What’s On Your Summer Bucket List?

Photo taken in Banff, Alberta, Canada by Mike Branch

Financial planning isn’t about maximizing investment returns, minimizing taxes, or developing strategies to pay less for college or beef up your Social Security check.

It’s really about structuring your personal and financial resources so you can get more joy and happiness from life. That means making the most of the next 90 days, even if it’s not always very summerlike outside.

Start a list.

As a planner, I am fond of lists. I love to create them and attach them to walls, refrigerators and computer monitors. Sometimes I even get to experience the sweet satisfaction of crossing things off them.

I find that a good list not only helps me define and prioritize my goals, it helps me remember what I wanted to do in the first place.

Without a good list, I am likely to find myself at the MN State Fair wondering how I managed to let another summer slip through my fingers.

If you go to the fair, look for my photo in the Fine Arts building. No, I’ve never had anything in the fair before, but it’s a perennial summer bucket list item. Maybe this will be the year.

My advice to you: create a bucket list of things that will add joy to your life this summer. And start checking things off.

This year I am creating a summer bucket list of my own.

Of course, some things I always do: visit the in-laws, swim in a lake, take a family road trip, etc. I don’t need a list for that. It’s the things that I always wish I would have done, that never seem to find the time to do that I need a list for. (In fact, I find this is where a list is most helpful).

Following are three things on my summer bucket list.

Astrophotography.  You know those really cool photos of the Milky Way? I want to learn how to take those.

I have tried before, but without much luck. In June, my family and I are going to Sun Valley, Idaho, right in the heart of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Yes, this is an actual thing.

I know, I was in the dark about it too. You can learn more by clicking the link above.

If the stars align, I may get my shot. (Wow, the puns…)

Fly fishing for smallmouth bass. Between the Mississippi River, the St. Croix River and Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota has some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the world. My daughters and I love to fish and every year there is a conflict or some other reason why we miss out on this great opportunity.

Well, Not. This. Year!

If you like to fly fish, check out Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop on Vandalia Street in St. Paul. BMFS is the place when it comes to the local fly fishing scene.

If you stop by, ask Robert to tell you about the big one that didn’t get away on a cold, November day on Mille Lacs.

Witness the northern lights, see a moose, hear a wolf, sleep in a tent or do some other “north woodsy” type of thing. My family and I have a long weekend planned in Ely later this summer. Although I have actually done all those things before, it’s been a really long time and I have never experienced them with my kids.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I have done any of these things since I’ve had kids. I am sure it’s just a coincidence.

Minnesota summers are like life itself: way too busy and way too short. Make the most of your summer and your life by prioritizing some of your non-financial goals and make them happen.

What’s on your summer bucket list?