I was talking to my dentist today about flossing one’s teeth. He said the vast majority of his patients do not floss regularly and yet the handful that do are absolutely passionate about doing it. Interestingly, he observed the catalyst for starting to floss often was not “information” (i.e. people who floss have fewer dental issues) but rather something hitting them “emotionally” (i.e. a family member undergoing painful dental treatments).
What does this have to do with grandparents and financial literacy? Everything. Emotions and stories are one of the primary ways we remember and pass along key life lessons. As such, I think one of the best gifts a grandparent can give a kid or teen is to sit down and share age-appropriate lessons about your best and worst money decisions.
With a very young child, you might share a story of spending all your allowance at once and then going into a store and spotting a dream toy that you couldn’t buy because you had already spent your money. For a young teen, you can explain how you started saving small amounts regularly in an individual retirement account and how it grew over time.
Whether it’s saving, budgeting, living within your means, debt management (or avoidance!), or investing…these potentially dry topics can come alive when you share your personal stories. As an added bonus, it will bring you closer to each other and provide a gift (knowledge) that truly keeps on giving.
This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal blog. Used with permission.