Create Family Financial Goals Using this Step-by-Step Plan

Creating your first of many family financial goals is easy with this step-by-step plan. This is a great way to teach your kids money goal setting (not to mention, bond)! #teamfamily.

Ready for a nerdy, Hallmark-channel-bonding activity to do with your family?

It’ll not only have you all working together as a team, but will also be teaching your kids one of THE most practical money skills out there – saving money.

Family of three wearing superhero costumes, working on family financial goals with text overlay "your family project: the family savings goal"

Today I’m going to walk you through how to set up your first of many family financial goals: a family savings goal challenge.

Because let’s face it, what’s not to love about this?

Doing so…:

:: Gets the whole family involved, building your family identity as you all work towards one common goal to benefit everyone

:: Opens up the possibilities for your family to be able to afford to do something or buy something that you wouldn't normally be able to buy/do

:: Teaches your kid(dos) how to set financial goals and achieve them from start to finish (which will be teaching your kids to save money in general)

I thought you’d be on board! Let’s get started.

But first…

What are Family Goals?

In general, family goals are things you want to achieve together, as a family. The result of the work you all put in usually needs to be something that benefits everyone in the family. And the act of attempting the goal (or rather, the daily acts you all do to attempt to achieve the goal)? Well, it leads to a lot of bonding.

Specific Family Goals Examples

  • Start a family garden and use the veggies in at least 1 meal/week
  • Watch X hours less television per week
  • Make family date night 1X/week a priority
  • Get everyone to Disney World before they graduate high school
  • Attend church at least 2X/month
  • Update the family room to reflect the new ages of your kids/family needs
  • Choose a charity to donate to through going on family walks, like the Charity Miles app that I use ($0.10/mile is donated to my chosen charity — Wounded Warrior — and I'm up to 81.9 miles!), with a goal of X miles/month
  • Walk/run in a family race for charity
  • Start a family journey blog, and blog once a week to update progress towards a specific goal
  • Do a family detox day, with no tech (or specifically, no tech after school/after work) 1 day/week
  • You get the idea.

Family goals can really help establish family culture, work towards the vision you have as a family, and model good behaviors to your kids.

Which leads us too…

Why Would I Want to Set a Family Financial Goal?

I talk a lot about how to get your kiddo to set a savings goal and achieve it. I also talk a lot about how to get them to stay motivated, and how to get them to re-kickstart their savings goal after they lose interest…because let’s face it, savings goals can be difficult for adults, let alone kids who don't have the gift of long-term experience.

Since kids haven't had much savings experience, they might be really intimidated by the idea of setting a savings goal.

Not only that, but kids learn a lot from modeled behavior.

So instead of focusing on getting each of your kid(dos) to set their own savings goals and coaching them through the process, set a savings goal for the entire family – one that benefits each family member in some way so that they have a stake in it – to work together to meet.

Talk about an awesome way to illustrate some of the challenges and high points of setting a goal + actually seeing it through!

Step #1: Hold a Family Brainstorm Session

Remember that family financial goals should be something that each family member benefits from – in some way – so that they really buy into the process.

Start out with that in mind by hosting a family brainstorm session where you all get to come up with WHAT each of you thinks you should be/do/have as a family that you don’t currently.

No shutting down anyone here! Even if the suggestion is something crazy, like climbing Mt. Everest — you can filter these down and vote on a pre-selected list from the parents (that came from the options at this brainstorming session).

Parent veto is also legit!

Here's a List of Financial Goals to Help

I go into detail with lots of personal/adult money goals here, but let's list out family financial goals examples:

  • Amusement park day trip over next Spring Break
  • New video gaming system with two games meant for groups
  • Trip to the arcade with each kid getting to bring 1 friend
  • Taking a Thomas the Tank train ride
  • Murder Mystery Dinner family date night
  • Medieval Knights Dinner on your next vacation
  • Weekend Camping trip
  • Saving up to purchase a second, used family car (so that the to-be teens can eventually have a car to drive)

Step #2: Decide Where the Money is going to Accumulate

This opens up a great conversation about where to save money and why. Do your kids think the money should be saved in a mason jar? At the bank? Are they not sure where money is actually saved at, and why?

Talk to your kids about the unicorn-magic of money earning its own money, and how depositing the money into a savings account means that it will get you towards your goal faster than if it sits in a piggy bank in your home.

Bonus: have your kids research interest rates with you to find the biggest, and then open up a brand-new account with a snazzy name having to do with the goal.

Hint: if your kids are on the younger side, or haven’t been exposed to savings goals, then go ahead and save it in a centrally-located, see-through container so that they can keep their eyes on its growth. Now might be the perfect time to splurge on a really cool piggy bank for kids to get the kids more excited.   

Step #3: Research the Price

You’ve zeroed in on your family savings goal, and you know where the money is going to sit as it grows. So, how much is your target savings amount you’ll need to reach?

It’s time to do some cost research.

Let your kids help you put together the costs of this family savings goal. If there are different elements involved – such as a trip somewhere would take food costs, gas costs, and possibly a hotel – then you can divide and conquer with making each person or team the head of costing out one particular item.

This is also a great way to break the tie between two goals — have the family divide up to research the costs, come back with some digits, and see which one will cost less.

Step #4: Set Up a Central, Visual Savings Tracker

Setting up a visual tracker of how far you guys are towards your joint goal – and how much further you’ve got to go – is super motivational.

No matter which you choose from, just know that you’ll need to assign a money value to each component or space of it in order to update the tracker.

For example, if you choose a color-in tracker, then you take the cost of your family savings goal, and divide it by the number of spaces. Each time you save that amount, you then get to color in a space. So, if the cost of your family savings goal is $325, and you have 10 spaces, then each space is worth $32.50 ($325/10).

You can use any number of trackers to accomplish this, such as:

  • Amy’s Free Map: Amy runs this really cool site where she helps you visually track any goal you’re having. You can sign up for her free-mini course on achieving goals, and you get a 10-swirl heart map as a freebie. Let your kids take turns filling in the swirls as you smash your savings goal!
  • Make a Chain Link: Remember in elementary school (or perhaps, in your kids’ school today) when you get to create a long chain with construction paper links? Create one for your savings goal! Cut out a bunch of strips one family meeting and keep them in a jar. Kids can take turns updating the chain as each new mini-savings goal is met.
  • Savings Tracker Printables: I found several free savings tracker printables (scroll all the way down and download the savings tracker) here, and here.
  • Create an Image of it and Fill in Lines: You can get your kids to draw an image of what you’re all saving for, then fill in lines like Tina Rose did for her home savings goal.
  • Make a Lego Savings Creation: Put your kids in charge of creating a building or object out of their Legos as you get closer and closer to the goal. Each color of brick is worth a certain amount of money ($0.50, $1.00, $5.00, etc.), in proportion to how much the overall goal is.
  • Marble Run: Create a marble run with a mason jar at the end of it. Each time you guys add money to the jar, your kiddos get to drop a marble through it!

Make sure you keep it in a central location where each family member will see it each day.

Step #5: Decide Where the Money is Sourced From

You’re involving the whole family in this activity, and they all have a stake in it. So, how do you decide where the money will come from?

There are multiple ways to do this, each with their own pros and cons.

Choose what’s going to work for you guys (hint: you may not know until you try it out. Remember, you can always change things up mid-way thru, or on your next family savings goal round!).

Fund Your Savings Goal…:

  • Through Team-Events: You can fund the goal through team events where everyone plays a part, such as a yard sale (digitally or out in the front of your home), roadside farm stands (yep, my family and I did this growing up!), or entering family contests with cash prizes. The key here is that everyone needs to participate to earn the money, then all money goes towards the family goal.
  • Through Individual Funds: If your kids have access to funds – such as earning an allowance – then you could make it so that each person in the family needs to set aside a certain percentage of their money towards the goal. Remember to keep this amount small and in proportion to both your kids’ ages as well as their income level. For example, you wouldn’t put an 8-year old in charge of coming up with $250 right out the gate. Try $25, instead.
  • Through Cost-Saving Measures: Find substitutions for spending and give these options to the family to decide on. Then any money saved, goes towards the family goal. For example, it’s Friday night and you guys normally go out to eat. Offer to take the family out to eat, or tell the kids that you can stay home and eat, then put that $40-$60 towards the family goal. Put your kids in charge of finding coupons for the items on your grocery list. Any money saved at the end of the receipt then goes towards the family goal. Put a child in charge of finding the cheapest gas through Figure out how many cents/gallon they saved you, multiply it by the number of gallons in your car, and add that to the family goal (bonus points if you have your kiddos do the math!). It’d be great to have a list of options the parents decide on beforehand, and a cost-savings attached to each that they’re willing to contribute to the family savings goal fund if everyone completes the challenge.

Step #6: Track, Report, and Re-Motivate

You’ll want to keep everyone updated with what’s working, what’s not, and how far along your efforts are getting you towards the goal.

Weekly family meetings, or bi-weekly, are ideal for this. Remember, your kids might lose interest quickly, and you want to keep them motivated to stay the course.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the failures as well as the successes, and open the floor to any new ideas people have to get their faster and/or get back on track!

Bonus Tip: Kids losing interest, or is it slow-going? Perhaps you’ll want to add in a mini-reward once you all meet a certain amount towards the goal to get everyone interested again. This could be something free but intensely fun, like a family sleep-out in the living room, or letting them have friends sleepover.

Step #7: Buy It!

You’ve made it here. The visual tracker indicates you’ve got all the money you need to go and actually buy the item or experience.

So, DO IT! Take your kids to the bank and withdraw the money. Make them part of the buying process as much as possible, such as actually having them complete the store transaction (will this be their first store transaction? Check out this post).

Keep everything celebratory. This is quite a momentous occasion not only for your kids, but for your entire family.

Step #8: Rinse and Repeat!

Hold a family meeting where you talk about the entire process. Ask your kids what they liked about the family savings goal, and what they didn’t. What would they have changed? Was it worth it?

Infuse some celebration into this family meeting.

Then decide if you’re going to create a new family goal to save for. Hey, why not?

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