While dreaming is always free, transforming your dreams into reality would entail some cost. After all, finances are one of the important drivers to attain the vision, hence the need to come up with a basic financial plan for your family.
Assuming you have done your “dream-storming,” ask yourselves these two basic questions:
1) How much do we need in the future for our dreams (or even one of our dreams) to become a reality? And;
2) How much do we have now? Don’t be discouraged by the gap you will discover.
Follow it up with two more questions, this time, a little bit harder. 1) How do we get there? 2) What is our family willing to do beginning now?
It is imperative that you get every member of the family involved in the process. For example, if the family decides to go to Palawan for summer, hype up the excitement by marking the D-date on a calendar where everyone can see. Follow it up quickly with a discussion of the financial gap that needs to be filled for it to happen. If it is indeed a family dream, then emphasize that every member’s contribution, no matter how small, counts.
Discuss the details of how to raise funds. The smaller kids can be in-charge of making sure that lights and other appliances are switched off when not needed. Have them check the electricity bills each month to see the actual savings. Organize a garage sale, and make it a fun activity for all. Have everyone do a specific task such as being the cashier, sales person, bagger, etc. Encourage entrepreneurship by having your kids tutor younger kids, or bake cookies for sale.
It would help significantly if you monitor actual performance versus the target. A visual representation, such as charts or graphs, helps sustain excitement. I know of a family that puts the cash equivalent of the budget for their snacks inside a resealable plastic bag. If the bag is about to get empty, it means it’s time to be more discerning about spending for the next batch of chips or cookies.
Now is a good time to encourage savings. With a shared goal in mind, savings is not so difficult to do anymore. As the leading investment guru Warren Buffet put it, “Do not save what is left after spending, but rather spend what is left after saving.” He follows it up with “If you buy things you do not need, you will eventually have to sell things you need.”
Celebrate milestones. If you have reached 50% of your target, have a pizza blow-out. Recognize outstanding or innovative ideas that generate savings or income. Just remember to make sure no one is left behind.
Extend these simple tips to more complex goals. Eventually, dreams will entail more. When the family starts to wish for a bigger house, or education abroad, do not despair. Try to break down the gaps into sizable chunks, and ensure the cooperation of everyone in the family. But remember never to kill a dream at once because it is too expensive. Try out a family financial plan first.