≡ Menu

Updating My Christmas Bucket List


Updating My Christmas Bucket ListIt’s almost Christmas which means it’s time to go over my bucket list. Christmas is the perfect time to reflect a bit and evaluate what you want to do in the future. We all have a few days off and nobody really wants to think about finance too much. Besides, RB40Jr is on winter break so I don’t have time to write serious posts. I’ll take it easy and focus on the holidays until after New Year. Updating my bucket list fits the occasion.

For those of you not familiar with the term, a bucket list refers to a list of things you want to do before you die, aka “kick the bucket” in American slang. Anyway, I started this Christmas tradition in 2013 when I turned 40. I didn’t want to wake up at 65 and start a list then. Life is short so we need to enjoy the journey. We shouldn’t wait until retirement to enjoy life.

This year, I’m revamping my bucket list extensively. My old list had too many things on it. 4 years isn’t a long time, but I’ve changed a bit. Some of the things on my old bucket list don’t seem so interesting anymore. This bucket list 2.0 will be limited to just 10 things that I really want to accomplish in life. Check them out.

Christmas Bucket List 2.0

Serious Stuff

  1. Help our son graduate college with no debt. My parents funded my college education and I’m forever grateful for that. I got a good job after graduation and I was able to start investing in the stock market right away because I didn’t have any debt. I hope to do the same for RB40Jr. We’ll probably tell him we’ll pay 50% so he’d have some skin in the game. Once he graduates, then I’d pay off his student loans right away. If you have a good idea on how to do this, please share. Target date: RB40Jr should graduate from college in 2033.
  2. Become debt free. We don’t have any consumer debt, but we have 3 mortgages on our properties totaling over $450,000. It’d be liberating to have no debt at all. However, this isn’t a big priority right now so being debt free is probably a long way off. Target date: 2029. I hope to be debt free before RB40Jr starts college.


  1. RTW trip. I’d like to take a year off to travel around the world. The logistics are going to be tough because I want to do it fairly soon. We’d have to road school our kid and figure out many other things. It’d be a great experience for the whole family. Target date: 2021.
  2. Live in Thailand. I have family in Thailand and I’d like to live there for at least a year. I’ve been to many tourist spots in Thailand, but I want to explore less traveled areas too. This will probably have to wait until RB40jr goes off to college. Target date: 2030.


  1. Go see the Summer Olympics. It’d be a lot of fun to see one or two events at the Olympics. We watch the competitions on TV every 4 years and it’s always inspiring. Los Angeles is hosting the Olympics in 2028 so that’d be the perfect time for us to go. Mrs. RB40 has family near LA so the logistic should be relatively easy. Target date: 2028.
  2. Ride in a hot air balloon. We’d need to wait until RB40Jr is a bit older to do this. He got scared of heights from climbing the pyramid at Ek Balam. Or maybe I’ll just go with Mrs. RB40… Our kid would be so mad at us for leaving him out, though. Target date: 2024.

Personal Growth

  1. Become a Buddhist monk for a short time. Most men in Thailand become a monk for a season to learn more about Buddhism. I think it’d be an interesting spiritual experience for a month or so. Target date: 2030. Maybe I can do this while I’m in Thailand for a year.
  2. Join Toastmasters. I’ve been meaning to join Toastmasters for years, but the timing has never been just right. So next year, I’ll put this on the top of the list. It’s really not that hard and it will be very helpful for my personal growth. Also, I need a low hanging fruit on this list. Everything else seems to be a long way off. Target date: 2018.
  3. Take a photography class. I want to learn to take better photographs before we go on our RTW trip. This one should be pretty easy too. I just need to find the time to do it. The most affordable option probably would be taking a class at the local community college. Target date: 2019.

Ultimate Dream

  1. 3-5 acres in Hawaii. My ultimate dream is to own 3-5 acres in Hawaii. I’d build a few tiny homes on the property and rent them out to tourists. Ocean access needs be less than 15 minutes away so we can go swimming/fishing/kayaking whenever we want. Currently, this is possible on the less touristy side of the Big Island, but we’re not ready to go yet. We like our school district so we plan to stay in Portland until our kid is done with high school. After that, I want to travel for a while. We have a long way to go on this one and it might not be possible to pull off. We’ll see how it goes. Target date: 2038.

What’s on your bucket list?

Alright, I accomplished my mission of narrowing down my bucket list. There were too many things on the old list and it was unfocused. Now, the list looks more manageable and meaningful. The timeline is long, but I should be able to accomplish some of these every few years. Here is the list in an easy to see spreadsheet.

Bucket list

What do you think about my revised bucket list? Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it? Have a great Christmas vacation!

The following two tabs change content below.
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.
Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you
{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Accidental Fire December 21, 2017, 2:03 am

    Cool list! I’ve found that my bucket list has changed a bit over the years as well, although I don’t update it as much. I think I owe it a revisit. A lot of my items tend to be big, epic, outdoor activities. For instance, I want to ride my bike across the country, I want to sail across one of the major oceans, and I want to run an ultramarathon.

    And of course I want to switch from semi-retirement to full retirement and never have to worry about money again 🙂

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 7:20 am

      Wow, those sounds like tough challenges. I’m not that great with outdoor activities so those aren’t on my list. I’d like to try sailing for a few days, though. 🙂

  • Lily | The Frugal Gene December 21, 2017, 2:36 am

    WOW Joe! You are a layered man with many hats.

    “We’ll probably tell him we’ll pay 50% so he’d have some skin in the game. Once he graduates, then I’d pay off his student loans right away.”

    Clever rabbit. Did you steal my plan?! Mine goes deeper than that, I’m gonna tell them we’re super broke our entire life so he/she better get right. *Raises fist*
    Hahahhaha. Yeah…I don’t know, I’m not a parent, who knows what I would actually do. BUT I do think your plan is terrific!

    Buddist monk?! I didn’t know any of that about Thailand and Thai men! That’s prettyyyy cool!

    Will it actually be called RB40 Villa? (Hehe, not a bad name for PF bloggers to recognize!) I’m so going!! Would it be too much work for you to maintain, are you thinking of hiring help?

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 7:26 am

      Heh heh, I don’t think you can fool kids. They are pretty smart.
      Yeah, most men become monk for a season when they’re young. It is part of the culture.
      The RB40 villa will open in about 20 years. I’d definitely need helpers then. 🙂

  • [email protected] December 21, 2017, 3:15 am

    Wonderful list Joe. Toastmasters is on my to do list as well. The round the world trip is also on my bucket list. My wife and I have always talked about splitting our time between Hawaii and Colorado once we become empty nesters. Other items from my list include skiing steep lines in Alaska. White water kayaking. Learning to surf. Making a difference in people’s lives by helping them with their finances.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 7:28 am

      Mrs. RB40 really likes Toastmasters. It should be an interesting experience for me.
      I like your list. Nice!

  • Caroline December 21, 2017, 3:24 am

    Becoming a buddhist monk is an interesting one. Hot air balloon is on my list but it is so expensive that I haven’t done it yet (the frugal side in me), I guess eventually I should just go ahead and spend the money! A year to travel would be amazing, can’t wait to read about it:) Great list Joe.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 7:29 am

      I just checked hot air balloon ride and it cost $220 each. That’s not cheap, but still cheaper than a vacation. We’ll need to do a staycation someday and splurge locally.

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify December 21, 2017, 3:37 am

    Joe, You have inspired me as usual. I’ve never had a formal bucket list even though my wife and I have re-shaped our lives considerably the last 10 years by leaving our corporate jobs for academia. It’s not a list, but we have started a vision for a new future where we sell our house, exit academia, rent an apartment and travel on a frequent basis until we get tired of it and decide to do something different.

    Happy Holidays to you and the RB40 family. I have really enjoyed finding your blog and reading it this year. Tom

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:30 am

      That’s inspiring. I bet your life is much more relaxing now that you don’t work for the corporations anymore. Your new vision sounds good too. I’d like to do that for a few years after RB40Jr goes off to college. Thanks for sharing. Happy holidays!

  • Lazy Man and Money December 21, 2017, 3:41 am

    I love the idea of helping RB40Jr graduate college with no debt. I’ve thought of this as well, but it seems difficult to have him have skin in the game and still pay his debt regardless. I had been thinking of instead helping encouraging my kids to fund their retirement accounts. My idea is to give them a sort of “match” on money put in retirement accounts. The promise of free money from the bank of parents should be good incentive.

    That’s awesome about becoming a Buddhist monk for a short time. I thought that was a more permanent thing.

    I guess my bucket list consists of one item right now: Create my own bucket list.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:33 am

      I need to figure out how to do the college thing. We’ll pay for undergrad, but he’ll have to fund his own graduate degrees. Funding the retirement account is a good idea. He can put his salary into the retirement account and I’ll “match” by paying down the student loan. A bit complicated, but I bet we can make it work.
      Have fun with your list. 🙂

  • Turning Point Money December 21, 2017, 4:48 am

    Great ideas. We are planning on funding college for both our small children. Hopefully we will have them fully funded within the next five years. I’d love to do the around the world trip also.

    Some other things we’d love to do:

    – Slow travel Europe when kids are off on the summer. Pick a destination for the summer and live like a local.
    – Buy waterfront property along the Carolina/Georgia coast for early retirement. Rent it out part-time until we move there full-time.
    – Devote time to get my handicap in single digits.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:35 am

      Wow, it would be great to have them fully funded in the next 5 years. We have a bit over $50,000 in his 529 account. Hopefully, it will grow over the next 11 years. We’ll keep contributing around $4,000 per year as well.
      Slow travel Europe sounds like a lot of fun. I’d love to do that. Good luck with the things on your list.

  • Budget on a Stick December 21, 2017, 5:06 am

    We went to the London Olympics in 2012 and it was amazing! Our plan is to go to the LA games too.

    Other than that we want to take the kids to Disney World, remodel parts of the house, pay off the house, pay for college for the kids, and travel a lot.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:36 am

      The Olympics should be a lot of fun. LA is perfect for us. Our kid will be old enough to appreciate the experience too. Good luck with your list. 🙂

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance December 21, 2017, 5:46 am

    Wow I love all the plans on your bucket list. They’re so cool! Building tiny houses in Hawaii sounds like a great idea! I’ve always been wanting to try living in a tiny house and going to Hawaii. Maybe I will rent out your tiny house one day hehe.

    I didn’t know men in Thailand have to be a monk for a while. That’s interesting!

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:38 am

      Well, our house would be a bit bigger. The tiny houses would be interesting. I’m thinking nice tree house and an Asian style stilt house. We’ll have a community kitchen and eating area. It’ll be kind of like a commune.

  • FullTimeFinance December 21, 2017, 6:41 am

    Quite a list. Sounds like you have some significant things planned. We have something similar but it’s largely shorter term as I can only think about five years ahead. My wants and goals have changed to much over each five year horizon. Current five year horizon is buy an RV for camping and possibly a vacation property somewhere near a lake in the middle of nowhere. Also travel first class internationally once for a major anniversary.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:39 am

      I have my New Year goals for the short term stuff.
      Your five year plan is great too. It sounds more possible. That’s the problem with my list. There are too many big goals.
      Oh, we got upgraded once on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfort. It was awesome. 🙂

  • Helen December 21, 2017, 6:42 am

    That’s cool, you got the next 20 years laid out. I really like the ideas of Living in Thailand for one year, and Becoming a Buddhist monk for one month. Some day, I might want to live in China for 6 months. Also want to see the Boston Pops on July 4th. No bucket list yet.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:40 am

      Living in Thailand for a year would be awesome. It’ll give me a chance to reconnect with my relatives and travel around the region. The food is great too.

  • Ron Cameron December 21, 2017, 6:53 am

    I think you need more of a challenge. Perhaps combine a couple items, like joining Toastmasters while becoming a monk? That should keep you engaged…

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:42 am

      Hah! That’s not as crazy as it sounds. Monks need to give talks too, but that’s usually the abbot or the experienced monks.

  • Jim @ Route To Retire December 21, 2017, 8:24 am

    Wow, you have some great ones on your list! It’s funny that you have “Ride in a hot air balloon” – my wife and I were just talking about that a couple weeks ago. For some reason, I have no interest in it, but I do have skydiving on my list. I think the parachute would make me feel safer than the balloon… weird, right?

    I just got done knocking off an item on my list earlier this year. I love camping, but I wanted to do a backpacking trip where all you have is what you’re carrying. I had been trying to make it happen for a few years and a buddy and I finally did it this past fall. So glad I did it – although it was exhausting, it was an awesome trip!

    — Jim

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 9:44 am

      The hot air balloon ride sounds really cool to us. The experience is way longer than skydiving. That last just 10 minutes or so. It was great when I was young, but I don’t need to go again. 🙂
      Backpack camping sounds great too. You can get away from it all. We like car camping, though. I already have to drag the family kicking and screaming to that.

  • Mr. Tako December 21, 2017, 5:29 pm

    Great bucket list Joe! I especially like your ultimate goal!

    We’d love to live in Hawaii too, but the exceptional costs might make that one unfeasible. At the very least we’re looking to move somewhere warmer.

    My bucket list has a bunch of travel destinations on it. Some are places I want to share with the kids, and other places I just want to travel for myself.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 8:12 pm

      The cost of living can be high in Hawaii, but I think we can make it work if we’re frugal. We could grow a lot more food to offset the price. Housing is not too bad on the Big Island. We’d probably try renting for at least a year to see if we would really like living there.

  • Emma December 21, 2017, 7:07 pm

    I just started reading your blog and I have read several times of your goals, many of which impact your family; a year in Thailand, a B&B in Hawaii. But you never mention if your wife has the exact same dreams as you. She is a separate person and maybe she has different dreams. Just wonderin’.

    • retirebyforty December 21, 2017, 8:15 pm

      She has some of the same goals, but not everything. By the time our kid graduate from high school, I think we could spend some time apart. I could live in Thailand for a year and she can come visit for a few months or something like that. She can do her own things. Thanks for bringing this up. She hasn’t told me about her long term dreams. She probably haven’t given it much thought. Life is a bit too busy for her right now.

  • Al December 21, 2017, 8:27 pm

    We have the mortgage issue too but you have to balance it against the rental income and equity to get a clear picture of the total or actual debt.
    Look at the % of your networth they represent so you have a better view of the value.

    We felt that we were over invested in real estate and were concerned about the % of networth inregrds to diversification.

    We also found a favorable tax benefit for our mortgages specially after 10 years when there only 1/3 or so of interest to be paid and the deduction was a benefit.

    We also traded paying off the mortgages versus keeping the money invested. Much better to stayed invested.

    Goal: Have more fun and experiences while we travel. New Zealand or South Africa, maybe.

  • Steve @ familyonfire.org December 21, 2017, 9:50 pm

    Great list. As we have been in flux this year we haven’t really thought ahead, however travel once kids are in college is definitely up there.

    Going to the Olympics is definitely on my to do as well. We will probably dry run by traveling down to the World Track and Field Championships which will be in Eugene in 2021.

  • GYM December 21, 2017, 11:46 pm

    This is a very interesting list! I like how it is so organized with a timeline. I didn’t know one could become a Buddhist monk for a short duration. Doing the RTW and living in Thailand for a year could be merged into one! Thailand is such a great base for travel in Asia.

    I would love to do a hot air balloon ride but I think I would actually be too afraid of heights.

    My bucket list is mainly to see things around the world- like go to Provences lavender fields, see Santorini in Greece, go to the Maldives.

    • retirebyforty December 22, 2017, 10:43 am

      I don’t think we could merge RTW and one year in Thailand. I’d like to do the RTW sooner rather than later. Living in Thailand can wait until Junior goes off to college. The RTW trip would take a lot longer if we spend a year in Thailand. I’ll see what Mrs. RB40 thinks.
      Maldives sounds really cool. I’d like to visit someday too.

  • Pennypincher December 22, 2017, 3:33 am

    Yes, get the monkey off your back about financing college and have those funds ready to go by high school. Unless you are a gambler, all college funds should be in somewhat safe funds by high school and out of the stock markets, unless you have a plan B there. You will be pulling $$ out of different “pots” to finance this. Get Jr. into the habit and mindset that, “we have to be careful w/our budget, because we are saving for college.” They eventually “get it”, one would hope!
    Graduating debt free is a real gift. Use only govt. loans if needed, NOT private ones offered. The Stafford loan was recommend first. And….careful marrying someone w/huge loans, as the spouse assumes that debt too. Goal=start life out right, strive for debt free. It’s a gift for the parents too-a fully independent child! Yes! Your reward.
    Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all!

    • retirebyforty December 22, 2017, 10:44 am

      We tell Jr. that we’re comfortable, not well off. Kids know though. He knows that we’re not poor, but we watch our budget and don’t spend frivolously. Merry Christmas!

  • Kris December 22, 2017, 11:49 am

    Great list Joe!! We’ll try to fully fund the college expenses for our son as well. But with tuition rising every year I can’t imagine how much it will be in 15-20 years when he gets there.
    Our bucket list includes driving around the US(maybe Canada too) in a RV and go on a world cruise. I know some PF bloggers like Steve from ThinkSaveRetire and Michelle from MakingSenseofCents are driving to various parts of the country as we speak and just envy them for doing that.

    • retirebyforty December 22, 2017, 3:22 pm

      Hopefully, he’ll get some scholarship to help with the college expense.
      I’d love to go RVing too, but Mrs. RB40 isn’t into it. Maybe we’ll try a short trip and see how it goes.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life December 22, 2017, 12:02 pm

    For #1, how much are you targeting saving for his schooling? I’m still trying to figure out how much we should put away for JB. $100k? $200k? The max that CA allows? (I don’t think we’ll have enough to do that but one can dream!)

    My list: I want to make it possible for PiC to run the Boston marathon (logistically. I have nothing to do with the athletic side of things hehe)

    I attended Toastmasters once and then ran away, never to return. I haven’t decided if that’s an area I should try to target again.

    We’ll pay for some portion of JB’s college. It might be that we’d pay for undergrad and part of a grad degree, or just part of undergrad and most of a grad degree to encourage zir to stay focused. Of course, I never got a grad degree and I’m doing pretty well … but I want to give zir a few more opportunities than we had.

    Most of our family is in the LA area – meet up at the 2028 Games?? 🙂

    I need a few items for myself but haven’t decided exactly what it’ll be other than engineering our early retirement.

    • retirebyforty December 22, 2017, 3:24 pm

      I’m targeting about $150,000. We already saved $55k so it’s looking good with 11 years left. We’ll keep adding to it a bit every year. If he doesn’t use it all, we can always pass the rest onto his cousins.
      My goal is just undergrad, but we’ll see. In 15 years, everyone will probably need a graduate degree.
      Have a great holidays!

  • Rodney Allen Hampton December 22, 2017, 1:23 pm

    It’s great to have a list, but as others have noted, your priorities will change over time. Don’t become too attached to an outcome, but rather the journey.

  • Lady Dividend December 23, 2017, 6:21 am

    Interesting post! I like that you focused on a few things in the next couple of years. I have a bucket list and most can be done within the next 5 years. I’m trying to check off 2 a year, so it will be my focus for the next two years. For 2018 I’d like to go dogsledding and learn to ride a horse.

  • Ann December 23, 2017, 7:27 am

    Best way I’ve found to save/invest for your kids college…when your kids are young, buy an affordable rental property for each that can cash flow on a 15 year mortgage. The property will be paid off by the time they go to college and then you can either sell and use the after tax proceeds for college or keep the property and use the rental cash flow for college, which is what we plan to do. We keep the property AND it pays for college. Once college is complete we still have a cash producing asset for retirement. (We hit FIRE at 39 with real estate. 45 now. Kids are 13 & 15. Life is good)

    • retirebyforty December 24, 2017, 8:45 am

      That’s a great plan. One of my friends is doing that. It’s hard to find a good property here in Portland, though. Congratulations!

  • Ann December 23, 2017, 7:36 am

    Thanks to FIRE….we’ve been knocking things off our bucket list…our family spent a month in Europe this past summer visiting Spain, France and Italy, 45 days on Maui in each summer of 2013 and 2015, and we are currently learning Spanish as a family.

    Portugal, Thailand, New Zealand, learning piano and painting still on my list. Once the kids are off to college we would love to go on a river cruise through the wine regions in France and explore the wine regions of both Spain and Italy.

  • Carl @ MoneyMow December 26, 2017, 12:35 am

    Great bucket list, RB40! I like the mix of short-term and long-term goals.

    For your world trip, do you plan on visiting all countries in the world, or a few selected ones on each continent?

    I am planning a 10-day Vipassana meditation course next year (where you have to be silent for 10 days), which is on my life bucket list! It is going to be a challenge as an extrovert. I guess the experience could be similar to your Buddhist Monk experience 🙂

    • retirebyforty December 26, 2017, 10:36 am

      For the RTW trip, we’ll just visit a few countries. Maybe 15 or so. Visiting all the countries will feel very rushed in one year.
      The Vipassana meditation course sounds interesting. 10 days of silent would be very tough for anyone. Good luck!

  • Jeff DeWitt December 26, 2017, 6:21 pm

    Like you I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics on TV and I love your idea of putting the LA Olympics on your bucket list. You’ve also inspired me to add taking a photography class on my own bucket list! I’ve always enjoyed taking photographs and I’m sure I would enjoy a class. Thanks for all the great blog posts Joe!

Leave a Comment