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Reclaim Your Time: Prioritizing Experiences Over Wealth

Jul 10, 2024

Reclaim Your Time: Prioritizing Experiences Over Wealth

In the hustle of modern life, it's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of material wealth, often at the expense of our well-being and happiness. However, the "Die With Zero" philosophy by Bill Perkins challenges this notion, urging us to prioritize experiences over accumulating wealth. Today I would like to unpack some of the provocative ideas from his book and look at integrating them into our lives. I touch on some of the major themes that I personally gleaned.

This aligns with what I call the SimpliMD Way as I outlined in my post The SimpliMD Way: 9 Micro-Business Practices for Thriving Doctors

Embracing the "Die With Zero" Philosophy

I remember the time I decided to cut back on my practice hours. Driven by the fear of not saving enough for the future, I was working tirelessly. But then, I stumbled upon the "Die With Zero" philosophy and realized I was missing out on precious moments with my family. This epiphany led me to start taking Fridays off in the clinic and use it as an administrative day, turning them into flexible adventure days with my wife and children—creating memories that money could never buy.

Creating an Adventure List

Creating an adventure list is a powerful way to set goals and aspirations for the future. This list should reflect your values, interests, and passions. Whether it's traveling to exotic destinations, learning a new skill, or volunteering for a cause you believe in, prioritize your goals and make them a reality. This approach aligns perfectly with the "Die With Zero" mindset, encouraging you to live a life rich with experiences.

My wife and I have an adventure list that includes visiting all of the US National Parks and all seven continents, as well as our personal list of "wonders of the world." Since my wife is a scrapbooker (check out Scrapping In My Sleep), each of these experiences is documented and scrapbooked in unique ways.

Traveling the World

Traveling is a cornerstone of the "Die With Zero" philosophy, encouraging you to explore the world and immerse yourself in new experiences. I especially enjoy doing this through CME Away programs, as they allow my spouse to join for free and the trips are tax-deductible business expenses for those who are self-employed. These adventures have broadened my horizons and created lasting memories, reinforcing the value of spending on experiences rather than just accumulating wealth. Of course there are many other ways to travel and experience the world but I especially love unifying learning, traveling, and tax efficiency! Don’t forget on Thursday July 25th at 8pm EST I’ll be hosting a free 30 minute webinar for our community to learn about trips with CME Away. Sign up to join us here.

Live Now, Prosper Later: The "Die With Zero" Mindset

Why "Die With Zero"? The essence of this philosophy lies in its radical departure from conventional wisdom. Instead of hoarding wealth for some distant future, it encourages us to spend our resources wisely, ensuring we enjoy life to the fullest while we still can. This mindset aligns your financial goals with your life experiences for maximum fulfillment.

To be honest, I don't think any of our kids are depending on inheriting our assets when we die. This is because we have shared with them the secret of contentment, regardless of lifestyle and earnings. While "generational wealth" has its place and power, a full-scale family office that ensures the financial well-being of future Stillson generations is not our goal. In fact, I kind of fear the negative impact that sort of structure might have on future Stillson generations.

I prefer the approach my mother is currently taking. After my dad's death last fall, we reorganized her financial situation. Although her net worth is modest, she has realized that her current lifestyle is fully supported by government and pension-based income. Thus, she has decided to generously share her resources with her 11 family members, who are mostly in their 20s and would greatly benefit from the windfall now rather than after her death. This will be done in a tax-efficient manner, helping her family when they need it most and giving her the pleasure of watching it benefit those she loves dearly. Due to her health issues, this type of "experience" is her best way of sharing, compared to taking a family cruise or similar activities.

I suspect we'll use this same experience page from my mom's playbook in the future as well.

Financial Planning for a Fulfilling Life

Financial planning should not be solely focused on accumulating wealth but should also encompass the pursuit of a fulfilling life. By creating a roadmap that integrates your financial goals with your life experiences, you can navigate the complexities of financial planning with confidence. This ensures that your resources are allocated in a way that maximizes both your financial security and your overall happiness. This is why my wife I regularly use this Dare To Dream guide and set holistic goals for our future.

Celebrating Life

Celebrating life is at the heart of the "Die With Zero" philosophy, encouraging us to embrace each moment with gratitude and appreciation. A few years ago, I planned a trip to Europe for our anniversary. It was a financial stretch, but the joy and excitement that experienced with getting away and experiencing the world together was priceless. That trip not only strengthened our bond but also reminded me of the importance of creating meaningful times togeher.

Balancing Health and Wealth

Balancing your well-being with your financial goals can feel like walking a tightrope. By putting yourself first and not neglecting your physical and mental health, you're actually setting yourself up to make the most of life's adventures. What good is a fat wallet if you're too stressed or sick to enjoy it? Invest in your health—it's the foundation for everything else in life.

SimpliMD recognizes the intricate relationship between health and wealth, offering resources to help you strike a delicate balance between the two. By prioritizing self-care and wellness, you can ensure you have the vitality to enjoy life's experiences fully.

After years of neglecting my health for the sake of my career, I decided to make a change. I began to run regularly used that time for prayer and mindfulness. I learned the power of how to integrate self-care into my daily routine. Now, I exercise regularly and make time for mindfulness, which has drastically improved both my physical health and my outlook on life.

With my wife in her 50s and me in my late 50s, we both recognize our current good health represents a "window in time" when we have the health and resources to pursue our adventure list. We intend to go full throttle during the next decade, or longer, depending on how our health holds up.

Mindful Spending

Mindful spending is a core principle of the "Die With Zero" philosophy. Evaluate your purchases based on their long-term value and enjoyment. By practicing mindful spending, you can make informed decisions about your resources, ensuring they are allocated in ways that align with your values and goals. This balance between financial well-being and self-care can maximize your happiness and fulfillment.

For my wife and me, our annual spending doesn't just include self-indulgent experiences; it involves generously and thoughtfully giving to others in our community and abroad. It's why we have a donor-advised fund that allows us to contribute a percentage of our earnings and then distribute it to local, regional, national, and international people/organizations that align with our purpose and mission in life. You can read more about this in my post How to Maximize Your Charitable Impact with Donor-Advised Funds

From Possessions to Passions

Maximize experiences over material possessions. Make informed decisions about your finances, guiding you towards investments that prioritize experiences and personal fulfillment. From travel opportunities to passion projects, invest in activities that enrich your life and create lasting memories.

Passion projects are essential for cultivating a fulfilling life. They allow you to pursue your interests and hobbies without financial constraints. Pursue passion projects and find purpose and fulfillment outside of your professional responsibilities, enriching your life in meaningful ways.

My passion projects involve the creation of this special online micro-business community for you called SimpliMD. I love helping doctors every day to thrive in the marketplace by empowering them. By the way, I depend on you to reach other doctors with my message, so please share SimpliMD with your peers and have them subscribe to my free blog posts. You can even take a step further to get paid for being an affiliate here.

My other passion project also involves a health-tech start up that aims to empower consumers-patients with economical 24/7 acute medical treatment that scales my 30 years of primary care in experience into a chat based medical product-device called ChatRx. I have always loved helping patients and this simple product embraces the principles that I value: antibiotic stewardship, the Socratic method, and direct to consumer care that is free of 3rd parties—-all packaged into a convenient phone app.

Semi-Retirement Reimagined

Retirement is not just about financial security; it's about reimagining what it means to live a fulfilling life in the later years. Envision a retirement lifestyle that aligns with your values and goals, making the most of this next chapter. Embrace a dynamic and fulfilling life, filled with purpose, passion, and meaning. One the deep seeded purposes that I have professionally is to provide maternity care to vulnerable rural communities. I trained to do it, and have provided this service for over 25 years. Now in my semi-retired state I will travel the country doing locum work to fill the gaps the many rural areas and critical access hospitals that are fighting to remain maternity oasis’s rather than become maternity deserts. I want to be a difference maker in this battle for safe maternity care for the mom’s and babies of rural America!

Redefining Success: How to Die With Zero and Live Fully

Financial planning should not be solely focused on accumulating wealth accumulation but should also encompass the pursuit of a fulfilling life by wealth spending. Create a roadmap that integrates your financial goals with your life experiences. Spend your resources wisely, ensuring that you enjoy life to the fullest while you still can.

Leaving a Legacy

Creating a meaningful legacy is a central theme of the "Die With Zero" philosophy. Leave behind more than just financial wealth—leave a legacy of experiences, relationships, and impact. Ensure that your influence lives on long after you're gone.

Embrace Self-Employment for Financial Independence

Choosing self-employment can be the foundation for reaching financial independence faster. That has been my personal experience in the past decade as it has shaved off nearly 5 years for me to reach my FI goal. More importantly, it offers the autonomy to manage the tension between self-care and wealth accumulation. Our journeys are not all about wealth accumulation but enjoying the journey to financial independence. By embracing self-employment, you can create a fulfilling life that balances financial success with personal well-being. If you want to know about you can download a free digital copy of my book Doctor Incorporated; Stop The Insanity of Traditional Employment and Preserve Your Professional Autonomy. Or you can buy a digital or paper copy here.


The "Die With Zero" philosophy offers a transformative approach to living a fulfilling life. By prioritizing experiences over material possessions, investing wisely, and cultivating meaningful relationships, you can create a life rich in joy, purpose, and fulfillment. Embrace this philosophy with confidence, knowing that you have the tools and resources you need to live life to the fullest. So, why wait? Start embracing the "Die With Zero" concepts today and embark on a journey toward ultimate fulfillment and happiness.

Choose self-employment as your path to financial independence and a balanced, fulfilling life.If you have been considering stepping into the self-employment space, let me be your personal guide to help you walk through the entire process. Get started here and join the many doctors whom I am meeting with every week to empower them on their micro-corporation journey.