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How to Set Money Resolutions With Your Kids That Stick

The Christmas and holiday seasons can be an expensive time of year. Sometimes we have to challenge our “budget” as we stretch to give to others to. It always feels good to give – but we sometimes feel differently when the bills start arriving in January.

After the holidays, of course, comes the beginning of a new year. Many people look forward to the new year because, if we need to, it enables us to hit a reset button. Mentally it allows us to approach things with a fresh start and a clean slate. It’s a great opportunity to adjust behaviors and set out goals for the year ahead, and that includes new financial goals and habits.

The beginning of a new year is also a great time to sit down with kids and include them in the new money resolutions for the year ahead, as well as identify and set some goals of their own. Helping kids set and work towards their own money goals also teaches them how to set a goal – and work towards achieving it – and feeling a sense of accomplishment when they achieve it. Building their self-confidence and self-efficacy that they can set and achieve goals will be valuable in many aspects of their life including managing their financial affairs.

Below we’ve shared some tips to help kids succeed in following through and achieving their new money resolutions and goals, as well as having some fun along the way!

Write Them Down

People have much more success with sticking to resolutions, and achieving goals, if they’re written down. If we try to just keep them in our head, they can sometimes be lost or forgotten with everything else going on in there.  Writing a resolution down helps transform it from a wish and idea into a concrete “to-do” item.

Put the written goals somewhere where they’re frequently seen – and seen easily. This will help them stay top of mind and serve as a constant reminder. Every time you see your goal(s), you’ll be reminded and motivated – and that likely means you will have a better chance of sticking with them –and achieving them!

Start With Something Small

If this is the first time, you will be discussing and setting money resolutions with your kids start with goals that aren’t too ambitious and are relatively easy to achieve. The sense of achievement feels good.  It is, in fact, the biggest motivator for entrepreneurs and enterprising people. Those feelings can make setting goals fun, having them achieve their goal helps develop that feeling of confidence that they can achieve success. It will also help encourage them to continue setting goals and working towards new things to accomplish. The feeling of a sense of accomplishment is a powerful motivator for action.

As an example for of an easy first “family” goal, if your family has a habit of eating out a lot, your resolution could be to eat out only once per week or twice each month. You can set family goals or help your child(ren) set personal goals. Either way, try to set goals that can be quantified so that the results are easier to measure. It’s much easier to gauge your success in achieving your goal if you can quantify it – e.g. eating out only once per week – as opposed to saying you’re going to eat out “less.”

Make Progress Tracking Fun

It’s not always easy to stay motivated when working towards achieving a goal, especially if the end point is well into the future. For that reason, it’s important to find fun ways for kids to track progress and feel a sense of success along the way as they work towards achieving their goal(s). Look for ways to keep interest and motivation up.

One way of making tracking progress more fun and entertaining is to create a visual that shows progress. Kids are very visual, so a fun chart or other graphic depiction of their progress towards their goal will help keep them excited and engaged. Have fun with it, make it an arts and craft project!

Breaking down larger goals into smaller “mini goals” is another great tactic to make things seem more manageable. Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock even does this with his players. He breaks the 82 game season down into smaller 5-game blocks, giving the players a goal of achieving 6 points for every set of 5 games. He knows that doing this will allow them to achieve their overall goal for the season, while giving the players smaller objectives that they can more easily work towards. If a child wants to save for a new bike in the spring for example, helping them understand how much they need to save on a weekly basis – and on a monthly basis. They can then get that feeling of accomplishment with every week and month that they achieve their savings goal. This will help make the ultimate goal of the bike seem easier to achieve through a series of steps rather than one long challenge.

Use Rewards to Motivate

If we are honest we will admit that, while we understand resolutions are good for us, isn’t always fun making the changes, or doing what’s needed, to achieve them. That’s likely even more true when it comes to kids. That’s where creating some kind of reward for when goals are achieved can be helpful in keeping that motivation up. Along with breaking goals down into smaller pieces, offering smaller mini rewards along the way can also be a great way to keep kids motivated. Examples of this are things like Advent calendars and the “Elf On The Shelf”… These activities give kids smaller rewards and activities to look forward to on a daily basis. This can help keep their interest up, keep them engaged in the challenge, and provide some fun along the way.


Remember, when you and your kids start out with setting some goals and making new resolutions, they can be hard at first. Not always – but sometimes. If they seem hard, it’s likely because you’re making changes, doing something different, maybe giving up something you like, or shifting from what you’re used to doing. If so, it is likely because you decided that you needed to make changes.  There is an old adage that the only person who likes change is a wet baby.  So don’t be surprised if making changes is challenging.  And talk about that with your kids. If it is a good resolution – and goal – it will likely all be worth it in the end.

We hope that the tips above will help you and your kids set some goals, achieve them, and enjoy that great feeling that comes with that sense of achievement!

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