Grandma’s Money Camp: Teaching Grandchildren Personal Finance
As a grandparent, especially if you don’t want heirs to destroy the inheritance you intend to leave, you want your grandchildren to learn basic money management as well as more advanced investing concepts and practices. Establishing the tradition of running a money camp each year for your grandchildren can benefit you, your children and your grandchildren by enabling the learning and practice of personal finance skills.
Examples of grandma camps (where the cousins gather for a sleepover, a few days or a week of activities at their grandparent’s house) abound. Likewise, examples of money camps (where tweens and teens spend a week or more participating in instructor led, hands on, finance and business activities) are plentiful.
What Is a Grandma’s Money Camp?
A grandma’s (or grandpa’s) money camp is a happy combination of the two. Grandma and/or grandpa take the kids for an hour, a day or a week and feed them through age specific structured activities and exercises to teach them personal finance lessons. The lessons are interspersed with quality grandparent time and just for fun endeavors.
Grandparents have for many years been agents for teaching grandchildren about money and investing; sometimes by giving the child a gift of stock, sometimes by hiring the child to let them earn money, often through informal personal interaction. In Growth Investing: Words of Wisdom from Kids published in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine in May 1997, 1200 children submitted essays to win a prize of $25,000 in Stein Roe Young Investor Fund shares. The 5th, 6th and 7th grade students “ often credited grandparents with teaching them about money, markets and investing.” according to the article reporting on the contest.
Historically, however, it has fallen on the parents to teach their children to manage personal finances, but many parents either don’t have the time, the ability or the inclination to do so. Bankrate.com article 4 Money Lessons for Children to Master by Sheyna Steiner, reported that a survey by Truecredit.com found that “20 percent of parents, nearly one in five, had never spoken with their kids between the ages of 4 and 18 about money basics”.
Parents can’t depend on the schools to pitch in for them either. In January 2010, USA Today reported that only 13 states require completion of a personal finance class to graduate from high-school and only 15 states even offer personal finance courses in high schools. The JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy noted a survey which found that “The financial literacy of high school students has fallen to its lowest level ever, with a score of just 48.3 percent”.
A money camp at grandma’s house is a happy and affordable solution to the falling financial literacy test scores and to the reality of dual wage earner family life with limited family time available. Since grandparent time may also be limited, a structured approach to the camp packs the time available with well thought out and age appropriate learning themes.
This year I am going to try to start my Grandma money camp! I’ve been invited to watch my 3 year old granddaughter and 6 year old grandson at their house this summer.
We will read books; learn about coins and bills; explore how the physical money is made; talk about the different things money can be used for; play store, then go to a real store and talk about the different roles we played – watching the folks performing those roles; play monopoly and other money games; and talk about jobs people do to earn money and why they do them. I also hope to work with their parents to find some simple jobs for them to do around the house, then pay them, talk about what to do with the money and then go do it.
We will have matching T-shirts that say Grandma’s Money Camp, but most of all, we will have fun.