For Parents

Family Financial Goals and How to Set Them

Goals are super important to set as a family! Here’s how to tackle them together.

parents-and-kids-writing-goals

If you’re looking to spend some quality time with your kids while teaching them some valuable financial lessons, it’s time to set up some Family Financial Goals. And, since every family is different, these goals are very personal to your family and what you want to achieve together. That’s why creating them in unison with your kids is important as a framework for your family’s future.

Wondering if your kids are too young to bring into the fold? If you’ve got little ones at home, you can still set family goals on their behalf by considering their future. The important thing is to get started and make these goals part of your family traditions. 

What’s the Goal…of Setting Goals? 

Imagine going through life without a roadmap of where – at least generally – you’re trying to go. We’re not talking about New Year’s resolutions that we all forget by February (guilty!). We’re talking about long-term objectives you hope to reach as a group.

While it’s important to have personal goals, the family needs to know what you’re jointly working towards in the long term. This is a great way to involve every person in the family, let them pitch in financially or with ideas, create synergy, and keep each other accountable. 

By keeping track of whether or not the goals are reached, you can provide yet another opportunity to teach your kids the value and method of saving for a goal!

Before You Start, Save For Emergencies First 

Setting goals can be exciting, and some families get carried away creating fun lists of the things they want to accomplish. But don’t jump the gun. Before you and your family sit down to work on financial goals, it’s important to take an honest look at your current situation.

Do you have an emergency fund in place? The rule of thumb is to set aside three to six months’ worth of expenses for emergencies that could save your family from going into debt. But, if you’re getting started, how about choosing a dollar amount that feels challenging yet attainable? Depending on your situation, you could aim to put $1000 in a high-yield savings account, which could be your first financial goal as a family!

Sometimes, things happen, and $1000 won’t be nearly enough. But it’s definitely a good place to start and get yourselves in the habit of saving.

Defining Family Financial Goals

Strictly speaking, family financial goals are money objectives that can be worked on together as a family unit. But there must be more beneath the surface when it comes to goal-setting. Deciding that you want to save a certain amount of money for the sake of it won’t be enough to keep you motivated. Trust us here. You might start by being disciplined for a few weeks, but when everyone’s craving pizza on a Friday and you only have fish in the freezer, your savings goals will go out the window, and you’ll quickly reach for the computer to order your family faves.

That’s why family financial goals should be more than just about money. They need to provide a larger sense of accomplishment that benefits the whole family. And in our experience, it’s best to come up with a combination of short-term and long-term goals or break up your extended goals into milestones.

Some examples of financial short-term financial goals are:

  • Saving for a Disneyland vacation next summer
  • Finding a way to lower monthly expenses so you can buy family passes to the zoo
  • Saving for a weekend camping trip
  • Setting up a puppy fund to get your kids the pet they’ve always wanted – remember to budget for other puppy expenses (such as shots, food, grooming, etc.)

Here are some examples of long-term financial family goals:

  • Saving for college if your kid is college-bound. (Not all kids are, and that’s ok!)
  • If your kid is not college-bound, you could create a nest egg or set money aside for a home down payment once they’re adults.
  • If you have teens, maybe you can start thinking about upgrading your car to pass yours along to them.

What Are the Different Types of Family Goals?

There are many types of family goals to work on together. What you ultimately choose will depend on your family interests, dynamics, and your current situation.

Some of these include:

  • Behavioral Goals: These could be spending less time on screen, more gratitude, and better listening skills.
  • Financial Goals: For example, saving to buy a house, paying off debt, or investing in a family business.
  • Health and Wellness Goals: Such as taking evening walks together before bedtime, no more soda in the house, or joining a family sports league.
  • Parenting Goals: Ideas include identifying behaviors or patterns you’d like to correct to be a better example, starting a “life skills camp” where you teach your kids essential abilities, or focusing on self-care.

While this article focuses on financial family goals, we find that many of these go hand-in-hand. As you work to reach your different family goals, you may also notice that you feel more motivated to achieve in different areas of your life.

Where to Start

Not sure how to create family financial goals? Are there too many things you want to accomplish? Is it tough to find common ground between family members? The following is a step-by-step guide to help you define your own family financial goals.

Step 1: Brainstorm Session 

This is a mandatory event for the entire family. But you can make it fun with music or snacks. The idea is to set up a family meeting with every single family member – yes, even the littlest of littles. 

Once you’re gathered, just brainstorm. No idea is too small or too big. Give everyone the space to throw their thoughts out there because it’s a very important way to strengthen your family dynamic. The goal of this session is to be open with your kids and let them know that their opinions matter. 

Brace yourself – you might get crazy requests, and that’s ok! Be sure to ensure that no one gets shut down and that every opinion is valued and heard.

By the end of the brainstorming session, you’ll naturally narrow down the goals and determine your priorities as a family. This will keep you all excited to continue working toward your objectives.

Step 2: Where to Hold the Money

Once you define your family financial goals, it’s time to decide where you’ll hold the funds as you start setting money aside. Depending on how many goals you work on, you can keep it as simple as a good ol’ fashioned glass jar or as fancy as multiple bank accounts. 

This is a great opportunity to teach your kids the basics of banking, how to deposit and make withdrawals, how compound interest works, etc. But remember not to overwhelm your children. Let the conversation flow and explain these topics when the moment comes.

Step 3: Cost Comparisons and Cost Breakdown

Once you’ve figured out the logistics, it’s time to calculate the exact cost of the family financial goals. For example, if your family is working toward an out-of-state theme park, you can create a spreadsheet so that they can see what the trip’s true cost will actually be.

Hint: It’s not as simple as multiplying the admission cost times the number in your family. Aside from ticket prices, here are other costs to consider:

  • Flights to and from the location (multiplied by the number of members in your family)
  • Food (multiplied by the number of members and the days you’re staying)
  • Hotel or lodging (times the number of days you’re staying)
  • Transportation
  • Souvenirs

At this point, your kids might be ready to throw in the towel because the real price might seem out of reach. It’s your chance to keep them motivated and show that you have some tricks up your sleeve (think Groupon, LivingSocial, or other cost-saving sites). 

Step 4: Keep Visible Track of Progress

Keep track of your family’s progress by creating a tracker that everyone can see and that you can fill out at the end of each week. Depending on your kids’ ages, this could be a huge thermometer that keeps things fun, an organized calendar format, or a no-nonsense weekly planner that makes goals feel more attainable.

Step 5: How are you Getting/Earning the Money?

Once you’ve deciphered the true cost of your family’s financial goal, you and your kids can get creative as you find ways to come up with this money.

Here are some ways of earning money to finance your goal:

  • Hold a huge family yard sale (also helps declutter the home!) where everyone brings their items and helps during the sale. All proceeds go to the family fund.
  • If your family is used to buying breakfast on the way to school each morning, why not save that money? Instead of grabbing breakfast on the go, buy bagels and cream cheese to make at home. Savings go into the fund.
  • Put up signs around the neighborhood to walk dogs and take turns around your schedules. Money goes into the family fund.
  • Set up a classic lemonade stand. These can be real money-makers when the weather’s hot.
  • Buy used items for little money and resell them on Etsy or Poshmark. You can reinvest part of your earnings and set some aside for the family fund.

Step 6: Track and Report Progress

Set a weekly family meeting to check for progress and to fill in the progress you’ve made as a family. Celebrate what’s going well with ice cream or a dance party in the comfort of your own living room. These are inexpensive or free ways to keep everyone motivated.

Of course, things won’t always go as planned. This is a learning opportunity if you come short of your weekly goal. Figure out a way to correct the course and consider it a challenge to see what happens next week.

Step 7: Time to Make the Goal a Reality

You did it! You and your kids should be so proud of this moment. Give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Not only have you accomplished your goal, but you’ve also taught your kids that goal-setting is a valuable way of going through life. Plus, you had fun along the way!

If your goal requires purchasing things online or in person, be sure to have the whole family there to witness this important accomplishment.

Step 8: Reflect and Plan for the Next Goal

The best thing about reaching a goal is that it motivates you to set a new one. While the momentum’s still going strong, hold another family meeting to discuss the pros and cons of this saving experience. And set your intentions for your next family financial goal!

Benefits of Coming Together As One

Having goals to work through together really sets an atmosphere of teamwork for your family. This culture will inevitably bleed through to many other facets of your everyday lives and bring you closer together. It will also help raise the feeling of contentment, boost confidence, and increase overall joy.

Be Proud of What You’ve Accomplished

Setting goals with the family, especially financial ones, is a wonderful way of getting kids into the habit of goal-setting and working hard to achieve something. The important thing to remember is to be kind and patient with yourselves and with each other. When the going gets tough, stick to the plan and keep working hard. Remember that the skills your children gain through this process will follow them into adulthood.

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About the Author

Lucia Caldera

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks personal growth. Lucia's work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for future generations.

Last updated on: September 16, 2022