Do you have a retirement bucket list? Most people have dreamed about what they’d want to do in retirement if time, money and health were no object. What would you do? Climb Machu Picchu? Swim with the dolphins? Run a marathon? Take your grandkids to visit your family’s homeland?

Coming up with a retirement bucket list can be a lot of fun. What’s even more rewarding is knowing you can pay for all the amazing things you hope to accomplish. After all, bucket-list items can be very expensive, and the last thing you want to do is overspend on big experiences and not have enough left to cover everyday living expenses in retirement. So if you have a bucket list, you should have a plan to fund it — separate and apart from the income you’ll need for the essentials.

Another reason to plan separately for your bucket list is this: You’ll probably be checking many of the items off your list during the early years of retirement when you’re younger and healthier. This is typically a time of high spending, which is why this phase of retirement is often referred to as the “moneymoon.” Unfortunately, it’s also the riskiest time to be withdrawing significant income from your retirement accounts. Research has shown that if the market took a downturn during the early years of retirement and the only way to generate income was to pull money from underperforming investments, retirees depleted their assets faster than planned.

If you have a bucket list, you should have a plan to fund it — separate and apart from the income you’ll need for the essentials.

That’s why it’s important to specifically plan for your bucket list, especially if you’ll be spending that money during the early years of your retirement. By developing a targeted plan now, you’ll benefit in three ways:


    If you know you’re going to want to spend more in the early years of retirement, you can take steps now to reduce market risk by spreading your retirement savings across multiple vehicles. By having other, safer assets to draw from during a down market — such as the cash value of permanent life insurance or the steady paycheck provided by an income annuity, both of which are guaranteed never to go down in value — you can minimize the impact of volatility on your overall nest egg.


    As you create a saving strategy specifically for your bucket list, you may find that your estimated retirement budget won’t quite cover it all, and you’ll need to consider trade-offs. Will it be more important for you to hold onto the family home (so there’s room when the grandkids visit) or downsize so you can travel more? If you had to make a choice, would you fund flying lessons or start that foundation you’ve dreamed about? You may not need to compromise — but if you do, having a prioritized list makes it easier to say no to some things on your retirement bucket list so you can say yes to others.


    I’ve seen far too many people struggle with spending their money in retirement because they’re worried that if they spend too much, there won’t be anything left for their grandkids or their kids or their favorite charity. So they decide not to take the bucket-list cruise to Alaska. It’s a shame. With a little planning in advance and a strategy to get you the retirement income you need during the years you need it, you’ll be giving yourself permission to pursue your bucket list with confidence.

    One of the best things about planning for retirement is imagining all the fun and exciting things you could do with your newly found free time. What’s even more rewarding, however, is knowing you have a plan in place to fund whatever happens to be on your bucket list. So share your retirement wish list with your financial planner or professional now. Talk about strategies to fund it separate and apart from your plan to cover the everyday, essential expenses in retirement. With a little planning in advance, you’ll have the funding and the confidence to check off more boxes on your retirement bucket list.

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