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How to Create Your Retirement Bucket List

By Danielle Miura October 10, 2022 Lifestyle

In the movie The Bucket List, two seniors, played by Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman, bond over their shared need to complete a list of experiences before they die.

According to AARP, nearly half of Baby Boomers stated that they have a bucket list. Bucket lists can be more than places to see or things to do; they can evolve into mission statements of goals you want to accomplish during retirement.

Even though anyone can create a bucket list, creating one for retirement can feel like the last chance to fulfill a dream or gain a sense of accomplishment.

What is on your bucket list? If you don’t have one, here is how to make a meaningful bucket list.

Pinpoint What Is Important to You

While some people know what’s important to them, others aren’t as certain. Developing a retirement bucket list can create a sense of purpose and clarity around what you value and enjoy.

If you are having trouble figuring out what is important to you, try these prompts:

  • I’m happiest when ___________.
  • I’ve always wanted to ___________.
  • If I don’t have to worry about money, I would ___________.
  • My ideal retirement would be ____________.
  • These people are most important to me ___________.

Evaluating your answers to these statements can help you discover patterns. For example, if your answer to more than one question is traveling or spending time with your family, make sure those things are on your bucket list.

Brainstorm Ideas

Use your answers to the above statements as jumping-off points to brainstorm your retirement bucket list. If you are looking for inspiration, using apps like iWish and Buckist can be a good place to start.

Remember that your bucket list doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to reflect who you are and what you want to accomplish. As thoughts come up in your head, jot down bucket list ideas in a notebook or phone app.

Prioritize Your List

When you feel like you have enough ideas to create a bucket list, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this something I can do?
  • Will it bring me happiness?
  • Can I afford it?

Even though you would like to do everything on your list, establishing your priorities is essential. For example, do you want a larger home so that your family can travel to see you or a smaller home so you can travel more?  

Next, on a sheet of paper separate your goals by category (educational, travel, or professional) or time frame (before you turn 60, 70, or 80). Then, ask yourself which goals are most important, what excites you the most, or which are the easiest to accomplish.

How to Make Your Retirement Bucket List a Reality

Determine Your Retirement Lifestyle

Setting expectations for how you want your lifestyle to look in retirement can help you create a budget and save for things that are more important to you on your bucket list.

Plan for Unexpected Expenses

Creating a plan to coverliving and unexpected expenses is essential in determining what funds you have left over to fund your bucket list. An emergency fund can allow you to pay for unexpected expenses, such as health costs or car repairs without dipping into your bucket list fund.

Eliminate Credit Card Debt

Not having to pay your monthly credit card interest can add more room for funding your bucket list adventures. If you have more than one debt payment, start by paying your highest interest first and then work down to the lower interest debts.

Create a Passive Income

Passive income is earnings that require little effort to manage, such as rental property income, dividend stocks, or high-yield savings account interest. When you have a passive income, you can have extra money to focus on completing your bucket list.

Build a Retirement Plan

It’s never too late to start saving for your retirement. If you are unsure where to start or how much you need to reach your retirement goals, contact a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you navigate difficult financial decisions and create a plan to reach your retirement goals.

You have worked hard to save for retirement. It’s essential to think about your future and all the things you want to do in this time of your life. If you carefully plan for your retirement, it may be possible to check everything on your bucket list.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What’s on your bucket list? What have you checked off already? What is something that you would like to do in retirement but haven’t had the chance? What is stopping you from completing your bucket list?

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Dorothy Thuku

Hi all, thanks this is timely.I retired on 22nd of September. I will come up with my bucket list.


The biggest thrill of my life was being out on the north Atlantic crashing through waves and looking for whales! As I read your fill in the blank sentences…each one took my mind’s eye back to Maine….sea spray in my face…the exhilaration and adventure.

The Author

Danielle Miura, CFP®, is the founder of Spark Financials, a Fee-Only Financial Planning Firm focused on serving the needs of caregiving families nationwide. Danielle specializes in comprehensive financial planning, financial education, and tax law research. Find out more at and contact her at

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