Bucket lists and priorities and the things we do without

This post was sponsored by Suntrust Bank.

Bucket lists. It's a phase that has become so common over the last few years. It's a goofy metaphorical buzzword that comes from another goofy metaphor ("kicking the bucket") for dying. I blame that movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

I don't think of my "bucket list" as something I want to do before I die. Because that's a really long list. There's a lot to do in the world, and less time to do it than we think.

But I do have a sort of bucket list for our family. It's a list of things we want to do while my kids are young, before we head into the teen years when they want less to do with us. Stuff we want to do while we can all still have fun doing it. Call it a family bucket list, but without the references to death. Maybe it's just a list of goals.

What's on our list?

• We want to go on an African safari. (Which, unbelievably, we get to do next summer!)
• We want to travel as a family to Utah. (After Africa, our list becomes much more domestic.)

And then there are things that aren't really "bucket list" items, but priorities for our family:

• We want the kids to be able to take music lessons and master an instrument of their choice. Because we love music.
• We want our kids to be exposed on a regular basis to the theater. Because we love it.

Those things cost money, of course. Theater tickets are expensive, but we love exposing our kids to the music and dancing and stories of theater. (Also, theater people are MY people, and there's something about passing down your passions to your kids.)

Travel is important to us, too. So we splurge on travel. We splurge on music. We splurge on theater.

That requires a trade-off. In order to splurge, we have to live frugally in other areas. That means we end up scrimping on things that, in some situations, tend to distance us from our peers.

We drive old cars.
We don't drink coffee out.
We don't drink soda.
We don't eat out very often.
We buy off-season clothing or recycled clothing (at sites like Schoola and Moxie Jean)
We rarely go to movies (most of our entertainment comes from Netflix).
We don't buy a huge number of DVDs or games or much else in the way of electronics.
And our kids go to public schools

I realize that last one may be a little controversial. Most normal people send their kids to public school. That's not scrimping. That's being a regular middle class parent. I get it. I just know that, in some circles—and these may or may not be circles we occasionally find ourselves in—it's looked at as a sacrifice we're making.

Totally worth scrimping for.

Whether it's a bucket list or a family priority list or whatever, it's hard to avoid the moments when you have to sit down with your budget and start to look for places to shave some dollars off your regular spending.  Suntrust Bank has created an online worksheet to help you plan. (It's a downloadable Excel file. That's right, I just linked you to a SPREADSHEET people. That's how serious I am about musical theater tickets.)

Are we always keeping tabs on our budget so we can find ways to make music lessons work and introduce the kids to great travel experiences? Yep. We totally are. Those priorities are worth the sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of consulting a spreadsheet.

What about you? What's on your bucket list or family list of priorities? What kinds of things do you do without in order to meet your goals?

To get started visit  suntrust.com/getorganized
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

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