Family Finance Planning to Keep Everyone on Track
Budgeting is essential to any family's financial health, and family finance planning should involve both parents and children so that you can reach your goals together. Having regular conversations about money is a great way to both impart financial lessons and bond as you come up with ways to stay on track and decide what fun things to spend on.
The Importance of Financial Check-Ins
A regular check-in keeps your family budget top of mind. Knowing you're going to come together each month to review your progress helps ensure that everyone stays accountable and on track.
Having consistent check-ins reinforces the concept of budgeting for your kids, too. Each time you sit down to review your budget or discuss overspending, you strengthen their understanding of money management and why it's important.
A family finance planning session also presents an opportunity to highlight and work on bad money habits. For example, if you exceed your entertainment budget for three months in a row, adjustments may be needed. Together, you can brainstorm how to reduce costs or vote to move money over from another spending category. Working together on budget solutions makes it more likely for everyone to stick to them.
How Often Should You Check In?
The frequency of your check-ins depends on your family's preferences and might vary depending on the time of the year. Monthly finance planning might work during winter and spring, but keep in mind that extra costs may pop up once school is out for the summer. Or maybe, if your expenses tend to accumulate around the holidays, you can switch to weekly or biweekly check-ins for a while to make sure you don't overspend amidst the celebrations.
The goal is to set a sustainable schedule. If weekly check-ins are a non-starter because the family calendar is packed, aim to sit down together one day per month and stick to that commitment.
How to Include the Kids
One way to make the idea of budgeting concrete for young kids is to create a family savings jar. When you've saved, say, $20, decide together how to spend it. Little ones will have fun coming up with ideas, and budgeting will become more accessible as they connect real-world rewards with what's saved in the jar.
If your children are older, consider giving them a monthly allowance to use for school lunches, trips to the mall, or something else they enjoy. Discuss how they did at your family check-ins. You can also invite them to manage part of the family budget. If you dine out together one night per week, ask your child to decide where you go and give them a monthly allowance to budget for those meals.
You might also explain how each spending category impacts the family's ability to spend and save in other areas. Once your kids have a better grasp on what things cost, they might be willing to eat at home in favor of saving up for an exciting family vacation.
Make It Fun
To keep them involved, invite your kids to ask questions about money, give them responsibilities, and incorporate games or challenges. They'll be a lot more motivated if there's a get-out-of-chore pass or an ice cream sundae waiting for this month's budgeting champion.
If you find that your financial check-ins are getting stale, switch things up. It's important to educate children about the value of savings and paying bills on time. But adding an exciting budget goal for a trip or concert tickets makes it easier to remember why money management matters — it gives you the chance to spend more quality time together.