What is Your Grandma Name?
If you are a grandmother, did your kids ask you how you wanted to be addressed by the grandchildren: grandma, mimi, memaw, etc? Never having thought about that question (since both my grandparents and my husband’s were always Grandma Last Name and Grandpa Last Name), I was totally surprised when our adult children asked. I even asked them “What do you mean!?!” They gave me some examples and then I Googled it (my how times have changed!). I guess I ended up choosing Mimi because I thought it would be easier to pronounce for the little ones yet not too childish to say when they were adults.
What is Your Grandma Role?
Is being a grandmother a second chance to be better at something we wished went better with our own children or a time to help instill values and habits we know went well with our kids? Or both? I have found myself practicing the art of biting my tongue and trying to be more thoughtful and intentional about the time I do spend with our six grandchildren. Role modeling and storytelling seem to be a good approach vs feeling like a second parent to these little ones.
What is Your Money Message?
Since most of my working years have been related to helping people make wise financial decisions, using money as a life skill is forefront in my brain as I see my little grandchildren starting to be school-aged. I was a guest on a podcast with Tony Steuer a couple of months ago, and he asked a tough question: What is the one best piece of advice you would give anyone about personal finance? The toughest part of answering that question was to narrow it down to just one thing.
So as a grandma, I am asking myself that same question in order to narrow it down to a few things that my experience has convinced me would be healthy and helpful for my grandchildren to learn as well. As grandmas, we often have teachable moment times with our grandkids. Think of your own life or how often you have heard others say “I learned X from my grandma” or “She was the one who taught me how to do Y” or “I really was close to my grandma.”
Save, Spend, Give
The money lessons I hope to share with our grandchildren relate to the three things we can do with money: Save, Spend, Give. In order to save, we have to earn in order to have money in the first place. Working to earn money is a great way to help children start practicing Save, Spend, Give.
Earning to Save
Sharing stories about how you or your family earned money, whether it was an allowance or a job as a kid, can be a great conversation starter. Riding in the car together on a one-hour trip with our five-year-old granddaughter, I asked her and her friend who was in the back seat with her about how they like to help around the house.
Chore charts, allowance, and a written list of what they do at home came out of that one question. I shared stories about lemonade stands, selling Girl Scout cookies and later working at a bakery in high school. They told funny things that had happened when they took out the trash, washed the dishes, and matched the socks. And I reminisced about helping one of my grandmas with mowing, shining her silver, and dusting her glass shelves in the curio cabinet.
As we talked, I could see how proud they were of all the things they knew how to do, how much they knew it was helping their family, and how fun it was to earn some money for some of the responsibilities. They almost seemed to enjoy bragging about all they do.
Saving to Spend
That conversation segued right into asking about what they do with the money they earn. Saving up to buy something was the common theme: a scooter, a toy, a treat. The friend was a few years older and he proudly told me about things he had already purchased in the past with his savings. The only thing I remember buying as a very young child was penny candy, remember those days? A quarter would fill up a little brown bag!
Delayed gratification is a huge life lesson learned when saving money. It reinforces and helps us practice learning to live within our means, a hard lesson our society today would do well to live by. Making it fun and fairly quickly rewarding for children, can truly be a gift we can at least help facilitate in our grandchildren’s lives. And often in that process, they feel the reward and wonderful feeling of gratitude and appreciation along the way.
Saving to Give
Earning and having money also affords us the luxury of being able to help others less fortunate than ourselves. I remember collecting coins in cardboard donation boxes to take to church around holiday time, participating in fundraisers for various organizations, and volunteering in a variety of capacities growing up. By nature, children are very self-centered and we help them become less so as they mature by giving them opportunities to be a blessing to others.
One of my clients used to say, “Money isn’t everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch!” It is a subject area that impacts us throughout our entire lives. Being a grandma may be a “do-over” time, a “do it again” time, as well as a “do have some fun” time! Remember, children are sponges and often absorb more than we realize. Because you love them, feel free to cherry-pick your stories and activities together to help positively influence your grandchildren’s lives on money lessons you have found to be important. They will remember you for it and may even thank you someday when they are older and wiser (because of you).
This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.