Many of the changes I’ve made over the last few years have been a direct result of making resolutions, including the spending fast I undertook the summer of 2016 and my resolve to pay off almost $60,000 of debt in 16 months starting in January of 2017.

The impact of these changes on my life has been a-mazing.  Which got me thinking.

Having proven I am capable of achieving some of the less fun things I set out to do—cutting back on eating out and travel so I can put more toward my debt, giving up sugar for a ketogenic diet—how much more awesome could my life be if I focused even a little bit of this energy on doing fun things?

What is a Bucket List?

If resolutions are about adopting healthier habits, the activities on a bucket list are about making life richer (not money-wise but experience-wise).

Bucket list items are out-of-the-ordinary experiences that demand some effort on your part, and may even scare you some (but in a good way!).  Many items can even be ones where the journey is almost as good as the destination, such as the strength of character built by training for a triathlon or 10k.

Why Should You Have a Bucket List?

Maybe it’s a consequence of my debt-free journey but I have recently realized how much of a snooze-fest my life has become.

During the week, I get up in the morning and go to work.  In the evenings, I work on my blog.  On the weekends, I run errands and work on my blog.  I meet up with friends too sometimes, but for a cup of tea at Starbucks and not to attend a festival or to go to a ball game.  And I haven’t traveled because of the expense.

If this sounds familiar—or even if it doesn’t but you recognize the need to shake things up—here are four reasons why you should have a bucket list.

#1: It Gets Your Creative Juices Flowing

During my debt-free journey, a big focus has been on not spending money I didn’t need to spend.  This didn’t mean I had to live quite as dull of a life as I have been but it did make it easier to just stay home.

While I still want to be cost-conscious, now I no longer have to focus solely on free or low-cost activities that don’t involve travel.

Think you're too cool for a bucket list? Think again. Creating one just might be the thing you need to bring excitement back to your life!

For example, I know it’s probably super cheesy but I have always wanted to go to Medieval Times, a dinner/theater experience that involves jousting and sword fights.  Silly, right?  But it is exactly the kind of silliness that will have a home on my bucket list.

#2: It Creates Some Excitement in Your Life

As I revealed above, my life has been on the dull side for a while now.  This makes the prospect of doing something different so appealing—and exciting.

I have a few trips mapped out in my head already, including one to the West Coast to visit friends I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, and one to England to see friends I haven’t seen in about five years.  I also have friends living in India so that’s on my list too.

The best thing is that even just the possibility of these trips make me smile.  Sure, planning them will be a little tough because I have to figure out when I am going to go, book my travel, get a cat sitter, etc.  But they are on the horizon and I know that I will be able to make them happen (without having to take on debt!).

#3: It Makes You Prioritize Your Time

Lately, I have seen a lot of articles about the cult of “busyness” in the U.S., and that it has almost become a badge of honor to be overwhelmed with stuff to do.

While I can’t waive a magic wand and make all the yucky stuff I have to do in my life disappear (laundry? dishes?), I don’t want to buy into this idea that I have to be constantly going to be successful at life.  When you have a bucket list, it reminds you of those things you want to do that are bigger than your day-to-day grind.

#4: It Reminds You of What You Used to Dream of Becoming

I still remember in fifth grade writing an essay about how I wanted to be a stewardess when I grew up (they weren’t called flight attendants back then).

At this point in my life, I hadn’t even been on a plane so I’m not sure why I was so certain this was what I wanted to do.  My guess is that it wasn’t being up in the air that intrigued me, but visiting other states and countries (or that I had seen the movie Airplane! one too many times).


Today, I know I would hate being a flight attendant.  The uniform, dealing with annoying passengers, and handing out drinks without spilling them on anyone are just a few of the reasons I am glad I didn’t pursue it as a career.

But travel?  I am all about traveling and know the many places I want to visit will make it on my bucket list.

How to Create a Bucket List

To steal from Nike, the best way to create a bucket list is to “just do it.”  Get out a piece of paper, your phone, your computer, or whatever it is that you use for taking notes and start making your list.  I only have two requirements.

First, you have to write it down somewhere.  It’s easy to think that you are going to remember something that excites you and you can’t wait to do but it is surprisingly easy to forget about even items high on your bucket list unless there is a visual reminder of them.

For example, I mention above how I have wanted to go to Medieval Times for a long time, but when I went to write about it, I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant (I googled “dinner and jousting” and it popped right up, fortunately).

[If you are look for a fun discussion of why you need to write it down, listen to this episode of The Happiness Project.]

And the second requirement? The time frame can’t be “before I die.”  This is because it’s unlikely you know when you are going to die, and thus chances are high you will assume it is “later.” As a result, it will be too easy to put off until “later” crossing items off your list.

What Do You Think?

Do you have a bucket list?  If not, why?  Let me know in the comment section below.

© 2017-2019 Good Life. Better.

Interested in ceating a bucket list but need motivation? Here are four great reasons you should have a bucket list!

4 Reasons Why You Should Create a Bucket List


  1. Not quite a bucket list, but I’ve made an effort to do at least one “fun” thing during the week since I cut back my hours. While some of that time is so that I can get chores and errands done during the week so we can have our weekends for fun stuff, part of the reduction was to spend more time with my son. It gets so easy to just try and “catch up” during the week, but it’s the weeknight trips to the park that are really important.

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane, every day stuff. It’s great that you incorporate some fun during the week. Your son will remember the laughs probably more than the errands!

  2. Yes to creating a bucket list! I feel like so much is up in the air right now with my mini retirement and hubby going back to school, but I need to revisit this idea, since really we have a lot of control over our future.

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      I hate being in limbo—it just doesn’t work well with my personality—so can see why things being up in the air could affect your bucket list. On a podcast I listened to the guest—-who if I recall was super rich—-said he will have small stuff around town just for him too as well as big items or things to do with his family. Maybe check out Groupon for your area? Best of luck!

  3. This is so true! Great tips! The most important thing is to just DO it. I’ve got 100+ things on my bucket list.

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      100+ items? That’s great! I need to flesh mine out too. I bet just looking at yours makes you excited! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Completely agree that you need to write down the timeframe. It’s too easy to make a bucket list then do nothing about it for 20 years. And in my belief, this is what money is really for, to cross items off your list and live your dream. Money is not meant to just sit in bank accounts your entire life!

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      Thank you! I agree (now) that it’s better to use money to buy experiences, not stuff. Took me a while to figure that one out!

  5. Yes to all of the reasons above!!

    For the first 7 years of my adult life, I put my head down to go to school and start my career as a nurse. I didn’t really travel or spend on unnecessary stuff because I was a student on a student budget and when I finished school, I was $40k in the hole plus another $7k on credit cards.

    Well life gets boring this way and I found myself in this routine that wasn’t exciting.. but not entirely painful. Until last year, it became unbearable.

    The point of life is to enjoy it, creating something that I am proud of and that makes me happy. So this year, I committed to doing just that… and I’m crossing off things on my bucket list faster than I ever thought possible. I’m having a lot of fun AND I’m also being responsible financially. Thankfully I was able to pay down 75% of my debt and managed to buy a house that I’m renting out now while I go travel. I travel with the money I didn’t spend on financing a brand new car or getting the newest iPhone. I think having a bucket list helps you prioritize also because when you’re short on money, you should probably spend your limited resources on things that actually make you happy.

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      Sounds like you have a great perspective on money and what’s important. Your year sounds amazing! Glad you’ve been able to accomplish so much while being financially smart. That’s my goal moving forward!

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