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Publication #FAR9005

Money Needs and the Family Life Cycle1

Rebecca McGovney and Josephine Turner2

When it comes to the future, many people wish they had a crystal ball, especially when money comes into the picture. Since crystal balls are hard to come by, University of Florida researchers say to look at the "family life cycle" to help predict future costs.

According to Dr. Josephine Turner of the University of Florida, "The family life cycle is a sequence of events that makes up a family's pattern of development. It begins with marriage and includes other events such as the birth of children up to retirement." By knowing what usually occurs during various stages in the cycle, people can anticipate what their money will be used for and plan ahead.

The cycle begins with marriage, a time when couples need furnishings and household equipment but have little income. Also, many couples begin to look at having a home of their own. When children come into the family, costs can also increase if one member of the couple takes time off from work. Medical costs, along with insurance, can go up as well. Additionally, if one member of the couple raises children, there's a loss of income. If both parents work, costs are incurred for daycare or other supervision. By this stage, families also usually have payments to make on a number of items, such as a home or cars.

Bigger changes still lie ahead as families adjust to their potentially empty nests and retirement… but that's another page in the family album.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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This document is FAR9005, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 37 and published November 2007. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Rebecca McGovney, master's student, and Josephine Turner, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.