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10 Aug Leaving a Legacy - Sharing Financial Lessons with Your Grandchildren

Posted at 13:55h by Clara Moses 0 Comments

You’re probably familiar with the saying, if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. This is how you should approach leaving a legacy for your grandchildren. There’s a huge amount of value in passing wealth down to your grandchildren, through 529 education savings plans, savings bonds, and many other traditional ways to gift them funds. However, it’s even more important to share financial lessons with your grandkids as they’re growing up. This will give them the ability to handle money they get from you, and anywhere else, in a knowledgeable manner well into their adult lives. Therefore, they’ll be less likely to experience losses and more likely to know how to grow their wealth.

Both parents and grandparents are blessed with the opportunity to shape future generations. However, grandparents are likely to have more time to spend, a more patient manner, and more lessons from life experiences to share. A grandparent’s relationship with a child is entirely different than a parental relationship, which opens up many unique opportunities for financial education at all ages. For parents, financial lessons are often taught through small daily tasks and reinforced with household rules and routines while grandparents have the power to casually discuss these topics and incorporate them into fun activities.

That being said, always talk to your kids about your plans to educate their kids before embarking on your mission. This is not only to “get their permission.” It’s crucial that all adults in a child’s life be on the same page about what lessons they’re being taught and how. There’s no point in one of you relaying a message to a child only to have them turn around and hear another adult say something opposing.  

One thing’s for sure, which is that as your grandchildren age, they’ll realize how thankful they are that their grandparents spent so much time with them, creating wonderful memories, and sharing valuable lessons. Here are 5 ways to do just that…

  1. Weave money discussion into daily experiences.

Children will not learn the concept of currency on their own. By showing them bills and coins and explaining their values at a young age, you’ll already have them on the right track. You could even help them start a coin collection to make the process more interactive and engaging. All it really takes though is simply talking about what you’re doing when you pay for a good or service in front of your grandchild. This can lead to great conversations around why something costs what it does, which creates a better understanding of money’s true value. Of course, the older we get the more we learn about this on our own, but that can often feel like an unpleasant crash course. Grandparents have the ability to prepare the children in their lives far in advance of their financial independence. For example, if your grandchild wants to play a board game, choose Monopoly or Life, which often present financial teaching moments. Maybe your grandchild is asking for a video game for their birthday. There are many life simulation games, such as The Sims, that involve characters being required to earn their own money before they can buy anything. Making financial lessons a part of daily routines, in a fun way, is a very effective way to teach them to children.

  1. Explain the importance of saving.

Giving a young child a piggy bank is a very traditional way to introduce them to the concept of saving money. However, clear “savings jars” are actually much better visual tools than piggy banks. Grandkids will be able to literally watch their savings grow. Once they’re older, you can walk them through the process of opening up a savings account. Then, you could even teach them how matching works by contributing a percentage of your own money to their account for every dollar they save. Continue to encourage good habits by having them put a specific portion of any money you give them in their savings every time.

  1. Tell your stories.

Don’t be ashamed of any past financial “failures” you’ve experienced. Sharing firsthand stories with an older child about poor choices you made with a credit card or investments that didn’t go your way is likely to be much more impactful than any theoretical conversations. Most importantly, tell them exactly what you had to do to bounce back. Conversations like this can stop the future generations from making the same mistakes you have, or they can at least prepare young adults for how the real world works.

  1. Nurture budding entrepreneurs.

Instead of telling a child that money doesn’t grow on trees, show them exactly what it does take to start earning – hard work, determination and ingenuity. There are many classic “small businesses” you can help your grandchild set up such as lemonade stands, bake sales, dog walking, lawn mowing, and babysitting. However, one great lesson to pass on is that work is most rewarding when you can make money using already developed skills and doing tasks that you actually enjoy. Is your grandkid a techy? They could help neighbors set up new devices and charge for their service. Do they like to craft? Have them sell whatever they like to make as a hobby instead of lemonade. Are they an aspiring performer? Help them put on a live play or concert and charge admission. Not only do these kinds of activities encourage an entrepreneurial spirit, but you can also tie all kinds of financial lessons in to them, such as how businesses are run, how you might have to spend money to (hopefully) make more money back, and how saving what you earn through working can cause your wealth to grow.

  1. Tackle the instant gratification mindset.

The younger generations are completely made up of digital natives, meaning that those born in first world countries have only known a world where the internet can easily be accessed. There are many positives to this, but one negative is that they can easily become used to actions causing instant results. Teens are used to posting something online and having others reward them with “likes” in seconds. They’re used to ordering something online and seeing it show up on their doorstep within a couple of days. The problem is, not everything comes as easily as that, including wealth. One way to combat the need for instant gratification through a financial lesson is to teach your grandchild how to budget. Have them pick out a big-ticket item that they really want to buy. Then, outline the steps they’ll have to take to afford it, such as the amounts of money they’ll have to save and the increments in which they should be putting payments away. Sticking to a budget like this means that any spontaneous purchases they make in order to itch that instant gratification scratch will likely lead them off the path to buying that goal item in the desired timeline. Don’t forget, you’ll also have to stick to your guns and not give them extra money or buy them things (no matter how cute their puppy eyes are) while they’re working with this budget.

Being able to help a child learn and grow is one of the blessings that come along with being a grandparent. Whether it’s finding a way to sneak lessons into activities when your grandchild is younger or introducing them to a financial planner when they’re older, any way you can share your knowledge will be extremely beneficial to them. It’s one thing to leave your family with funds but equipping the future generations with the ability to appropriately handle these funds ensures that your legacy will live on.

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