Dear Grandparenting: Everyone talks about money now. Last Wednesday, during our weekly card game, we got around to things we bought for our grandchildren that they thought they couldn’t live without. Some of these things cost serious money, like the hi-tech football I just bought my grandson, Link. It looks like any other football but it connects with a smartphone and measures things like the distance the football was thrown, how fast it was thrown, how well the ball spirals, etc. When Link didn’t do as well as he figured, he put it away under his bed.
That was a couple of hundred bucks down the drain. This is exactly what I’m talking about. When kids get these crazy ideas in their head, they know grandpa is their next stop. I plead guilty to being a soft touch, but I have seen the error of my ways. You would do well to remind grandparents to draw the line. With the holidays coming up, we’ll all be put to the test. This is the high season for spending on grandchildren. Grey Wynn, Scottsdale, Arizona
Dear Grey: In this shaky economy, more grandparents are in a financial belt-tightening mode. The holidays always test the resolve of grandparents to exercise financial restraint, but grandchildren’s wants and needs are never-ending and seldom satisfied. Besides some bigger-ticket items, grandparents are inclined to ante-up for all manner of occasions and circumstances.
America’s grandparents spend upward of $50 billion annually on their grandchildren, with education accounting for some $30 billion. But every penny counts, and buying expensive brand names tops our list of frivolous expenditures. $75 for a T-shirt they’ll soon outgrow? And while you’re mall shopping, don’t become the easy mark that gives into impulse purchases. Make a short list and stick to it. Instead of the best, think good enough. You have permission to freely use the word, “No!” Say, “No,” enough and any idea of instant gratification goes poof! Never let grandchildren guilt trip you into overspending — it sets a very bad precedent.
Grandparents often aspire to financially support dream schooling. To our way of thinking, education is what one makes of it. Besides bragging rights, there’s little evidence of any return on investment for an Ivy League education. As for that big dream wedding, don’t get us started.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
FunnyGirl58 from Kingsport, Tennessee, sometimes gets good-natured kidding from her grandchildren about her “admittedly declining memory.”
FunnyGirl gives it right back to them: “The last time, I told them I remember the important things. Like when they forget to call me for a few months, grandma remembers to call them. Always have.”
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.