Budgeting for the Bucket List Life

This post was previously published on the BucketList.org blog in December 2014.

Living the Bucket List Life inevitably costs money. Not always a lot, but oftentimes something. So how do you decide what to spend to accomplish your bucket list goals?

I asked some friends how they budget for “vacations” and did some research online, it seems like a lot of people just pick the vacation they want and either save up or put it on a credit card. Very few people actually seem to be budgeting for their bucket list life.

But you’ve got a long bucket list, right? Bucketlist.org readers want to drink vodka in Russia, pay for a child’s Cleft lip surgery, complete a Spartan Sprint, and much more!

So you start by prioritizing your bucket list.

And then you’ve got to set aside time and money for making the bucket list life happen.

Here are some ways to start budgeting for your bucket list:

Tithe 10%

The Old Testament required Israelites to give 10% of their crops and livestock to the tabernacle/temple. Bushels of corn probably won’t cover surfing lessons, but what if you set aside an additional 10% of your income for bucket list goals?

Use Your Tax Return

For those of you who get those big tax returns. What do you currently spend your tax returns on? How would your life be different if you shifted the use of that money?

One Big, One Little

Rather than starting with a dollar amount, take your bucket list priorities and select one goal that’s expensive and another that’s not. There’s your first year of bucket list goals and now you know what dollar amount you have to save up.

One Paid, One Free

Alternatively, select your top bucket list priority that costs money and another high ranking bucket list goal that’s free. Want some free bucket list ideas? Have a mud fight, unplug for 48 hours, watch a sunset, or walk barefoot in the rain.

$100 per Year of Life Lived

If you’re 24 years old, that would be $2,400 for a year of bucket list goals. If you’re 49, that would be $4,900.

This guideline accommodates a few things: as people get older, we tend to make more money, have less debt, and have more discretionary income. Also, it celebrates getting older and spending more money on yourself. If you can’t swing $100 per year, trying $50 or another amount.

The Latte Factor

A popular savings method that goes something like this: If you cut out one $5 latte per week, that will save you $260 per year. So, to fund your bucket list, you could find a way to cut back on expenses. Consider: lattes, lunches, alcohol, cigarettes, books, shoes, etc.

Get Another Gig

Getting another job, for the sole purpose of funding your bucket list dreams, is a great way to set and achieve a goal. If your regular job pays the bills and daily thrills, while a second job goes directly to the bucket list fund, you’ll probably love that second job – or at least see the direct value in it.

What’s Leftover

The one method I would NOT recommend is to save (or not save) money for your bucket list as an after-thought. Even if you’re entirely strapped for cash, start with the no-cost bucket list goals or the Latte Factor. And, make sure you’re getting out of debt so that the rest of your life will have bucket list opportunities in abundance.

How do you budget for bucket list goals? Is there a rule of thumb you use? Share it with us in the comments below!


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The Bucket List Life


[…] a bucket list isn’t an easy or obvious skill, so I hope that, by sharing my experiences with budgeting, watching too much TV on a beach vacation, or even failing at some goals, I can facilitate a more […]