These goals could collectively create a blueprint for your financial future.
They range from small to huge.
While some are easy — and you may have already accomplished several — some of these massive goals may seem impossible.
That’s kind of the point. To break through your comfort zone and realize things are possible even if right now it seems like they may never be possible.
Some of these may seem out of place too. What’s listed as “small” may be big for you or the “big” things may seem easier for you than for others. That’s ok.
There’s no one-size-fits-all list for every individual’s bucket list.
This is a cut/paste kind of list to give you ideas for creating your own bucket list.
Many of these things aren’t even about the money. As we’ll talk about later, it’s more about what you become by accomplishing the goal than pure mathematical success.
Here we go…
Bucket List: Small
These are things you’re most likely capable of doing right now, even if you don’t believe you are. Stretch yourself to see if you can knock some of these out.
1. Hit a Financial Reading Goal
Set a goal for whatever feels slightly out of reach.
This could be an annual goal to read a certain amount of finance books, or even a lifetime goal.
I typically read between 50-80 books a year. In the beginning, around 50% of those were financial in nature, while now it’s more like 10%.
I’m a finance nerd so I love reading about money. If you’re not overly interested in finances, you may want to set a smaller goal.
Whatever you decide on, you can add hitting that goal to your bucket list.
2. Max Out Your IRA
The contribution limits for a Traditional or Roth IRA in 2021 are $6,000/year and $7,000/year for those 50 and older (catch-up contributions).
That’s around $500/month for the standard contribution limits, which means it’s about $115/week.
You can set up an IRA if you don’t already have one and get started today. I highly recommend Vanguard (and I’m not getting paid to say that). If you do already have an IRA, even better. Max it out!
Note: Your debt should come before any significant investing takes place.
That’s one more bucket list item down.
3. Pay for Someone’s Groceries
Do you know someone who is really struggling? If that someone isn’t you, your $100 could go a lot farther by paying for their groceries, instead of just buying your own.
Or you could make this random and pay for the person’s groceries in front or behind you the next time you check out.
You’ll never regret a single dollar you gave.
Don’t be surprised if someone doesn’t let you do this. Expect that it might happen so you’re not crushed when you thought you were just doing a good deed and someone turns you down.
It’s best if you can do this anonymously, but you may have to get creative for that to happen.
4. Give a Stranger $100
A stranger did this to me and it changed my life. Here’s the story…
Seriously, it completely changed my life, even though $100 isn’t that much in today’s world. Granted, God was involved heavily and led the man to give me the $100. But even if you just go do it on your own, it’s still a great feeling.
Things like this can be awkward if you’ve never done it before, or anything like it. Even if you have, it can still be a little… different.
Just like with the groceries, if you can do it anonymously, that’s best, but you have to figure out how to do that.
This could be a homeless person, someone you know, or a random stranger.
You don’t have to explain it. Just give it.
That’s a pretty cool item to have on your bucket list.
Bucket List: Medium
Now we’re getting into the stuff that’s going to cost you a little more, but we’re still mostly dealing with things you won’t find overly difficult or impossible.
5. Max Out Your 401k/TSP/403B
If you’ve already checked off “maxing out your IRA,” it’s time to take it to the next level.
While the contribution limits of an IRA are $6,000, the contribution limits of these work-related retirement accounts, like a 401k (companies), TSP (government and military), and 403b (non-profit, school, and other tax-exempt organizations) are much higher, nearing $20,000.
It’s a big deal to save almost $20k in a year so I don’t expect this to be on your bucket list for this year, unless you were already planning it.
6. Pay Off All Your Vehicles
Whether you’re paying on one or five vehicles, set a goal to pay all of them off… and I don’t know why you would have five vehicles.
It will feel different driving vehicles you actually own.
If you have substantial debt on your cars, you may have to give this one a few years (or just sell the cars and buy ones you can actually afford), but it’s an important step in moving away from the car-poor life so many Americans find themselves in.
Once they’re all paid off, start making car payments to yourself in an interest-bearing account so you’ll be prepared when it comes time to get another one. You could never have a car payment again.
7. Create Something and Sell It
You have a way to contribute your creativity to the world.
What is it?
This goal could range from small to big, so I put it in the medium category.
It depends on what you want to do, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Invent something
- Write your own book
- Build and sell a piece of furniture
- Create your own course (online or in-person)
- Create a piece of art and sell it (online or in-person)
- Write and record a song or entire album and upload it to streaming services
Whatever it is that’s inside you and hasn’t made its way out yet, find a way to let it out.
It doesn’t have to be this year, but start planning it so you can check it off your bucket list one day.
8. Create a Passive Income Stream
Passive income is a great feeling.
The things we think of as passive income aren’t always 100% passive, but if you’re able to earn money in your sleep in one form or another, we’ll call that passive income.
Take blogging for example. People call it passive income, but it can be a full-time job. Sure, you can make money on ads, courses, or products while you sleep, but it takes time to maintain and run a blog.
The same applies to real estate. You’re still earning the rent when your units are occupied, but if you don’t think there’s work involved in owning real estate, you’ve never owned real estate. You can hire a management company, but there’s still work involved in working with that company.
Get a realistic idea of what passive income truly means and find a way to add an income stream.
9. Organize a Fundraiser for a Charity
This likely won’t cost you much money, but it will cost you a lot of time.
You could organize a small event for a local charity, or a huge event for an international charity. You could even add both to your bucket list to accomplish at different stages in life.
The first step is to pick a good charity and then start working with them.
Get ready to put in a lot of work for a great cause.
10. Give a Stranger $500
This is pretty straightforward.
Go up to a random person and give them $500. With anything like this, they may refuse. They may be skeptical. But I promise you’ll eventually find someone who is more than willing to take the money.
You can do this anonymously. Leave the money where you know they’ll see it before anyone else does. Or just leave it in an open place and creep out in the bushes until a random person picks it up.
This is a milestone. When you have the $500 to give to a stranger, you’ll know you’ve been blessed in your own finances.
When you do this with cash, you don’t have to worry about the person taking it to the police station and seeing if someone lost it, because you really can’t claim lost cash unless you keep up with the actual serial numbers and who does that?
Bucket List: Big
We’re getting into even more uncomfortable territory. Now we’re really into the things you may think are impossible. But these are all things plenty of people have done before you and you are more than capable of doing these things in time.
11. Pay Off All Your Debt
This is #1 on many people’s lists. As it should be.
There’s no better feeling than knowing you actually own the things you’ve purchased.
I’m only referring to consumer debt here: credit cards, cars, student loans maybe… that kind of stuff.
Even if you still have a mortgage, knowing you’re otherwise debt-free should be a goal for anyone.
12. Live in Another Country for 90 Days
I say 90 days specifically, because that’s the longest you can live in many other countries without acquiring some sort of visa.
For example, through the Schengen Agreement, US citizens with a valid passport can visit any of the European Union countries for up to 90 days.
90 days is enough to see a lot of Europe.
Many Asian countries have similar rules with the same 90-day timeline.
I’ve learned more in the last four years living abroad than I could’ve learned in a lifetime at home. The culture is amazing. It’s always interesting to see other cultures.
You’ll get the culture, experiences, new friends, and you’ll likely get some good business ideas.
You just have to figure out how to make it happen financially. That’s why it’s on this list.
13. Build a 6-Month Emergency Fund
If we didn’t know the importance of an emergency fund, we learned its importance in 2020.
The goal for an emergency fund is 3-6 months of living expenses. And remember, this is for emergencies. If you lost your job, for example, you would stop eating out and paying for entertainment, so you just have to save the actual amount you need to survive for six months.
Don’t confuse that with saving six months of what you spend now every month.
14. Pay Cash for a Vehicle
When you walk into a car dealership or walk up to a private-party selling a car, it’s different when you know exactly what you want, how much you plan to spend, and when you have the cash to buy it.
We already talked about this in #6, but to accomplish this, you just have to make car payments to yourself until you have enough money to pay cash for a car.
Save the money in an interest-bearing account and you’ll be earning interest on your car payments instead of paying it.
15. Pay Off Your Mortgage
Some people think it’s silly to pay off a mortgage when you can typically earn more through investing that money than you save by paying off your mortgage.
From a mathematical standpoint, they have a point.
But money is also an emotional thing and financial freedom means not owning anything to anyone. At least, that’s what it means to me.
You’ll free up so much monthly cashflow once your home is paid off.
If you decide to pay off your mortgage, here are three strategies to use:
- Shorter Term – Depending on how long you have left, it might make sense to refinance and get a shorter loan (especially if you can get a 2% reduction or more on your APR). Opt for a 15-year or shorter if possible. With a shorter term, you’ll often pay half the interest without paying double for your monthly mortgage payment.
- First-Day Payment – This only works when you first get the mortgage. You simply make your first payment on the day the loan is activated (the day the lender starts charging interest) instead of waiting until your first payment is due (typically a month later). This works so well because this way your entire first payment goes towards principle. Principle payments have the most impact during the early years due to amortization — especially this first payment. You could take several months off your loan with this one payment.
- Split Payment – You may have heard of this, since it’s getting popular. Basically, assuming your lender allows it, you make a half payment every two weeks instead of a full payment once a month. Paying half-payments every 2 weeks will cause you to automatically make one extra full payment every year (26 half-payments per year comes out to a total of 13 full payments instead of the usual 12). Additionally, you will lower the principle balance 26 times per year instead of 12.
If you want more strategies, read Rapid Debt Reduction Strategies. It’s the best book I know on paying off debt and it’s what helped us become debt-free.
16. Create Your Own Scholarship
This is a really cool one. Becoming financially free allows you to give more and this is a unique way to do it.
Creating a scholarship is easier than you may think.
This is all you do:
- Set the scholarship amount
- Set the criteria to win it
- Review the people who apply
- Award the scholarship to the one you choose
There are organizations who can help you create it, but ultimately, you’re just giving money to a person based on the criteria you create.
If it gets to be a bigger and bigger deal, you can bring on sponsors and make this a huge goal. Or you can just give $1,000 or so to someone one time.
17. Start Your Own Business
Starting your own business is more affordable now than ever.
There are thousands of things you can do online with minimal costs.
You could merely start a blog, which can be done for free. Or you could start a brick & mortar business.
Due to everything I’ve learned by having my own businesses, I think it’s a good idea for everyone to start one. Even it the business isn’t successful, you’ll learn so much along the way.
There’s a good chance you’ve had an idea for years and haven’t acted on it.
Add it to your bucket list and put some systems in place to do it!
18. Finally Get That Degree
Have you started a degree and not finished it?
Or maybe you want to go to college and just haven’t started the process?
Life gets in the way.
If you want this, make it a goal, and make it happen.
With all the online schools, it’s easier than it used to be to find the time to attend school. I got my bachelor’s degree entirely online. Some people prefer physical schools. Either way, find a way to start the process.
19. Take a Big Debt-Free Vacation
Want to take a cruise? Or take the kids to Disney?
What about an international trip? A week in Italy or France?
This is a great goal to add to your bucket list. But to accomplish it, you have to be able to pay for it without going into debt.
When we go into debt for our vacations, it gets weird, because often we’re having a great time on the trip, but we’re simultaneously ruining our lives financially. So don’t do that.
20. Do a 30-Day No-Spend Challenge
Can you go 30 days without spending money?
I think you can. We’ve done it. Things get interesting.
Most importantly, you learn a lot about your finances and how much you really have.
Try it. Keep paying your basic necessities:
- Car payments
- Any previously due bills
- Any other debts
But go 30 days without paying for:
- Fuel (if possible)
- Any extras
Again, we did it. The only thing that got us was fuel. We had to buy two tanks of gas.
But we learned so much about ourselves.
21. Give a Stranger $1,000
This is in every category on the list, but the amount keeps growing.
Could you imagine giving $1,000 to a stranger?
Again, they may not take it right away. It sounds sketch.
But trust me, you’ll find someone who will gladly take it.
Like with the other random giving ideas on here, it could be a homeless person or just a random stranger.
22. Take a Month Off
Taking a month off requires a lot of preparation.
It could also be one of the best things you ever do for yourself.
You can use the time to travel, plan, be creative, or just think. It’s your sabbatical.
If you’re self-employed, this just means your job is going without you for a month. You can schedule your clients around it. Ideally, you wouldn’t take your work with you, because that wouldn’t really be a sabbatical.
If you work for someone else, it may be tricky to get this much vacation time, but it’s probably possible if you work it out and plan far enough out. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
You could build up the vacation time, or even work out an agreement where you take unpaid leave.
It will be worth it.
Bucket List: Huge
These may seem unrealistic, but don’t discount this section. These are important things to have on your bucket list for your future. There’s no reason not to set outlandish goals. These are all fun things you are capable of achieving. Seriously, you are.
23. Pay Cash for a House
Yes, this is likely a goal you’ll achieve later in life, but it’s worth setting it now.
Could you imagine paying 100% cash for your house?
You’d be in your own home without a house payment. So much cashflow.
You can save for this and reach the goal if you want it bad enough.
24. Live in Another Country for a Year
As we already talked about, many countries only allow you to live there for 90 days.
So this one takes a lot of planning.
It could mean living in some European countries for 90 days, then living in some Asian countries, and traveling back to Europe for your last 90 days.
It could also be as simple as moving to Canada for a year, eh?
25. Give Your Annual Income
This one works one of two ways.
You could set a goal to give a lump sum equal to the first income you received in your adult life. Or you could get even more lofty and give your current annual income.
Not only does this help the cause you’re giving to, but it will be a milestone in your finances when you’re capable of doing it.
26. Become a Millionaire
I like what Jim Rohn says about becoming a millionaire:
Being a millionaire means your net worth equals $1 million. Most millionaires don’t have it in cash like some people seem to think. This includes your house (the amount you actually own, taking out the amount you owe). It can even include assets like cars and jewelry, but that won’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme.
Think about how much you could give if you were a millionaire.
And it doesn’t have to last forever. It’s a good goal to hit and then give generously.
Having a $1,000,000 net worth is much more achievable than it used to be.
27. Give a Stranger $10,000
Mr. Beast started his YouTube channel this way. When he started growing, a sponsor would give him $10,000 and he would make a video about giving it away.
While on the one hand, I don’t believe giving should be done so everyone can see it and be proud of you. But at the same time, his channel inspires people daily. So it’s hard to choose a side here.
The point is, you don’t have to bust out the camera, just give a stranger $10,000.
The more you give, the more you’ll see supernatural things happen in your finances, as long as you’re giving for the right reasons.
28. Pay Off Someone Else’s Debt
Similiar to the random giving, you can pay off someone’s debt.
This is in the “huge” category if you pay off 100% of someone’s debt, but you could also pay off one credit card or one car, etc.
Typically, I would assume you’d do this for someone you know. It would be hard to pay off a stranger’s debt. It’s not easy to pay off debt for some you know. It takes coordination and reaching out to all of the debtors, but it will be worth it.
Again, even if it seems unrealistic, set the goal, and see if you can make it happen one day.
29. Take a Year Off
No explanation needed here really, but it goes without saying that you’d likely not be able to get this much time off.
This would be more likely to happen once you’re financially free and ready to quit your job. At least for a year… and then move on to the next venture.
A year of self-reflection, travel, or even leisure can be life changing.
the Israelites did it.1
30. Become a Billionaire
I have no desire to do this one, but you might.
Think about the impact you could have on the world as a billionaire.
And the money you could give.
I can hear the scoffers now. “Nobody needs a billionaire dollars.” And you’re probably right. But if you have a plan for how you could change the world as a billionaire, through a company or any other way, put it on your list.
We’re not to judge one another. We’re only responsible for our own actions.
And only you and God truly know your heart.
Further Book Reading
- How to Travel Light With Kids (A Comprehensive Guide)
- The Media Threat: How Much Screen Time is Too Much?
- Your Kids’s First Car: Everything You Need to Know
- The Complete Guide to Saving for and Sending Your Kids to College
- 47 Things You Weren’t Taught in School (That Our Kids Need to Know)
- Budgeting for Kids: How to Teach Budgeting From Age 3 to 18
- There’s the Year of Jubilee and then Deuteronomy 24:5: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.”