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How to Afford Your Bucket List

May 17, 2017 3 min read Zina Kumok

Key Takeaways

  • To cross items off your list, start with a savings plan.
  • If you must dip into plastic, make it a point to earn points.
  • The Annapurna Circuit is a monetary molehill compared to Everest.

 

Traveling the world. Climbing a mountain. Participating in a triathlon.

These are just some of the activities that might be on your bucket list. What’s on this list is very personal, of course, and will vary widely depending on the person.

But there’s one area of concern that a lot of people looking to fulfill their fantasies may have in common – and that’s money. After all, it’s easy to have a dream, but it’s not always so easy to pay for it.

However, your bucket-list goals may be less wallet-busting than you believe. We’re here to provide tips on how you can afford your heart’s desire, no matter what it might be.

First, any good bucket-list strategy begins with a savings plan. Whatever your dream, you should figure out how much you can afford to put away each month, and calculate how long it will take to save the desired amount.

Consider putting these funds into a money market or high-yield savings account, as you’ll earn slightly higher interest on your principal than with a typical savings account.

Now see the advice below on how you might lower the expenses on some popular bucket list items.

 

Travel the world

Have you always wanted to see the Taj Mahal? Or perhaps you dream about eating baguettes while walking the streets of Paris.

Traveling the world may seem like a fantasy, but, with patience and planning, it can be a reality.

For one, credit card rewards can add up to a round-trip plane ticket, even for an overseas excursion.

Websites such as The Points Guy Opens in a new window detail how anyone can sign up for the right card and spend their way to their next vacation. Of course, it’s never a good idea to buy items you don’t need, simply to earn points. But many families use plastic for most of their purchases, which can be smart when it comes to rewards cards—as long as you pay off the balance each month to avoid paying interest.

The site also provides a current list of cheap-deal alerts for a variety of trips you can purchase for points. And you may even be able to take advantage of several rewards programs that could add up to one multiple-country trip Opens in a new window.

Now is the time to start planning, and, before you know it, you’ll be packing.

 

Attend a major sporting event

Maybe you’ve always thought about seeing the green lawn at Wimbledon in person, or sitting in a stadium watching the Super Bowl.

One way to fulfill your sports-viewing dream without emptying your bank account is to find the right experience for your budget, even if it may not be the exact one you’ve always pictured.

For example, if you want to see the finals at the US Open, try getting tickets for a lower round. You may see twice the amount of matches for the same amount of money.

NFL fans can find the best Super Bowl tickets by searching the resale market early on (buying directly from the NFL is only available for season ticketholders).

Some blogs, such as Tick Pick Opens in a new window, also publish extensive information about the best sporting event packages. When you plan ahead, you can create a better—and cheaper—experience than if you buy tickets on the fly.

 

Your bucket-list goals may be less wallet-busting than you believe.

 

Climb a mountain

Not only is climbing Mount Everest an extreme physical challenge, it’s also a huge financial one. The average climb starts at around $11,000 per person just for the permit, and overall costs increase depending on what kind of hike you choose.

You’ll also have to handle airfare, equipment and other climbing expenses, which could add up to $35,000 or more. This is a very long climb, too, so, if you’re still working, you’ll need to take at least two months off, and have the budget to handle that.

This trip is for the very daring for more reasons than one.

As an alternative, you might choose the Annapurna Circuit Opens in a new window, a trek in the Himalayas that attracts many climbers who aren’t ready for Everest, or can’t afford it. Conquering the Annapurna Circuit only costs about $1,000 for the climb, and, with all expenses factored in, you could complete the trip for around $2,500 total—far cheaper, and easier, than summiting Everest.

If you still dream of Everest, you may have to wait a much longer time, and have the patience to stick to a (very) long-term savings plan. But if you’re able to someday make it happen, you’ll have done something very few people can say they have.

 
Compete in a triathlon

Competing in a triathlon may be more your speed when it comes to testing your physical endurance. While the costs are not as potentially astronomical as climbing a mountain, the budget for equipment, gym memberships for training, travel costs and entry fees can add up to over $1,000.

However, the generosity of others may help you cut down on these costs.

When Julie Rains started training for a half-ironman, she knew she might need a wetsuit in case the water was colder than expected. She asked around and found a friend to lend her one.

“That saved me from buying or renting one,” Rains says.

Rains also connected a friend of hers who was competing in a triathlon with another friend who lives in the area and had a spare bedroom to offer.

When you choose your next adventure, think about posting on social media sites to ask for advice. You never know who might have a spare bike they’re not using, or a couch you can crash on while you’re in town.

 

What you can do next

Attacking items on your bucket list takes the discipline to save, the will to sacrifice and the determination to cut costs where you can. If you're game for all three, you're on your way.

 

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. She has written for the Associated Press, Indianapolis Monthly and more. She also writes a blog about how she paid off her student loans in three years.

 

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