Grandparents I hear from are deeply invested in shaping money smart grandchildren, as many feel they fell short with their own kids.

Often, when I am working with parents on this topic, parents ask me how to involve their parents in the financial education of their kids. They, the parents, want to “manage” nana and papa’s input in a good way – 😉

I know firsthand the power of a grandparent as I grew up with my grandmother in our home and everything she said – even if identical to my mom and dad – was brilliant. Everything mom and dad said, well, it was suspect!

To help grandparents leverage this role they play in their grandchild’s life, here are a few ideas from grandparents who have written to me who have used the Money Savvy Pig as well as other tools we have created at Money Savvy Generation:

Enjoy breakfast together (not at Tiffany’s). One grandfather gave his granddaughter the Money Savvy Pig piggybank, one of our multi-chambered banks, and then gave her some seed money to make money choices. He set up breakfast with her once a month on a Saturday morning to “discuss” the goals his grand set and to talk about the progress she made on those goals. Sometimes granddad sympathized with the lack of income and talked about ways to earn money. Sometimes he rewarded what was saved and matched the deposit. Sometimes he told a story about his investing style and one time he told me his granddaughter talked him into donating to her favorite cause.

Parents loved the free Saturday morning time, and granddad and granddaughter found some real common ground.

Even if you are not in the same state as your grands, you can Skype or FaceTime for a face-to-face experience. Try texting to get attention from older grands. Tweens and teens get a big kick out of receiving texts from grandparents.

I also suggest that grandparents present this idea to parents first to get their input. Give parents the opportunity to talk about their values and to get comfortable with the role the grandparent is proposing to play in their grandchild’s life. I tell parents not to sweat the small stuff with grandparents and not to worry if they go “off script” because the most impactful teacher in a child’s life will still be –at the end of the day – the parent.

Movie time together. The movie “Moneyball” illustrates the value of smaller wins that add up to real gains. This movie opens the door to talking about the power of compounding and the Rule of 72. “Confessions of a Shopaholic”, where the main character is saddled with 12 credit cards – all maxed out to the limits.  She learns how to get out of debt and that credit should be used only to buy things of lasting value; For everything else, pay cash.

Read a book. For young grands, take a look at our children’s picture book series, “The Money Savvy Kid$ Club”. For older grands, we just published “O.M.G. Official Money Guide for Teenagers”. Read together with younger grandchildren and talk about the money lesson and add to that your own story. For older grandchildren, use the strategy below to make this book come alive.

Write a letter. Tell your grands a money story and add it to the inside of our teen book offering. Writing it down will grab their attention as nobody writes letters nowadays. Make it a story so kids will listen. Talk about your own money mistakes and what you did to fix them. Talk about your first job, whether you saved and how you invested. Keep it age appropriate. End your letter with a question you’d like to hear their answer to. I guarantee they will read at least this much, and it will engage them enough to read the “O.M.G. Official Money Guide for Teenagers” book.

One grandfather that I recently heard from put it best:

“The article in USA TODAY sparked my interest…particularly as a grandfather of two grandchildren.

It’s been my experience that financial matters are among many topics that are left to children’s “incidental” learning in this society…along with such knowledge/skills as problem solving and prevention, decision making, time management, trouble-shooting, etc. We do learn, of course, especially from our parents. And maybe some attention is given to those skill sets in some school systems. Not sure how common such curricula might be around the U.S. Some systematically presented information and processes would be well advised, in my opinion.

So my interest is especially oriented toward my grandchildren…though I might just thumb through the “O.M.G.” book myself before sending to them!  And maybe their parents will want to read it as well!”

Stanford Golden, PhD.


Susan Beacham

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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