Guide: Family Goal Planning for Working Parents
Family goal setting can help you plan your finances, achieve career aspirations, and coordinate family activities. Setting these goals as a working parent provides unique challenges, but also great advantages. In this guide, we’re covering the core considerations working parents should keep in mind while setting family goals.
Table of Contents
- Setting Goals as a Working Parent
- How to Set SMART Family Goals
- Budgeting for Every Family Member
- Achieving Work-Life Balance
Setting Goals as Working Parents
Starting a family while working full-time is a challenge, to say the least. For most of us, however, it’s the norm, even in families with two parents.
Most working parents spend at least 40 hours a week at work and small children don’t start school until they’re 5 years old…or 4 years old if they attend 4K. Once children begin attending school, other responsibilities begin, like sports, or music classes.
So where does family goal planning fit in?
Some would argue that planning anything other than weekly schedules goes right out the window. If you feel similarly, you’re definitely not alone. Millions of other parents feel the same way. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Family goal planning takes time, patience, and maybe some convincing if you’re involving your kids. If you’re a working parent just getting started, don’t be concerned if it doesn’t go smoothly the first time around. Instead, start the planning process out slow.
Starting slow means setting easy, short-term goals that make sense for your busy schedule. It might just be getting your family together for a weekly walk, or designating a family night, like a movie or game night.
Have Fun With It
Like many other parents, you may be family goal planning to teach your kids how to set goals for themselves. Some kids take to goal setting easier than others. If you’re having trouble getting your whole family to participate, try to have a good time with it in a way that your kids can relate to. A fun family event might help them see goal planning as a positive experience.
Yes, Set Career and Personal Goals
Family goals keep the family unit in mind. This doesn’t mean that career and personal goals aren’t a part of the process. Keeping ourselves in mind is not only okay, it’s encouraged. So, set career and personal goals that make sense for you.
Don’t Forget About Your Employee Benefits
Employee benefits can help you save money, increase work-life balance, and set family goals. You’ll see more on this in the sections below.
How to Set SMART Family Goals
The SMART goal technique is a common way to set any kind of goal, including family goals. The term “SMART” stands for:
Setting specific family goals means setting goals with concrete outcomes. For example, a general short-term family goal would be “I want us to get together more,” whereas a specific goal would be “I want us to get together once a week on Sundays for family night.”
Family goals should be measurable. Not every goal will be based on numbers, but keep measurability in mind. For example, a common long-term goal for working parents is to put more money towards retirement. A measurable goal would be to agree to put $100 more per month towards retirement starting in 2022. Parents might also decide to increase that amount every 5 years.
Goals should be achievable. If you have big dreams for your family, setting achievable goals means breaking large goals down into incremental goals. For example, if one of your goals is to someday have a family vacation home, you might consider saving up a certain amount of your income every year to put towards that vacation home.
Keep Goals Relevant
Keep goals relevant to the family unit. Again, this doesn’t mean family goals can’t include personal or career goals. Just make sure they can be tied back to promoting a healthy, happy family.
Family Goals Need Deadlines
Short and long-term goals should have deadlines, or at minimum, consider time in a way that keeps you and your family accountable. When setting timelines for you and your family members, be sure to keep timelines realistic.
Budgeting for Every Family Member
Creating a family budget is an important aspect of family goal setting. But the larger your family grows, the more complex budgeting becomes. If you’re setting financial goals for the whole family, consider the following initial questions about your finances:
- What is your family doing well?
- Is there anything you know you want to change?
- Where do you want your family to be in a year, in 5 years, in 10 years?
- What are 3 specific budget goals you have for your family?
Once you have a good understanding of your current finances and your financial goals, collect the information you need to create a budget. This usually includes the following:
Income, Savings, and Assets
- Pre- and post-tax income and your spouse’s if applicable
- Any other sources of income
- Current savings and investments
- Current estimated equity in your home, car, and other assets
- Family activities or activities your children participate in
- Healthcare costs
- Loans and monthly payments (car loans, student loans, or mortgages)
- Monthly utility costs (Winter/Summer)
- Revolving debt, like credit card debt
- School supplies
With this information, you can get a better understanding of what’s coming in and what your current cost of living is. Knowing how much equity you have in things like your home or cars can also help you consider changes to increase savings, like selling or trading in your car.
Using Your Employee Benefits to Get the Most Out of Your Budget
One great advantage that many working parents have is employee benefits. Certain employee benefits reduce living and family costs, allowing parents to further stretch their income. Some of these are also pre-tax benefits, meaning you can contribute to them on a pre-tax basis and reduce your taxable income.
Here are a few benefits that can help you stretch your budget:
- Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
- Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
- Health insurance
- Supplemental health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSA)*
- Childcare benefits*
- Backup care benefits*
- Gym memberships
- Professional development stipends
- Commuter benefits and parking permits
- Work-from-home stipends
- Student loan repayment assistance
*Helpr can assist with these employee benefits.
Achieving Work-Life Balance
We all want to keep family time sacred. Whether that means nights in, visiting extended family, or spending time away from the city, it’s a bit harder for parents working full-time. Still, there are strategies to help you increase family time and help you achieve the work-life balance you want.
Consider Employee Benefits that Promote Work-Life Balance
First, check out your company’s employee benefits options. In the last 10 years, employee benefits have become much more diverse, and more focused on employee wellness. Benefits like gym memberships, remote work, hybrid and flexible scheduling, flextime, and backup care are all offered to help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Use Your Paid Time Off (PTO)
Using PTO helps working parents plan family and personal time. Taking time off on a regular basis also helps them perform better, experience less burnout, and feel better in their personal lives. So, if your goal is to achieve work-life balance, use your PTO.
Unfortunately, many employees don’t use their PTO. The reasons vary from fear of losing their job or a promotional opportunity to peer pressure and having too much work. If you don’t feel comfortable using yours, consider reaching out to your supervisor or HR to discuss strategies to help increase use.