Is your bucket list realistic?

We all dream of the time in our lives when we’ll have more time to do the things we enjoy - traveling, hobbies or time with the family. And as we’re living increasingly longer, this time might be longer than you ever imagined!

Person paragliding above a lake

Making plans for our retirement gives us something to look forward to and a goal to work towards. But with some retirement dreams coming with a hefty price tag, do you have a plan to make sure you are saving enough to make them come true? Worryingly, the 2016 Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey shows that almost two in five workers (38%) don't have a retirement strategy.

The reality is that once you stop working or cut back your working hours, you will have more free time but less money coming in. Have you ever worked out how much you'll need to live on each month during your retirement? Have you ever seriously looked into making a retirement saving plan so that your bucket list doesn't remain a pipe dream? It's not as complicated as you might think, and it might even be fun!

Step 1: Make your bucket list

Let's start with the fun part. Think of all the things you've always dreamt of doing, but never had time for because you're working. Retirements lasting over 20 or even 30 years will become increasingly common as people live longer, so as well as the big plans, such as extended travel or renovating the house, don't forget the smaller things such as volunteer work, learning to play an instrument, or a bungee jump.

You can divide your bucket list items into two categories: free versus paid. Some things on your bucket list will only require additional time, but many will probably also require additional funds.

Step 2: Make sure you can fulfill your bucket list

If you want to stand any chance of converting these dreams into life experiences, then you'll really have to motivate yourself for this stage. Start by assessing your current retirement fund – how much do you currently have, how much are you or your employer putting aside each month, and how much is this pot of money likely to have grown through investing by the time your retire? Check out for a quick indication of how prepared you are for retirement.

A quick internet search will show that a general rule of thumb once you retire is that you can withdraw around 4% of your retirement pot as income each year without eroding its value. Now, you'll have to think critically about how much you will need for day-to-day living costs as well as the things on your bucket list.

Are there areas you can save money? Are you willing to downsize to a smaller (cheaper) house, can you do without a car, will you spend less on work clothes? It doesn't take long to put together a quick list of your monthly outgoings (and it can be very insightful!), and there are websites that can help you with this, or visit a financial advisor to talk about your options.

This will highlight potential gaps between your retirement income and outgoings, and help you adjust your saving to ensure you achieve the things on your bucket list when the time is right.