Setting savings goals is a basic task you’ll want your kids to do as they learn about money. Just how big those goals should be isn’t set in stone, however, and parents often question whether big goals are worth it.
Big Savings = Yes!
Big Goals, Big Vision
If your child saves only a small amount of funds, then realistically, some resources will be out of their price range. This doesn’t mean they can’t set goals or do good, but rather that their selection of goods or overall influence might be limited. Subsequently, they’ll have a harder time getting out of the proverbial box and setting goals that really help them grow individually and socially. If you allow your child to reach for the stars with saving, however, they can develop ideas and objectives that are truly visionary.
Saving money always takes a bit of time, but in general, the bigger your savings goal is, the longer it takes to reach it, simply because of logistical challenges such as income limitations. In this sense, setting a bigger goal requires your child to mature and become more patient, as they have to wait longer before they accomplish what they set out to do. This patience is beneficial not just for other areas of finance, such as long-term stock market or property investing, but also for tempering the general desire for instant gratification that can lead to other potentially hazardous decisions.
When financial gurus talk about an investment or savings goal being “worthwhile,” they’re talking about whether that investment will provide a decent return. The financial return your child gets ofcourse is one side of the coin here. Another part of the equation, however, is the lasting significance the goal has. Lasting significance can be emotionally, task or even socially based. For instance, if your child saves some money for a bag of candy, the goal has very low lasting significance, with your child only getting benefits for as long as it takes for them to chow down the goodies. If your child saves for something like a used car, though, the lasting influence is much bigger, with your child possibly getting several years of use out of the machine. Not every savings goal has to have a ripple effect that your child will feel so far into the future, but they need some goals that prove the consequences of money decisions aren’t always limited to here and now.
Big Savings = No Way!
Risk of Relevancy/Availability Loss
Although there are certainly items such as college tuition that won’t go anywhere as your child saves, there also are plenty of high-price-tag items that will. Probably the best example here is technology-related items that become obsolete quickly, such as laptops and smartphones. Items up for auction on sites like eBay also can get snapped up before your child reaches their goal. If your child does set a long-term goal, they have to be very careful that whatever they’re saving for still will be available later given how fast they are able to save.
Tied Up Money
Just as with adults, kids can see their money needs change over time. Big savings goals will tie up your child’s money for quite a while. Assuming they’re not going to want to cut down on the amount they put toward the goal every week or month, they’ll have a bit less flexibility and can’t adapt as readily to changes in their circumstances or environment.
Delayed gratification is definitely something kids need to learn, but if a savings goal is truly too big, there can be too much time between the beginning of saving and the receipt of the benefits. Kids can lose their motivation to save as a result.
Letting your child have a big savings goal has advantages, such as teaching them it’s okay to have an “out there” vision or fostering patience. Even so, goals that are too big aren’t all roses, as they pose disadvantages such as possible loss of saving motivation. You’ll likely see your child’s ability to handle large savings plans increase as they get older, but a good rule is to just let them try and encourage them to finish. They might cave and spend, but they also could surprise you and get exactly what they hoped for.