- Saving for the down payment on a home
- Increasing their income through additional education and training
- Beginning a small savings account for college expenses
A family in later years of life may have goals such as:
- Saving for wedding and college expenses
- Paying off the mortgage on their home
- Putting more money into retirement accounts
In each case, families must decide what is important to them. Financial planners recommend that goals be in one-year, five-year and longer-term horizons.
One process that I have seen work successfully is to convene a family council for the purpose of setting financial goals. Each member of the family writes down their individual goals that cost money. Then, individually, each family member prioritizes their goals using stars. A "one star" goal is one that would be nice to have, but could be delayed. A "two star" goal is one that is needed or wanted if the family could find the money to pay for it. A "three star" goal is something the family must have or do.
Then one family member should collect all of the written and prioritized goals and develop one list with like goals categorized together. From that list, the entire family goes through the list, discussing each one and coming to agreement on its relative importance to the family. Next, a list of agreed upon goals should be made based on the priority and the time horizon (1-year, 5-year or long-term).
Finally, the question of how to achieve the goal should be determined. Perhaps for one goal, the family would decide to set aside money from an upcoming tax return. Or a savings plan could be developed. Perhaps one family member would work part-time until the goal was met and would then quit working. In any case, the method for achieving the goal in its appropriate time frame would be decided.