Should we be responsible for teaching grandkids the value of money?

While cleaning out the house a few weeks ago I found a piece of paper that was given to me by my grandfather on my 10th birthday. It was a “certificate” he had written in black pen with little gold stars drawn around the borders. It read, “this certificate entitles you to 10 shares to the Australia New Zealand Bank on your 10th birthday”.

This was the first time I was introduced to investment. My parents had explained the basic principles of money to me as I was growing up. Every dollar I earned cleaning cars or vacuuming the house was put into my moneybox and then sent to the bank at the end of each month. I wasn’t allowed to spend it on lollies and toys like my classmates. The idea of saving was never fun, but somehow my grandpa made it seem like the most exciting thing in the world.

I had heard “shares” discussed at family dinners and had it explained to me as “owning” a little tiny piece of a big company. So the moment that my Pa gave me this certificate I knew I was a big girl now and had to take money seriously. Each year after that he gave me my age in shares on my birthday and when I turned 15 he took me to see his financial adviser. I hadn’t realised it but these small gifts that some people would see as just a piece of paper, had turned into a large amount of money.

Pa kept a tally board in the kitchen and for every A we got at school or goal we scored at sport, he’d give us a dollar. He told us that instead of giving us the dollar at the time, he’d give us 10 per cent more money at the end of the year if we let him keep it. So when I had 10 tallies against my name, I in fact received $11 from him as my reward for not spending it. This was how he taught us the value of saving and accruing interest.

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While my parents had taught me the basics, it was Pa who made it fun – who made me actually want to learn about money. He did this for all of the grandchildren in our family and now as I am soon to become a grandparent I wonder how much of the responsibility of teaching our grandchildren the value of money is up to us?

We are often the go-to people for our grandchildren when they don’t want to talk to their parents. When I think about my own grandparents I know I listened to them a lot more than I did my parents! So should we be harnessing this special relationship to educate our grandchildren while we have the chance?

The education Pa gave me about money set me up for life. Some may think that it was unnecessary to start at such a young age, but I’ve never once regretted missing out on the newest toy or the prettiest dress for the wealth of information he gave me. We can all tell them about the value of money and take them to the shops and let them pay with the cash then count the coins afterwards and explain it, but having an introduction to money that was real, was just so invaluable.

I don’t think we need to be wealthy people to teach our grandkids the value of money. If we start with opening a bank account for them (with the permission of their parents) and when they’re old enough take them into the bank to make deposits then show them the statements in their own name and teach them investment using something like the “Pa Payment Plan” that I had, we can leave a legacy that will support them for life. Far longer than we’ll be around for!

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Do you feel we have a responsibility to teach our grandchildren the value of money? How do you help them to understand? Do you do anything similar to my story?

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We hope to see you celebrating the over 60 life with other over 60s on February 17 2015.


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