January 21, 2017

Die Broke: Quit Today Pay Cash Don’t Retire

Die Broke: Quit Today Pay Cash Don’t Retire

What does it do to a person's soul when they have a reason to look forward to the death of a loved one?

Click to Tweet

What’s it about?

Stephen M. Pollan writes that our approach to money, career, and much else in life is outmoded, based on principles and beliefs that come from the past. Your fear of dying broke is an early twentieth-century fear carried forward to twenty-first-century life.

Die Broke: Quit Today Pay Cash Don’t Retire

  1. Employment is not as secure as it used to be, don’t vest too much in any one job. Mentally separate yourself from your employer and realize that you are on your own. Once you quit in your head, being fired is no longer a real threat: You’re already a free agent on the lookout for your next opportunity.
  2. It’s rare today for a job to be rewarding both emotionally and financially. Be mercantile. View your job as an income-generating device. Focus on the job, not your whole career. Any other benefits other than money are purely secondary.
  3. Pay cash. Frugality has long-lasting psychic rewards. Working hard to save for something means you’ll truly value it when you get it, and, you’ll be careful about what you buy. You’ll earn interest while saving rather than paying interest while borrowing.
  4. Don’t retire. The world is changing. People are living longer, company pensions are shrinking, so is state support, the retirement age is rising. Don’t hang all your hopes on retiring at 65. Plan to work for longer. There are proven psychological benefits if you can continue working in work you find acceptable or even enjoy.
  5. Die Broke. Inheritance made sense when it consisted of fixed assets – like a family farm, a business, or a set of tools – and was part of an implicit contract between generations. This has changed. Inheritance hurts the hoarder who chooses not to spend money on themselves. It can hurt families and even the recipients who may be less motivated to go out and earn themselves.
  6. Inheritance is also inefficient, subject to large amounts of tax, and hurts society by keeping wealth locked up in real-estate.


Having a mercantile approach doesn’t mean obsessing over money. It simply means using your job to generate the money you need to pursue your goals, rather than looking to the job itself to fulfill those goals. A career is simply a series of such jobs viewed from above and placed in some kind of context. And a life’s work need not be what is done on the job.
Forget about retirement. Look at your working life as a lifelong journey up and down hills rather than as a single climb up a steep cliff that ends with a fatal step off the edge at the arbitrary age of sixty-five.

Combined, the four points made in Die Broke offer an alternative way to plan our finances, lives and careers. We can view work not as a life-long slog that ends with freedom and steady decline, but as a series of adventures. Much will be done to earn us money, some will be done for enjoyment. That money will go further if we are frugal and save, taking advantage of tax benefits to put money away for retirement. That retirement should never come, though, as you may find it more profitable and enjoyable to keep working. You can also keep spending. Month-long trips abroad, studying Renaissance art in Italy, going to the cinema and theater more often…

“The last check should be to the undertaker…and it should bounce.”

Take Away Points and Context

  • Frugality offers dramatic real-life benefits – it’s a life preserver that can keep you from drowning in a sea of red ink.
  • Estates and potential inheritance can hurt families. Be inserting economic self-interest into emotional decisions, they can damage family dynamics and relationships. What does it do to a persons soul when they have a reason to look forward to the death of a loved one?
  • Saving, persevering in jobs you don’t like, spending wisely, searching for meaningful pursuits, alternative employments and dying broke are all things to consider.



Die Broke: Quit Today Pay Cash Don’t Retire. Comments welcome below.
Help me Help you, Share!


I'm a writer and social critic a little tired of the general madness around. If you get any value at from this site please support me at Patreon!