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Step-by-Step Family Goals Plan (Plus Family Goals Examples List)

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

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

family sitting around kitchen table with large white board with savings goal, text overlay "ho to set a family savings goal"

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.

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!

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.

What are the Types of Family Goals?

Setting goals as a parent?

Here are the types of family goals include:

  • Behavioral Goals: You want your kids and family to change their behavior, or to behave in a certain way. This can be everyone feeling more content and less ungrateful, raising kind children, spending less time in front of a screen, etc.
  • Financial Goals: These can be wanting your family to achieve something financially together (like a savings goal – more info on this, below), wanting to raise kids who save part of their money automatically, prioritizing giving to charity as a family, etc.
  • Health Goals: This could be eating healthier, exercising more, teaching the kids to make healthy choices, getting outside and in nature more as a family, etc.
  • Parenting Goals: Parenting goals can be all types of things, such as specific things you want to teach your child, imparting specific life skills to your children, changing your own parenting behaviors and patterns that you aren't particularly proud of, etc.

Wondering what are some examples of family goals?

Specific Family Goals Examples List:

  1. Start a family garden and use the veggies in at least 1 meal/week
  2. Watch X hours less television per week
  3. Go screen-free 2X/week
  4. Make family date night 1X/week a priority
  5. Get everyone to Disney World before they graduate high school
  6. Attend church at least 2X/month
  7. Volunteer as a family, 1X/month
  8. Increase contentment among everyone
  9. Update the family room to reflect the new ages of your kids/family needs
  10. 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
  11. Walk/run in a family race for charity
  12. Start a family journey blog, and blog once a week to update progress towards a specific goal
  13. Do a family detox day, with no tech (or specifically, no tech after school/after work) 1 day/week
  14. 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 to…

How Do You Create a Family Goal?

The basic process of creating a family goal is first getting really clear on what you want the goal to be, and why.

Then, you figure out how much you want to involve your family in the planning portion of it (such as letting everyone in at the brainstorming stage, or at the family-meeting level where they are given some information, or not at all and you're just working behind-the-scenes on changing things).

You also need a way to measure how close you're getting to the family goal, usually by assessing where you are right now, where you want to be, and specific milestones that show you're getting closer to that.

Finally, there's usually a payoff at the end, whether that's created by you (a reward) or the family goal achievement itself.

Let's run through how this process works by going through a family financial goal.

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!

Here's how to create a family savings goal (and you can use these steps to create other family goals, as well):

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

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, 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 that would take food costs, gas costs, and possibly a hotel – then you can divide and conquer by 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:

  • 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 at 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 as 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 its 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 through, 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, and then all the 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 toward 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 there 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?

Let's run through some other common family goals and how to make them happen.

Family Goal #2: Volunteer as a Family

Trying to raise generous kids?

Maybe packing up the kiddos and schlepping them across town to participate in a charity project is not your thing. Or it could be…but it's very inconvenient, and so you never seem to get around to it.

But you'd still like to set a great example so that your kids will grow up to be generous, kind kids who give their time and money.

Pssst: here's a list of 7 charities for kids to donate to, where a small amount of their money makes an actual difference. You want to get them EXCITED about donating!

There are multiple projects your family can sit down (or walk around the block) to do together at home that will help others in need.

Here are three different types of volunteer-from-home opportunities (perfect if you're looking for “volunteer opportunities near me”) you can get the whole family involved with.

Family Volunteer Opportunities #1: Clip Coupons for Other Military Families

Clipping coupons to benefit military families around the world is something I've been doing for several years. It's one of the most perfect family volunteer opportunities because besides driving to a post office the next day on your way to work, you can get all cozy and complete this from home.

I'm thinking hot chocolate, a hot fire + a family podcast playing in the background?

Ask your family and friends to save their coupon inserts (even their newly expired ones; military personnel may use coupons that expire up to 6 months!), then every few months sit down as a family and clip all the coupons out together.

Together, pick out a military base from around the world where you'd like to send them to benefit military families.

Bonus: sending mail through a military address costs less than regular international mail.

Family Volunteer Opportunities #2: Write Letters/Post Cards to Brighten A Stranger's Day

  • Send Strangers Happy Cards: The Post Card Happiness Project is all about writing cheerful, encouraging postcards to people going through difficult times. Choose someone from the website, print out their info (so that you can go screen-free during the actual letter writing), and then send off your drop of happiness.
  • Valentines for Veterans: Send Valentine's Day cards plus $1 (for shipping and handling) to be distributed to troops and veterans in VA hospitals.

Family Volunteer Opportunities #3: Go for Family Donation Walks

Maybe this one is leaving the comfort of your own home…but you need not roam far. You can download various walking apps representing lots of different kinds of charitable causes, and then each time you log some miles, you are actually donating to the cause (through the help of sponsors, advertisers, etc.).

Psst: it's helpful to have an unlimited data plan for this idea; mine is unlimited everything for just $35/month with tax.

  • Charity Miles: I use this app because I walk and run often (either taking our 16-month-old around the block or working out at the gym). I like that it counts my miles whether I'm indoors or outdoors, and that it has a charity my Veteran husband feels passionately about (so I'm happy to help with): Wounded Warrior. It's sort of like my free fit bit! You can choose from a variety of charities with this app, donating to causes such as Wounded Warrior, Stand Up to Cancer, and ASPCA.
  • WoofTrax: Make a donation by walking your dog! Download the Walk for a Dog app, then each time you walk your dog click the “start walking” button. Your miles are logged and turned into donations for animal shelters around the U.S. Available on both Android as well as iPhone.
  • ResqWalk: At the beginning of every month this site announces a new amount of cash available from the ResQsponsors they've got. If you want it for your fave organization, then download the app, select a ResQpartner, and press start. Your walking, running, or biking counts, “as long as the activity can be measured by GPS and involves a speed of less than 14 mph.” By the end of the month, the dough is divided proportionally to the charities based on the number of miles logged in their name. There are also bonus challenges throughout the month that result in donations of things like pet toys + treats.

Family Goal #3: Start Doing Screen-Free Days at Home

I read somewhere that I'm part of the Oregon Trail generation.

Anna Garvey puts it beautifully when she says,

“[we] came of age just as the very essence of communication was experiencing a seismic shift, and it's given us a unique perspective that's half analog old school and half digital new school.”

It's a perspective that has gone the way of Donkey Kong + 7th-grade love notes (you know, the handwritten kind).

Which makes me a little sad, because the best moments of my childhood had nothing to do with a screen.

That's why I prioritize + value screen-free personal and family time.

Yes, there's a time and place for technology and it's done some wonders for us. But let's also use it in moderation, right?

Here are 5 screen-free family activities that will cost you less than $5 and will engage everyone.

Screen Free Family Activity #1: Listen to an Audio Book or Kids' Podcast

Light a fire, bring out some hot beverages (or not if you've got weeeee-little ones, like our 17-month-old), and tune into a free family-friendly audiobook/radio drama. You can also check out a kid's podcast for stories and lots of other cool things.

Psst: Since it's screen free time, make sure you don't leave your laptop facing everyone (that's a screen!) and/or turn your smart phone's screen facing down. You can also just hide the screens behind something to keep the screen-free ambience going.

Screen Free Family Activity #2: Work on a Family Charity Project

There are multiple charity projects your family can sit down to do together at home that will help others in need. Here are a few charity family activities ideas:

  • Clip Coupons for Military Families: Ask your family and friends to save their coupon inserts (even their expired ones; military personnel may use coupons expired up to 6 months!), then every few months sit down as a family and clip all the coupons out together. Together, pick out a military base from around the world where you'd like to send them to benefit military families. Be sure to mail them off in time (bonus: sending mail through a military address costs less than regular international mail).
  • Send Strangers Happy Cards: The Post Card Happiness Project is all about writing cheerful, encouraging postcards to people going through difficult times. Choose someone from the website, print out their info (so that you can go screen-free during the actual letter writing), and then send off your drop of happiness.

Screen Free Family Activity #3: Family Stargazing

Family activities that involve the vast, unexplored sky? I'm in.

You'll need a few tools to really set up a stargazing experience that's out of this world.

Screen Free Family Activity #4: Play Hilarious Rounds of Mad Libs

I'm in love with Mad Libs! We take them on our road trips, and occasionally break them out at home. What a fun way to raise the gigglarity of any situation, reinforce words and grammar, plus get away from those screens.

If you haven't heard of Mad Libs? They're little stories or scenarios with certain words taken out. You then ask another person (or persons) to give you a word that falls in a particular category so that it will make sense (kinda) when you reread the story out loud (like, give me a noun, or a verb).

Some free Mad Libs pages for you to print out ahead of time:

Screen Free Family Activity #5: Become Citizen Scientists

There are several programs out there that are asking for people to contribute to from home. How exciting that you + your little ones can be part of science data collection that will help people's initiatives and the future of our earth!

  • Bumble Bee Watch Citizen Science Project: There's a dwindling bumble bee population in the United States. By taking photos of bumble bees and starting a virtual bumble bee collection, you help scientists determine status and conservation needs plus help locate rare or endangered species.
  • BudBurst Project: This project is all about gathering observations and data about how plants change through the season. After some initial training online, you can print out forms and observe specific plants in your backyard. You're looking for things like the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting phases of plants. Then you sign back in and record your observations.
  • Become Certified NestWatchers: Be part of the reproductive biology of birds' database. After you get certified, take note of any nests in your backyard. Visit the nest every 3-4 days to observe changes, and be sure to record them.
  • Project FeederWatch: Put up a bird feeder (you could make a homemade version as part of your family time!), then monitor and record which birds come around. Enter the data

Wow, I'm ridiculously excited to try these family activities out with my own kiddo (once he gets past the put-eveything-into-his-mouth phase, of course).

Please share your own favorite screen-free family activities in the comments below so we all can benefit.

Family Goals #4: Create More Contentment in Your Family for What they Have

Have you ever told your kids “be happy with what you have”? How many times have they seen adults and *gulp* their own parents not taking this advice? It happens. You're human, after all.

We have so, so, so much to be thankful for in this world.

Yet contentment, or “the state of being satisfied; ease of mind,” is hard to come by.

I struggle myself with feeling like I have enough. Like I am enough.

I see this in my own child. Even though he's only 19 months old, he has begun asking over and over and over again that we go somewhere. “Go, go, GO!” is sometimes what I hear 15 times a day.

You see, we go lots of places. To storytime at the library. To Mee-Maw and Pee-Paw's house so Mama Bear can get some work time in at the local coffee shop and he can play with his grandparents. To the Starbucks drive-thru when Mommy needs some “Mommy juice” (iced, grande, almond chai) to get her through the day. To Kindermusik the first Thursday of the month. To the zoo's free day the first Tuesday of the month.

And yet, it's not enough for him. Even at his tender age, which is still counted in months instead of years.

So I can only imagine how much less content kids get when they have a gazillion ideas about what they want, fueled by the messages they receive throughout the day through the screen, other kids, and yes, us adults.

We All Want More, Better, Cooler

It's probably somehow built into our DNA (and I know for sure it's built into our culture) to not be happy with what we have and to instead be on the lookout for more, better, cooler than what we currently have.

:: Why settle for the Regular, when you can upgrade to the Super?

:: Why go 55 mph when you could go 65 mph?

:: Wait a minute…why should you “settle” when you could have more, get better, and be cooler?

There are reasons to cultivate contentment with what you have, I assure you.

Reasons to Cultivate Contentment in Your Self and Your Household

To be happy with what you have means to actually uplevel your entire life experience. Here's what you'll get (ha! It's like a contentment ad):

  • Time Gain: You gain back time, as you're not constantly seeking things out, nor do you have to work harder to earn more money to pay for things that aren't bringing you as much joy as an extra hour at home with your family would.
  • Creativity Bump: You foster creativity, as you work with what you have.
  • More Family Time: You promote togetherness with your family because suddenly family time has space and room to grow.
  • Create a Feeling of Enough: You promote enough-ness. For both you and your kiddos. And that's an amazing character trait to have.
  • Greater Appreciation for What You've Got: You also promote a greater appreciation for all you have. In Europe, it's quality over quantity. Whereas in the US, it's quantity over quality. So what happens when you go for quality first but own fewer things? You appreciate them more. You play with them more.
  • Focus on Experiences, Which Brings More Happiness than Things: Finally, it forces focus on experiences, not things, which happens to lead to more happiness. The science is out. Spending your time creating experiences is far better than spending your time acquiring things.

How to Host a Family Contentment Day in Your Household

So now it's time to take action. I propose that you host what I'm calling a “Family Contentment Day” in your own household. This is a day dedicated to breathing in all that you + your kiddos have, and feeling satisfied with it.

A day you show your kids how to grow ease of mind, without the need to add anything else.

I've come up with a list of exercises for your Contentment Day, broken down by kids, parents, and together-activities.

Contentment Exercises for the Parents:

  • Breathe New Life into a Kitchen Appliance: Take out one fancy schmancy appliance that rarely gets used, and use it. I'm talking about the waffle maker, the panini press, the grill, the juicer…whatever it is in your household that you bought or were given from your wedding registry because you were sure your life would be made that much better by it. Take it out, look up a recipe, and use it on this day.
  • Find Out Just How Wealthy You Are: Comparing your finances to others is usually not a good thing. But it can be if it gives you a grateful perspective. Plug in your household income to the Global Rich List website, and see where this ranks you in terms of wealth worldwide. You're going to be very surprised with how well off you are.
  • Adjust the Number of Ads Your Kids See Moving ForwardAccording to the American Psychological Association (APA), “…advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market, and…children view more than 40,000 commercials each year.” Figure out the main sources where your kids are being exposed to ads (likely media sources include television, web-based apps and games, and the internet). Then come up with a plan for how to cut down on the amount of ads entering their lives all telling them to buy more, do more, and be more. This will certainly help them to be happy with what they have.

Contentment Exercises for the Kids:

  • Breathe New Life into a Forgotten Toy: Choose a toy that you haven't been interested in for a long time. What else can you play with it? What else can you use it together with to make it fresh and fun again? Your child will grow a new appreciation for what they already own, and start to look at their things differently.
  • Choose 5 Toys/Clothing Items to Donate: Kids grow like crazy, and chances are good they've got 5 items they can easily donate (with your permission, of course) to decrease the clutter + help someone else out. What's left will shine more when the clutter is gone.

Contentment Exercises for Everyone:

  • Eat a Family Meal Together, at the Table: Choose either breakfast, lunch, or dinner to gather together as a family around the table and eat. Heck, do it for all three meals! I've got a whole Pinterest Board on family meal ideas to keep the kiddos engaged + excited about the family meal process.
  • Choose a Charity as a Family to Donate Money or Time to: This can mean money coming from both you as well as your child out of their allowance. Or just from the adults. But at least make the choosing of the charity a family event. Once chosen, have your kids watch you guys make the actual donation online or otherwise. You can also take part in a family charity project, and there are a bunch where you don't need to leave the comfort of your home to do.
  • Sit in a Room Together, Screen-Free: Do you make it a habit to sit in a room together without turning on any screens? In our house, we own one television, and that's in the living room. My husband, toddler, and I make it a point to use our library room (which has my boom box from when I was 16 to play kids CDs/music) to read, talk, play, and otherwise interact. Where can you and your family spend time together without a screen (or with the screen off)?

I hope this gets your brain working on activities you would like to incorporate into your own Family Contentment Day. Above all else, remember to discuss with your family the reasons behind doing what you have decided to do, which will add some real color to the phrase, “Be happy with what you have.”

Which one are you excited about trying first?

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Her money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money,, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Amanda is the founder and CEO of Frugal Confessions, LLC. Read more here or on LinkedIn.