Ask adults who they credit for helping them define their sense of self and many will share stories about a beloved grandparent who celebrated their triumphs, guided without judgment, and loved without limit.
Grandparents play an integral role in the extended family, bringing patience and life experience to the table – a combination particularly well-suited to helping their grandchildren develop financial literacy skills.
Share your money story
While parents are more likely to make money management lessons a household mandate, grandparents can be powerful educators by simply sharing their stories. Telling their 10-year-old grandson how much a car or candy bar cost when they were his age, for example, captures the imagination (and illustrates the effects on inflation) better than any history book could ever.
As grandparents reminisce with their grandkids, they should not be afraid to open up about their own money missteps. In fact, they should make it a point. Grandparents should share their successes and their failures. It shows future generations that if the grandparent recovered, then the grandchild can too, which gives them permission to take a risk. It’s about teaching the next generation to be courageous, not perfect.
How to teach financial lessons
Apart from sharing stories about their personal relationship with money, grandparents can also help their grandkids earn and manage money of their own.
Cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit by helping them open a lemonade stand, sell handmade bracelets at the local community center, or wash cars in front of their house. (Make sure that they check the regulations in their community and state to be certain that the venture is allowed).
With the money they earn, help them make a budget for spending some and saving some for an item they really want. This is an opportunity to help them establish a savings discipline. But leave the final decision to them. If they blow it all on a new video game today, don’t open your wallet the next day when they pine for something else. Small money missteps today can be valuable lessons that prevent your grandkids from making costly mistakes later on.
Let your grandkids teach you
Not so handy with smartphones or social media? Grandparents love to talk to grandchildren about technology, so it becomes a bridge. While their own adult children may roll their eyes when they ask questions, their grandchildren are touched and amused. Look at your grandchildren as experts and they will start to see themselves that way.
As you look to get involved in your grandchildren’s financial education, be sure to communicate with their parents. You don’t want to undermine their attempt to instill financial values.
Grandparents are a valuable resource of the younger generation. With patience and unconditional support, they help prepare their grandchildren to be confident, emotionally intelligent adults. They can also be instrumental in teaching financial awareness.