Updated: Jan 21
The bucket list concept is not new. It's a list of the things you want to do before you die, right? The photo above is one of my favorite family vacations ever. We were stationed in Belgium, and our two sons were young. We spent an entire week in the spring on the southern coast of Sicily in a fantastic villa on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranian sea. The cost of the trip seemed like a fortune to us, but the fact of the matter is we had the opportunity to do it, we were in Europe already, and we had the money and the vacation time available. Our youngest son Charlie (that I'm carrying in the photo above), turned 16 yesterday. Our oldest son Luke turns 18 in April and heads to college this August. Windows of opportunity for different life experiences are only open for a finite time.
I just finished reading Bill Perkin's book, “Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life.” Perkins points out that while the ability to delay gratification is an extremely valuable trait that’s proven to be tied to all kinds of measures of success, sometimes we can go too far with it. The fact is that there are some things we can only do at certain times in our lives. While many 80-year-olds have money to take the family downhill skiing, few want to or have the physical ability to downhill ski themselves at that age.
Figure 1 - A Bucket List Split up by Age.
Perkins makes it clear that when he says “die with zero,” he doesn’t mean that you should not leave money to your kids. But he points out, why wait until you die to do it? Many people delay leaving an inheritance until they die, but at that point, their kids are often older, maybe even 65, and retired. Do they even need the money at that point? How much more would that money have been worth if given to the kids when they were 25-35 years old. The same holds for the money left for charity. Does it make sense to hold onto it until you’re gone, or could that charitable organization have used that money earlier?
I'm well aware this book or concept isn't for everyone. Many American's are struggling to be able to retire with dignity and independence. However, I'd imagine you may be pretty good at deferred gratification because you are reading this blog. Maybe you are now mapping out the predicated value of your nest egg and are amazed at the dollar value you could potentially leave behind.
Consider figure 1. I invite you to create your bucket list with timelines. Having a sound financial plan can help couples be at peace with decisions on how much to save and how much to spend on that bucket list.
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