Grandparents: Here’s Why You Should Talk Money With the Grandkids

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Who needs to hire a financial adviser when you have grandparents you can talk to for free? When it comes to discussing money matters, grandparents have more influence than they realize.

According to a recent survey from financial firm TIAA-CREF, 85 percent of young adults said they’d like to discuss money and saving with their grandparents. And what’s more, 73 percent of young adults said their grandma and grandpa influence their saving and spending habits.

Interestingly, just 3 in 10 grandparents think they can impact the money habits of their grandchildren. A survey press release said:

“Young adults are surprisingly open to talking with their grandparents about money, regardless of the generation gap,” said Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D., director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, who collaborated with TIAA-CREF on the study. “When it comes to saving for college, most young adults feel unprepared, and grandparents aren’t fully aware of how they can help. Conversations about money over time could help young adults more than their grandparents realize.”

Coughlin suggests grandparents start discussing money matters with their grandkids when they’re young.

Saving for college may be a good opening talk, and one that could be educational for both kids and their grandparents.

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According to Money, grandparents are naïve about today’s college costs. While four years at a public university costs upward of $100,000, private college costs can run $160,000 or more. The TIAA-CREF survey revealed that 1 in 5 grandparents think college costs less than $50,000, while another 25 percent believe $50,000 to $75,000 should cover a college education.

About 23 percent of grandparents help pay for their grandchildren’s schooling. In the survey press release, Coughlin said grandparents like to see that their grandkids have “skin in the game” before they commit financially.

“Grandparents need to know their grandchildren are serious about achieving future success through advanced education by using their own money to help pay for at least part of it,” Coughlin said.

Discussions about money don’t have to be boring. Grandparents are often great storytellers, and can use that to their advantage. Money said:

In speaking to grandkids about money, the trick is framing the discussion as a personal experience. Kids love to hear stories about rituals, big decisions, frugality and home life, Coughlin said. Grandparents can find ideas and conversation starters for teens here and for younger kids here and here.

CBS said grandparents are good financial role models.

The financial wisdom grandparents often pass along can be boiled down to this: Always spend less than you earn, save plenty, invest wisely and give generously. These principles are timeless.

Grandparents, have you talked to your grandchildren about money matters? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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  • grandmaguest

    Started talking to my grandson when started getting an allowance about saving part of it and the benefit of delayed gratification for purchases. Of course we were talking about very little money then. As a teen and earning his money by mowing lawns and doing other things, we had a much more serious “talk” about funding an (roth) IRA. And as an incentive grandma agreed to match his “investments” dollar for dollar up to the max. So it was his choice how much of a percentage of his earning to put into that account. Grandma also helped him choose his investment….a mutual fund.
    As he went to college the funding dropped considerably but now is back up. Yes he went through a time of rather reckless spending…but nothing too serious….while he was in college. But once he figured out that spending like that was unsustainable, he came back down to earth. Thank goodness there was no credit cards, or car purchases. Just grandma loaning him the book “The Millionaire Next Door” and a couple others in that vein. Plus grandma told him it was up to him to settle up his bills that I and the family would not pay for them unless they were medical….which they were not. Just one months rent and utilities. He worked it out with his landlord and it never occurred again.
    He is now in the military and still contributes automatically to his Roth plus monthly to a savings account to help him purchase a car. I told him to put what he considered would be a car payment into an account each month, live off the rest, and when he was ready he would have a great down payment for it, plus he would know he could afford the car payment without so much difficulty since he had already been living without that amount. All in all, with the one little learning curve blip, he has been doing a great job! I’m so proud of his service and of his determination!!

  • Sarah A Shunk

    I remember talking a lot with my grandparents about life in general. My grandparents were born before the Great Depression, so I know things were very tight. I loved listening to their stories, especially when we had a history assignment to talk to someone we knew that lived during the Great Depression. I interviewed my grandpa and learn a lot about my family and the farm life. I also remember my parents teaching me a lot about money, earning it from livestock and garden produce. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned about money from all of these influences.