Have a Retirement Bucket List? Don’t Hesitate to Dive In

Early in retirement is when you are most likely to have the three necessary elements going for you at the same time — money, health and time.

Two older women laugh as one drives a convertible.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Retirement can be a time for relaxing and enjoying some hard-earned leisure time. It’s also an opportunity to spend quality time with family and loved ones and build lasting memories with them.

Retirement is also your time to finally get around to doing all those things that you’ve always wanted to do — your retirement bucket list — but have been putting off due to the pressures of work or the day-to-day necessities of running a business.

For some people, that means going on that cruise you promised your spouse years ago. Or discovering America together in an RV. Or playing all your dream golf courses. Or finally starting that pottery business with your husband.

Everybody’s retirement bucket list is different. When I sit down with retirees, I generally hear bucket list items such as Europe, African Safari, traveling with family, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, cruises, famous U.S. parks and more… Amazing places to visit and experience.

Your Retirement Bucket List ‘Window of Opportunity’

As someone who's worked with many retirees since starting in the financial services industry in 1994 as an insurance professional, I’ve got one critical piece of advice: Whatever is on your “bucket list,” get to it early in retirement. Don’t put it off.

Here's why: If you’re like most retirees, you’re going to be in your best health early on in your first years after retirement. I wrote on Kiplinger about taking advantage of your first 10 years of retirement, which I call your “Go-Go Years.”

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

Early in retirement is when you are most likely to have these three necessary elements going for you at the same time:

  • Money
  • Health
  • Time

You have only a limited window of time when you will have all three elements in place at the same time. And none of us knows how long that window will be open for them.

Money: There Are Four Phases

Most of my clients are retired millionaires. So the “money” part of the equation is usually manageable, given proper planning and risk management.

Our goal is to help keep their money window open for a long time, sometimes for multiple generations. So if you’re starting out with a big enough nest egg, the money factor is usually manageable. At least it is for my retired millionaire clients.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to your money in retirement is that retirement is moving from the “collection phase” of your life to the “clean-up phase” to the “keeping it phase” and then the “passing it on phase.”

So it’s important to set up a retirement plan designed to help mitigate losses — you win by not losing! Warren Buffett is famous for saying a lot of things, but his top two rules of investing are: Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1.

The other two vital items needed to accomplish your bucket list are closely interrelated: your health and your time.

Health: Don’t Let Inertia Set In

As we get older, most of us begin to lose endurance and mobility. It gets harder to keep up with the grandchildren.

What’s more, the grandchildren get older, too. And more independent. They’ll have less and less time for you. They’ll be dating and borrowing the car and working jobs or going to college — just as you did when you were their age!

Later in life, you may have other demands on your time. There may come a time when you have medical appointments multiple days a week, which might put a crimp in your travel plans.

At a certain point, some of those bucket list activities that you’ve always wanted to do with your family, friends and loved ones may not be an option for you anymore… This is not to be a downer — entering retirement can and should be a joyous time. But don’t let time get away from you. Many people take it easy for a while, and then inertia may set in. Some retirees settle into a routine, continually putting off those important bucket list tasks for one reason or another.

Another day becomes another month. A month becomes a year. And then their health might fail. Or their time runs out altogether. It's better to pass away tired than pass away with regrets at the things you didn’t get around to doing.

Time: What to Do Now

First, preserve your health: Stay active. There are no guarantees when it comes to personal health. But your chances at having a long and healthy retirement, with a lot of mobility and energy to take on those bucket list tasks, are a lot better if you get off the couch!

Studies have shown that 20 years of a sedentary lifestyle means twice the risk of a premature death compared to being physically active.

The same study also found that people who became active later in life could mitigate the damage done by many years of a sedentary lifestyle.

There’s a great book, The Grace to Race, about a nun who never exercised until almost turning age 50 when she started running, and now she still runs marathons at age 80! I’m not recommending you run a marathon (I only run about two miles, followed by kickboxing, then weights three days a week), but the point is it’s never too late to start an exercise routine.

And it’s not just a matter of longevity — it’s also a matter of quality of life! A sedentary lifestyle is strongly correlated with earlier onset of strokes, diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

The more physically active you are over a period of years, the more time you’re likely to have for your bucket list. Staying active throughout your retirement goes a long way to helping keep your money-health-time window of opportunity open for many years.

So buy that cruise ticket. Fly somewhere and rent that RV. Take the grandchildren to Disney. Take your family to see your favorite sports team in the playoffs. You might not get another chance!

Whatever’s on your bucket list, start doing it today! Because tomorrow is not promised, so just do it!

To learn more about retirement planning and estate planning to help keep your money in your family bloodline with the attorneys we work with, come to our dinner workshops at Ruth’s Chris or Abe & Louie’s steakhouse in Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Check out our website at www.KirsnerWealth.com or call us at 1-800-807-5558.

Investment advisory products & services made available through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM), a Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance products are offered through the insurance business Kirsner Wealth Management. Kirsner Wealth Management is also an Investment Advisory practice that offers products & services through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM), a Registered Investment Advisor. AEWM does not offer insurance products. The insurance products offered by Kirsner Wealth Management are not subject to Investment Advisor requirements. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Any references to guarantees or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Neither the firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice. Kirsner Wealth Management has a strategic partnership with tax professionals & attorneys who can provide tax &/or legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional for guidance before making any purchasing decisions. The appearances in Kiplinger were obtained through a PR program. The columnist received assistance from a public relations firm in preparing this piece for submission to Kiplinger.com. Kiplinger was not compensated in any way. 1642662- 1/23.

The appearances in Kiplinger were obtained through a PR program. The columnist received assistance from a public relations firm in preparing this piece for submission to Kiplinger.com. Kiplinger was not compensated in any way.


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Craig Kirsner, Investment Adviser Representative
President, Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors

Craig Kirsner, MBA, is a nationally recognized author, speaker and retirement planner, whom you may have seen on Kiplinger, Fidelity.com, Nasdaq.com, AT&T, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and many other places. He is an Investment Adviser Representative who has passed the Series 63 and 65 securities exams and has been a licensed insurance agent for 25 years.