Finding Local and Affordable Items On My Bucket List

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

As a successful early retiree points out, sometimes it may not be simply money keeping you from accomplishing your dreams:

Retirement forces you to stop thinking that it is your job that holds you back. For most people the depressing truth is that they aren’t that organized, disciplined, or motivated.

Many people have a list of 101 Things To Do Before I Die, also more recently known as a Bucket List. Much of my list includes travel, but I wanted to narrow it down to things that I could work on over weekends and cost less than $500. I should be able to accomplish these things without achieving financial independence.

Get Certified to Scuba Dive: $300
My sister recently got certified to scuba dive. The cost was between $300 and $400. This includes classroom materials (book/DVD), equipment rental, two pool sessions, and two ocean dives. You must supply your mask, snorkel, fins, and boots. Now, the trip to the Great Barrier Reef is gonna cost me…

Skydiving: $200
There is usually a skydiving place near most metro areas, although for obvious reasons it tends to be a drive. It costs around $200 for a single tandem-jump, and an additional $100 for a video of the jump (another person has to jump and film you). You pretty much just show up, watch a short video, and go for it. I’ve actually done this one already (photo credit, not me). I must say, if you are so inclined, it is quite a memorable experience. Remembering the feeling makes me want to do the rest of these items!

Fly an Airplane: $75+
Chances are you have a non-commercial airfield near you as well. Just look up “flying lessons + your city”, and many places will offer an introductory lesson for $50 to $100. During the lesson, the pilot will let you “fly” the airplane for a bit. Of course, if you have a pilot friend, they could take you up as well for free. My wife got to do this recently, it sounded awesome.

Learn a Foreign Language: Free to $$$
I would imagine the cheapest way to learn a language would probably be to check out some language books and tapes from your local library. After that, you’ll need to find some native speakers to practice conversing with and correct your pronunciation. I remember while in college you could setup lunches with international students. You have lunch together, and might spend 30 minutes speaking Spanish only, and then 30 minutes speaking English with them. For more money, you can always get a more refined computer-based course or go to an official language school.

Finish a Marathon: Free to $$$
The idea of running a marathon has always been appealing to me due to the sheer simplicity and purity of the accomplishment. There are many free online resources on how to train for your first marathon. I have tried none of them. 😉 The time needed to train would vary widely based on your current abilities. I bet I’d need at least 6 months. As for costs, I’ve been told to eventually buy a proper pair of running shoes, which you only use for running.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. For those with life insurance, check the policy for skydiving, private flying and other “risks”. Although, many people’s bucket list probably includes adventurous things to do. However, you just don’t want to leave your beneficiary with zero if something terrible happens. Just keeping it real….

  2. I ran a marathon last November and can give you a rough itemization of costs:

    Shoes (2 pairs): $200
    Camelback: $35
    Running Tights: $50
    Long sleeved-running Shirt: $40
    Marathon Enterance Fee: $100

    Total cost: $425 (spread over about 9 months)

    This of course assumes that my time is free, and some of the long runs consume the better part of a day. The tights and shirt don’t need to be purchased up front, but when the weather gets cold you will be glad to have them. The shoes need to be replaced when you get too much milage on them.

  3. You have to pay (probably) at least $150 for marathon registration. Plus good shoes (how many pairs?), and often little special foods and such. Not that I’ve done it, but I looked at the costs for a beginner to train for a marathon. So range should be like 200 to $$$

    That being said… this is what money is for! Good luck!

  4. Hey… If you want a great experience for flying a plane… and have a strong gut… check out

    I’m not sure where you live, so you may not be able to do it with this company… but if you are able to… HOLY COW IS IT AMAZING! I did it in high school with Sean Tucker (Team Oracle sponsored Pilot… he is simply amazing) and it was like 320 bucks for 20 or 30 minutes… but it was the best half an hour of my life… I was totally wiped out after it.

    Check it out.

  5. I definately want to become fluent, or learn more spanish. There are quite a few podcasts on itunes that will teach you a language, and they are free. The great thing is that you can hear how a word sounds and learn to say it correctly. Sometimes it is difficult to do that with a book.

  6. "Mo" Money says

    Good tip on learning Spanish. I will definitely check that out. And I like the free part. Thanks!

  7. im doing a half marathon soon… try that out first. my costs: $90 for shoes, $35 for entrance fee, and probably $20 in gas to get there that day (its 2 hrs away)… of course the free running shirt and snacks at the event make up for some of that.

    You can do a marathon under $200, just get a good pair of shoes, 3 good pairs of socks, and find a fun event. I think you can finish with this…. if thats your only goal. Oh, and you would need to spring for a few gel packs, maybe a camelback, or something of that nature.

  8. Jonathan,

    I’ve never had an interest in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, but to each his own. With that one exception the others were/are on my list as well. I’d suggest knocking out as many of these as possible before expanding the family, if kids are in your plans.

    Scuba diving is a lot of fun, but it’s not a poor-man’s recreational activity. In addition to the cost of getting certified, you’ll also be tempted to purchase your own dive equipment (such as a buoyancy compensator, regulator, computer, octo, etc.), and this will easily set you back $1,000. You’ll then want to travel to exotic places, stay in nice hotels, and do daily dives on your vacations. I got my PADI Advanced certification almost 15 years ago when I worked for an airline and had flight benefits, but it’s been 6 years since I went on my last dive.

    After calling around a few months ago, the best price I could find was $125 for a “discovery flight” until I stumbled upon this $99 flight coupon from Cessna–>

    For foreign language training, there are also several great podcasts that are free: I recommend both the French for Beginners–> and Coffee Break Spanish–>

    I ran my first marathon 11 years ago after training for about 3 months, but that was an incredibly stupid thing to do. Fortunately I finished the race without getting hurt. Two things I learned: the 5-gallon buckets at some of the water stations have petroleum jelly to help with chafing (which will occur), and 26.2 miles of friction WILL make one’s nipples bleed if they’re not protected.

    Enjoy spending some of that interest from your 0% balance transfers!

  9. I am relatively new to running but have run a few marathons and many other shorter distance races. Facing the mental challenge of pushing yourself through the last 6-8 miles of a marathon, and succeeding, is incredibly empowering.

    The most important thing you can do is go to a real, dedicated running store and get fitted out for shoes. Good shoes stabilize you and help prevent injuries. Once you put 350-500 miles on a pair of shoes, you should replace them (if your knees start hurting that’s a good sign you need new shoes). Shoes tend to cost around $75 to $120 depending on the brand/style. Many races have running expos associated the day before where you can get deals on shoes, clothes, gu, etc., but I only do this after I have already been fitted out at a proper running store and know the brand I want.

    Distance running is just a matter of training and consistency. It is time consuming, but it is awesome. Good luck!

  10. Depending on how much the plane or train ticket costs, the best way to learn a language is to live in a country that speaks it. That forces it out of you, and fast! If you can get on with a host family, you don’t need to pay lodging and all that, either.

    I suppose you might need to consider in the cost that you’d more than likely be off your job for a while, but maybe when you come back speaking another language you can get a raise to make up for it 🙂

  11. The government has several exchange programs set up with many countries with whom we want to improve relations. They are mainly for students and young professionals to learn about the partner countries and their cultures.

    When I was in High School, I took part in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange and learned more German in one month by living with a family that spole no English than I had in 5 years of school.

  12. liquidlilac says

    re: marathon. you might want to check out AIDS marathon info:

    they provide free training not sure if they’ll cover the registration. just have to raise $1800 or more.

  13. Try a glider/sail plane instead of flying a motorized plane. It’s cheaper (especially if you join a club), quiet, and you get a much better view than from a Cessna since the cockpit has a canopy like on a fighter plane. Without the weight of the motor (less wing loading under high G’s), it also does aerobatics better. I once did 13 loops in a row.

  14. I must say that your first three bucket items are not on my list at all, of course I have all kinds of phobias. Scuba gear would make me claustrophobic (tried simple snorkeling once and felt like I was suffocating). Skydiving would be more like jumping to my death, as would flying (flying to my death).

    Learning a few languages would be fun though (I actually know a few, but just in bits and pieces, and I never get to practice). And I would also like to be in good enough shape to do like a tri-athalon (but just a wimpy one, not those really grueling ones). Swimming, running and bicycling.

  15. Wow. I feel special now. I’ve never had a bucket list, but apparently I’ve done OK in my first 40 years. I’ve taken a flying lesson, and piloted all but takeoff and landing. I’ve been skydiving (tandam). I am also a certified diver with 300+ dives (yes I’ve seen 50+ sharks including bulls, hammerheads, lemons and grey reef). I even lived in Germany for a time and did OK with the language then (it’s gone now). I’ve also flown around the world. I am in OK shape, but have NO desire to run a marathon. I guess the only thing I would add to my bucket list would be to sail across the Atlantic or Pacific. That would take a bit of time and money, of which I don’t quite have enough of either.

  16. Not all marathons have expensive entry fees, just the mega ones in the big cities. Smaller races can be just as rewarding, and local to your own area (no need for plane tickets and hotel lodging). I use this calendar to pick races->

    I agree with Sarah, the way to learn a language is to move to the target country- I recently quit my job and moved to China with my wife and baby to learn Chinese. But a site I found for language practice beforehand was pretty helpful. It has free and premium versions->

  17. Ted Valentine says

    Having done marathons, they aren’t even close to free. The added cost to your diet alone will out pace the other incidentals already mentioned. Marathoning is not a cheap hobby.

  18. I have to second the comments about marathons are not cheap. In theory its seems like it should be (sneakers & entry fee), the reality is as one of those ‘bucket list’ type events, you end up spending on apparel, supplements, celebration meals, and numerous other unplanned items. Did I mention the increased appetite? Treating yourself to a nice steak after a long day running sounds pretty normal after a while…

  19. I made a tandem jump out of a plane two weeks ago. I got the video deal which pushed the cost to $300. I think it was well worth it because the videographer knew exactly what he was doing – video, music, shots etc. I would suggest getting it with the video if you are considering skydiving a once in life time experience.

  20. Marathons may be expensive, but think of the savings in healthcare costs! That’s how I would justify it, if I was actually in that good of shape. 🙂

  21. I swam with Dolphins in the Bahamas a couple of years ago and that was way cool. Cost less $100 but getting to Bahamas will set you back.

  22. Chris Boorman says

    Speaking as a runner with 3 half marathons under his belt and soon to be 2 full marathons, you’re right that it would take 6 months to train. Of course, it all depends on how good shape you’re in when you start training.

    I would recommend doing a half marathon first so you can familiarize yourself with the event; the timing chips, check in, checking gear. It will also serve as a good pilot to test the effectiveness of your training.

    As your previous commenters suggested, you’ll need a good pair of running shoes, which can be had (here in New England anyway) for less than $100. I use New Balance with two pairs of insoles that I got from the drug store.

    For full marathon training I would suggest getting a Camelbak, which lets you carry 40oz of water (or more) on your back with a handy straw for hydration on the run.

    Don’t forget to get some Runners GU for carbs during the long runs.

    One last warning. You may find yourself completing your first marathon soon, but it probably won’t be the last. Running is addictive!

    I’m posting my training on my blog, so feel free to check it out for inspiration or cautionary tales, whichever you prefer! 😉

  23. I don’t know about building your own sailboat, but I was just talking to someone who sailed their boat from California to Hawaii, and then lived on their sailboat for the dock slip rental of less than $500 per month.

  24. this list is fantastic! i did something similar but with 52 resolutions for the new year – simple things to do every week – like go to places in the city i’ve never been to and learn how to swim (though admittedly that took longer than a week but the week i learned counted). so i guess scuba diving should be next…

    i ran a marathon last year (not part of this list) and i lost 25 pounds. and i was a healthy weight to begin with. i’ve never been in such good shape. plus the marathon is really fun in big cities- worth the cost because you have amazing fans and spectators and you get to see the city in ways that most people couldn’t. my sister was balking at the cost at first but we’re running our second marathon this year. what is money for anyway? you are fine without the camelbak but you’ll need a good running (less chafing) outfit and good shoes, which don’t have to be expensive. like anything, you can spend more if you want to but you don’t have to buy everything. and i would not be anywhere without our dedicated, motivating running group. peer pressure is key.

    for languages – frenchpod and chinesepod. they’re the funniest and the best. spanishpod to a lesser degree. and to get really good, get a tutor.

  25. *poof*

  26. Skydiving is the bee’s knees. I tandem jumped a year ago. Just thinking about it still makes me giddy.
    If my wife would let me, I’d get certified to jump solo.
    Dorkydad, after jumping I believe your perspective will change. You’ll wonder why you always have to land when jumping is so much more fun!

  27. I did the skydiving and flying an airplane and they were both memorable experiences. (I took flying lessons, but never got my FAA pilots license). Next up is a hot air balloon ride with my wife. 🙂

  28. For $100 more, you can jump solo. Places usually include the classes and 1 jump. 4 more jumps and you can apply for your certification. It’s well worth it if you plan to do it more than once.

Speak Your Mind