My cousin Ron died of cancer last Sunday. He was 47. I spent much of the past two days preparing a video presentation for this afternoon’s memorial service. After scanning and processing scores of photographs, and after talking with family members at the funeral, I’m reminded of three important points. This advice is trite, but it’s important.

  1. Create a will. I know you’re young, and I know you’re not going to die any time soon, but create a will anyhow. A will provides clear legal instructions regarding your intentions, and is crucial for those with even modest assets.
  2. Don’t focus on Stuff. When you’re lying on your deathbed, you won’t think, “Damn! I got an iPhone.” You’ll remember your friends, and you’ll remember the experiences you’ve had. Likewise, those who knew you will cherish memories of the time you spent together, not the things you owned.
  3. Be passionate. Live life with gusto. Whether you love motorcycles or comic books, knitting or basketball, German philosophers or God — pursue your interests with enthusiasm, and share them with others.

It’s true that money is an important part of life, but it’s not the only part. Aim to adopt a sustainable financial lifestyle — live within your means. If you pursue money for its own sake, you’ll miss much of what life has to offer.