The Virtue of Putting Crazy, Impossible Dreams in Your Budget

Written by Lindsey Burgess  |  on


From Podcast #198: The Budget Bucket List, the one in which Jesse talks about Costa Rica and rifle shots and homes in France, among other crazy, impossible dreams, that may or may not be all that crazy after all.


Last year at our company retreat in Costa Rica (yes, it was as awesome as it sounds), we sort of hatched the idea of the YNAB Bucket List. If you’re hired at YNAB—you’re so lucky, I may say—you are required (it’s even in ALL CAPS in the job description like we’re yelling at you) to add 50 items to your bucket list.

It’s a big spreadsheet and everyone has a tab. You can look at the Bucket List and learn a lot about a person. So the bucket list helps us get to know new team members. It also helps us figure out what to do for birthdays and Christmas gifts and things like that. But most importantly, it’s just a good life exercise.

It makes me wonder what it would look like to have a budget bucket list. Or maybe you already do?

But what if you had a big category grouping called ‘Bucket List’ and you put three or four or five items down there. Big things. Things that seem impossible. Bucket list type things. Maybe you want a super-fancy car or a ranch or a beachfront property or a second home in France or you want to travel the world for a year. Bucket list items—right?

So, stick them on your budget now. A lot of times we think, “Oh when I’m ready I’ll do that. That is for after fill-in-the-blank, once I this, that and the other.” Well, maybe you’re ready now and it’s just a matter of deciding and putting your money where your dreams are, in this case. And starting. Even if it is little by little, it is starting.

So, let’s run with the house in France—which is pretty crazy in my book, but a little crazy is exactly what we’re going for here.

First, you’ll add a category, ‘House in France.”

Then what? It’s in front of you and when you’re doing your monthly budget meeting, when you’re reconciling, whenever you’re just in YNAB, staring at it sometimes just for a little bit of serenity, you see the house in France and maybe you stick a dollar or two in it. And maybe that plants the seed that gets you rolling toward making that particular dream come true.

This isn’t just about consumption. One of the items on my bucket list is to make a rifle shot that is 1,500 yards long. I just want to ring a bell that’s 1,500 yards away. It doesn’t require me to travel anywhere or buy a house in France, but it’s something that I really, really want to do. It’s something that I can make happen if I keep it front of mind.

This could go on my budget bucket list—it will require a little bit of money—but more importantly, it will serve as a reminder. This is something I want to do. This is something that is important to me. And since the budget really is all about priorities, why shouldn’t it reflect *all* your priorities? By sticking them in your budget and continuing to give every single dollar a job, you might see far-off priorities come a little bit more near.


For more about how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt and save more money, faster—subscribe to the YNAB podcast today! Until next time, follow YNAB’s Four Rules and you will win financially. You’ve never budgeted like this.

Your Next Step

Budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. So what do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress?