Instead of hoarding pennies for a hypothetical reckoning, Perkins extolls the virtues of generosity and immediacy.
Don’t wait: give to your children, give to your friends, give to your community. But most importantly, give to yourself. Within a reasonable framework of what you can afford — and with an eye toward those things that make you feel energized, inspired and alive — spend the money to do the thing. However much it costs, it will pay for itself over and over again throughout the course of your life.
Perkins calls these payouts “memory dividends.” Other writers have described them as “the re-experiencing of an experience.” The extra effort can take a toll in the short term (on your debit balance, or your sleep schedule), but in the end, will add color and texture to your life and yield stories you’ll tell forever.
Sometimes, on the rare and blissful occasions that I’m sitting around doing nothing at all, I’ll flash back to moments of my life that were so odd or extraordinary I’ll question whether they ever happened at all. Like running through the desert as the sun set outside San Bernardino, or shopping for bread and cabbage at a grocery store the size of a Home Depot in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Of course, travel is a surefire way to create memory dividends. Same as shelling for a concert that you must attend, no matter the Stubhub price gauging, or Game 7 of the World Series. But you can create memory dividends in small ways, too. Go on a walk with a family member when they could really need it. Read a book to your kid. Plan a special night for your significant other for no real reason.
Chances are, you’ll be able to re-experience these memories one day, and cash in on the dividends. But even if they don’t pop specifically into your brain, they may long linger in the your loved one’s head, as something vital and cherished. That’s what it really means to be rich for life.