New Year’s Activity: Family Financial Goals
A common quality of happy and successful people (and families) is that they set goals. Most schools do not teach this basic life skill, so it’s important that you take time to teach your children how to set financial goals. Your children can gain a significant advantage, and your family can grow closer. So start now and get in the annual New Year’s habit of setting family financial goals. Here are four easy steps for your entire family to follow:
Share Personal Goals
To start the process, sit down and share with your child some of your current personal goals. When do you want to retire? What type of lifestyle do you want for your family? Then talk about how they compare to the goals you set when you were your child’s age. Were any of your early goals funny? Did you want to be a major league baseball player? Or maybe a professional ballet dancer? Share the goals that seemed so important back then, but feel silly now. Also recall your serious goals, and talk about how they compare to your achievements.
Ask about Your Child’s Goals
Ask your child to share some of his or her goals. What does he want to be? What college does she want to attend? Do your kids want to have children of their own some day? Do they want to travel? You will learn a lot about your children, and it makes for fun conversation.
Create a Game Plan
Write down their goals and help them develop a game plan to accomplish each. Start with a short-term goal. Do they want to purchase a bike? Identify the steps to help them do so – create a plan to pay for the bike, chose the bike they want, research for cheapest sales price, etc. Then choose a longer-term goal. Maybe they want to become a doctor. Write out a rough step-by-step game plan so they are able to visualize what they need do to achieve that goal.
Make a Family Goal
Set a fun family financial goal as you teach them about personal finance. Bring out some of the household bills. Review them, pick one, and together decide how the family can reduce that bill. Be sure the goal you write down is specific, measureable, and has a timeline. We suggest that you offer some incentive to encourage active participation. For instance, your family decides to cut down the electric bill by $30 per month for the next three months. If you reach your goal, the family will go bowling, to a movie, or some other activity you all enjoy.
By setting family financial goals and working together to achieve financial freedom, everyone feels a sense of purpose and a feeling of optimism. Children, parents, and extended family alike will benefit from the supportive qualities of working toward common goals. •
Vince Shorb is the CEO of National Financial Educators Council (www.financialeducatorscouncil.org). The NFEC is a social enterprise organization that provides training, material and resources to improve the financial capability of our nation’s citizens.