Handling Your Bucket List without Wrecking Your Finances

Believe it or not, the phrase “bucket list” (in the sense of things one wants to do before dying) originated in 2007 with the movie of the same name. Given how popular and constantly used it has become, it’s kind of hard to believe that it has only been with us for 16 years.

Be that as it may, most of us have some sort of bucket list, even if it’s only an informal one. Often, we look forward to retirement as the time when we’ll actually start checking those items off, one by one.

But there’s a lot of variation in the contents of all those “buckets.” For some, cherished goals may include things as simple and relatively inexpensive as writing your memoirs or learning to play a musical instrument. But for others, bucket list items may be more elaborate: taking a grand European tour, perhaps, or getting SCUBA certified so you can dive along the Great Barrier Reef.

Whatever the contents of your particular bucket, you can make your goals a reality without going broke—as long as you plan carefully and intelligently. Here are a few tips for checking off those goals without overdrawing your checking account.

1. Prioritize. Spend some time thinking about what matters most to you, and let that drive the way you prioritize your bucket list items. You’ll be much more likely to achieve a goal that arises out of who you really are.

2. Write it down. A basic step in achieving any goal is to visualize it, and writing down your most important goals will help you do that. Start with your top-priority dream from step 1, and write down as much detail as you can: how much it will cost, when you plan to do it, and what you’ll need to make it happen. The more “real” you can make it, the more likely it is you’ll do it.

3. Start saving. The sooner you begin backing your dreams with tangible assets, the better your chances of seeing those dreams come true. In addition to your “normal” retirement accounts, you may need to set aside a special fund designated for your special goals. Look at your calculations from Step 2, figure out how long it will take you to save the necessary amount, and make that a line item in your regular savings plan. Using a budgeting and saving app like Mint, you can set your goals and let the app help you keep track of your progress.

4. Be strategic. Is travel high on your list of items? Educate yourself about credit card rewards (just don’t forget to keep the balances paid off; paying thousands in interest isn’t going to help you meet your goals). Will one of your items require you to step outside your comfort zone? Suppose you’re naturally introverted, but you’ve always dreamed of doing stand-up comedy. What changes will you have to make in order to make your dreams a reality?

At Empyrion Wealth Management a part of Mercer Advisors, we provide holistic guidance for our clients. We believe our responsibility extends far beyond balances in accounts; we want to help you achieve your most important goals, both financial and non-financial. To learn more about how we help family stewards safeguard the financial welfare of future generations, contact us here.

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