Teaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.
Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.
As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp’ in 2011 and held our fourth annual one this year.
This year’s camp will held just for the two grandchildren, a boy just 11 and a girl almost 8. My grandchildren’s other Grandma will participate with me in this years camp.
Long range planning
Earlier this year, I sat down and thought about the long range goals of our Money Camp. Before I know it the kids will be teens and not very interested in going to a Grandma camp with their precious time. However, as long as there is interest I plan to continue.
From basic concepts about currency identification and value to more esoteric topics such as the psychology of money, I jotted down the things I felt were important to pass along to our next generation. I gleaned some of my ideas from books such as The Young Investor by Katherine R. Bateman, Raising Financially Fit Kids by Joline Godfrey and Granddad’s Money Camp by Dr. George H. Meyers. Other’s came from discussions in our family meeting about what our family values are and still others from things I felt I had lacked or had neglected to teach my own children before they grew up.
Some of the items, for example, include:
- How to deal with a windfall
- Conceptual and practical information on investing
- A heavy focus on saving
- Exploration of and encouragement to have financial independence
- How to negotiate
- Getting a loan, buying a car or house
- All about insurance
- Tax education
I ran my topics past the parents and then divided them up into categories and figured out at what age I want to cover each.
Since saving is such an important value in our family, I intend to spend an additional day reviewing what we did last year, when the main focus was on saving.
Then we will dive into some practical skills. We will cover things like practice making change, when why and how to use a budget.
We’ll explore what adult members of our family do for a living as well as what other kids are doing right now to earn money or have a business.
I’ll continue to help them learn about investing by reading books (including Stock Market Pie), having them look through samples of annual reports, do a scavenger hunt to find companies who make things around home.
We will continue to learn about self employment and entrepreneurship (which I encourage because I want them to consider the possibility of NOT working for someone else all their lives). We will read Once Upon a Company – a true story about kids who earned money for college by opening a Christmas wreath making company; Benji – Kid Zillionaire – a 5th grade level book about a boy who wrote an App and made a bunch of money; and The Toothpaste Millionaire – about kids who made and sold millions of dollars worth of toothpaste.
Then we will play a board game I made up called Toothpaste Millions which helps kids learn about how decisions they make affect the growth of a business.
We are also going to watch an old movie called Kidco – about a group of kids who make money selling fertilizer from their farm, but get into trouble because they aren’t following the rules.
One day will focus on selling – why it is important, how it can be done, practice with sales techniques and examples of kids selling things. Another day will be devoted to learning how to negotiate – with a field trip to garage sales so they can practice.
Each year, they typically elect to have a kid business. So far that has been a one day drink & snack stand with various other add on products for sale. This year I’m going to propose that they make or bake Christmas crafts or treats, send samples to relatives along with an order form – which we will then fill in December.
I’ve found over the years that lots of prep work makes things go smoother and lets me focus on covering the concepts I want the kids to learn. I spent about 3 months planning for and preparing objects and activities for the camp this year – the board game in particular, took a lot of time, but was great fun for me.
Here are some of the tasks you might consider covering if you want to hold a camp for your kids – especially if, like me, you are not used to having the little people around all the time anymore!
Pick one or two concepts to cover. Look at educational standards and what typical kids the age of yours can or should know and do before you settle on a concept. By focusing on just a couple of things, you will send a stronger message.
Search for resources (books, games, activities, movies and etc) that help reinforce those concepts. I use library books, books I buy, board and card games, online games and activities, dvds, presentations, home made movies and more.)
Do something to set camp time apart from down time. We use the t-shirts – wearing them during camp and taking them off when camp ends.
Plan for alternate activities. Some times the kids just aren’t interested or you aren’t up for the orig. one. Have something in your back pocket to pull out and use.
Draw up a schedule. Check first with parents to see when the kids are available. Check the offering dates and times of businesses or tours or activities you want to pursue during camp. Test your schedule to see if you have enough or too little planned for the time allotted. I usually do this by going hour by hour on a paper schedule and then reviewing it multiple times. You have to be flexible during camp though and not try to stick strictly to the schedule. It should be a guide for you, not a task master for kids.
Gather or prepare any materials you need. Any teacher will tell you that it takes many non-classroom hours to be ready for one class exercise.
It really helps to be organized!