Guest blog: Finance talk with grandkids is not an #AwkwardFamilyMoment

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

By Paul Gydosh

Talking about finances with your teenage grandkids doesn't have to become their next Snap about an #AwkwardFamilyMoment. Despite a few eye rolls, young people are willing to listen to their grandparents' advice. 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. Additionally, the study found that grandkids view their grandparents as positive role models when it comes to the importance and ability to save money.

So, grandparents, it's time to stop shying away from "the finance talk" and share your life experiences with your grandchildren. Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid being caught in an #AwkwardFamilyMoment in the process.

Everyday conversations are a great opportunity to talk about financial issues. Your teenage grandkid may be talking about saving for a car or worried about paying for college. An adult grandkid may be saving for his or her first home or expecting a child. These life milestones are great opportunities to relate to a grandchild by taking a trip down memory lane and sharing how you worked to save for a big purchase or for your education. This shouldn't be a lecture, but it should show that you genuinely care and can relate to a grandchild's situation. He or she is listening no matter what the outward reaction may be.

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 whether things are needs or wants while shopping, playing outside or watching TV. Again, your own life experiences are the most credible examples.

Be honest about expenses. In a credit card world, many teens don't understand the value of the dollar and it can be tempting to rely on a credit card when a grandchild turns 18. Talk to him or her 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 a young grandkid. Use the opportunity to let them help count out the cash needed to pay for the purchase. Either explain how the ATM truly work or use it sparingly in front of them.

Talk practically about finances. Many grandparents help care for their grandkids and grandkids often go along with them on errands. So, make an opportunity out of the occasion. 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 money to cover taxes. Be sure to price-compare and bargain hunt. 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 or have them do the same with you on Amazon.

Encourage them to save money. Whether it's saving for an Xbox, college or a home, no matter your age, it is tempting to spend money as you earn it and tough to keep a long-term savings plan in mind. If your grandkid received a check or money for a birthday or holiday, remind them about the importance of saving money. Younger grandkids can be encouraged to save money for a special toy, or teenage grandkids can learn about the importance of building a 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.

Take what could be an #AkwardFamilyMoment and have an authentic conversation with your grandkids about money. Talking about money and savings can strengthen your relationship with your grandchildren. And, remember, they're always watching. Being an example makes the biggest impression..

Paul A. Gydosh, Jr. CFP®, Managing Director of Kensington Wealth Partners, has more than 25 years of experience in educating, counseling and implementing personalized strategies and solutions for the management, preservation and transfer of hard-earned wealth to one's family and charity. Paul is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors. For more information visit