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The "Bucket List" approach to retirement planning

May 19, 2011

| Senior Financial Analyst, CFA

Do you have a bucket list?

The movie "The Bucket List" got many people thinking about things they'd like to do before they die. Could making a bucket list actually be a springboard to more serious retirement planning?

LIMRA, a financial services research company, thinks it might, and has developed a retirement planning web application called Ready-2-Retire which helps users link specific life goals with the financial planning needed to achieve those goals.

If this helps people see retirement planning more vividly, in terms of things they look forward to being able to do when they retire, then it could be a valuable motivational tool.

Getting people serious about saving

Certainly, people need to get more serious about retirement planning. This means more than just starting to accumulate money in savings accounts or mutual funds - it means having a detailed plan on how you will make your money last in retirement.

According to LIMRA's research, less than one-third of people facing retirement within three years have a written plan for how they will use their money in retirement. Think of this as formulating a long-term budget, without which you have no way of knowing whether your savings will last the rest of your life, or whether you will be able to do the things you hope to do. Perhaps a bucket list is one way to make retirement planning less abstract, and more a tangible focus for saving.

With the baby boom generation starting to reach retirement age, people can no longer think of retirement planning in terms of "someday." A number of factors, including over a decade of poor stock returns, a weak real estate market, and low savings and money market rates have only added to the challenge.

So what's your bucket list? Let know if you have one - and if you've figured out how you are going to finance those goals. Your story might inspire someone else to set goals, and your example might help others see how careful saving and planning can turn their goals into reality.

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