I’ve had a bloke living in my back paddock for the last couple of months.
His name is Oliver, and he’s a 21-year-old pommy backpacker who works on my farm, lives in his van, and does his business in our shearing shed portaloo (which, up until now, has only been used by shearers and requires a full hazmat suit to do a number two).
The other night he pulled out a map of Australia and said, “Where should I go next?”
“You’re living the dream, mate!” I told him, as I retreated to my warm home, with a flushing toilet.
Now the ‘sensible’ financial advice for a young bloke like Olly is that he’d be better off in the long run staying home, getting a good job, and starting to sock money away to save for a house deposit.
If he did that he could buy a cheap (overpriced) home in his late twenties. And if he did that he could spend his thirties and forties working even harder to try and pay it off. (As one burnt-out forty-something manager told me over coffee this week, “I spend more time mentoring the kids who work at the office than I do my own kids at home”).
The sensible financial advice says that Olly will finally be able to slow down and enjoy himself when he retires, but there’s only one problem …
You see, the big taboo topic of retirement is that many retirees don’t end up spending their nest eggs.
They hoard it, because, understandably, they’re scared of running out of money. Yet by the time they work out they’ve got more than enough left over … they’re often too old to enjoy it.
And so they die in their eighties with a big pot of money that they worked bloody hard for and sacrificed precious moments for … but never got around to enjoying.
That money is then left to their kids, who are then in their fifties or sixties and don’t really need it (they really needed help in their early thirties when they were starting their own family).
In the book Die With Zero, author Bill Perkins argues: “The number of actual experiences available to you diminishes as you age. Yes, you need money to survive in retirement, but the main thing you’ll be retiring on will be your memories – so make sure you invest enough in those.”
And right now Olly is investing in memories that will last him a lifetime: he’s fallen for a lovely Aussie girl; partied on a deserted island under the moonlight; and met weird and wonderful people (my kids want to take him to school for show and tell).
So what’s the lesson?
Well, it’s not to ‘die with zero’ (as the book says). That’s fraught with danger, given you don’t know when you’re going to die, and you don’t want to run out of dough early.
No, the lesson is that, once you’ve worked through the Barefoot Steps and have your financial bases covered, you should spend your money on having life-changing adventures (or enabling them for your loved ones!) instead of spending your time accumulating more money.
After all, life is all about the memories we make with the limited time we have. And I’ll share with you my next adventure … next week.
Tread Your Own Path!