Why Family Meetings Matter

March 27, 2018


5 Planning Tools That Lead to Consistently Great Years!


Improving the chances of a successful year for us has often been based on whether we take the time to review five key areas of our lives.  We review our budget, health/wellness plan, career/educational goals, our personal growth plan and how we plan to have fun.  December is a time of year when everyone is enjoying the Christmas season and making plans for the big day.  Whether it is traveling across the country to see family and friends or being joined at your home to watch the ballgame open gifts and enjoy good food.  The end of the year for me is a festive time but one that most rarely takes time to plan for the upcoming year.  Planning for most is not an exciting topic because it often involves making coordination, financial projections, and writing things down.  Over the years, I have taken the time to meet with my family around the end of the year to talk about our goals, dreams, challenges, and opportunities. It would be foolish of me to think our children know what they should plan for or that they would even want to sit down for a meeting about any of the things I am discussing in this post.  By taking the time to go through this exercise, I found that I not only learned about some things myself but took steps to empower them as they move into adulthood.   Here are some of the key areas we took the time to plan when looking at our upcoming year.

  1. Financial Update: Reviewing or establishing a budget.  A budget is nothing more than an estimate of the amount of money you will make and spend for a given period of time.  During this time of year, a lot of people who already don’t have budgets spend themselves into debt because there is no organization to their financial lives.  This is the time when stores offer reward cards and points.  People often get sucked into making more purchases than they intended to earn more points on stuff they don’t really need.  The expense of purchasing Christmas gifts is often overshadowed by the emotions of taking care of everyone on the shopping list.  By the time January comes around it is time the luster of the gift-giving has worn off and the reality of increased debt has taken up residence in your home.  Our plan consisted of reviewing our past year expenses, identify upcoming wants and needs for the upcoming year and start making prioritizing how we intend to allocate our funds for the upcoming year. 

  2. Medical & Dental Update: Taking care of ourselves physically is something we often don’t think about when we are young.  Most of us know that as we age, we tend to start having some aches and pains we are not used to.  Part of our review of our health and wellness portion of our family plan included scheduling annual physicals for everyone during their birth month.  This simplified things and gave everyone the assurance and knowledge that this is when they would get a check-up.  These physicals were often good enough to be used for any employment or school purposes.  Because of this practice, we have had in our family for over 15 years we have had successful outcomes because of early diagnosis of illnesses or medical issues. Another area of focus was making sure our insurance cards and policies were up to date.  As we all know, our elected leaders and insurance companies continue to tinker with how we are covered medically.  By reviewing your policies and making routine appointments annually you learn about the costs associated with your policy as well as whether the coverage you and your family  receives is the best for your situation.

  3. Career Focus Update:  Our discussion during our family meeting in this area allows us to inform our children about our big picture plans as it relates to employment, education and professional goals.  This also gives them the opportunity to share some of their goals and aspirations in order for us to develop a support plan for them as well. Over the years, our meetings have led us into discussions involving choosing academic majors, employment trends, developing, resumes even as teenagers and basically how to go about planning for their future.  By intentionally sharing what we have learned along the way in this area, it gives them the opportunity to ask questions and for us to lend sound advice without trying to tell them what to do. 

  4. Personal Growth Update:  This is another one of those areas that we must all continue to assess as we grow older.  I take a look at it from the standpoint that we must continue to grow and sharpen each other individually as well as a family.  We not only take a look at this from an individual standpoint but also as a family.  With every year that passes by, comes an opportunity for us to grow in a number of areas.  Our focus during our time together has been to address how we are growing spiritually, personally, financially, academically, etc.  Below you will find actual portions of the template our children used when preparing for our meeting.


My Personal Growth & Development Plan

  1. Personal Devotional & Bible Study Time included reading.

  2. My preparation for leading my portion of family devotional include:

  3. My plan to improve my financial literacy this week/month included visiting:  

  4. My School Lunch Balance is? I plan to apply $ __to my account no later than:

  5. School assignments are/due?

  6. I last updated the family and personal calendar/have no updates:  

  7. My ACT/SAT Prep for this year includes:

  8. My employment/educational/leisure plan for the summer is:

  9. Extracurricular activities I plan on getting involved in with school/church/community include:

Taken From: From Gittens Family Meeting Minutes


5.Leisure/Travel Update: We have traveled to many cities and countries throughout the world.  When it comes to traveling, I would also like to wake up one day and tell the family we are going on a cruise to a tropical island, a golf trip to Scotland (that would only be me) or get on a plane to visit Paris, France.  The reality is that this is not a practical way to plan for these types of activities.  If this is the approach you take, the likelihood of you making the trip is from slim to none.  I realize that the closer you get to take a trip the more expensive it gets if you haven’t locked in your plans.  Instead what we did during our family meetings is decide where we want to go then get the ball rolling.  We talked to our children about the need to synchronize our schedules.  This means schools must be out and mom and dad must be either off from work or submit vacation request well enough in advance to minimize any last minute issues.  One of the other major planning responsibilities was the finances.  Once an estimate of most expenses was determined, a budget could be established based on funds coming in and going out.  By doing this we made traveling fun by not being on the trip wondering how much debt we were coming back to.  We also were able to take the time to research the city or country we planned to travel to.  This included foods, currency, language, culture and more.  It made for a more enjoyable trip and part of our overall annual plan.     


Making time to meet as a family at least once a year can serve many purposes.  to discuss your annual plans, you can consistently improve your chances for success.  By placing financial, work, medical appointments and other factors into your planning considerations you improve your chances for success in the upcoming year.  By taking the time to plan in these and other areas, you will start noticing how much more you can do and how much more fun it will be because time and money are accounted for.  Planning within our family is something we should all take the time to do.  You will be delighted with the results. 

For more information on this and other related life lessons purchase the book “Step Into Your Glorious Future” or visit me at markogittens.com




Marko Gittens 



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