Boomers are rapidly becoming Grandboomers; in the U.S., they are 70 million strong. Might this legion of potential mentors hold the key to financial literacy for the next generation?
I’m counting on it. All we need do is show them how to have the conversation.
Grandparents have joked for years that they if they knew grandkids were going to be so much fun they would have had them first. They also confide in large numbers that they would like to do a better job with their grandchildren than they did with their own kids-at least when it comes to teaching them about money.
Empowering retiring boomers to stay engaged in all sorts of productive activities in this era of longevity is rapidly becoming a policy goal around the globe. Why not enlist them on the financial literacy front? Grandparents with access to tools to teach a grandchild about wants and needs and smart spending could be one of the most powerful initiatives in the financial literacy movement.
A quarter of grandparents have spent more than $1,000 on their grandkids in the past 12 months, according to an AARP survey. These elders are eager to share their life experiences-how they made a living, their money mistakes and struggles, the value they place on giving back. Grandchildren are eager to listen.
I grew up with my grandmother, who lived upstairs in a two-flat apartment. Every weekend my grandmother would cook lunch and we would all gather around her table and I would listen to the adult conversations around me. A lot of them were about family history (you can click this site if you’re interested in finding out your family history for yourself), but many of them were about money. Grandma Katie told us about The Depression, how homes in our own neighborhood were selling for less than $10,000 each and how she managed to save money no matter what she was paid. She always paid herself first.
I saw her do other things as well. Her money lessons never left me. She gave money weekly to the church. She washed out plastic bread bags for reuse. She saved change and gave me small bags of dimes and quarters when I would visit home after having moved away.
My Money Savvy Pig is one tool that grandparents have told me they use. This is a translucent four-chambered piggybank with four slots and four tummies, each for a money choice: save, spend, donate or invest. Other tools, including online accounts, teach the same lessons. They are a great way for a grandparent to start the conversation.
It sounds quaint, I know. Young people today barely know what cash is. So get acquainted with apps like Venmo, Paypal and Square. You can do the same thing electronically. The occasional bag of change from my grandmother was for me an enduring lesson in frugality and the power persistent saving. I saw nickels and dimes turn into quarters and dollars. Honestly, it changed my life. I’ve been a saver for as long as I can recall.
Grandparents are a powerful tool we need to activate in our fight for a financially literate next generation. They are the unconditional voice of love that youngsters will hear in a different way than if the words come from parents. Ask an elder you are close to if they will participate in the financial education of your children. I guarantee the kids will be willing.