What’s on your Bucket List for Money, Career & Serving Others?

It’s bucket list blitz week day 3 and we’re talking about money, career and serving others!

A lot of the goals here deserve a bit of an explanation. As I mentioned in my post about 10 things I love about my Mom…money was never easy growing up so it’s been a big bucket list category for me. My parents worked their butts off! But they always had a lot a lot of debt (umm…hello. They’re farmers!) which caused a lot of stress for my mom especially.

As a result, I inherited an “I hate debt” trait like nobody’s business and have some pretty lofty goals for how to handle money. #RealTalk: it started young. I started teaching piano when I was in 8th grade and quit playing all high school sports in 10th grade (except golf; life skill for the future business girl!) just so I could work more to start saving for college. I worked full time in college during the school year and 70 hours a week in summers across 3 jobs to ensure I’d have minimal debt upon graduation. So yeah…you could say I’m a little nuts-o on the topic of money. Then I got married to Nate (and his consumer debt, but I love him!) and we had to figure it out all over again.

Insert solution here! Have you heard of the Dave Ramsey program? I’m not always a fan of his politics, but following his baby steps literally changed our financial future! I wouldn’t be able to “retire” at 30 otherwise. Many have asked how is that possible? Well, for starters we worked our asses off for 10 years and I have an amazing husband that loves his job and is still busting his butt! And we made smart choices. We bought a super modest home for our income. We drive two old paid for cars. I still remember the day when I realized all of my direct reports had newer cars than me. LOL. We try not to get sucked into materialism/consumerism. And we have a “budget meeting” every month to keep ourselves on track. As Dave often says—

Live like no one else now (ie: sacrifice) so you can GIVE like no one else later!

I’m so pumped that Nate and I are pretty much there (praise GOD!) and I don’t have to work if I don’t want to. I can be the hands that directly do the good again! Or I can go back to business and be the hands that earn the money that then gets given away to do the good! It’s nice to have choices.

So if you’d like a copy of the Dave Ramsey book PLEASE comment, PM or email me and let me know. Or if you ever want to have a “life coffee” to talk money let’s do it! Nate and I buy at least 10 books a year and give them out to anyone who expresses interest. I’ve also been known to have “life statuses” about 401ks, Roth IRAs and how to read a mutual fund fact sheet for anyone interested. This is important, life-changing stuff! It changed our lives and we’d love to pay it forward by helping other people change theirs.

So let’s talk financial, career & serving others bucket list goals!


  • Financials—
    • Have no debt besides our mortgage. Completed December 2011! I don’t even remember anymore how much we paid off but it was well over $40,000.
    • Build a 3 – 6 month emergency fund. Completed December 2014! Took a bit longer because of some emergencies (basically every major appliance including our furnace broke in a 3 years period). 
    • Contribute 15% of our income (employer match doesn’t count) to retirement. Mega-overly-checked-check, but we’ve since backed off so I could “retire early.” Now focused on doing what I love and taking our retirement age target up from 50 to 60.
    • Get to contributing at least 10% of our net income to charity. WIP on the new income.
    • Pay off our home mortgage by age 40. On track!
    • Donate as much money back to St. Kate’s as I was given in scholarships. That’s $79,000. Ooftah! We bite a little off each year. $11,650 donated to date; $67,350 to go. We’ll get there!
    • Create & provide some BIG scholarships for St. Kate’s (besides the $79k donated back). It’s in my will that I want the rest of my life insurance policy to go to St. Kate’s after Nate gets whatever he needs. It had that big of an impact on me!
    • Become educated on the financial world. WIP. I pick a book a year-ish to educate myself. Pretty proud of what I know thus far but there’s always more to learn! Any books you’d recommend?
    • Start a women’s financial literacy/investing group! Anybody interested?
    • Do the following work around our house and PAY CASH FOR IT (the only Dave Ramsey way)—
      • Remodel basement. Done! Winter of 2012? Can’t quite remember.
      • Remodel kitchen! Done! Summer of 2015.
      • Remodel bathroom.
      • Build new garage.
      • Make yard beautiful again.
    • Build a 2nd home (probs a tiny home/cabin) at the farm and pay cash for it.
    •  Career-
      • Find a career that I love, not a job for a paycheck. Working on it. 
      • Support my family doing only things I love. Check?
      • Obtain my MBA or Masters Degree. Maybe? This would be primarily so I could be an adjunct faculty member at a University some day.
      • Work for a non-profit. Working on it.
      • Own my own business. Working on it.
      • Teach someday (maybe college level).
      • Start my own CSA (community supported agriculture). I’m a farmer’s daughter so this is in my blood a little bit. Nate and I have been members of a CSA for 5 years and counting.
      • Make a bike/nav app that people actually like. NM, turns out Google maps has improved a lot for cyclists since 2012!
      • Open a showtunes sing-along bar like the bar Emma took me to in NYC.
      • Become a life coach?
    • Serving Others—
      • Do the Peace Corps at some point in my life (perhaps in retirement years)
      • Work for more equality equity (check out this post to understand the difference) in the workforce for racial and gender diversity.
      • Find a way to consistently use my skills to serve others both that I know and complete strangers–organizing, financial management, planning, acting as a personal cheerleader, etc.
      • Mentor students at high school/college level. WIP: began mentoring a beautiful young woman, Alejandra, who is a freshman in high school. I’m sure you’ll “meet” her soon! 
      • Do something to improve the education system in the Southern states like Mississippi & Louisiana. Got really passionate about this in college when I took J-term breaks to volunteer in schools there.
      • Do Teach for America at some point.
      • Find and commit to a volunteer project that is meaningful to me. Check! Loving my work with CLUES to to support high school students one beautiful Alejandra at a time!
      • In my retirement years, volunteer a TON for “day” causes that I am unable to support now due to work hours: tutoring kids & volunteering in classrooms. Hey! I’m retired. I can do this now!
      • Volunteer for a women’s shelter or victims of domestic violence/sexual assault.
      • Volunteer for Jeremiah Program. Check! I did it for 4 years in college and off and on while working in corporate America. Looking for ways to get back engaged now.
      • Give money to every homeless person that asks. Check. Nate thinks I’m such a sucker for this, but I do it any time I have cash. I always try to get them talking, tell me their story and maybe even let me walk with them to Target to buy whatever they need. Even if I sense they’re being untruthful I still give. Who am I to say no?

I’ll end on this quote that Nate and I remind ourselves of every time we have trouble parting with a dollar for others—

To whom much has been given, much is expected.

We have been abundantly blessed and so have you! Share those gifts, that time, that talent, that money with others who so desperately need it. I dare you (and me).

QUESTION OF THE POST: What’s on your bucket list for money, career and serving others? Or what are you already doing to serve, work on your career or finances? Inspire me and others with some ideas!!

Lastly, what are you going to do THIS WEEK to check something off the list or set a date to check it off? Me?

  • Pick a new financial book to read. 
  • Go to Alejandra’s swim meet tonight to cheer her on and spend Thursday with her studying while she’s off school (and doing something fun too!!).
  • Look more closely at the AmeriCorps VISTA application criteria for the College Possible organization.

8 thoughts on “What’s on your Bucket List for Money, Career & Serving Others?”

  1. Shannon- your blog post are incredible. I love reading them and until now have been taking them in quietly, but am ready to start commenting (so get ready!)

    As I went to re-read them all, naturally I started with this one. Financial stability, saving, and frugality are so very important to me. We live in a world that is always trying to get us to think we need the newest, the greatest, or the most expensive next best thing. I have struggled with this for years and am finally getting to the point where I can look around and be happy with what I have, donate to those that don’t have what they need, and as you know I just begin started shopping at the Goodwill and am loving it!

    We have had so many great conversations about money as we both embarked on an adventure of quitting or well paying jobs in Corporate America and you continue to be an inspiration to me. Adam and I have a dream of buying 10 acres in the country and building a small ( I want a tiny house, he won’t agree to that!) and simple dream home that we can live in the rest of our lives. We are going to have to make some sacrifices in the next year to do so all while paying for a wedding, but I know in the end it will be worth it.

    Thank you!

    1. Yes. Yes. Yes! Girl, you know we are so aligned and I have loved experiencing this crazy journey with you. YOU inspire me! It’s been lovely to have a source of solidarity when the world shakes us of our courage to pursue our passions, live more simply and just slow. down. I love your dream and can’t wait to watch you guys make it a reality. It will be sooo worth it!!

  2. Awesome, Shannon! I love Dave Ramsey’s baby steps (but not much for his politics, either!). Miss your talks.

    1. haha! Love it. Nate & I are thinking about hosting a financial peace class for friends & family in the twin cities area as many have reached out asking us more about it. Miss our talks too! Your yoga poses are inspirational on Instagram as I explore that as my next “health & wellness” bucket list item. I’ve taken some yoga at CorePower when groups are available and some 1-on-1 yoga inconsistently. really craving an environment that’s more focused on the mind, body, spirit connection with Yoga. Optimistic I will find it soon in my searching! Thank you for being a yoga-inspiration! 🙂

  3. Me again – sup. YES to a finances and literacy group. My mom has been part of a book club for over 10 years (dad too).

    My financial situation is a self-created mess, but I definitely have goals.

    Career goals:
    – be fulfilled every day
    – help others
    – advance/transition into roles to help better me as a businesswoman to realize my true career goals — always in the works
    – become a mentor and mentee
    – balance my life and work!!!!!!!! You know this already 🙂

    Personal financial goals:
    – be debt free ASAP (school and consumer)
    – open a Roth (coming post debt payoff)
    – increase my HSA and 401k contributions — done for HSA, 401k to come after paying off debt but I’m already doing it aggressively now
    – save for a down payment on a house
    – pay my parents back for money borrowed while abroad – in works but can definitely do better
    – learn more about/how to invest — this is a BIGGIE. My grandpa group on a farm just like you. After completing college and returning from the war, he became a social worker for Minneapolis. Little did we know that he was a financial genius and a self-made millionaire thanks to his investments. No, seriously, we just found out because he donated a large sum of money (not even in his own name) to Gustavus a few years back. We had no idea because he lived a very frugal life, much to my grandma’s chagrin. Talk about goals!
    – be financially independent — kind of, minus the debt I owe my parents; long story short, I want the option to be completely independent financially, even if I’m married!

    – pick a meaningful charity to contribute regularly to – recently donated to Ronald McDonald House but there are so many more out there
    – help with scholarships
    – help family
    – volunteer more

    Things I’m doing right now:
    – just built a super solid monthly budget with the help of my lovely Sawyer! Super pumped to pay off that debt ASAP

    1. Again, Mal. I am LOVING this goals!!! The story about your grandpa is so cool. I remember interviewing a Fortune 50 CEO when I was at St. Kate’s and he gave me great advice–“Remember that there’s seasons for everything in life. Maybe right now you can’t volunteer, but you can give financially. Then when you retire you can give your time but you’ll have to back off on the money.” To everything there is a season!

      What causes really energize you to contribute time and/or money to? I’ve been blown away at the level of satisfaction & joy I am getting out of mentoring my high school student through CLUES. Other causes for me are St. Kate’s, the Jeremiah Program, and the YWCA of Minneapolis….and dog rescues. That’s so great that you’ve got a solid monthly budget to get you started. Nate & I just had to revisit our Oct budget last night bc I’ve been a little spender on experiences lately (umm…hello, Chicago ticket. Travail. Buying Rosetta Stone. You get the gist…this bucket list thing was dangerous for our budget. LOL). LMK if there’s anything I can do to support you in achieving your dreams! xoxo

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