by Sarah Eadie

Behind the Budget with Danny Dover, Life List Creator

Danny running a race

Welcome to Behind the Budget, a series that takes you into the finances of some of the most interesting people in culture and technology.

Danny Dover takes bucket-listing to a new level. Rather than asking himself, “What do you want to accomplish?” Danny approached his Life List* with a deeper question:

Why are you here?

He was depressed, and fed up watching from the sidelines while others lived their awesome lives.

Rather than stew, he took matters into his own hands. He reached out to the people in his life who seemed happiest.

But instead of asking what made them happy (a very difficult and direct question), he asked them to tell him some of their happiest, most meaningful life experiences.

From these stories, he extracted his Life List items:

“I had one friend who felt most fulfilled when he ran his first marathon. I added that to my list. There was another guy who told me a story about how he had been pickpocketed when traveling and spent his remaining trip learning how to pickpocket the guy who had got him. He succeeded! I added that to my list, too.”

In the end, Danny’s list was over 150 items. It was time to set a deadline and get started. To strengthen his commitment to the list, he got his deadline tattooed on his derrière: May 25, 2017. There was no turning back.

In the five years since he started, Danny has completed 139 of the 150 goals. He started by improving his health–taking a cooking class, working on his body, meditating. As he built momentum, he faced his fear of public speaking to give a TEDx talk, visited all 7 of the world’s continents, and created other life changing experiences.

As he hustles to complete his list, he runs a blog and online community sharing his insights and encouraging others to do what he did.

If you’re ready to start your own life list, but not sure what to put on it, let Danny’s current savings goals inspire you. While you save a little each day, you can use that time to build out the rest of your list. Check it out.

Live in the wilderness for a month

After reading The Hatchet, Danny added this goal to his Life List.

“I respect [nature, self reliance, and the human spirit] and wanted to make them more a part of my life,” he explains. “I’m most excited to test myself in being alone for one month.” As the founder of a thriving online community, Danny finds it surprisingly difficult to find the kind of solitude he’s looking for in this wilderness trip.

To prepare for his trip, Danny is increasing the amount of time he spends meditating, and is preparing to take survival classes.

Wilderness adventure gear and supplies

Danny flying a fighter jet

Air Combat School

One of Danny’s interviews was with a friend who had spent time in the Air Force. This friend mentioned the importance of flying in his life. He said it made him feel free. Danny put the goal on his Life List, despite not being sure how he’d cross it off.

One day, watching a TV show about the most extreme adrenaline rushes, Danny learned that there was an air combat school available to the public. The pieces fell into place.

“I am most excited about this goal because I am going to get to share it with friends,” Danny explains.

Living the Top Gun dream

Danny on Easter Island

Living abroad

Danny lives outside the US for about 6 months of every year. This year, he’s going to Colombia to learn Spanish. His goal, in his own words, is “to expand the number of people I have the chance to meet”.

Time abroad

Danny doing a backflip

Learn to do a standing backflip

This goal might seem to be a purely physical–to train his body to leap gracefully backwards, head over heels, and somehow land on his feet–but to Danny it’s more than that.

“I have a mental image of my body that prevents me from having a lot of physical accomplishments,” he says. “I have made great progress towards dismantling this over the past four years, but I still have work to do.” He views this goal as an important milestone in his journey.

While spending time in Germany, Danny found a trainer and started practicing his assisted backflip. Now he wants to find a local trainer to help him take it to the next level: a consistent, perfect backflip without assistance.

Personal training

Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: The links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; Neither Simple nor The Bancorp Bank, our partner bank, endorse any of those linked-to websites; We didn’t pay/barter with/bribe Danny to appear in this post.

Also, all the prices we used for Danny’s Goals are estimates. Real prices are set by retailers, manufacturers, and other people with magical powers over digits and dollar signs.