Family financial New Year's resolutions

Mother and daughters

The new year is a great time to reevaluate your financial habits to better help you achieve your goals and teach kids to be money savvy.

Set up for success

Reflecting on the past year and committing ourselves to personal growth is a popular January activity. However, effecting meaningful change can seem daunting. After all, how many of us have made the same resolutions, year and year again, never fully achieving our goals? Here's some encouraging news: people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions.1 Make 2019 the year you and your family achieve your financial goals by following these steps!

Think "big picture"

We all would like to be more financially savvy, but what does that mean to your family? The first step is to think "big picture" with your partner. Set aside time to discuss what you both want your future to look like. Each of you should make a list of things to discuss, such as:

  • Do we like where we live, and can we afford it? Are we sacrificing anything to live here?
  • Do we drive cars we like, and can we afford them? What are we sacrificing to drive these cars? For instance, can we afford a vacation if we didn't drive these particular cars?
  • Do we have a plan to get the kids through college?
  • When and where do we want to retire? Have we saved enough?

Once you set your goals, it's easier to determine what you need to save each month to achieve them.

Design a specific plan

How do you know if you're on the right path toward achieving your goals? Setting objectives helps you take the ideal of your goal and break it into tangible markers of success. These can be as incremental and specific as necessary to increase your likelihood of achieving them. Instead of a vague objective of "save more money," try "deposit a set amount of money into savings account each week". Instead of "spend less money on nights out with family," try "replace weekly dinner out with a movie night in". This way, you can monitor your progress with ease and make savings a regular habit for which the whole family is accountable.

Hold a family meeting

Gather the whole family to decide upon family New Year's resolutions. Tell them about the discussion you had with your partner and show them the resolutions you have made. Ask your kids to think about what they want their future to look like, so they get to be a part of the process. Have them come up with their own goals and objectives, and brainstorm with them ways to make their wish lists come true. Maybe they can contribute some of their earned allowance, cash holiday gifts, or money from odd jobs or other work. After the big family meeting, the kids will come away with their own sets of New Year's resolutions, and not just some vague declarations.

Resolve to succeed

Hold yourself and your family accountable for completing the objectives. Put them in writing and schedule a monthly family meeting to see how you’re all doing. This accountability should help keep you all on track. Were they hard to achieve? Could you have easily saved more? Did you fall short? Reviewing your progress regularly will give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment when you're on the right track and make it easier to course correct when you're not. Consider this a fun family challenge.

Make them your own

Resolutions are your personal aspirations. Make sure your New Year's resolutions are your goals, and not just someone else's hopes for you. Your resolutions begin with you and your family and the life you want. When your goals and objectives have personal meaning to you, you are much more likely to hold yourself accountable and achieve them.