Dear Grandparenting: From time to time I like to give my grandchildren a dollar or two because that’s what grandparents are for. My grandkids are at the age when a dollar bill seems like a big deal. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when my grandmother fished around in her pockets and produced a dollar bill she put into my little hand.
Is there any way I can turn this into a teaching moment about the value of money? I’d like to give my grandkids something to think about and this is one moment when I definitely have their attention. Here’s my question: How do you teach young grandchildren to get smart with money? The way the national is economy is heading, they are going to need it. Mort Brownstein, New York, New York
Dear Mort: Yours is an excellent question in any economy. Why wait and let them acquire bad habits, or stand by to see some other knucklehead putting the wrong ideas into their little heads? Teaching your grandchildren a thing or two about money management might save them from tripping over the same financial traps that ensnare so many adult Americans.
We have a few recommendations, beginning with learning the critically important skill of delayed gratification — the very nemesis of a credit card industry that begins marketing pre-approved cards to youngsters still trying to get the hang of being a teenager. To begin to tame impulsive grandchildren, you might offer to give them three dollars instead of one dollar, providing they are willing to wait another week — a whopping 200 percent increase. You might also insist they write down their “wish list” and agree to wait 48 hours before buying anything. The urge often passes.
Giving grandchildren a sense of financial ownership can work wonders. Give them $5 to spend and they might pocket it all. Then you can begin to discuss savings, which leads to planning and budgeting. It’s worth remembering that people perceive and treat money differently, often depending on what form it takes. Your grandchildren might want to hang onto a five-dollar bill, because it’s perceived as having greater value than five one-dollar bills. Hanging onto it is the whole idea. Any grandchild can get the hang of spending. Getting the hang of saving is a seriously impressive skill.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
DaddySox41 from Waynesboro, Pennsylvanis, says he has to “do time management on myself” whenever he gets around his grandchildren.
“One hour and I might begin to feel young again just a little. Two hours and I’m still doing pretty good. Anything much longer and I start to age quickly.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.