By Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L
Girls just wanna to have fun, bellowed 1980s pop music icon Cyndi Lauper. Eternally young, this baby boomer was actually born in the early 1950s and is the same age as many of today’s grandparents. Lauper, probably no pauper, might have encouraged not just fun, but funds.
It’s never too soon to for a child to learn how prudent investing can provide them with a secure adult life. You, their grandparent, can teach them, and if you, like most adults, feel uninformed, then learn the basics of money management together. You can have some fun while learning about saving.
Do you believe in magic?
Your grandchildren can learn about compounding, that $16,000 can grow into $1,600,000. Invest $2,000 annually, from ages eighteen through to twenty-five in a mutual fund that earns 10%; such funds exist, you’ll need to search on a web site such as finance.yahoo.com. Leave the money in the fund. That investment should be worth over $1,600,000, by age sixty-five. Older grandchildren can understand that variables can be adjusted to earn more than this amount by starting younger, ending later, investing for more years or at a higher rate of return.
I’m a loser.
Perform another magic trick that makes your money disappear. Teach grandchildren about credit card debt. For example, they may want to purchase a video game. Inform them that they’ll pay with a credit card. What is a credit card and how does it work, you’ll ask. When the hypothetical bill arrives, they’ll only need to pay the $20 minimum; the interest rate on the card is 18%. Inform them that they’ll pay only the minimum each month. How long will it take to have it all paid, you’ll ask. Watch for a puzzled look on little Madison’s face. Hopefully, this clever grandchild will ask “Why would I want my money to disappear?” If so, then she’s learned your lesson well!
A day in the life
Grandchildren of any age may be encouraged to become interested in current events. Ask them questions about companies with which they are familiar such as their favorite store or food. Older children can comprehend more complex issues, such as the ups and downs of gasoline prices. Discuss money and business concepts them about the economy with older grandchildren.
Money, that’s what I want!
Enjoy money board games with kids such as Monopoly or Game of Life. Ask them about strategies they used to play and win the game. You can have much fun while using this opportunity as a teaching moment.
Create a budgeting game. Give each grandchild five different cards: a specific monthly income, house mortgage or rent payment, number of children and cost per child, regular expenses, and unexpected expenses such as a medical bill or amusement park vacation. One child may earn a doctor’s income and another player may have a cashier’s income; one player may have several children, another may have none. Have them calculate their monthly budget based on these cards. Most of the players will find themselves short each month. Discuss ways to make the budget work such as reduce expenses, postpone the expensive vacation, or get a higher paying job.
Teach your grandchildren well.
When it comes to being money smart, children often learn best from example. Make the investment in teaching grandchildren of any age to be money savvy. They may formulate a lifetime of money habits from some of these activities.
Author biography: Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist with an accounting degree, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines including The Dollar Stretcher and Young Money Magazine, baby boomer, and grandmother of two. She lives in a Midwestern college town when she has taught a summer class for elementary and middle school students about investing. She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past. Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.