How to Use a Financial Bucket List to Help You Get Out of Debt

Published on January 4, 2021 by Lauren

When you think of items on your life’s bucket list, homeownership might be one of them.  I know it was for me.  Fifteen years ago, when I signed on the dotted line to purchase a brand new house, I didn’t know it at the time, but that signature would seal in years of unimaginable financial hardship. I found myself having to go back to work so we could afford to live in that house, going further into debt, almost losing our home, and living a life that we couldn’t enjoy because we were so broke all the time.  Looking back (they say hindsight is 20/20), I wish I had thought more about my financial bucket list instead of a wish-list of things I thought I needed.  I’ll share some of my experiences and how creating a financial bucket list instead might be your key to getting out of debt.

 

financial bucket list

 

Why a Financial Bucket List Can Help You Get Out of Debt

Okay, so I don’t entirely regret signing off on our dream home all those years ago. There are lessons in everything, and those signatures lead us to learn how to budget, they taught us to coupon and meal plan, they taught us to live on less and save money for other things, they taught us strategic ways to make extra cash. They taught us so many things that lead us to this exact moment in time, which is why I write this blog.

What’s a ‘Bucket List’?

Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘bucket list’ as a list of goals or accomplishments you want to achieve in your lifetime, or before you ‘kick the bucket.’  A financial bucket list is along the same thought line – a list of your goals relating to your money.

When we were in so much debt, this is an example of what my financial bucket list looked like:

Not a lot of fun, is it?

financial bucket list

 

I didn’t have it all together (and still don’t), but what I do have is a whole lot of life experience on how to get out of debt and stay out.  I learned how to be resourceful and prioritize the things that I want in life, so during that time I created a financial bucket list to help keep me accountable. It was something that I can turn to over the years, and see how far we’ve come!

Here is what is on my list now:

  • Pay off my house before I am 40.
  • Be able to send my kids to private school (I currently have two of them in this private school, I hope to be able to afford all at one time.)
  • Swim with dolphins (This has been a lifelong dream of mine).
  • Set up 529 accounts for all of my children.
  • Continue to tithe money to my church and sponsor our Compassion International child.
  • Pay for groceries in cash every week.
  • Go to Hawaii and sip a drink out of a coconut on the beach (seriously….)
  • Pay for my kids’ extracurricular activities – ballet and baseball.
  • Continue to stay debt-free and not have any credit cards.

How Can You Create a Meaningful Financial Bucket List?

1.) Create a Budget 

Sit down, review your budget (or even better, make one if you don’t have one – you can use my tips on how to budget monthly to start!), and challenge yourself to find $20, $50, $100, any amount, that you can save monthly.

2.) What Do You Want to Achieve Financially?

Make your financial bucket list, and find one thing on your bucket list to check off every year. Sometimes this is a fun thing, and sometimes it is paying off debt. This year, I am committed to sticking to my grocery budget in order to pay for my kids’ school. I am dedicated to making that happen! What do you have to change in order to check your bucket list items off?

3.) Be Patient

Start small, and pick one thing per year off your Financial Bucket List to conquer. If you feel confident in what you are doing then take on another one.

4.) Stay Focused

I just know that when we were getting out of debt, the financial bucket list was one thing that helped me keep myself on track throughout the year, and it was something that both Mark and I were able to work on together.

Have you ever made a financial bucket list? If you did, what helped you cross items off your list?

 

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