I started writing this for fun, because it’s my birthday, and I always write a fun list with 24 items on my birthday (see the full list at the bottom).
But halfway through writing it, I realized this could be the blueprint for any financial future.
I really like this idea, and I’ve added a few things to my financial bucket list after coming up with this.
In no order whatsoever…
1. Become Debt-Free
This is going to be on any financial bucket list… list, but there’s a reason for that.
The feeling of being completely free of all debt is unmatched.
I’m just talking consumer debt, and maybe student loans. That alone is enough to take loads of stress away.
To get started, read through our free online guide to getting out of debt.
2. Give an Insanely Large Amount
If you’re not giving anything, this could be $1,000. If you give monthly, this could be $10,000 or $100,000.
Whatever you consider a large amount.
Similarly to becoming debt-free, this will change you. And it feels amazing.
You could give this to your church, or find a great charity.
3. Create a Scholarship
This sounds daunting at first, but it’s really as simple as giving a certain amount of money to a certain amount of students each year.
It’s really this simple:
- Set your amount
- Set the criteria
- Review the applicants
- Watch it grow each year
There are organizations to help you, but you can also do it on your own.
As it grows, you can bring in other sponsors and increase the scholarship, or you can keep it at what you set originally.
You could also just do a one-time scholarship if you don’t want to maintain it over the years.
4. Fully Fund Your IRA for a Year
Right now it only takes $5,500 to fully fund your Traditional or Roth IRA for the year.
This is easier than you think. You can afford to contribute $100 a week.
You can open one with TD-Ameritrade (yes, for free) here, in about 15 minutes.
Why not start today, and fully fund this year? One bucket list item knocked out.
5. Fully Fund Your Work Retirement Account
Once you’ve funded your IRA, move to your company’s 401k, 403b, SEP IRA, TSP, or whatever they offer.
This year, the limit is $18,000+, depending on which type of account options you have.
You may not be able to do it this year, but write it down and do it at least once in the next 5-10 years.
6. Own Your Own Business
I think everyone should own a business of some sort at some point.
It could be as small as a blog like this one (see our guide to starting a blog), or a multi-employee company.
Whatever idea has been stuck in your head, make it happen.
Get your business plan together, and at least get started.
7. Read a Set Number of Finance Books
10, 50, 100? Whatever is challenging yet realistic for you.
I set a goal to read 50 books each year, and I have hit it every year since I started the goal. Typically about 1/3 of those are finance books.
I wouldn’t read only finance books, but if you haven’t mastered your finances yet, finance should be a big piece of the pie.
Get smarter reading strategies, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Need ideas? Here are my top 75 finance books.
8. Get a College Degree
This may not exactly be a “finance” thing, but it typically requires you to spend a lot of money and sometimes it helps you earn more money.
I’m not totally sold on the idea of college, but I’m getting a degree for the experience of going to college and getting a degree.
I think it’s a good experience and a great sense of accomplishment.
And you may actually learn something.
9. Sell Something You Created
How can you creatively contribute to the world?
Here are five quick ideas:
- Write a book
- Create a piece of art
- Create a course
- Build furniture
- Write a song
Whatever you’re good at making, make it, and sell it. At least once.
10. Become a Millionaire
This isn’t purely a financial thing. Jim Rohn says it best:
“Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.”
Start by setting a goal for the next $100k net worth mark and keep going up.
Think of what you could give with a million dollars. If you’re already a millionaire, why not keep going?
Having a $1,000,000 net worth is much more achievable than it used to be.
11. Earn Passive Income
You should know what it feels like to earn money from something you don’t have to actively work at.
12. Make a Large Purchase With Cash
Determine what you would consider a large purchase. Save. Buy.
This should be something you really want, if you’re going to spend that much.
You may spend as much time deciding what to buy as you do saving for it, and that’s fine.
13. Buy Someone Else’s Groceries
Once you have the extra cash, buy someone’s groceries.
Wait until you see someone who really looks like they could use the help. A single mom, large family, or elderly couple works well.
I haven’t done this yet, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.
Be prepared that they may not let you. If so, try again with someone else.
14. Take a Sabbatical
This requires a lot of preparation.
If you’re self-employed, it likely just means setting up your job to be without you for a given time period, and having the money to be able to take off.
If you work for a company, it may be more complex. Save the money first, and then work it out with your employer. It may even be worth changing jobs if you can’t get the time off.
How long does a sabbatical have to be? I see anything 4 weeks and greater as a sabbatical. Anything less is more of a vacation.
Remember the entire point is to not work, so you can’t take your work with you. That’s not a sabbatical.
Use the time to think, plan, and be creative.
It will be one of the most productive things you ever do.
15. Achieve a Perfect Credit Score
This isn’t always possible, but it’s fun to try, or at least get close.
Set a certain score goal, like 820, 830, or possibly the elusive 850.
As soon as any one of your credit scores hit the goal, you win.
If you need help improving your credit score, read this.
16. Take an Expensive Vacation (Debt-Free)
Go on a cruise, visit Disney World, or take an international trip.
Whatever you’ve always wanted to do. Save the money, and then make it happen.
Just make sure you don’t go into debt to fund it. No loans or credit cards.
You don’t want to ruin your life financially while you’re having the time of your life.
17. Plan a Charitable Event
Small scale or large scale.
This is a lot of work, but well worth it. You can get people to help you, and make it as large as you want.
Here is a good guide to get you started. It’s actually pretty simple, but it’s not easy.
It requires a lot of hard work and time.
18. Live in Another Country for 90 Days
If you’re from the US, 90 days is the longest you can live in most European countries (except the UK) without a specific visa.
But 90 days is a lot of time.
Find a way to make it happen between jobs, or get the time off.
I’ve learned more in a couple years living abroad than I could’ve learned in a lifetime at home.
You’ll get the culture, experiences, new friends, and you’ll likely get some good business ideas.
19. Go a Month Without Spending Money
Yes, this is possible.
I’m not talking about not paying the rent or utilities. Try cutting out everything other than the mandatory expenses.
For example, keep paying:
- Car payments
- Any previously due bills
Stop paying for:
- Fuel (if possible)
You’d be surprised, but I bet you can do it for a month. We did it for several months.
It’s an eye-opener for sure.
20. Get a Job in Sales
You don’t have to transition to the sales industry, but try a second job in sales.
Sales is important for every business and job. It’s true that you’re always selling something: products, services, or yourself.
Try it for a few months, and for a few reasons:
- You’ll know what it’s like to be on the other side of the sale
- You’ll learn a lot about the art of persuasion
- You might actually like it
You’ll learn more than you might think.
21. Give $100 to a Stranger
This is an easy concept, but it can be awkward at first.
After you do it once, it gets addictive. It’s good to be uncomfortable sometimes.
Find a homeless person, a struggling parent, or someone with a smile on their face.
You don’t have to tell them anything other than “I’m giving this to you because I want to.”
Or just throw it at them and say “You’re Welcome!”
22. Build a 6-Month Emergency Fund
This is an important part of any healthy financial foundation.
Emergency funds should be fully funded after all debt other than the mortgage is paid off.
Fully funded means 3-6 months, but I would challenge you to shoot for six.
It’s a great security blanket. Here’s how to get started.
23. Pay Cash for a Vehicle
We already talked about paying cash for a large purchase, but this is special.
When you walk into a car dealership, or up to someone selling a used car, and you have the cash, you have a lot of power.
Make the car payments to yourself until you have enough and then go buy it!
Of course, be smart with the cash. Don’t flash $20,000 to a stranger you met on Craigslist, but you get the idea. Oh yeah, and read this to get a great deal.
24. Pay Off a Mortgage
This is the ultimate piece of financial freedom for many, while others still think it’s dumb to pay a mortgage off early.
There are some great arguments for investing instead of paying off your mortgage early, but it’s not just a mathematical thing.
First off, a mortgage is still debt you want to get rid of. Second, you will free up a ridiculous amount of cash flow if you pay off your mortgage.
The decision is up to you, but if you want to pay off your mortgage early, and quickly, here are three powerful strategies.
Be sure to share any items I missed in the comments, and check out the other “24 series” articles below.
Previous 24-Item Birthday Articles
- 24 Things That Are More Likely to Happen Than Winning the Lottery
- 24 Stupidest Things the U.S. Government Spends Money On
- 24 Things I did to Pay Off $24k in Debt by the Time I Turned 24