Dear Grandparenting: Now and then I give my grandchildren a dollar or so because that’s what a grandparent is for.
Mine are at the age when a real dollar bill is a big deal. They get clean crisp bills thanks to a teller at my bank. Everything goes straight into the pink piggy banks I bought them.
I’d like to take it a step beyond the piggy bank and help them become smarter about money. They’re going to need it the way things look. Ideas? Alison Montez, Phoenix, Arizona
Dear Alison: Given how important financial know-how is in life’s scheme of things, it seems surprising schools don’t teach grandchildren the basics.
Why wait until youngsters acquire bad habits? A few pointers about how to manage money could save youngsters from tripping over traps that catch so many in adulthood.
Even grandchildren as young as three years old can grasp concepts like spending and saving according to Beth Kobliner, an authority on age-appropriate money lessons for youngsters. And research from Great Britain indicates children’s money habits are formed by age seven.
Children need to get a few things straight early on, like where money comes from. When you work, you get paid. No work, no money. Children who tear through their allowance experience what it’s like living beyond one’s means.
Which leads to delayed gratification, learning to wait and save before buying something. It’s a critical skill for modern youngsters, because the credit card industry markets pre-approved cards to grandchildren still trying to get the hang of being a teen. To incentivize kids to save, throw in a little more money the next week if last week’s allowance money is still around.
Giving grandchildren a sense of financial ownership can work wonders. Present them with $5 and they might pocket it all. Then you can begin to discuss savings, which leads to planning and budgeting.
We bet your grandchildren would hang tight to a five-dollar bill; research shows a five spot is perceived to have greater value than five singles. Hanging onto it is the whole idea. Any grandchild can get the hang of spending. Saving is a skill.
Grand remark of the week
“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.” — humorist Gene Perret
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.