When you have big financial goals, your family can be your biggest support system.
You may already know this, but I made a very big financial goal of earning $50 a day for 90 days, totaling $4,500. This goal came up when I became, finally, exhausted by my debt repayment. This goal was something I had in mind for a while, but I never went full speed ahead to reach it.
That all changed when I had my son in December. Now I know that I need to meet my goal in order to give him a great life. I don’t want him to grow up with two workaholic parents – I want the freedom for one or both of us to work partially from home and spend quality time with him and each other.
One thing I learned over the last few weeks of this challenge is that you must have your family on board whenever you make big financial goals. After all, your family can either be your best cheerleaders, or your biggest hindrance to your goals.
1. Hold a meeting to discuss your financial goals
How you do this is up to you — maybe your “meeting” takes place over dinner, or maybe you’re like me and blindside your husband with an agenda and 3 potential budget proposals. Do you. What’s important is that you talk.
Whenever you have big financial goals, inevitable changes will occur. By talking about your goals you are doing a few things:
- helping your family members, particularly young ones, understand why the goal is important and what changes they can expect;
- giving everyone a fair chance to be heard and give input;
- emphasizing the point that household finances are a family affair.
You may also choose to leave the children out of it. I would see this as a learning opportunity for my son if he were old enough to understand, but it’s enough to simply let children know that the library or a public beach will be summer destinations instead of ice cream shops and vacations.
2. Determine what role everyone can or should play in the pursuit of this goal
Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “your job is to offer me encouragement as I undertake this project.” In my case, I tell my husband when I have some work I need to do quietly, so he knows to expect me to disappear shortly after dinner while he handles bedtime prep.
Depending on the nature of your financial goal, you might ask for more specific contributions. For example, if starting a side hustle is necessary for reaching your goal, get the whole family involved:
- have the kids help you package items for shipping;
- be a 2-for-1 spouse deal for yard work;
- offer dog boarding and give every family member a responsibility;
- if your big financial goal is a trip, ask each family member to contribute to an overall trip fund, or set guidelines for what will be paid for, and have children save for their own extras (teachable moment, guys!).
3. Create action items for everyone
Once everyone knows what the big financial goal is, how it affects the family, and what they are expected to do, you will need checkpoints so everyone can see progress.
It’s not enough to say “our goal is to go to Disney debt free by 2018.” 2018 is basically forever away in the eyes of your 7 year old. Instead, use visual tools to keep track of progress and activities that bring you closer to that goal.
Some examples of action items for adults are giving one person distraction-free time to work, marketing your freelance business to 25 potential clients, and setting up automatic payments to a debt or transfers to a savings account.
Kids can have action steps, too: help prepare meals to save money, save 10% of their earnings every week for spending money on the trip, and acting as cheerleaders/accountability partners for their parents.
Big Financial Goals (Examples)
Example One: Maybe your goal is to move into a bigger home. If you have two children with a third on the way, upgrading could be very important to you. A family meeting might include talking to your children about why they will be moving soon, and discussing ways to prepare for the move.
You can decide whether or not your children will have roles to play in this, but I would encourage you to see them as key players in this move. After all, there are items to be organized and packed, potentially a new school system to adjust to, and a lot of changes to be made.
Your action steps would include asking your children to donate some of their toys and clothes, or having them help you organize things for a tag sale. You and your spouse might have your own action steps, including contributing an extra $100 each month to an account specifically earmarked for your down payment. You might also have checkpoints along the way for household improvements, if it’s in the budget.
Example Two: Paying off a gigantic debt is hard. If it’s just you and your spouse/significant other, you won’t have to have such a large meeting. Instead, your meeting could be over breakfast to discuss what roles you will each play as you work toward this goal.
If you two keep finances separate, maybe your SO could chip in extra toward housing payments for a month or two. You might also decide that one person’s income will be going toward debt payment, while the other takes care of all living expenses.
Action steps for this situation might include earning a specific amount of money in overtime, or developing a side hustle.
Do you have any big financial goals?
Tell me about them in the comments, or tweet me! I want to hear about your journey.