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Christmas Bucket List


Christmas Bucket ListMerry Christmas Everyone!

I hope you had a great Christmas with family and friends. This year we stayed home and avoided traveling during the busy Christmas holiday. I really hate flying when it is so busy. Driving is a better option, but I’d like to stay for 4-5 days if we’re going to drive for 12 hours. Unfortunately, Mrs. RB40 is too busy at work to take more time off this year. Maybe next year, we’ll go down to visit our family in California again during Christmas.

As for the bucket list, I like to review it around Christmas time because it is the end of the year and we have a few days off. I can go over the list and remove or add some new ones as needed. I didn’t make much progress on my list this year, but that’s life. The bucket list is slow going. Hopefully, 2017 will be better on this front. Okay, I’ll share some Christmas pictures first and then go over my bucket list.

A Relaxing Christmas

Our Christmas was awesome. We asked RB40Jr what we should cook and he said sushi. That’s one of his favorite foods. So we went to the Japanese grocery store and picked up some yellowtail, salmon, and unagi. Then I spent an hour making sushi rice and putting everything together. What do you think? Looks good, right? It was a delicious lunch. Yumm… This kid is so lucky!

For dinner, Mrs. RB40 made Uzbek plov – a hearty central Asia dish of rice, carrots, onions, lamb, and garlic. I like some Siracha sauce on mine to give it some kick. The plov was really good too. Mrs. RB40 was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan for 2 years.

She rounded out the weekend feast with waffles and tamales. The tamales were her best yet. Her tamales have improved over the years and she finally got it right. That’s one nice thing about having Christmas at home. We can cook whatever we want. If we have a big family gathering, we’d probably go with the traditional turkey or lamb. This year, we went with an unconventional mix of ethnic food.

Christmas presents

Heh heh, I splurged and got some cool LED light sabers for us. Junior also got another Lego set – the AT-ST walker from Star Wars. It’s a Star Wars Christmas for us this year.

Okay, let’s get to the Christmas Bucket List! I started this Christmas tradition in 2013 when I turned 40. I didn’t want to wake up at 65 and start a bucket list then. Life is short so we need to enjoy the journey. We can’t wait until retirement to enjoy life. Check it out.

My Christmas Bucket List


We love to travel. I have been to over 20 countries and savor every memorable experience. We spent a few nights two blocks away from San Marcos in Venice. I drove around New Zealand’s North Island in a camper van. We even stayed at an old temple in Kyoto. Traveling is a ton of fun and we want to do a lot more. Now that RB40Jr is old enough to travel, we want to visit other countries at least once a year.

  • Visit Japan again. Japan is so easy to travel around in and the food is awesome.
  • Visit China again. China is a huge country and we only saw a tiny slice of it in 2009. We went to Beijing, Xian, and visited the Great Wall at Simatai.
  • Visit the UK. We were in London for a few days in 2003 and loved it. We would love to drive around England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
  • Take 6 months and drive around the US. My parents did this in our old van and they had a great time.
  • Take the family to New Zealand for an extended visit. I visited New Zealand in 2003 and loved the laid back vibe. I hope it hasn’t changed too much since then.
  • Go to space. Hopefully, the price of space tourism will come down before I get too old.
  • Visit Eastern Europe. I have to research more, but I’d like to see the Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, and Turkey.  Mrs. RB40 visited Turkey and she really enjoyed it.
  • Visit Egypt to see the pyramids.
  • Take a year long trip around the world. We’d be able to cross off a bunch of destinations on this list. Target date: 2022…
  • Done in 2014! –Take my mom on an “overseas” trip. We went to Hawaii in 2014.

Adventures and Fun Experiences

Christmas Bucket ListLet’s see… I already tried skydiving, bungee jumping, snowboarding, surfing, riding an elephant, and white water rafting. These activities were a lot of fun and we’d probably have to get a lot of these things done before we get too old.

  • Have a huge 20thwedding anniversary celebration. We just went to the courthouse when we got married 17 years ago so we never had a formal wedding. For our 20th anniversary, we plan to rent out a big place in Santa Barbara and invite all our close friends and family members to celebrate with us. Target date: 2019.
  • Done in 2014!– Helicopter ride near an active Volcano. We did this on the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Done in 2016!Visit Chiang Mai during Loy Kratong festival. It was a ton of fun when I was a kid and it would be great if RB40 Jr. could experience this.
  • Be in a movie. Shouldn’t be that hard. They are always looking for extras.
  • Done in 2014!Swim with dolphins (already swam with reef sharks in Belize, they are scary…) We lucked out in Hawaii and the dolphins came to play nearby when we went snorkeling.
  • Ride in hot air balloon.
  • Zip line. So close in 2015… We went to Costa Rica and visited an adventure park. However, we didn’t try the zip line on because our kid was too small. Next time…
  • Ride a steam train with the kid. We are a big fan of Thomas.
  • Ride in a fighter jet.
  • Go to the Olympics.
  • Skinny dip in the ocean.
  • Ride a Segway.
  • Added in 2016 – Experience a total solar eclipse. One will cross the US in 2017!

Self Improvement

  • Take a photography class.
  • Take a writing class.
  • Join the Peace Corps.
  • Have egg laying hens. This one doesn’t sound appealing anymore…
  • Join Toastmasters for a year.
  • Become a Buddhist monk for a short time.
  • Learn to speak Mandarin with the kid.
  • Build an outdoor pizza oven.
  • Build a tree house.
  • Learn Kung Fu. I might have to go with Tai Chi at my age.
  • Volunteer to help recent immigrants.

Long term goals

The long term goal category can be quite difficult. The big one I achieved so far is my goal of leaving the corporate job before 40. The rest of the stuff on this list will probably take a long time to complete.

  • The Debt Free operation. We have mortgages on several properties. At some point, we’d like to be done with the debts.
  • Live in Thailand for 6 months and travel around South East Asia. This one will probably have to wait until Junior is off to college.
  • Live in South/Central America for 6 months and travel around the area.
  • Help RB40 Jr. graduate from a 4 year public college with no debt. If he wants to go to Harvard, he’ll have to get some scholarship and/or student loans.
  • Invent a cool gadget.
  • Live within a 10 minute walk to a nice beach for a year.
  • Own a convertible again in a warm climate so I can drive around with the top down.
  • Live in Santa Barbara for a while.
  • Having enough passive income to cover our cost of living – This is WIP. I will focus on this in 2017 and write about it once a month.
  • $3 million in net worth. That seems like a nice round number and it will probably take us a while to reach it.

Food – I removed the food list. We already eat pretty well and we’ll enjoy good food whenever we can. It’d be nice to try sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro, but it’s not a huge deal to me at this point.

Whew! This turned out to be a huge list, but hopefully I have at least 40 years to accomplish it. What about you? Do you have a bucket list? Please share some of the things on your bucket list here. Don’t wait until you’re 65 to make one because cliff jumping at Rick’s Café in Jamaica (check) won’t be so appealing anymore.

Happy Holidays and safe travels! 

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Pretired Nick December 25, 2013, 7:24 am

    Great idea for a tradition, Joe! Good list, too!
    Next year we can try to meet at the property I own near Portland and you guys can go crazy. We have lots of trees.
    Isn’t Jiro getting kind of old? You might need to rush that one. I wouldn’t worry about rushing skydiving, though. My grandfather went skydiving on his 70th birthday. (:
    Have a great Christmas!

    • retirebyforty December 25, 2013, 4:58 pm

      That’s be great. Let us know when you’re coming down. Yeah, Jiro is getting kind of old, I’d better move that one up the list.
      Have a great Holidays!

  • Prasun Choudhury December 25, 2013, 7:46 am

    It seems that I have quite a bit in common with your wish list. Travel is also my highest priority (I am currently traveling in Spain’s Andalucia region for the winter holidays) and I plan to explained my horizon with time. New Zealand’s south island is on top of my travel list and so are all the east European countries that you mentioned. As of now, I will restrain my ambition and keep the space travel away from my check list!

    Just curious, I see you have been to French Laundry; what’s your impression on the same? Is it worth the money? I guess, when you visited French Laundry, you were not tracking your daily/monthly expenses that rigorously. One French Laundry visit per family will cover up the lion’s share of the monthly expenditure.

    • retirebyforty December 25, 2013, 8:46 am

      I love Granada and Sevilla, but wasn’t impressed with Barcelona. Enjoy your trip!
      We went to the French Laundry years and years ago. It was definitely worth it. We enjoy good food and it expanded our horizon. I don’t know if we’ll go back though. It’d have to be a really special occasion. Once is good. 🙂

  • Pauline December 25, 2013, 8:03 am

    Lots of cool items in your list. When you live for 6 months in Central America, stop by Guatemala, you can hike the Pacaya volcano and see the melted lava a few meters away from you, and do the helicopter ride to see other active volcanoes in eruption by night. That is pretty impressive.

    • retirebyforty December 25, 2013, 4:59 pm

      That sounds like a great plan. Thanks for the tips. 6 months in Central America is probably 20 years away though…

  • C. the Romanian December 25, 2013, 10:42 am

    Great bucket list! And if you get to visit Eastern Europe (Greece is actually considered here part of Southern Europe), make a sure to have a few days in Romania too, I am sure you will like the country as well. As for Turkey, a summer spent at their all inclusive resorts will surely be great!

    • retirebyforty December 25, 2013, 5:00 pm

      I’ll add Romania to the list and will drop by to say hello. 🙂

  • Done by Forty December 25, 2013, 11:12 am

    That’s one hell of a bucket list, Joe. Way to swing big. You can’t hit a home run unless you do.

    • retirebyforty December 25, 2013, 5:00 pm

      Well, I think the only one that seems out of reach is the space. Hopefully the price will come down in 20 years or perhaps I’d win the lotto. 🙂

  • Melanie December 25, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Wow you are pretty adventurous! I want to visit China too. It’s my all time dream. I really like to esperience their culture and visit the historical places.

    • retirebyforty December 25, 2013, 5:01 pm

      China was great. One trip isn’t enough and we definitely need to go back.

  • Ryan December 26, 2013, 9:40 am

    Your list totally sounds like my dream year (or 2 or 3 years) if I were to win the lottery tomorrow. My wife and I love travelling, but the one place I want to go that she has no interest in is space. That is a definite bucket list item for the ages. I’m right there with you. Hopefully in 30 years, it will go from being 250k to maybe 25k, which even though it would be for about 30 minutes of enjoyment, is totally worth it to me.

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2013, 10:07 am

      Good luck! My list will take forever to finish off. Yeah, winning the lottery would help a lot. 🙂

  • jon_snow December 26, 2013, 9:49 am

    Have you seen Gravity? **** space travel.

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2013, 10:08 am

      Hahaha, I haven’t seen Gravity. I figure space travel will be a space shuttle ride up and down. I’m pretty sure we won’t have to spacewalk.

  • Little House December 26, 2013, 9:52 am

    I haven’t put together a bucket list yet, but I really should. Most things I would want to add would be adventuresome and should probably be done sooner than later! (Like hiking the South to North rim of the Grand Canyon! – Did the south twice when I was in my early 20’s.)

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2013, 10:09 am

      You really should. It will be fun to cross off.

  • Justin @ RootofGood December 26, 2013, 10:09 am

    Looks like a good list, Joe. One that should keep you busy for a couple of decades at least.

    Neat to see Argentina on your list. Definitely worth a visit. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city.

  • Sandy December 26, 2013, 10:46 am

    When you come to the Big Apple you have to reserve space for pizza at a few different places! One does not just have ONE slice of pizza from ONE place in NYC.

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2013, 10:10 am

      Reserve? Can’t I just walk in a get a slice? I’ll try to get in a few places and some delis too.

  • Nate @ TheyBuyTime December 26, 2013, 10:55 am

    “Have a 20th anniversary vow renewal. We just went to the courthouse when we got married 15 years ago. We need to have a big celebration and invite all our friends and family since we never had a wedding.”

    Joe — this brought a huge smile to my face 😀

    Having an excellent marriage is key. I think it’s awesome that you have prioritized this item on your list. All of the travel sounds like a blast as well – go forth and conquer!!!!

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2013, 10:11 am

      I really need to plan this. Hopefully we can do it in Hawaii or perhaps Santa Barbara. It should be a lot of fun.

  • Erin @ My Alternate Life December 26, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Awesome list! I’m considering doing a vow renewal for our 10 year anniversary (married 4 years so far!) as we did the small courthouse wedding as well. I’m a big fan of small weddings, but I would like to have a nice party with good food and drinks to celebrate that milestone.

    My bucket list (all in my head, not official) is made up of lots of traveling and starting a family 🙂

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2013, 10:11 am

      10 year anniversary would be a great time to do it. Have fun with your bucket list!

  • Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans December 30, 2013, 9:40 am

    I hear great things about the French Laundry. I live relatively near Napa and would love to save up the money to go there, but I’m afraid the whole experience has already been over-hyped for me.

    • retirebyforty December 30, 2013, 2:11 pm

      We didn’t know much about the French Laundry when we went so it was a great experience for us. It’s hard to overcome the hype, but I think you’ll be satisfied. 🙂

  • Jon P. December 30, 2013, 10:29 am

    Just wanted to say that this year might be your year for a championship Trail Blazers game!

    • retirebyforty December 30, 2013, 2:11 pm

      I hope so, but they always choke at the finish line…

  • Erich December 31, 2013, 7:29 am

    WOW do I agree with you on Jiro’s. That man is unique and astonishing, and won’t be around much longer. His son does seem ready to take over the reigns though. They mentioned in the documentary that the michelin judges were served food made by his son during some of their visits. He reminds me of the ideal of the samurai, focusing your life on doing each task to perfection.

    • retirebyforty December 31, 2013, 9:29 am

      Jiro is very admirable. I would be happy to be served by his son too. It’s too obsessive for me, though. I’d rather enjoy life and families than obsessing about something. It’s good that someone is that dedicated.

  • theFIREstarter January 12, 2014, 12:53 am

    That’s a pretty comprehensive list!

    I think I might do this soon but I don’t think there would be as much on it as you. We’ve done a lot of travelling already and I feel like I am getting into my “settling down” stage of life 🙂

    • theFIREstarter January 12, 2014, 12:57 am

      Oh yea Croatia is a stunning country… really different scenery and the islands are fantastic! Czech republic also very nice! Not been to greece though. Any particular reason why you picked out those few European countries? If you are in the area I’d also check a few of the other eastern European countries such as Slovenia and Hungary both of which are pretty cool. I’ve heard Serbia is nice as well but can’t vouch for that one. I expect all of them have very interesting places and lovely scenery but haven’t done them all myself either.

    • retirebyforty January 13, 2014, 9:28 am

      We stopped traveling for 4 years and no we are ready to get back to it. Have fun with your list!

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes December 25, 2015, 2:11 am

    Great list Joe. I can honesty say I’ve never had a bucket list before. Perhaps that’s because I only just came up for air a month ago.
    If all goes well with recent endeavors (and the stock market doesn’t tank for the next 20 years), maybe I will give it a go.

  • Kim December 25, 2015, 12:45 pm

    You should try to catch the steam train in Fort Bragg when you are in the bay area. It’s a great ride with beautiful scenery.

  • Go Finance Yourself! December 26, 2016, 6:49 am

    New Zealand has recently been added to our ever-growing list of places to travel to. Looks very cool. For a while now, I’ve had going to Vegas during March Madness on my bucket list. I also want to visit the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown. Long-term goals include becoming a millionaire by 40 and reaching FI by 45.

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2016, 9:40 am

      Good luck with your goals! New Zealand is a lot of fun. It’s much more relaxed than the US when I went.

  • Dividend Diplomats December 26, 2016, 8:04 am

    RB40 –

    Pretty awesome and love the continual updates! Pumped for you to start knocking more out and seeing the bold “DONE” at this time in 2017. Congrats on the year and best of luck ringing in the new year!


    • retirebyforty December 27, 2016, 9:41 am

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to crossing more items off the list too. 2017 will be slow, though. I think 2022 will be the big year. That’s when we plan to do our RTW trip.

  • FullTimeFinance December 26, 2016, 11:04 am

    Very cool list. Our bucket list is a goal to go one new domestic location and one new international every year. A bit more general but the locale list is otherwise a mile long. So far we have an international planned for next year.

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2016, 9:42 am

      That’s a great goal. We might take 2 international trips next year. A week in Mexico and another trip. 🙂

  • Matt December 26, 2016, 12:26 pm

    So you live in Portland and want to live in Santa Barbara – I’m from Santa Barbara and currently live in Portland. Maybe we should hang out sometime. 🙂

    • retirebyforty December 27, 2016, 9:43 am

      Santa Barbara is so much better than Portland in the winter. I love that area, but the cost of living is so expensive. Maybe we can just move down there and enjoy life for a year or two. Rent and just kickback.

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes December 26, 2016, 4:56 pm

    Love that you have a bucket list you review every year Joe! That’s a great idea!

    I’ve never been a bucket list kind of person, but if I was, I would definitely copy this idea!

    Happy Holidays!

  • Wes December 28, 2016, 9:30 am

    I love that RB40JR wanted Sushi! We just had our little baby boy last month… I wonder what he will want for the Holidays when he is old enough to eat!

  • Tom December 28, 2016, 3:04 pm

    I tried uzbek plov first time after reading your post. It tastes very similar to Biryani a popular dish in Indian restaurants. Delicious 🙂

  • John in Seattle January 1, 2017, 9:14 am

    Congrats on a great Christmas and year! My wife was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan too!

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