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What's On Your Financial Bucket List?

It was hard not to love The Bucket List. The movie was a reminder that life is short and today is the day to do what you've been dreaming about. A bucket list gives you carte blanche to live.

Why not do a financial bucket list? "The world of personal finance isn't typically a wellspring of motivation, but a bucket list can be," says Scott Halliwell, a financial planner for USAA. "Without one, you're likely to just fall into a routine and never really do anything extraordinary from a financial perspective. Since money touches just about every aspect of our lives, doing something financially extraordinary often equates to doing something extraordinary with your life."

Think big

Start by visualizing all the things you would do if you had more money than you need. Make a list. "Since bucket list items should be outside the realm of your day-to-day life, dream a little," says Halliwell.

That list can include whatever you want, having the ability to quit your job any time you want, retiring early, living abroad in retirement, being debt free, traveling the world, buying that mansion, that luxe car. Or it could be not about you at all. "It could be giving away a shocking amount of money," says Halliwell. Truth is, if you can put yourself in a position to give, exceedingly and abundantly, that means you have your finances together and so yes, it is about you too.


For sure, the sky is the limit, but prioritize a few items that matter the most to you. "You don't want your list to be too daunting, otherwise you'll get discouraged," warns Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit counseling.

"Your list will serve as a reminder of the progress you've made and the future steps that still must be taken," says Ben Sullivan, a certified financial planner with Palisades Financial Hudson Group.

Create a strategy

"Without an organized plan, you are literally 'winging it'," says Melody Juge, founder and managing director of Life Income Management.

You know what happens when you 'wing it'. You tend to fly off course and could crash and burn.

Say your top goal is to become debt free, you might need to break that into smaller chunks in order to stay motivated. Maybe you start with eliminating student loan debt, then credit card debt, and so on. When you get a lump sum of money, like your tax refund, put it toward debt reduction, in addition to whatever you commit to putting aside monthly for debt repayment.

If you're dreaming of buying that retirement home in the islands, don't just surf the Internet looking at sunny locales or watching HGTV's House Hunters International. Do your homework. Figure out how much it will cost to live there. Do you want to build a home, buy a condo, a single family home? You know the benefits, beach, sun, fun, but what are any downsides? "Set a target for how much you need to save each year to reach your retirement goals," says David Shucavage, president of Carolina Estate Planners.

The list can be practical too

While a bucket list is a list of things you haven't done but want to while you're still alive, when it comes to finances, "I would shorten the time frame to be while you still can, and simultaneously broaden the list to include things you may have done before but need to review and possibly update," says John Brandy, a wealth manager, who keeps it simple. "There are a number of things you cannot do if you're not of sound mind, like writing a will or designating what happens to you and your money in the event you're no longer able to decide on your own."

So there's plenty of room on your bucket list for the basics.

Stay motivated

Don't kid yourself. A bucket list can be much like a budget if you're not careful. It exists on paper and remains on paper, it never becomes real. Motivation is key. "Keep your eyes on the prize. Put pictures of what you want to achieve in your wallet, on your refrigerator, or as the background on your computer to remind yourself of what you want to achieve," says Leslie Tayne, an attorney specializing in financial issues with the Tayne Law Group.

Change your mindset. If getting "there" will require some sacrifice – you'll have to cut back in order to save more, don't frame it in the negative. Says Brandy, "Think of it as gaining the peace of mind from knowing that your intentions will come to pass."

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mustsavemore   |     |   Comment #1
My bucket list is having an emergency savings.  As of this August it will be three years since I attempted to save for one, and so far I have not been successful in saving even one cent.  This is very tough, but it is a dream for me. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
I'm the same, it is not easy to save when you are on fixed income. The bucket list is for the young and to dream big or until the democrats say you have accumulated to much, give it back to us and will distribute it to the "poor" which means to the lazies and addicted welfare junkies.
Shorebreak   |     |   Comment #4
I knew it wouldn't be long before the anonymous political trolls showed up.
paoli2   |     |   Comment #5
A "bucket list" should not be a political thing but a personal self discipline. We did both our financial and personal bucket list while we were young enough to do it and still enjoy it.  One can make a million excuses for why they can't do it or they can develop the self discipline to find a way to do it inspite of the way times have changed.  It is more difficult to do now but considering the salaries people are making compared to what salary we did it on, it can be done if one is determined.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
I would have totally agreed with you accept for your last sentence.  I believe it is no more difficult today than it was years ago.  Not that either past or present times were/are easy for the average worker.   More people live an extravagant life style than ever before, not necessarily a better life style, and do not save for their retirement years. Determination, willpower and financial discipline are what it takes. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #8
I like to add to Comment #4, who made you judge and executioner, #3 said it as is, very close to the truth.
The democrats are destroying this country and you know it, but can not admit to it, because you are hard liner democrat supporter.
Shorebreak   |     |   Comment #9
“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.” ? Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #10
#9, replacing anonymous with fictitious name, makes you hypocrite. You are still anonymous to all of us. Anyone can assume stage name and pretend to be someone else. I trust anyone with anonymous name 10 times more than someone with a bogus name like shorebreak.
paoli2   |     |   Comment #11
#10  The reason I am for everyone having a fictitious name instead of just anonymous is because we know when we post to Shorebreak the person who is using that name becomes known to us and we can like or dislike the comments but the person seems willing to accept responsibility for the posts by having a "name".  When I respond to an Anonymous poster, an entire group of them can attack me and I have no idea if it is just one person or ten.  A NAME makes a difference even if it is a fictitious name.  You surely don't think my real name is Paoili2 but if you are angry about one of my posts you know just who to direct your post to. I think a fictitious name makes a big difference in a group like this. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12
#11, what if someone creates fictitious name for every post or every day, you can not trace that, it makes no sense to me. I stick to anonymous, it feel more secure to me. I don't like people tracing me around and counting my blogs, no thanks, you do what ever you are doing and I do it my way.
paoli2   |     |   Comment #14
#12 Can you imagine how much work one would have to go to to create fictitious names.  They may have to use new IPs for all the names also.  That is why I think the ones like myself, SB, and others use the same name for posts.  If someone has nothing better to do than to trace us and count our blogs, they must live very boring lives.  To each his own so you do it your way and I'll stick to my way.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #18
Or somebody on public assistance  with nothing better to do than sit back and wait for their Welfare check or direct deposit (our tax money) to arrive. 
paoli2   |     |   Comment #20
#18  All "Direct Deposits" are not our tax money.  Much of it is from money taken out of worker's paychecks which they have a right to when needed.  Kind of like the Social Security checks many depend upon these days.  Do you consider SS "Welfare" too?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #21
Actually, it is tax money and you have no "right" to social security payments. The courts decided this some time ago. The problem is distinguishing between those who faithfully paid social security taxes (coupled with their employer's contribution) and those who did not. Sadly, politicians and the media rarely make the distinction.  
paoli2   |     |   Comment #22
#21  I know SS is a form of taxes.  I was just making a point that there is a difference between people being given money "they" originally paid into the system in one form or another and those who have to be given money (ex.: Welfare) from taxes others had to pay into the system to make available.  I don't consider social security a form of Welfare since it was "supposed" to be money "we" paid into the system to be repaid to us at a certain time.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #23
As a self employed person for almost 20 years the amount I paid into SS as an employer and sole employee was an "investment" in the future!  I was glad to contribute then and be the recipient of same later...when in the latter situation someone else will have an opportunity in the self employed field I was in, i.e. one of the original intents of SS "remove some from the workforce so that others will have opportunities."
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #24
The original intent of Social Security was to supplement retirement income.  It was never intended to be the sole source of income during retirement.   
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #25
With the ZIRP put in place by the powers to be, SS has become the primary source of income.
paoli2   |     |   Comment #26
#25  When one considers what their monthly income is from savings compared to what they get from SS, it just dawned on me how right you are.  It certainly would be devastating just to depend upon SS as one's sole source.  It's better to have some "low" interest income to depend on rather than "no" interest income.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #27
One can calculate how much SS they will get in the future based upon certain assumptions.  If one "wants" to continue a particular lifestyle, e.g. of servicing debt or travel, then the "added" income is needed.  If "another" decides to have relatively no debt at the time of retirement and "is use to living" with a certain amount of funds...the other funds, i.e. not SS, may fill a bucket nicely!  Try it, "you" may like it!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #28
#27 Who said I didn't have a "bucket"?  It's just we are constantly being ripped off by the ZIRP.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #31
I hear this a lot on DA so let me ask what rate would you like to see? Also, how will your rate affect borrowers, producers, shippers, retailers, government debt service (local and national), etc.?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #33
#31  First tell me why the people who saved their hard earned money and didn't buy items they really couldn't afford should SUPPORT those who didn't save?  Don't you see we are becoming a two class society (poor, very rich)?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #34
I really can't answer without a rate. If you were the Fed what would the rate be and what would a one-year CD pay?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #35
#34  Since the fed was tasked with restoring the economy, and they claim they did, the interest rates on CDs should be restored to at least 2007 rates.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #36
That is not the Feds "job", nor could it be. Their mandate relates to monetary policy. There's plenty of information available on the Net.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #37
#36  Get real!  Everyone knows what the feds did in their so called "monetary policy" directly effected the CD rates.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #38
That's monetary policy. When your CD rates go up so do mortgage rates and every other source of lending. Borrowers are in favor because we want GROWTH, plain and simple. Without sustained growth you won't see higher interest rates for a long time. If and when growth accelerates resulting higher wages will induce inflation. When inflation becomes a threat the Fed will raise rates. The Fed is simply not going to raise rates to satisfy the wants of savers, especially when other investments are at hand. Rates will eventually rise but the new "normal" will probably be much lower than people expect.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #30
Very misleading.  Savers didn't "loose" anything.  We just didn't make as much as we anticipated we would.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #32
#30  Not true.  Have you heard of inflation?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #39
First quarter growth was anemic. We're now due for a recession and anymore anti-business nonsense will make it so. Inflation will stall (official CPI that is), the Fed will regroup and the cycle will begin anew. 

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