What’s on Your Bucket List?

For a couple in New Zealand, the news that the husband was terminally ill with lung cancer that was spreading to his heart was all they needed to know before deciding to tackle a bucket list. Thus they ended their life insurance, sold the house, and wrote up a list of things they wanted to do before death did them part. Such is the case for many couples or individuals declared terminally ill with a health condition. When you can count the days down to your death, suddenly there is a sense of urgency to finish living life to the fullest. What exactly do most people put on their bucket list?

Educational Achievements

Many folks will revisit their educational dreams when their lifespan expiration date can be put on a calendar. This often involves enrolling in a college to complete a bachelor’s degree, or pursuing one online. Although most re-entry students consider the educational accomplishment just something to finish before they die, it’s still a financially important undertaking and should be considered carefully. On the bright side, even students over the age of 40 are eligible for financial aid and some scholarships.

The AARP Foundation partnered with Western Governors University (WGU is an online university) to bring more than 120 scholarships to re-entry adults over 40, a net value of $575,000. The scholarships are granted on a competitive basis, given to students per their academic records, financial need, and more. According to the report, grants are valued at a maximum of $5,000 per student in $1,000 increments every six-month term (or semester) for up to five years. This particular college offers both bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees.

In addition to obtaining a degree, many people aspire to write a book before they die. With the recent addition of e-readers, tablets, and notebooks, e-books have exploded in popularity. This benefits the terminally ill who are considering writing a book because it lowers the expenses associated with the project. Instead of spending the entire contents of your wallet on publishing, you can promote your book via the internet where readers can choose to download your work or print it themselves.


Visiting popular or extraordinary destinations always makes the top of a bucket list. How many times have you talked yourself out of a trip to Europe because the expense was unjustified at the time? If you only have a few months or a year left to live, now is the best time to visit the land of your dreams.

US News listed the top most visited destinations last year (despite tough economic times) and not surprisingly, Paris came in first place. In 2010, a staggering 15.1 million international travelers visited this region known as “the City of Love.” Perhaps this association is why many bucket lists include this as a priority. Pulling in closely at second place with 14.6 tourists, London draws a significant amount of attention from travelers.

Beloved for its heritage and novelistic foggy streets, London appeals to the young and old alike. For a more energetic scene, check out the destination that came in third place: New York City. Want to feel young again? One night in NYC and you’ll forget all your troubles as you get lost in the excitement and bright lights. Not surprisingly, NYC is fondly called “the City that Never Sleeps” and if you ask the 9.7 million visitors that toured that city in 2010, they will probably tell you this is a fairly accurate description.


Have you ever been too scared to jump from a plane and parachute to the ground? Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of hiking part (or all) of the Appalachian Mountains. Maybe you’ve never been scuba diving but always wanted to try. If your life’s end date is visible, don’t waste any time. Add all the things you’ve always wanted to do, or new things you want to try, to your list and create priceless memories while fulfilling your dreams.

What about the couple from New Zealand? As it turned out, after accumulating $80,000 of debt marking things off their bucket list, the doctor shared good and bad news: the husband’s cancer was gone. At least they won’t have any regrets as they continue life together. Hopefully the debt will go away as fast as the cancer did.