Parenting Win of the Week: A Family Finance Resolution

Get the whole family involved with these expert tips for saving and goal setting.

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Photo by: Tom Merton

Tom Merton

January 1st, the day everyone sets resolutions that they may or may not keep. I am not big on setting resolutions per se, but I do like the idea of setting goals to accomplish for the year. As my boys get older, they are becoming more capable of helping around the house. They are also developing different interests and the things they want have become more expensive. So, we think about how we can get them involved and thinking about saving.

Greenlight, the banking app for kids and teens, is all about teaching kids to save money, and to do so for specific reasons. Maybe it’s a trip they want to take as a family, or a concert they’d like to attend, or a new bean bag chair for the basement.

I spoke with Jennifer Seitz, Director of Education and Certified Financial Educator Instructor who gave me great tips on how to tackle financial goal setting as a family. There are so many ways to go about it, but what surprised me the most is you can actually make it fun! I think we’ll try it as a family and report back.

In order to achieve any goals, they follow the SMART mantra, which is making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. So, let’s say you wanted to save for an NBA game. The game is in May. Set a goal of how much money you want to save per month and when you want to have it all saved by. It can be something much smaller too, like saving up for a fun dinner out or a family game.

It’s important that you don’t set it and forget it, especially if it’s a yearly goal or something for the future. You’ll want to schedule recurring check-ins to see how you’re doing.

Now, you may be thinking “this is great, but how do I actually do this with my kids?”

This can vary by family. Some kids love to visually see things and want to make images on poster boards. Older kids may want to do a typed list or even a slideshow presentation. Other families may want to just document their goals in writing.

It’s also a good time for everyone to set individual goals. Sure, you may have one collective goal, but one kid may want to save for a Barbie and another for a pack of baseball cards. Mom may want a massage and dad may want a new grill, so it’s good to write down those things too. You can also discuss ways that the family can cut back on spending, which is important as things get more expensive.

If your kids aren’t old enough to make money on their own by taking on a job like babysitting or shoveling snow, you may want to think of an allowance system to help them earn the money for their goals. Age-appropriate tasks can vary, but might include things like taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher or running a load of laundry.

It’s also important as you goal-set to start making financial literacy more a part of daily life, whether it is talking about saving or budgeting or investing. You can do fun things like having your kids create the best-tasting budget meal or do a giant jar where everyone throws the money that ends up in the laundry or various pockets and each month you add up how much you’ve saved. You can get them interested in stocks by having them follow (or even invest) in some of their favorite everyday items and the companies that make them.

Money is often an uncomfortable topic for people, but if you grow up making these topics part of everyday conversation, your kids will learn, you’ll be able to set financial goals and financial literacy will become a regular part of your vernacular. Sounds like a win to me.

Will you be setting financial goals this year?

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