By Jill Dobbs, CFP®, Vice President & Wealth Management Advisor
Communicating with your grandchildren can be tough these days. They may live miles away and you may only get to see them a few times a year. Even if they live close by, they are often so busy with school, sports, band, dance or some other ‘lesson’ that their parents have them signed up for that you rarely see them. When you do get time with them they may be on their phone, iPad, X-Box (you pick the device…). This can definitely limit the amount of quality time spent with the kids. So, what if a grandparent wants to pass on some wisdom regarding financial matters to the next generation? Taking the time to talk with your grandchildren about finances is so important and believe it or not, they are interested in knowing your thoughts on budgeting, regular saving, investments,debt, tithing, charitable giving and your families’ values concerning money. Below are some tips to help get your grandchildren’s attention long enough to have some of these valuable conversations.
Keep It Simple
Simple conversations about the difference between‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are a good place to start with younger kids. As you are going through a store, ask them questions about what they consider needs and those items that would be wants.Give them money for their birthday or other special occasion. Hire them to do chores around your home and pay them for work well done. Then go to the bank together to open up a savings account or make a deposit. This is a perfect opportunity to talk with them about your values regarding saving, investing, tithing to the church or other charitable giving.
Make It Fun
Not every conversation about money has to be a lecture. Simply playing games like MONOPOLY or LIFE help grandkids see the result of their financial decisions and learn from the outcome. You can also go online together. There are several online resources to help kids learn money lessons in a fun way. One I like for all ages is themint.org. Older kids can play games such as, ‘The Spending Challenge’ or ‘I Paid How Much?’ For younger kids, Sesame Street has a video series on their website called ‘Finances for Kids.’ You and your grandkids can watch videos such as ‘Elmo Makes a Choice’ or ‘Elmo’s Three Jars.’ The idea is to make it fun and use these tools as conversation starters.
Use Stories Not Lectures
Get the grandkids attention by talking about how prices have changed during your lifetime. Talk about your financial mistakes and what you learned from them. Tell them about the different jobs you’ve had through the years – the positives and negatives. Share stories about buying your first car and your first house. Describe a time in your life when money was tight and how you got by. Tell stories about your parents and grandparents and how they made a living. This gives you a chance to help kids understand the successes and struggles of their ancestors and how the past has shaped the financial values of your family.
Let’s face it, technology is here to stay. Our grandchildren will continue to spend more time with their devices and use technology to have ‘conversations’ with others. That leaves less time for face to face interactions. Why not embrace it and stay connected with your kids and grandkids using their app of choice? Whether it’s email, Face Time, Facebook,Instagram or Snapchat, try using these tools to keep the lines of communication open. Your grandchildren will be so impressed that you are up to learning new things and that you care about your relationship with them enough to take time to learn new ways to better stay in touch.