This is Why a Financial Bucket List Should Be Something You’re Working On
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You probably have some sort of bucket list, right?
Even if it’s not an actual checklist, there’s probably something swimming around in your head — at least that’s how it is with me.
- Explore Yellowstone? Check.
- Attend a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre? Check.
- Free dive with sharks? Check.
- Hike the Swiss Alps? Check.
Each day, I mentally add items to my list: visit all the national parks, drive up the coast of California, buy a house…
But realistically, how much would these things cost? At 25, I certainly can’t afford them if I want to be considered financially responsible.
So that’s why I’ve decided to craft a different kind… a financial bucket list.
My goal behind a financial bucket list is to tick off money goals by a certain age — and to make the process a little more fun.
Then, once all these items are completed, I can feel a little more financially comfortable in conquering my real bucket list.
1. Pay Off Student Loans
America is now up to its neck in $1.4 trillion of student loan debt.
If you’re part of that statistic, you’ll want to map out a plan. Peruse through this list of six steps you can take to get closer to that $0 balance.
One proven strategy is to refinance your debt to secure better rates. If you don’t know where to start, use a marketplace like Credible. It’s basically the Zillow of student loan refinancing in that you can search to find the best lender and interest rate for you.
Here’s an example: John DePrato was $65,000 in debt and was paying $850 a month. After refinancing through Credible, he’s now paying $400 a month.
If you want to shop your options, it’s free.
2. Make Your Money Work For You
This was one of my first priorities after collecting steady paychecks: to keep my money in a place that collects interest.
Many Americans opt for checking accounts, which is great, as long as you’re earning a little somethin’.
That’s why I decided to transfer my funds over to Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account, which earns me 1% interest. It might not seem like a lot, but it’s 100% more than my previous account.
It’s a conquerable task you can complete within a few days of securing your spot — so add your name to the queue now.
3. Strike Up an Emergency Fund
I didn’t realize how important a hearty emergency fund is until I hit the real world — and those unexpected bills hit me right back.
The first step to establishing an emergency fund will require you do a little math: Calculate how much you need to stash away for about six months of living, experts suggest.
Then you’ll want to open a separate, hands-off account to keep that money in. Perhaps the easiest way is to find an automated bank account or even an app.
If you’re feeling extra savvy, try Stash, a micro-investing app. You can set it up to stash away $5 per week, for example. This makes the process a little less painful. Plus, it’ll invest that money for you — depending on the type of risk you want to take.
If you give Stash a try now, it’ll tuck another $5 into your account now.
4. Feel the Thrill of a Side Hustle
Part of the goal behind this financial bucket list is to put yourself in a healthy financial situation so you can conquer your fun bucket list, right?
So start putting away extra money for your next trip — or to pay the bills — with a side hustle. Your best bet is to monetize what you love, and there’s something out there for everyone.
- Writers, try starting a website through BlueHost.
- Music-lovers, crank the music in the car when you drive for Lyft.
- TV gurus, get paid to watch videos through InboxDollars.
- Avid travelers, list your space through Airbnb.
- Crafters, sell your products on Etsy.
Making money off what you love doing is kind of thrilling.
5. Generate the Perfect Credit Score (or At Least Boost It)
When’s the last time you checked your credit report?
Go ahead and pull it up right now. (Don’t pay; get it for free through a platform like Credit Sesame.) Take a look at what’s influencing your score.
Once you know what needs attention, work on paying those off. That’ll help give your score a little boost and help you tick off real-life bucket list items — like buying a house.
6. Check in With Your 401(k) — or Open One
The goal is to retire one of these days, right?
Make sure you’re taking care of your retirement accounts sooner than later. If you have a 401(k) through your employer, check that it doesn’t suck.
If you want more of a guided tour of your 401(k), try using a tool like Blooom. It’s a robo-advisor that can help you manage your account and keep tabs on any pesky hidden fees.
When you sign up, you’ll tell it when you hope to retire by, so you can read a more customized plan.
But maybe you decide a 401(k) isn’t your best bet — or maybe you’re just that type of person who wants to explore all of their options. Then read this guide to help you determine the best spot to stash your money.
7. Stack Up Money/Points/Miles Each Time You Buy Something
Make sure when you spend money you’re at least making something back in return. With a cash-back credit or debit card, you can do just that.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’d love to know: What’s on your financial bucket list?