For me, what I look at is what. Is the behavior or set of behaviors that is going to lead to the least amount of regret in the future, and I'm solving for happiness, right?

I'm solving for fulfillment, and so they're very simple examples. Should I go play poker with the fellows or should I go on a walk with my daughter? Should I call my mom and go visit mom or should I go raging out in Vegas? Right? You know, I'm using some stark examples, but they're small examples, and The question is, is your future self, will you have regret of your earlier self, of your earlier actions?

And so, you know, my biggest fear is not running out of money. You can tell by the risk I've taken and the decisions I make. The biggest fear I have is wasting my life or any particular period in my life. And so I wanted to come up with a counterfactual regret minimization algorithm for not wasting my life based on whatever my values are and basically make it value agnostic.

So what are your values? What's the algorithm, right? Plug in your value. What are the algorithm? What are we solving for? So when you're at work, we're solving for the most money or the most yield or the most, whatever it is. When you're in a relationship. You're solving for the best relationship. What behaviors, what should I be doing to have the best, most meaningful relationship, right?

With our health, what food should I be eating for the optimum health, right? Optimum lifespan and balancing it out with, okay, I also have a regret minimization, I don't want to eat nasty. I don't eat nasty foods. Right. And so I wanted to come up for this ultimate regret minimization program, mental model, so that I did not waste my life.

Okay. Cause that's the real thing I don't want to waste. I can waste money. I just don't want to waste my life. 

[00:15:01] Hala Taha: I read a lot of books because this is my job as a podcaster, at least one of my jobs. And I loved your book. I think it was really fresh. It had a lot of new ideas. It's called Die With Zero. And one of the things that you just alluded to is that you spend a lot of money.

In fact, your friends call you an honorary billionaire because you spend like a billionaire, but you're not exactly a billionaire yet. So can you talk to us about some of the ways that you're spending your money? And how you first came up with the idea that you wanted to die with zero. 

[00:15:32] Bill Perkins: Yeah, I think when I was younger, it wasn't.

All at once, it was reading books and thinking about the question, like, how am I going to get the most out of this life? You know, in the beginning of this podcast, you said you were a millionaire before you're 30. And a lot of people like, I want to have X before I'm X age. Usually it's 30 or 25. And what they're saying is intuitively, they know that the value of that money to them at 90 or 86, et cetera, is less, right?

Nobody says like, I want to make a billion dollars by age 90. It doesn't come out of people's mouth. I don't want to be, have 10 million by age 86. It doesn't come out of people's mouth because they intuitively know that their body is decaying, their attitudes are shifting, their life has passed them by and the money has less utility to them.

And so when I was younger, I read this book called Your Money or Your Life, which completely changed my view of what money is and the definition of it. And the biggest thing is the best definition is this money is something you exchange hours of your life for. You exchange your time for. And we're both exchanging hours of our time.

And I realized, okay, if I'm exchanging my time for money, which represents time that can buy other things, other people's time, whether it be the pilot's time to take me on a trip or the doctor's time to save me or whatever. I need to be in touch with my values, like what I want out of my life. And realizing that some of the things that I can buy, I won't be actually able to use as I'm older.

When I spend this money and how I spend this money matters just as much as what I want the money for. And so that sent me on a tizzy about, wait a minute, I don't want to give up hours of my life to then have no reward. I don't want to go. Working at something to acquire capital or money to never use it, and that didn't make any sense.

So, to me, it's just logic that you would want to spend all your money before you die. You want to get the reward for giving up hours of your life. And then the question is, okay, when do you spend the money? Do you spend it all tomorrow? No. Do you spend it all at 86? No. So, clearly, there's some sort of curve.

Money is useless to you when you're a baby. You just gum it. And it's pretty much useless to you on your deathbed. So it has this kind of increasing utility and declining utility. And it was kind of figuring out when is the maximum utility, how should you be spending your money down during what periods and how your values affect that.

Right. How your health. Impacts that. And so I wrestled with that for many, many years and eventually became the book that you're reading. What are the mental models to help you decide how to allocate your wealth, your health and your time so that you don't have any regrets when you die? 

 One of the most thought provoking.

[00:18:28] Hala Taha: ideas that I saw in your book was this idea of you saving when you're younger is actually starving your younger self who needs the money. And you're trying to help your older self, who's probably making a lot more money. So like in your twenties, if you start saving too much, you're actually hurting yourself because your older self is going to have more money than you do now.

Can you talk us through that? 

[00:18:54] Bill Perkins: I read that your money or your life and that book started what's called the fire movement, the financial independence or retire early movement, which is about extreme frugality in order to not have to work later on in life. And one day my boss overheard me talking about how much money I had saved.

I was quite proud of it. And he called me a fucking idiot. He says, you didn't come here to make the type of money. You came here to make millions and your salary is going to grow. Why go out and spend that money? I was essentially borrowing from my poor self to give the money to my future, richer self, which didn't make sense.

And economists call this income smoothing. In order to do that. And I, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Actually, I swung too far the other way. I started spending money like crazy, but as I was see sawing, I was coming up with this idea of what is the optimum amount to save and what is the optimum amount to spend without going into like, there's tons of books on different rules and different allocations.

The concept is more important than the exact details, depending on who you are. It's. Certain periods of your life, you're going to have more health and more time than wealth. And certain periods of your life, you're going to have more wealth than health and time and vice versa. Those three variables are going to change throughout your life and how they interplay now and in the future kind of determines what you do and how you allocate those resources.

And so, A lot of younger people save their way out of a great life. Those that do save. You don't think about what experiences should happen in my 20s, what experience should happen in my 30s, what experience should happen in my 40s, 50s, and so on. And some of these things, like, if you're young, backpacking through Europe with your friends, you know, I talk about my book that I didn't do, that I regret to this day, going raging, going dates, certain trips, certain activities.

are optimal in your twenties that are not optimal in your thirties and vice versa. And so you don't want to save so much that you save yourself out of a life. 

[00:21:01] Hala Taha: I love that. And just drilling on this concept a little deeper, you talk about this fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper. Can you tell us what you personally took away from that story?

[00:21:10] Bill Perkins: The story of The Ant and the Grasshopper, it talks about the ant. Who work all day and, you know, gather food and store it for the winter and the grasshopper just fiddles and plays all day. And when the winter comes, you can see what happens. The grasshopper, you know, he dies and the ants, you know, they have food.

But if the ants are working all their life and working every single summer, when do they ever get to play? The end of the story is there's a time for work and a time for play. The visualization of the, Grasshopper freezing is what a lot of people take away. It's like, oh my God, I must save. And I must always save.

And I must always save. I must be like the ant, but if the ant goes through his life every summer, when does it ever get to play? Right. And so where's that balance? A lot of people talk about balance and I was, that's really not a life worth living. There's no amount of money you can pay me 10 years in Sing Sing.

Right. Because I would just be giving up my life. And so some people, there's a small segment. out there that they're essentially doing the same thing for some future selves. They're basically saying, F you to their current selves, and I'm going to give all my money to the future me. And then the future them is going to look back and be like, I'm kind of pissed at you because these experiences that make life worth living and the memories associated with those experiences that I would be living off, you robbed me of those.

And so balancing, you know, Current you would future you on a continuous basis is what the book is about. 

[00:22:37] Hala Taha: I see it all the time. I meet so many successful people, a lot of people in the finance space that speak about it, who advocate to be extremely frugal, where they're making million dollars a year, or millions of dollars a year, and they're buying the most low budget airplane ticket, for example, or something like that.

Like they just like to live frugal. But to your point, They might be missing out on some experiences and I know that you drill down on experiences specifically as something that we should prioritize when it comes to spending our money. Why experiences over other things like possessions? 

[00:23:10] Bill Perkins: Yeah, an experience doesn't have to be a trip or something that costs money.

It could be like going to the park and hiking with a friend. Essentially, the summation of your experiences are who you are, right? Your self concept, etc. And I'm using it in the broadest sense. Whether those are charitable experiences. hedonistic experiences, experiences that cost money, experiences that do not cost money.

They're missing out is they're optimizing for money and I'm optimizing for a full life. So the money is a tool is not the goal. The money is a tool to drive fulfillment. My health is a tool to drive fulfillment. My time is a tool to drive fulfillment. And these, how these changes, how the interplant, they are always in service of my fulfillment.

Listen, if. Being cheap and not going here and not doing these things and not having the experiences and staying in a room and meditating all the time. If that drives your fulfillment, I'm not going to tell you how to live your life. But what I do is ask people is get off autopilot and really think about what are the things and activities that drive your fulfillment?

What experiences drive your fulfillment? Then look at the resources you have. And layer it on such that at the end of your life, you've used all your resources and you've had the most fulfilling life possible. So delayed gratification at the extreme is no gratification. And so I think a lot of people have this idea of delayed gratification for its own sake.

It becomes a habit. Habits are tough to break, and they habituate themselves out of a life. And that's what I try and get people to reframe their thinking about, What are these resources for? They're just tools, and they're tools to driver fulfillment. 

[00:24:53] Hala Taha: Well, let's talk about saving, because one thing that I'm a little bit curious about is your opinion on saving.

I have a lot of people that come on the show, And they say really scary stats, like the average American has less than 1, 000 in their emergency fund or the average American has only saved 60, 000 or whatever the stats are. They come on with really scary stats and they talk to us about the importance of saving a lot of the time.

So can you talk to us about how much is too much to save or maybe some of the thought process that we should take around saving? 

[00:25:27] Bill Perkins: I think what we have, particularly in the United States, maybe not so much in other countries, but the United States has an epidemic of being on autopilot. And so a lot of the book focuses on the autopilot of people who are those who save, save too much and save themselves out of a life.

But there, there's the other side of the autopilot where people are consuming themselves out of a life. They're actually saying. Everything for current me and F you to future me. And they're actually consuming things and buying things that really don't fulfill them. And they're also doing it inefficiently.

They might even be consuming things that do I really need a 60, 000 car? Could I buy a brand new 14, 000 car model? Or is it, am I just ego buying? Am I buying the statusism? Do I really need this brand of clothing or do I need X, Y, and Z? Finance is so personal because if I was in heaven before I came down and I sat with God and I said, these are all the experiences I want to have on earth.

Then I would know exactly to the penny how much money I needed and at what time, what my savings rate should be, et cetera. Right now, we come on life and we discover what we want. Go, we go to school, we learn, we explore the world, we discover. And so, there is this poker effect where it's an imperfect information game where you don't even know what you're gonna like.

Right? And you don't know that things happen. So, there is some sort of savings rate that needs to happen, right? Some of the things you do know you want. Like, I want to pay my bills. I want to have food, shelter, and clothing. After that, what you want to do, the things you like and you enjoy, this may not be as well known, you just kind of generally have an idea.

And so I think people on autopilot the other way are caught in consumption mentality, purchasing things that they don't need, or inefficiently purchasing, and somewhat saying F you to their future selves. You know, there's lots of reasons why that exists. I don't want to go into every single reason that may exist, but it's pervasive here, it's more pervasive here in America, say, than in Japan.

[00:27:32] Hala Taha: In terms of saving, saving too much. 

[00:27:33] Bill Perkins: Yeah, in terms of saving, it's the exact opposite, right? So Japan is like. Everybody saves, they give their money to the next generation. They save, they give it to the next generation. And I'm like, they have generational non fulfillment. Nobody ever parties, right? Like they just keep dying and passing the money off, right?

Like they're not, or how about this? Not non fulfillment, suboptimal fulfillment, right? Not the most fulfilling lives that they could have. 

[00:27:57] Hala Taha: Yeah. Because to your point, a lot of people might counteract what you're saying with. Well, if I die with a lot, my kids get it, I can give it to charity. What do you have to say to them?

[00:28:06] Bill Perkins: Well, I say it's suboptimal, right? You reach mental maturity around 28 and in terms of calculation power and physical maturity at 33, and then you're in plateau and decline. And so the same laws of physics that govern my body will govern my kid's body and governs everybody else's body. And so the utility of money for them declines just like it declines for you.

So when you die and let's say you're 86. People are having kids later, but your kids are 60. They're not kids. Okay. Most of their youthful life has passed them by. They've lived 60 years and they probably have 20 years left to 26 years left. And so that is not the suboptimal way or deliberate way to be thinking about your kids.

If you're going to give money to your kids, it's much more optimal to give them the money between 28 and 33 than it is to willy nilly what I, I don't really think about my life, I don't really plan my life, I'm not really optimizing fulfillment. Whatever I die with, it'll just go to my kids. That's not really thinking about your kids.

That's not planning, that's not deliberate, that's not intentional. It's kind of asinine if you ask me. 

[00:29:14] Hala Taha: Yeah, to me this is so smart and this is something that I've never really heard of, this concept in your book called the peak utility of using your money. Can you talk to us about our true golden years?

[00:29:26] Bill Perkins: There's this trade off where you have your health and that's starting to plateau and decline and then you have this rising wealth from you're getting more experience, you're making money, things become easy, you develop habits at work, like I'm pretty sure when you first started podcasting it was. It's hard and I, what question should I ask?

And now it's just, it's like driving home. You don't even know how you got home, right? You're a wizard. And so that makes you more profitable and more likable and you make more money. But yeah, as you're making more and more money, as you get older, your ability to use that money, because Hey, you're not going to go hella skiing at 70 on average.

Right. You're, there are certain activities. They become less enjoyable. Actually, walking seven miles without hurting your knees or back may become less enjoyable. So when you go on a trip, you get less of that city. You don't do as many activities in that city. That means you don't spend as much money in that city.

You actually don't eat as much food as that city. You don't, you know, etc. And so when you aggregate all these things, I'm giving specific examples, but in aggregate, you realize that there is a time in your life where that money and that rising wealth. No matter how much more money you make, you actually don't get more utility.

And so you have this golden years and a lot of people think the golden years are the period arbitrarily set by the U S government when they were setting up social security. And if you look at people's health and their wealth, the real golden years are like in your forties and fifties, not in your sixties, that's the period where Largely have the health to do many of the activities that you've always been able to do, but a lot of them are disappearing, you know, I could tell you 40 years out there that were former athletes like, no, I can't do that anymore.

You know, I'll tell her hamstring, et cetera, right? But you have the money to actually do it. And so that is the golden years. That is years where you're spending your activities, your wealth in order to afford these activities and your health. Your ability to do these activities are at their kind of like their peak and that is when you're really increasing the velocity of money through your account and to other people's pockets in order to provide you with these experiences and services that will fulfill you.

[00:31:41] Hala Taha: I really like this and you say that we should put our lives into time buckets or plan it in time buckets. Can you walk us through how we can go about planning how much money we should be spending and saving at different points in our lives? 

[00:31:56] Bill Perkins: The concept of time buckets is a lot of people have this idea that I have a bucket list before I die.

I want to go do this. So they think like, Oh, I'm going to turn 80 and it's coming. And they're going to run around the globe and do these activities and be fulfilled. And it just doesn't work that way. As we were talking before, a lot of these activities or things that may fulfill you for the average person, you will either.

Not be able to do them, not enjoy doing them. You know, your attitude is completely changed. You don't want to do them anymore. Certain age, you know, going raving at the club just isn't fun anymore. I don't know why. You just get old. It happens to us, right? At a certain age, hiking the Himalayas, you don't have the ability to do it.

And then certain experiences are meant for that time period in your life. And so the when you do it is as important as what you do, right? In order to get the maximum fulfillment. And so there are activities and experiences that are meant for your. For the first job, you single you and there's certain experience for senior manager, your own starting your own company.

You got married, have young kids, you right. And their experiences are for. Empty nester you, kids off to college you, and each period, some of the experiences that were meant for your 20s are either hard to transfer into your 30s, don't make sense anymore, like me going to youth hostels and raging through Europe, doesn't make sense right now, at my age, right?

Like I missed the boat. And some of the experience in your thirties actually probably are best done in your thirties, not in your twenties, like going to a classical music symphony in my twenties. I wasn't mature enough to go sit through it and enjoy it and appreciate it. Now I am, but me in my late thirties, actually, I still like to rage going raging and glow sticking, you know, right?

Like all night is probably best in my twenties when I can still get up, wake up and be like, No problem. Now, if I go raging all night and get up, I'm, I'm dead for the day, you know, day and a half, you know, a lot of people think, oh, before I die, they need to think that you die a lot of mini deaths, the twenties, you dies, right?

The singles, you dies, the young person about to graduate college dies, the person who had small toddlers, that person dies. And then the new person comes in. And so if we optimize for each period, yeah. What experiences belong where, when we look at the total of our life, we'll have a much more optimized and fulfilled life as opposed to somebody at the end of this vacation here on planet Earth, right?

We come down, we gain consciousness here on planet Earth, we have about a, 80 year ride, right? 80, 86 year ride at the end of that vacation running around like, Oh my God, I didn't do this. You know, somebody is like, well, I can't do this as these are the two things I can do. And we need to come to find out is, you know, most people, the data is very, very clear on this.

Very clear in all wealth management, all kinds of studies is that as people get older, even adjusting for healthcare costs, they spend less money. And I get asked the question, why? And I was like, because they can't. They don't have the attitude or the aptitude to spend money. They want to hang out with their grandchildren.

They want to visit with their friends. They want to talk about the old days. They are not about zipping around the planet and going to a bunch of concerts and ripping around like that is not their life in general. I'm generalizing, obviously there are exceptions to every generalization, but I'm saying the number of activities, the things that you do that cost money tends to go down and lead.

A less active, more sedentary life, making sure those activities go in the right time bucket will help you have less regret for that time period. 

[00:35:51] Hala Taha: you've got this fear of not living life to the fullest. But a lot of people have the fear of dying broke, especially people who don't make a lot of money.

They think, Oh, but I need to make sure that I'm not going to be 90 years old and still have to work. My whatever job because It's hard to see the light when you don't make a lot of money, I think. So like you just get into this mindset of saving, saving, saving so that when I'm 80 or 90, I can survive.

What would you say to those people who have that fear? 

[00:36:19] Bill Perkins: Well, I'd say, listen, there's ways to mitigate those fears. Annuities, savings programs, et cetera, so you don't save too much. But I would want them to take the mindset another way. Because this is about optimizing your life for fulfillment. That doesn't necessarily mean these are activities with money.

Remember I said, the young you with toddlers dies and then they're empty nesters. Here's a very simple example for me that, you know, I'm divorced. And one of the things was an argument is like, who drives the kids to school? No, I'm not driving, you know, kids always want to get driven around to their friends, et cetera.

And then I realized that. The time, the quality time, the conversations I get with my kids is when they're in the car, they're trapped with me, they're stuck with their dad, and then I realize this is the time bucket to be driving them around because you won't get that time ever again. And so, instead of it being my argument of who's driving the kids, I would go out of my way to pick them up to be the Uber driver.

I became one of the best Uber drivers there was just so I can get the time with the kids because this is the time to optimize with my daughters and get those stories out there. Overhear the conversations, learn what's going on in a life when they're forced to talk to me. 75 percent of the time you will ever spend with your kid is done by, I think, by the age 13 or 14 in the U. S. I learned that a little bit late. That's a sobering statistic of like what activities belong when. So if you're like, Hey, I'm going to go to the bar and drink with my friends and hang out or whatever, or hang out and watch a kids movie with my kids, This is the die with zero philosophy about allocating your resources.

Like how do I allocate my time in order to get the most fulfilling? So it doesn't always have to be about that money and that savings aspect. And the other thing I would say to them about that fear is I naturally have the fear of wasting my life, but you can train yourself to shift your fears.

You know, shift your fear from running out of money to not living a full life. And if you have some skillsets. That strong of an ego. There's many jobs you can do just to survive. Zero is really, really hard to get to. Like I can always go be a waiter. I can always sweep floors. I can always be the guy that holds the sign on the highway.

There's lots of things. And I have very low ego associated with it. Like I don't care about what people think. Before I care about me and my fulfillment. And so I'm willing to just flip the sign. So if you have that mentality of, I am not afraid of failure or the perception of this big fall that the work, you can now start allocating resources more to fulfilling things in the right time bucket.

And I'm not saying that risk doesn't exist, but realize that. The first safety net is you and then there's, you know, government and social security, but you have these abilities to either mitigate these risks or mitigate your ego. I think a lot of people who don't start businesses or take these risks with these jobs, it's not really that they can't take the financial shock, they can.

They're intelligent people, they can get a job. What they're really worried about is looking like an idiot or they're fools or the fear of failure. That's what really shackles people. And so I think fear of running out of money is another version of fear of failure. And it's not that they can't take that shock or get that job or wait tables or whatever and not saying it won't be hard.

It's just that their egos are very, very attached to not having that happen to them. It's the judgment of other people, which they fear more than actually running out of the money. 

[00:39:54] Hala Taha: Yeah, totally. Totally. one of the things that you keep mentioning is this fear of not spending enough time with your kids or allocating your time in a way where in the future, you might regret not spending enough time with your kids.

So what are your thoughts about people having kids so much later in life these days? 

[00:40:13] Bill Perkins: I think it's an interesting dynamic. I think people, it's supposed to be values agnostic. So if that is your value and that's what you want to do. The only thing I ask of. My friends or people is think about how you allocate your resources and how does that fit?

So if you're like, I want to have kids later in life because I'm going to do X, Y, and Z and travel and whatever, I'm like, okay, make sure you do it. Right. It does create this flip flop, right? Like, uh, usually people were having kids in their twenties or, you know, it was 16, 17, 18, 20s. Now like thirties, who knows where it's going right?

With technology, what it does do is force you to think about what activities you're doing and when, and why are you shifting this later? Are you getting forced to shift it later? Are you choosing to shift it later? I don't have any problems with it. I just want people to actually be deliberate and intentional on their processes and how they're thinking about it.

So they can have a more fulfilling life for them and their kids. And I use my kids because that's my values. They're single people out there. They have different values. They're like, you know, I want to go to all the strip clubs in the world. I'm like, okay, this is the time for you to go to strip clubs. I want to do charity work.

I want to go, okay, what is the time period? What is the best time period for you to do that in the arc of your life based on what experiences you want to have? And to think that through, and that's why time bucketing is so important, is to really get an idea of what does your life look like loosely, right, it's going to change.

This is not you figure it out and you leave it and that's it, you have to come back to it often. What does that look like, and how do I optimize those periods? You know, if you're going to have a kid in your late 30s, 40s, 50s, there's no problems with that. I have no qualms with that. It's just. Be intentional, so that both you and your family can have the most fulfilling version of whatever your values are.

[00:42:01] Hala Taha: And you said it, be intentional. I feel like whenever we're intentional, we think, we plan, we step back, then you're making good decisions in your life. You're acting in a way that's going to benefit your future self and what you really want, and so that you can live without regrets. 

[00:42:15] Bill Perkins: What are the KPIs of fulfillment for you for each period of your life?

Your 20s, like for you, it might be grow my podcast, get famous, hang out, travel with my boyfriend, blah, blah, blah. And the KPIs would be how many trips have I taken? How many I love you's have I said, how many podcasts and interesting people have you, like, I'm just making them up for you right now. I have no visiting his family.

How many times do we visit his family? I mean, my family, how many, you know, you know, walks did we go on? How many hikes did we go on? Like you can make the KPIs, whatever you want the KPIs to be. But doing that gives you. The same metrics, feedback, and intentionality that you do in your job when it's, they're all there, right?

[00:42:55] Hala Taha: I was just going to say with your career, we often think about, okay, I want to make this much money. I want to have this title. I want to do this, but you don't think about your personal life and all the things that you want to do and accomplish all the milestones in your personal life. 

[00:43:07] Bill Perkins: Which to me is insane, is insane because to me, work is a tool to have the fulfilling life.

And so the KPIs of my life are way, way, way, way, way, way more important than it. The other things like this, yes, this enables this, I can still grind through and not have these KPIs, but not having the feedback on my life about, am I living my life, right? According to my values, according to my wishes and wants is insanity.

[00:43:33] Hala Taha: Well, Bill, this has been an incredible conversation. I always close my interview out with two last questions that I ask all my guests. The first one is what is one actionable thing that our young and profiters can do today to become more profitable tomorrow? 

[00:43:48] Bill Perkins: I would say develop habits, figure out what are the habits as a successful person, whatever your goal is, develop those habits and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

So develop the habits and you don't develop habits by like saying, Hey, I'm going to run a marathon. In one shot, there's a book, literally how to run a marathon. It's like, you run this much, then you run a little bit more, then you run a little bit more, and eventually through consistency, you get there. And so I would say, develop the habits of a successful person.

[00:44:19] Hala Taha: And what would you say is your secret to profiting in life? And this is all aspects of life besides just business and money. 

[00:44:26] Bill Perkins: Vulnerability. I think that is the number one key to be vulnerable with yourself and being vulnerable with others that deepens your relationships, both personal and professional, which will enrich you and fulfill your life in ways you couldn't imagine.

[00:44:43] Hala Taha: And where can everybody learn more about you and get your new book, Die With Zero? 

[00:44:48] Bill Perkins: Well, Die With Zero, I think it's everywhere. I think it's in eight languages, wherever bookstores are, local bookstores, the major outlets, Barnes and Nobles, et cetera. I don't know if you even want to follow me. I have crazy thoughts.

I spew a stream of consciousness on Twitter. I'm at BP22 on Twitter, but I don't recommend it. I don't recommend it. 

[00:45:08] Hala Taha: Now everyone's gonna go follow you on Twitter. 

[00:45:10] Bill Perkins: Now everyone's gonna be like, why did I listen to the stream of consciousness over here? But that's where you can find me. And I'm on Instagram, I'm Bill Perkins, if you like my own personal diary.

If you like to spy on other people's personal lives. 

[00:45:23] Hala Taha: Amazing. Well, we'll put all those links in the show notes so our listeners can find you and follow you. And thank you so much for joining us on Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:45:31] Bill Perkins: Thanks. It was great to be here. 

[00:45:32] Hala Taha: You know, young improfiters, we hear about the importance of saving over and over again. But how often do we think about how we might be saving ourselves outside of a life? Bill Perkins is not afraid of dying broke. Instead, he's afraid of dying without having really lived his life. Extreme frugality is robbing us of our chance to live our lives to the fullest.

But the solution isn't to just start spending like crazy, but rather to start optimizing for a full life. There were so many good nuggets in this episode, but something Bill said that really struck me and stuck with me was how nobody says they want to make a billion dollars by the age of 90. We know that by that age, our bodies are much weaker and our lives have passed us by.

So money really at that age has less utility. We can't just go on any trip we want to do. We can't do whatever we want because our bodies are fragile and weak at that age. And so if you wait until you're old and gray before you go buy your dream house, You might not be able to climb up the stairs and enjoy the house.

That's why for Bill, it makes no sense to simply keep accumulating money for your golden years. You are exchanging hours of your life for money and you shouldn't be giving up all that time to then have no reward. You shouldn't be stealing from your younger self who needs more money than from your older self down the line who doesn't need as much money.

You deserve to enjoy today what you've worked hard and saved for. And Bill asked a question that we all need to ask ourselves. What are the KPIs of fulfillment for you for each period of your life? And this was my favorite piece of advice in the episode. Break down your life in buckets. What you need at 20 is different from what you need at 30 is different from what you need at 40, 50, 60, and so on.

You probably need more money to function in your 30s, Then you do in your 70s, 80s, and 90s because you can do more things and you've got to think about what do you want at each stage of your life? What are the KPIs of fulfillment at each stage of your life? Because like Bill said, it doesn't make sense to party in Europe in your 30s.

You're going to embarrass yourself. You better make sure you're planning to do that in your 20s if you are still in your 20s. Every stage of life has different things that we're going to want to do and can do. And so we've got to think that through. And the KPIs are up to you. So for example, are your KPIs the number of famous people you've taken pictures with?

Or the number of trips you've taken with your partner? Your KPIs don't have to be specifically about the amount of money. It's about what you want to do and how much that's going to cost. Money is not the goal. It's the tool to drive fulfillment. Thanks for listening to this episode of Young and Profiting Podcast.

Here at Yap, we're all about accumulating experiences and insights and helping others do the same. So if you listen, learned, and profited from this conversation with the impressive Bill Perkins, please share this episode with your friends and family. If you enjoyed the show, the number one way to thank us is by writing a five star review on Apple podcast.

I read these reviews every day and would love to hear your feedback about the show. And if you prefer to watch your podcast as videos, you can find all of our episodes uploaded to YouTube. Just look up young and profiting and you'll find all of our episodes on there. You can also find me on Instagram at Yap with Hala or LinkedIn by searching my name.

It's Hala Taha. I also wanted to take a moment to say thank you to my incredible Yap production team. You guys are rock stars. You are best in the business. Thank you for all that you do. This is your host, Hala Taha, aka the Podcast Princess, signing off. 

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