Since the beginning of this year, I have used this blog to continue to help parents teach financial responsibility to their children of specific age groups. Now I am going to talk to you, the grandparents, about your participation in the education process.
Aside from the desire for your grandkids to have the best of everything, you also want them to be financially secure and savvy. Due to your unique access and proximity, you have a special opportunity to be a great, positive influence. You may also have more free time than your children who are now raising their children. Remember what it was like when you were just starting out? Seeing to your kids’ money lessons may have been low on your list.
You also have a vested interest in seeing that your grandkids will know how to handle any inheritance you may leave them. They may be free to spend it as they like, but wouldn’t you be more comfortable knowing that they have the foundation to make competent choices? Wouldn’t it be great if your heirs actually choose to do what’s in their best, long-term, interest?
It Does Take a Village
Keep in mind that the chiefs of this village are the parents - it will make everyone’s life easier if you respect this hierarchy. Your role is to support and respect the parents. Family meetings will keep all of you on the same page. You can discuss goals, lessons, and strategy for maximum benefit to the children.
First, Do No Harm
I know you are always tempted to shower your grandkids with toys and trinkets. We want them to have more than we had, even more than we were able to give our own children. There is nothing quite like the sounds of glee and the adulation we receive from indulging. But, we are in fact, indulging ourselves and doing a disservice to our loved ones.
Give your time, your knowledge, your guidance — and you are setting them up for a secure future. If you do want to give a gift, discuss it with the parents first, and never as a bribe or to undermine or outshine.
I’m not advocating being stingy or cold, but appropriate.
Ways You Can Help
- Your goal is to assist your children in teaching their children, but it could be a good refresher for your own children. The learning should be a fun, bonding experience for the whole family.
- Study my collection of Huffington Post blogs and use them to guide you.
- If you can, start the education at a very early age.
- Take them to the bank, set up a college fund, or even a wedding fund, and explain long-term goals. Explain that you will make deposits to the account as part of holiday gift-giving, and you can show them how interest compounds and accrues.
- Always use the real world as your classroom. Explain the lunch check and tip. When you use a credit card in their presence — explain that you are billed monthly and you have to pay with real money from your bank account. If you write a check, show them how it’s done, how you record the transaction, and where the funds come from.
- If you make a purchase, explain sales tax. In an earlier blog, I teach how to introduce kids to the concept of taxes. As we all know, taxes are a part of life. Explain that at their core, the idea of taxes is a great one.
- Teach the concept of charity. It is an easy concept to explain to children, who are very aware that it’s good to help others. But, it doesn’t come naturally — it has to be taught.
- Get your affairs in order. Make sure your will and insurance beneficiaries are up to date. Leave instructions, important keys, lists of accounts — for your heirs to easily follow.
Helping your grandkids navigate the road to their financial future is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Make it a fun and natural component of your time together. Keep a journal and take photos of your journey, having the kids add notes along the way. They’re going to treasure it when they’re older and keep the tradition of financial education with their own children.