Covid-19 has delayed many dream vacations, family reunions, and road trips this year. But as we all navigate the space between things we can do, things we can’t do, and things we still want to do in the future, there’s an opportunity to reflect on the bucket list goals that are truly important to us.
I think this could be especially important for recent retirees who have been struggling to transition from a “save” mentality to a “reward” mentality. I’ve known too many seniors who were so worried about running out of money that they kept kicking bucket list items further down the road, even if they fit comfortably within their retirement budgets. “I’ll get to that someday,” they’d tell me. And then, for one reason or another, “someday” never came. The pandemic should be a wake-up call to all of us. We have to make the most of the time we have and do the things we really want to do while we still can.
So sit down, ideally with your spouse or significant other if you have one, and ask these four questions about cancelled or delayed travel plans. Your answers will help you build a better bucket list full of things you’ll enjoy doing today and look forward to doing safely someday soon.
1. How disappointed are we?
Before Covid-19, you hopefully felt free to fill up your bucket list with anything you could responsibly budget for. But it’s possible that not all of those items were of equal importance to you. A trip to Paris that you and your family had been planning for years is probably dear to your heart. A spur-of-the-moment booking for a pontoon boat ride, maybe not so much.
If you’re sifting through a bunch of returns, refunds, and cancellations right now, think about how you really feel about those disrupted plans. Are you disappointed? Indifferent? Relieved to be getting that money back? Is this a trip that should stay on your bucket list? Or would you rather use those funds to add something even more special to a trip you really want to take? Sure, a long, lazy boat ride could be fun. But an extra night at a five-star resort might be unforgettable.
2. Why did we want to do this?
If you’re trying to sell your grandkids on a substitute for Disney World … well, good luck. Keep that trip on the bucket list for next year.
The motivations behind some of your other bucket list items might not be as clear-cut. Was this bucket list item a true dream destination? Is it something you’ve been planning on and saving for? Is this an experience you really can’t get anywhere else?
Or was it a trip you just slapped together around your adult kids’ vacation days and the grandkids’ summer vacation? Were you so intent on doing something with the whole family that you settled for anything?
3. What can we do instead?
Your “Whys” might lead you to alternative fun closer to home this summer. If the real purpose of a trip was golf, the money you’re saving on travel could buy you quite a few rounds at a nice course within driving distance. Buy a couple lessons while you’re at it and you might enjoy that dream round even more when you finally tee up.
You might not feel comfortable packing up the camper and heading to the Grand Canyon right now. But the U.S. National Parks system is more extensive than you might realize. There’s probably a scenic spot closer to home that you’ve never explored before.
Many families are also adapting to Covid-19 by focusing on new, short-term bucket list items. If you’re not going to travel this summer, you could take online classes and learn an instrument. Rescheduling your trip to Puerto Vallarta? Take family Spanish lessons so you’ll have an easier time getting around when you do go. Get serious about your exercise goals and develop a running or cycling regiment you can stick to. Set a family reading challenge. Could you learn to cook a new French meal every week?
4. What can we plan for in the future?
There are no perfect substitutes for all your bucket list items during Covid-19. But with a little flexibility and some creativity, your family can still have a fun and fulfilling summer.
And if you need an extra at-home activity this week, schedule a brainstorming session for trips that are staying on the bucket list. Consider how to make the trip you couldn’t take this year into an even better trip next year. Are there any new skills or interests you’ve developed during quarantine that could add a new dimension to your bucket list? Next time you’re video chatting with the grandkids, see if there’s anything they’d like to add to the itinerary. Planning ahead will give everyone something to look forward to.
Is there anything we can do to help you make progress on your bucket list? Don’t hesitate to call us up if you want to revisit how your financial plan can budget for all the summers still ahead of you and your family.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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