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Your Bucket List: How to create it, afford it, and check it off!

Your Bucket List: How to create it, afford it, and check it off!

Posted on: January 20, 2012
Author: Jennifer Kohle

At one time or another, we have all said "It's on my bucket list." But have you ever sat down and wrote out your list? Does it include travel, volunteering, new hobbies … or all three? Bucket lists can be filled with big ideas or small accomplishments, and some goals require more planning and money than others.

With a little planning, you’ll have a better understanding of how your current savings will help you accomplish things before you retire, and you’ll also realize how much you need to set aside for retirement—on top of your living expenses—to accomplish the remaining items on your list.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Identify your list.

    The first step to planning for your bucket list is to sit down and write it out. This is the fun part, so dedicate some time to daydreaming: What do you really want to do, and why do you want to do it? Volunteering in Africa may be a large, life-defining accomplishment, whereas swimming with dolphins is a thrilling adventure that won't leave a legacy.

  2. Cost it out.

    The next step is to put some estimated costs next to the items on your list. Learning to fly a plane, for example, is going to be a much bigger draw on your savings, setting you back as much as $15,000, whereas piano lessons for five years would be around $5000.

  3. Create a timeline.

    Once you have a clear idea of what your list is going to cost, the third step is to create a bucket list timeline. Flying lessons might come before retirement, and a luxury trip may wait until after. By setting some loose timelines, you can figure out when you'll need your savings and where those savings are coming from. For example, a big-ticket dream, like buying a condo on a golf course in Arizona, may draw from your retirement income—so you'll have to start saving for that while you're still working.

    The best course of action is to put your list into three categories: short term (in the next three years), mid-term (5 to15 years), or post-retirement.

    Here's an example:

    My Bucket List Size Cost Timeline

    Learn to play the piano

    Big

    $5000 and 5 years

    3 years

    Swim with dolphins

    Small

    $300 + trip

    3 years

    Join a wine club

    Small

    Ongoing cost of wine

    5 years

    Take a photography class

    Small

    $300

    5 years

    Learn to fly a plane

    Big

    $10,000–$15,000

    10 years

    Volunteer with a relief mission in Africa

    Big

    Lost Income?

    10 years

    See the pyramids in Egypt

    Big

    $5000–$10,000

    In retirement

    Stay in a hut over the ocean in Bali

    Big

    $5000–$10,000

    In retirement

    Read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    Small

    $10

    In retirement

This exercise will help you to put some clear priorities around your bucket list. With good saving habits and some basic budgeting, you can check off your list sooner and later.

Don't let your dreaming stop here. Revisit your bucket list on a regular basis and edit it as your goals and plans change.

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