How to Achieve Your Financial Bucket List

Dreaming of a second home? Retiring at age 50? Here’s how to make it happen.

The words "Bucket List" resting in the hands of a female senior citizen.
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[Read: The Best Budgeting Strategies for People Nearing Retirement.]

Buhrmann says people who have been working at a company for years often accumulate several weeks of paid vacation. For some, it makes far more financial sense to take that ambitious vacation when you're still drawing a salary.

Even if you do end up achieving your financial bucket list on schedule, the more intel you've gathered, the better experience you're likely to have – and the smarter choices you're going to make with your money. Speaking of which, along those lines...

Don't be afraid to change your dream. The more research you do, and the more you save, you might come to realize you're raising money for the wrong goal – and so there's no shame in veering left instead of right.

For instance, a lot of people think it would be wonderful to own a second home, like a cabin on a lake, or a beach home, but even if you can someday afford it, "do you really want one?" asks Chip Manning, director of the University of the South Babson Center for Global Commerce in Sewanee, Tenn. "If the vacation home is more than an hour and a half from your primary residence, statistics show you will use it three weeks or less a year."

Plus, people change, circumstances change and your financial bucket list may well change, too, to the point where what you thought you wanted at age 32 isn't what you want at age 63.

And that's OK. After all, you've spent half a lifetime saving up to buy a Winnebago so you can travel the country in your retirement while writing mystery novels, only to remember that the idea of driving a motor home scares the heck out of you, and you're now wondering what to do with three quarters of a million dollars you have saved up -- well, there are worse problems to have.