marc2What would you do if you knew with absolute certainty that you would die in exactly 10 years time? It doesn’t matter how you know this or what you will die of; in 3652 days you will drop dead. It’s a new thought experiment from TheSavingNinja.

savingninjaThe way thought experiments work is by starting off with a question, like “What would you do if you got given £1 million?”, and the blogger will have to write whatever they first think of. No pre-planning or major editing allowed and blabbering is definitely encouraged! It should read like an internal monologue.


The message

deathHey Marc! Nice to meet you. I won’t beat around the bush. You will die in exactly 10 years from now. No time for a coffee unfortunately. There are some other personal finance bloggers I need to see. Enjoy the rest of your day!

marc-surprisedWTF?! Wait! Why… how… Waiter! Can I have a large whiskey please!

Oh well, 10 years is actually quite a long time. It’s maybe not an ocean of time, but definitely more than a pool.  Imagine the countless sunrises I’d still be able to enjoy. And I could still spend 10 wonderful years with my loved ones before saying properly goodbye and checking out. Is it the most horrible message one could get? Or is it a blessing in disguise?

“Live every day as if it is your last”

I’d be utterly shocked by this death-message (who wouldn’t). But after the initial shock had faded (assisted by the whiskey) I’d make a plan. A 10 Year Plan.

You know what? I already have a 10 Year Plan. It’s my plan for reaching financial independence and early retirement. I am 50 now, so 60 is the magic number. That’s where the line is drawn. My Arctic circle.

The death-message is only a minor (ahem…) change of plan. One could still refer to it as retirement. And I’d still be financially independent. My expenses would drop to zero after all.

“Death is the ultimate state of (financial) independence and early retirement”.

Your personal belief system (religious, social and cultural) colors your interpretations. One way or another. And the way I look at life (and death) would most certainly avoid one thing from happening: Sink into the bottomless pit of self-pity.

But this is not about what I wouldn’t do. It is about what I would do.


The plan

I am really bad at making personal to-do lists (on paper, my computer or smartphone). Grocery lists are as far as I go. The main reason is that I am a very perceptive and intuitive person and I usually make spontaneous decisions based on inner moments of clarity (not that I have many). There is nothing spiritual about it. It’s how I function.

I hardly have any moments of clarity when it comes to personal finances though, so here I am a bit more organized. This is plain planning and doing the math. The why, how, how much, when and where to invest my funds.

I do make mental lists however. But they’re pretty organic and are constantly rewritten and reorganized in the deeper vaults of my mind.

The death-message would change that. I would think long and hard about how I would want to spend the remaining 10 years of my life.  And write it down. Make a list. My guiding principles.

This would be on it…

#1 Talk…

…with people in my “inner circle”, family, friends. Their feelings and opinions are very important.

This is not only my plan. It’s also their plan. Well, it’s our plan. They will have to live through this as well. And for more than 10 years.

Don’t spend every conversation talking about my deadline(!) It is important to be conscious about the limited time however and it should guide me when making decisions on how to spend my time and money.

Don’t tell anyone about my death-message who isn’t part of my small “inner circle”. Unless it is absolutely necessary.

#2 Spend…

…more time with people close to me. This is not very different from the wish I already have today. But having a hard deadline increases the urgency.

The idea that “once I reach FIRE I will have more time to do the things that are meaningful to me and that make me and people close to me happy” still holds true, but replace the word FIRE with NOW.

Do whatever you can to have more time NOW.

#3 Be responsible…

…when implementing #2. As much as I would love to declare FIRE here and now (the death-message isn’t exactly what I would call a work motivator), it would not be wise to quit my job from one day to another.

Look at work-life balance. Depending on the financial needs now and in the future, there will be room for reducing work. The more I can reduce it the better.

Make adjustments to my portfolio if needed. And revisit all the numbers. Death is a game changer after all. My financial needs are no longer the same if my expenses are reduced to zero.

Whatever I do, remember that this is not only about me.

 #4 Help…

…people. Think about the well-being of others. Make a difference.

The worst thing you can do is being passive and indulge in self-pity. I have 10 full years to contribute with. I’m not sick. I just have a very important piece of information that others don’t have. That gives me an edge 😉

#5 Remember…

…to taste life. Don’t forget about yourself. Fill your own gas tank.

Travel more. Go on as many road trips you can.

Drink good wines and beer and try all the cocktails you haven’t tasted yet but want to.

Read good books. See good movies. Go for walks and take in the splendor of nature.

#6 Be happy

Today is the first day.

Don’t dwell in what you will lose. Be thankful for what has been given and what you still have.

Open your eyes for all the beauty that surrounds you.

And remember Marc, death is overrated.


Why wait with implementing the plan? Do I really need a death-message before I do anything? The future is unknown. I may live 100 years. Maybe arrows with my name on it are already whirring down from the sky.  One thing is certain. We all have to die.

The things I wrote down have been bouncing around in my head for a long time already. And while FIRE would give me more time to do most of them, I shouldn’t hesitate to start already today.

Especially with #6. Be happy.

How about you?

Any thoughts? What would you do if you knew you would die in 10 years from now?

Others who got the message





Steel kitten

Young FI Guy

Dr Fire


10 thoughts on “Thought Experiment: What Would You Do If You Knew With Absolute Certainty That You Would Die In Exactly 10 Years Time?

  1. “Death is the ultimate state of (financial) independence and early retirement”.

    That is quite a statement!

    I love your approach. Good to see your plans wouldn’t differ greatly with a hard deadline, that says your direction of travel is heading in the right direction already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks indeedably! It popped up in the right part of my brain and I kept the left part out of it (it would have censored it probably).

      The more I wrote, the more I realized I wouldn’t change direction at all. My conclusion is that although I don’t know when my time ends, there is no time to lose (to do what I already plan to do).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your little Grim Reaper 😀

    Great post and a sound message: Why not implement the plan right now?

    I guess that’s what all FI seekers are looking for, a better life.


  3. What I love about this Marc is that so much of it is about people. This sort of experiment pulls out what really matters to us, what is at the core of our values, and half of your list is about people.

    In fact, even more than that, so much of your list is about giving of yourself to others in various ways even though you’re the one that’s dying!

    It makes me feel humbled (and fills me with a desire to focus more on people as well).


    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words Caveman! It is hard to know this, but I think I wouldn’t be that upset about such a message. But I would be upset with myself if I don’t use a fair amount of my resources for the good of other people.
      So there is no time to lose!


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