Create Your Bucket List or Life List Now

By Michael Trickey, author of Finding Home Over 50: Achieving Your Housing Needs and Life List Dreams in Retirement

Establish Your Life List

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”

                  –Doug Larson 

You are likely familiar with the term “bucket list” or, as I prefer to call it,  “life list”, and may have a vague notion of what is on our own list. Few of us have actually taken the time to sit down and write one out. As an initial step in planning for your retirement years, this article walks you through the steps to formally create your bucket list or life list now. As you do, you will begin to clearly see that the items listed will have a big bearing on where and how you ultimately decide to live.

For instance, what if you want to get a college degree? Can you do this online, or would you need to move to a town with post-secondary schools? What if you want to learn to speak Spanish fluently? You might want to move to Barcelona for a couple of years. Or perhaps you want to become a master fisherman?Maybe you want to move close to an ocean or lake, or live on a houseboat.

While a couple of items for your life list may pop into your mind right away, the next section provides a few suggestions and some questions to help you, along with some websites you can peruse that are devoted to helping people create their life lists. 

Suggestions for Creating Your Life List

Many people and websites talk about a life list as if it is a dream list. In a sense it is, but it goes well beyond that. A life list is a list of dreams that you strive to actually make come true. Think of it as a list of intentions, not simply wishes. The act of writing your list has a powerful impact on your mind; writing your list with emotion and intention magnifies that power many times over.

Do not be afraid to initially write down everything that pops into your mind. Brainstorming will get your mind going, creating a flow. Brainstorming will get your mind going, creating a flow. Capture everything for now, no matter how mundane. Then go back and consider each item and your true intentions to whittle down your list.

When editing your list, you might want to create a personal theme that defines what your life will be` and set goals around it. Ask yourself what you would like your life to look like over the next few years. Establish a vision, and make that your theme. Once you have your theme, you can focus and prioritize your goals.

For each item that stays on your refined list, identify a timeline for achievement. Start with goals for this year and progress outward. Pick at least one item you can do rather quickly, and do something today towards achieving it.

Some items may have no defined timeframe, but setting one helps your subconscious and conscious mind focus. It is like cramming for an exam. When we set deadlines, we are more apt to get things done. Make sure that you factor in required physical endurance and mobility so that you can target to achieve the more strenuous items while younger.

Categorize your list into general areas of life, big and small goals, and include variations of each goal that are more and less difficult.

Some general area of life categories for goals may include:

  1. Personal Development
  2. Learning and Education
  3. Health and Fitness
  4. Travel
  5. Business and Career
  6. Adventure
  7. Food
  8. Financial
  9. Relationship
  10. Fun
  11. Creative
  12. Crazy

As you write items within each life category, make them engaging with action words. Include on your list things you can do for very little money and without needing to travel, as well as those that might be more expensive or extravagant.

For the more involved items, think through progressive levels of challenge, complexity, or achievement. For instance, let’s say you put “attend a professional sporting event” on your list. You might include:

  1. Go to a professional football game at the stadium of my favorite team
  2. Go to a professional football game at the stadium of every team in my favorite team’s division
  3. Go to a playoff game
  4. Go to the Super Bowl

You can do the same sort of tiering with practically anything. Your variations could progress from watching a local theater production to flying to New York and seeing a Broadway musical. You could start with learning a favorite recipe as an easy variation and end with becoming a trained chef as the difficult variation. You get the idea.

Write your list in a personal manner that reflects your personality, interests, idiosyncrasies, and quirks. Go beyond the typical list items. Do not restrict yourself because you are worried about how others will react. Do not leave off items that at first glance may seem to be unachievable. You may not fully achieve some items on the list, but that is okay. There are no bucket list police watching you. If you want to achieve something, then write it down. Remember, the act of doing so sends a powerful message to your brain, and your odds of success instantly go up.

Self-Reflection Questions to Stimulate Ideas for Your Life List

Here are some self-reflection questions that may stimulate your mind for coming up with ideas for your life list.

  1. What person or people would you like to meet?
  2. What places would you like to visit?
  3. What would you like to do while you are at each of the places?
  4. What skillsets would you like to learn?
  5. What challenges would you like to overcome?
  6. Are there life list goals that you have considered but not pursued because you think you would be embarrassed if anyone knew about them?
  7. Is there something that you use, enjoy, or consume that you would like to know how to produce? For instance:
    • Music;
    • Art;
    • Books;
    • Movies;
    • Types of food;
    • Restored classical cars?
  8. What are you doing when you imagine yourself as:
    • Relaxed;
    • Happy;
    • Awestruck;
    • Excited?
  9. Is there anything in your life about which you were once very passionate, but stopped exploring as you grew older?

Some Sources of Ideas for Your Life List

Many websites are devoted to bucket list and life list ideas. For instance, check out:


Or just search for “bucket list” or “life list” using your favorite Internet search tool.

Suggestions for Achieving Items on Your Life List

Make your list official. Pick a format that works for you: pen and paper, word processor, white board and markers, smartphone, or whatever you like. Decorate your background, use fancy print, draw and paste pictures of your goals on it, put the word “Official” at the top, or do whatever you think gives it a feeling of being special. This is your custom, personalized life list.

Once your list is designed and completed to your liking, put it in a prominent place where you will see it every day. It now represents your life, not a side project.

The official list should only include the items you intend to make reality. Set tests for what stays on the official list and what does not. For instance, for each item, ask yourself:

  1. Am I doing this because I want to experience it, or simply because I want to say I have done it?
  2. Will I realistically invest the amount of time, money, and energy this will require to make this happen?
  3. Can I picture this happening within my overall lifestyle plan?
  4. Can I become fully invested—heart, soul, mind, and body—in accomplishing this?

Set aside time each week to work on achieving something on your life list. For instance, dedicate two hours every Wednesday evening to either planning or doing something on your list. Make a call, check on pricing, figure out needed training, equipment, or travel documents, or do something that moves you towards your goals. As you go along, add expected costs for each item. Use rough ideas initially, and then refine the figures. Take the time to make progress.

Track your progress to hold yourself accountable, stay on track, see the big picture, and keep yourself motivated. Cross off items when you achieve them. This has a rewarding and motivating effect. Do not worry if you do not accomplish everything on the list. Knocking off a large number of items on the list is still going to mean you have greatly enriched your life.

It is a good idea to surround yourself with others who are actively pursuing their own life lists due to a concept that social psychologists call social contagion. If you spend time with people trying to achieve their lists, you will feed off of their excitement and willpower to achieve your own. You can share ideas for items to put on your life lists, and give each other inspiration.

Your life list is not a write-it-once-and-it-is-done list; it is a living, breathing document. Keep it up-to-date. At some point you may lose interest in an item, or you may realize the effort is not worth the payoff. Cross it off the list. Do not feel guilty for doing this. Reluctance to prune items will make the list less relevant to you and may cause you to abandon it. Keep the list fresh and meaningful to you at all times. Just like you can prune items, you can add new items at any time. You may discover something else you want to do while pursuing another list item. Your life list peer group may inspire you to add another item. Keep filling your list with new items, taking care that when you add an item, you really intend to do it, and set a timeframe.

Enjoy the journey of accomplishing things on the list. It is not just achieving each item that matters – it is also the process of doing so.

About the Author Uncategorized

Michael Trickey will speak about retirement planning at your event

Michael Trickey is author of two books. The first is geared toward first-time homebuyers, and the second toward retirees and soon-to-be retirees. Both books address topics of real estate and financial planning, and latter also addresses retirement planning and achieving life list goals.

The books are entitled:

1. Finding Home: Everything You Need to Know – And Do – For Home Buying Success

2. Finding Home – Over 50: Achieving Your Housing Needs and Life List Dreams in Retirement

Michael is a CPA, and an expert in residential real estate finance transactions. With 40 years of experience in the field, he can help those in your audience to handle real estate and financial planning, management, and retirement issues.

With regard to topics in his second book, Michael will come on your show or event and talk about preparing for retirement. The primary focus will be on how retirees and soon-to-be-retirees can align their housing choices and their life list dreams to achieve a more satisfying and comfortable life in their senior years.

Michael wrote Finding Home Over 50 to help his readers through the entire retirement planning process. He breaks the myriad of steps into bite-sized tasks.

Michael can speak to your audience about:
1. Assessing their retirement readiness from the standpoint of job, aging parents, children living at home, health, and other factors
2. Seriously considering what they would like to accomplish in their remaining years, and how and why to create and maintain a life list of goals
3. Assessing their expected remaining life, what it will cost to live each year in retirement, and total remaining lifetime financial needs
4. Preparing a current balance sheet to determine the financial foundation starting point
5. Analyzing future expected earnings, expenses, and cash flows from drawing down assets
6. Creating plans for decreasing expenses and increases cash inflows
7. Analyzing other strategic actions prior to retirement to improve the financial foundation:
a. Contributions to retirement plans
b. Acquiring long-term care insurance
c. Managing whole life insurance
d. Maintaining adequate property and other insurance to protect against biggest risks
e. Avoiding large one-time expenses
f. Keeping a diversified investment portfolio
g. Avoiding the need to sell assets in a down market
h. Looking for investments that pay dividends and interest
i. Potentially buying an annuity
j. Taking advantage of senior discounts
k. Getting rid of possessions in an orderly fashion
l. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan
M. Making planned charitable contributions while making income against with tax deductions can be taken
n. Considering a reverse mortgage
8. Discussing how to create a formal retirement plan
9. Discussing strategies for maximizing benefits from Social Security, Medicare, Pensions, and other retirement plans
10. Discussing strategies and techniques for decluttering and making money while doing so.
11. Discussing the meaning of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), how to assess the the capability to perform them, and how to interpret the results
12. Discussing independent living, semi-independent living, assisted living, and nursing home options, meanings, and costs
13. Discussing how to decide where to live, from state to city to neighborhood to home, in a manner that maximizes retirement goals
14. Discussing what modifications and home features facilitate being able to live independently and age in place
15. Discussing the meaning of home healthcare and home care, and how to make use of them both to independently age in place.
16. Exploring neighborhoods and homes
17. Discussing the ins and outs of reverse mortgages
11. How to organize estate documents, and what do they need to gather.
12. Getting their mortgage loan
13. Inspections and pre-closing preparations
14. Closing on their home
15. Things to do before moving
16. Moving in and securing their home

Please send inquiries to:

Michael W. Trickey, CPA
553 Capital Drive, Lake Zurich, IL 60047
847-540-6554 x204
Websites:, and
Twitter accounts: @trickeytweet, @FindingHomeBook Facebook Account: MichaelTrickeyAuthor LinkedIn: Michael-Trickey-a137197


Fall Home Buying Tips: Signs You Are Ready To Purchase

Here is an article you may find helpful.

Luke Star
October 15, 2015

About the Author Uncategorized

Michael Trickey will speak about home buying at your event

Michael Trickey is author of two real estate mortgage books:

Finding Home: Everything You Need to Know – And Do – For Home Buying Success

Finding Home – Over 50: Achieving Your Housing Needs and Life List Dreams in Retirement

Michael is a CPA, and an expert in residential real estate finance transactions. With 36 years of experience in the field, he can help those in your audience to more responsibly purchase and finance the largest single asset most will buy.

Michael will come on your show or to your event and talk about common challenges first-time homebuyers face and how to overcome them. These include challenges with obtaining a down payment, dealing with high credit card and student loan balances, and where to get the right kind of mortgage loan. He will also discuss the impact of current events, such as recent increases in mortgage loan interest rates, trends toward multigenerational housing, and likely impacts of the new Administration’s housing policies.

Michael wrote Finding Home to help his readers through the entire home buying process. He breaks the myriad of steps into bite-sized tasks. He takes the mystery out of the specialized terms and jargon.

Mike can speak to your audience about:
1. Assessing their readiness, financial foundation, and credit
2. Determining how much they can comfortably afford to pay for a home
3. Budgeting to be a homeowner
4. Finding lenders who offer the mortgage loan programs suited to their situation and needs
5. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan
6. Determining their wants and needs in a home
7. Working through where they want to live, from state to city to neighborhood to home
8. Finding good homes for purchase that meet their wants and needs
9. Exploring neighborhoods and homes
10. Working with a realtor
11. Preparing and negotiating a contract
12. Getting their mortgage loan
13. Inspections and pre-closing preparations
14. Closing on their home
15. Things to do before moving
16. Moving in and securing their home

Please send inquiries to:

Michael W. Trickey, CPA
553 Capital Drive, Lake Zurich, IL 60047 @trickeytweet,


‘Finding Home:’ Q&A With Author Michael Trickey

‘Finding Home:’ Q&A With Author Michael Trickey

By Ilyce Glink| July 20th, 2017

Buying a home can be stressful, especially if it’s your first home purchase. CPA Michael Trickey, managing director of The Berkshire Group in Lake Zurich, Illinois, hopes his new book, Finding Home: Everything You Need to Know – and Do – For Home Buying Success, will help first time homebuyers navigate the complicated homebuying process.

Below is a Q&A with Trickey about the book.

• Tell me about “Finding Home” – what sets it apart from other homebuying books?

Finding Home brings the homebuying process to life by following a young couple (Jack and Eva) through all the steps of finding and buying the right home for them. Throughout the book, Jack and Eva interact with family and friends, asking and answering the same types of questions first time homebuyers will have in their searches. This conversational style provides a comfortable way of learning the vocabulary and key concepts necessary for successful homebuying.

Along the way, checklists, questionnaires and forms are filled in for the young couple, providing the reader with examples and ideas. Blank versions of the checklists, questionnaires and forms are available for download at the Finding Home’s companion website,
Finding Home is segmented into five main sections:

1. Qualifying yourself;
2. Knowing your priorities;
3. Understanding mortgage loans;
4. Finding the right location and home for you;
5. Buying the home.

• What makes the homebuying process so intimidating?

The homebuying process has many steps unfamiliar to new homebuyers.

1. There is specialized jargon to learn.
2. Buying a home requires commitment of time and money, and intent to remain in one place. There is a fear of making a costly mistake.
3. Buyers need to depend on help, advice and services from many people they’ve never met before. It is unclear who to trust.
4. There is uncertainty about how much the buyer can afford, and homes they want may seem beyond their reach.
5. Even a good bid might be rejected as someone else could offer a better price or more favorable terms.
6. Most new buyers need to qualify for a mortgage loan. There are many forms and documents to complete and provide.
7. Timelines can be frustrating. The buyer will be evaluated according to lender’s criteria, and they may be denied.

• What causes the most confusion for homebuyers?
Buyers are often confused about the amount of money they will need before and at the time they close on their home, especially if they are financing the purchase of their home. Lenders require homebuyers to put some of their own money towards the purchase price as a downpayment. The lender may charge points and/or fees. Depending on the day of the month on which the loan closes, the buyer may have to prepay interest to the lender for the remaining days in the month. There are also fees for appraisals, inspections, title insurance, document preparation, and a host of other items.

Even if the homebuyer is not using a mortgage loan to finance the purchase of their home, they will still have closing costs in excess of the downpayment. These include the fees for appraisals, inspections, title insurance, document preparation, and a host of other items.

• What is the biggest mistake homebuyers make? How can they avoid it?

The biggest mistake homebuyers make is jumping in without being adequately prepared. Buying a home requires preparation, knowledge, reliance on professionals, and time. Homebuyers can avoid many mistakes by educating themselves before they begin the process. Investing time reading books, articles, blogs, and other sources of information will pay dividends many times over in savings of time, money, anxiety and frustration.
Common mistakes made due to lack of preparation include:

1. Borrowing more money than the buyer can afford;
2. Failing to consider closing costs;
3. Buying a home in a neighborhood that does not meet the buyer’s needs and wants;
4. Obtaining a loan with terms that can lead to significant payment shock;
5. Providing partially filled-in forms to mortgage brokers or lenders, who say they will fill in the blanks for the buyer;
6. Not checking out and comparing loan programs and terms offered by multiple lenders.

• The housing market is very competitive for buyers right now, what can they do to make sure they get their dream home?

Buyers need to figure out, and prioritize, what they really want and need in a home, and the general location of the home. Then they need to figure out what they can comfortably afford to pay, both upfront and on a monthly basis.
Knowing those parameters is the starting point for their home search. It helps them to focus their efforts, and maximizes their chance for success. They will be able to more effectively use online search tools and set preferences and filters to help locate homes in desired locations that fit their parameters. They can then research and walk the neighborhoods to gain a feel for each one. By doing this type of preparation, buyers can be ready to jump on affordable homes for sale, that best meet their needs and fit their budget.

• What do homebuyers worry about that isn’t such a big deal?

Homebuyers should not worry about purely cosmetic features of a home that can easily be changed. If the home otherwise fits their needs and wants, they should factor in the cost of making cosmetic changes, but not let those items prevent them from moving forward on a transaction. It is amazing how much simple changes to paint, flooring, fixtures, cabinets, countertops, and landscaping can impact a home’s look and feel.

Cosmetic features outside of your control, such as a next door neighbor’s ugly, ill-maintained house or trashed yard is a big deal, however, and should factor into decision-making.

• What’s the one thing you want people to take away from reading “Finding Home”?

The homebuying process may seem intimidating, but it does not have to be so. Just prepare yourself before you begin, and don’t get discouraged if you encounter set-backs. You can find and buy an affordable home that has what you want and need, in a location that is right for you. If you have questions, check out the FAQs on my website If you do not see the answer there, please send me an email at


5 mortgages that require no down payment or a small down payment

5 mortgages that require no down payment or a small down payment
By Holden Lewis •

Homebuyers with little money for a down payment are finding more home loans available for a low down payment or even no down payment.

Following are a few options for borrowers seeking low-down-payment and zero-down-payment home mortgages.

No down payment: VA loan

The Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, guarantees purchase mortgages with no required down payment for qualified veterans, active-duty service members and certain members of the National Guard and Reserves. Private lenders originate VA loans, which the VA guarantees. There is no mortgage insurance. The borrower pays a funding fee, which can be rolled into the loan amount.

For purchase and construction loans, the VA funding fee varies, depending on the size of the down payment, whether the borrower served or serves in the regular military or in the Reserves or National Guard, and whether it’s the veteran’s first VA loan or a subsequent loan. The funding fee can be as low as 1.25 percent or as high as 3.3 percent.

For first-time purchasers making no down payment, the funding fee is 2.15 percent for members or veterans of the regulator military, and 2.4 percent for those who qualify through service in the Reserves or National Guard.

No down payment: Navy Federal

Navy Federal Credit Union, the nation’s largest in assets and membership, offers 100 percent financing to qualified members who buy primary homes. Navy Federal eligibility is restricted to members of the military, some civilian employees of the military and U.S. Department of Defense, and family members.

The credit union’s zero-down program is similar to the VA’s. One difference is cost: Navy Federal’s funding fee of 1.75 percent is less than the VA’s funding fees.

No down payment: USDA

The (Department of Agriculture, or) USDA’s Rural Development mortgage guarantee program is so popular that it has been known to run out of money before the end of the fiscal year.

Some borrowers are surprised to find that Rural Development loans aren’t confined to farmland.

The USDA has maps on its website that highlight eligible areas. In addition to geographical limits, the USDA program has restrictions on household income, and it is intended for first-time buyers, although there are exceptions.

The USDA mortgage comes from a bank, and there is no mortgage insurance. Instead, the USDA levies a 1 percent upfront guarantee fee, which can be rolled into the loan amount, and an annual guarantee fee of 0.35 percent of the loan balance.

Low down payment: Mortgage insurance

Qualified borrowers can make down payments as low as 3 percent with private mortgage insurance, or PMI. For most borrowers, PMI costs less than Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance. But PMI has stricter credit requirements.

PMI has another edge over FHA: Once your mortgage balance is under 80 percent of the home’s value, you can cancel PMI. You can’t get rid of FHA insurance unless you refinance into a non-FHA loan.

Low down payment: FHA

With a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent, the FHA is the low-down-payment option that’s available to people with imperfect credit histories.

The FHA charges an upfront premium of 1.75 percent of the mortgage amount. On a 30-year loan with the minimum down payment, there’s an annual premium of 0.8 percent of the mortgage amount, or $800 a year for each $100,000 borrowed — $66.67 a month for a $100,000 loan.


9 grants and programs to help you buy your first home
Rachel Hartman
August 10, 2017

Buying your very first home can be overwhelming. There’s all the financial jargon and the mountainous mortgage paperwork, not to mention the dollar amounts that can make you dizzy.

Money issues often stand in the way of homeownership. A survey by rental service Apartment List found that 80 percent of millennial renters want to buy a home, but most say they can’t afford to.

What you may not realize is that many first-time homebuyer programs and grants offer financial help, and you may be eligible for various types of assistance.

Here are nine first-time homebuyer programs and grants designed to help you land a great mortgage and get a place of your own.

1. FHA loan

In an FHA loan, the Federal Housing Administration insures the mortgage. The FHA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The FHA’s backing offers lenders a layer of protection, meaning that your lender won’t experience a loss if you default on the mortgage.

FHA loans typically come with competitive interest rates, smaller down payments and lower closing costs than conventional loans.

If you have a credit score of 580 or higher, you could be eligible for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent of the purchase price. If your credit score is lower than 580, you still might qualify for an FHA mortgage, but the down payment would be at least 10 percent of the purchase amount.

2. USDA loan

While not well known, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a homebuyer assistance program.

While the program focuses on homes in certain rural areas, you don’t need to buy or run a farm to be eligible.

The USDA guarantees the home loan. There may be no down payment required, and the loan payments are fixed.

Applicants with a credit score of 640 or higher typically get streamlined processing. With a credit score below 640, you still can qualify for a USDA loan, but the lender will ask for extra documentation about your payment history.

Keep in mind that there are income limitations, which can vary by region.

3. VA loan

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) helps active-duty military members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes.

The VA guarantees part of the loan, making it possible for lenders to offer some special features. VA loans come with competitive interest rates and require no down payment. You aren’t required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), and a minimum credit score isn’t needed for eligibility.

If it becomes difficult to make payments on the mortgage, the VA can negotiate with the lender on your behalf.

4. Good Neighbor Next Door

The Good Neighbor Next Door program, sponsored by HUD, provides housing aid for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers.

Through this program, you can receive a discount of 50 percent on a home’s listed price in regions known as “revitalization areas.”

Using the program’s website, you can search for properties available in your state. You must commit to living in the home for at least 36 months.

5. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored entities. They work with local lenders to offer mortgage options that benefit low- and moderate-income families.

With the backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lenders can offer competitive interest rates and accept down payments as low as 3 percent of the purchase price.

Fannie Mae also provides homeownership education for first-time homebuyers through its “HomePath Ready Buyer” program.

6. Energy-efficient mortgage (EEM)

An energy-efficient, or “green,” mortgage is designed to help you add improvements to your home to make it more environmentally friendly. The federal government supports EEM loans by insuring them through the FHA or VA programs.

The key advantage of this mortgage is that it lets you create an energy-efficient home without having to make a larger down payment. The extra cost is rolled into your primary loan.

Some improvements you can make include installing double-paned windows, new insulation or a modern heating-and-cooling system.

7. FHA Section 203(k)

If you’ve run the numbers to see how much house you can afford and have determined a fixer-upper is best for your budget, the Section 203(k) rehabilitation program may be a good fit.

This type of loan, backed by the FHA, takes into consideration the value of the residence after improvements have been made. It then lets you borrow the funds you’ll need to carry out the project and includes them in your main mortgage.

The down payment for a 203(k) loan can be as low as 3 percent.

8. Native American Direct Loan

Since 1992, the Native American Veteran Direct Loan program has helped Native American veterans and their spouses buy homes on federal trust lands. The VA serves as the lender.

If you’re eligible, you won’t be required to make a down payment or pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

This first-time homebuyer loan also offers low closing costs and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

9. Local grants and programs

In addition to the various programs provided by the federal government, many states and cities offer help to first-time homebuyers.

Before buying a home, check your state’s or community’s website for information on housing grants and programs available in your area.

You also might consider contacting a real estate agent or local HUD-approved housing counseling agency to learn more about programs in your area that might apply to your situation.