BLOG: Talking with Grandkids About Money

Being a grandparent is a wonderful opportunity to share your life experiences, love and knowledge with your grandkids. It’s important to share your insights about finances, too. An intergenerational study by the MIT AgeLab and TIAA-CREF found that 85 percent of kids are open to having “the finance talk” with grandparents, while only 8 percent of grandparents are likely to start a conversation about money. The study also found that grandkids view their grandparents as positive role models when it comes to the importance and ability to save money.


Here are dos and don’ts of talking with your grandkids about money.

Do look for everyday conversations to talk about financial issues. From wanting a new video game, to saving for a car, and from financing education opportunities to preparing to build a family – each of these life milestones are great opportunities to share knowledge about finances with others. Take a trip down memory lane and talk about how you worked to save for a big purchase, retirement or fr your education. This shouldn’t be a lecture, but show that you genuinely care and can relate to their situation.

Do keep it age appropriate. What your 3-year-old grandchild will retain is completely different from your 9-, 16- or 25-year-old will. If it’s a young grandchild, keep it simple and share the basics of money and how it works, whereas older grandkids will be interested in earning and saving money.

Do be honest about expenses. In a credit card world, many people don’t understand the value of the dollar and it can be tempting to rely on a credit card when they turn 18. Talk to your grandkids about what it takes to rent an apartment or run a household. What it takes to pay for and maintain a car. Think twice before pulling your credit card out of your wallet to pay for a purchase in front of young grandkid. Use the opportunity to let them help count out the cash needed to pay for the purchase.

Do talk practically about finances. Many grandparents help care for their grandkids, and those kids often go with them on errands. For example, if you only have $75 to spend at the store, encourage them to help you keep track of what you’re spending, including enough to cover taxes. Be sure to compare prices and look for bargains. If a pair of shoes costs $100 at the first store, but $50 at another store, why pay more for the same item? For older grandkids, make trips to the store a game and make guesses to see who is closest to the final purchase total.

Encourage them to save money. No matter your age, it can be tough to consistently save money. If your grandkid receives money for a birthday or holiday, remind them about the importance of saving some of it. Younger grandkids can be encouraged to save money for a special toy or teenage grandkids can learn about the importance of building savings. Also, think about gifting savings bonds or depositing money into a 529 college savings plan account to help them with education expenses instead of writing a check or stuffing that money envelope with cash.

Don’t avoid the conversation. The earlier you talk about finances with your grandkids the better. It will become part of your routine and they’ll recognize that you’re someone they can turn to for financial advice. Encourage a young grandchild to do chores around the house to earn money to save for a toy or a treat. The earlier they understand money the better off they’ll be in the long run.

Don't forget to note differences between needs and wants. We all like to live in the moment, but this is especially true for kids and teens. Understanding the relationship between needs and wants is an important concept for finances. You can help your grandkid distinguish between needs and wants by discussing different items and asking about whether things are needs or wants while shopping, playing outside or watching TV.

Don’t avoid talking about debt. That’s right, I said it – debt. Many people shy away from talking about debt. In a credit card society, many children might think a credit card is just how you get things and not understand the financial implications.

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind and have an authentic conversation with your grandkids about money. Talking about money and savings can strengthen your relationship with them. Setting a good example makes the best impression.


Charlotte Dougherty. CFP®, of Dougherty & Associates, has more than twenty years experience in helping to meet the financial, retirement and investment planning needs of executives, business owners and professionals. For more information visit

Charlotte A. Dougherty is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Dougherty and Associates is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. CRN-1370839-121015