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Use a Grandfather's Bank to combat the entitlement trap

Posted March 2

Today's column is one I (Richard) want to direct specifically toward grandfathers. Though it could also apply to grandmothers, I want grandfathers to pay particular attention and encourage them to apply the suggestions in their family.

Don’t we all as grandparents worry, at least sometimes, about how our kids are raising our grandkids? Perhaps among the primary concerns is the entitlement attitudes we often see in our grandchildren. They seem to think everything should be handed to them.

But how do you tactfully bring it up to your children as they parent? How do you make any parenting suggestions without the risk of offending or getting shut off? And how do you have your own grandpa input to help those grandkids learn about things such as work, saving, delayed gratification and self-reliance?

Well, for starters, here is one thing to stop doing, and another thing to start doing: Stop giving them so much, and start making it possible for them to earn some things for themselves.

You can do so by setting up a Grandfather’s Bank for your grandkids who live reasonably close to you. Here is one way to go about it:

1. Get a wooden chest or box of some kind — the more substantial and impressive the better. An inexpensive second-hand store is a good place to look, or you could build it yourself. Get a big lock on it and maybe even label such as Grandfather’s Bank or Jones Grandkids Savings Bank or whatever you like.

2. Introduce the bank to any grandkids who are 8 or older. Tell them that it is a place where they can save money and learn about earning and budgeting money wisely. Explain that the bank pays interest and explain interest as rent that the bank pays on your money that you keep there. Consider paying 1 percent per month interest. The monthly calculation will be a way to have a regular conversation each month with each grandchild who has an account in the bank.

3. Get a fake checkbook for each account holder. Put the kids’ name on the checks and show them how to get money out of the bank by writing a check or put it in by filling out a deposit slip.

4. Tell grandkids that they are welcome to put any money they want to earn interest on into the bank at any time but that they can only withdraw it at the end of a month after interest has been added.

5. Explain that there will also be a special way that they can earn extra money to put in the bank. At the start of each school term, you will help them to set some goals in the three categories of grades, extracurricular and character. Tell them that while the best reward for their completion will be the satisfaction they get from meeting those goals, the bank will also pay them a bonus for each goal they complete. Work out with each individual grandchild what the goals will be and what the bonus will be for meeting each one.

6. Tell the grandkids that the bank also offers short consulting sessions on saving and budgeting, which will show them how to plan what they do with the money they earn. As their financial consultant, recommend that they always save 20 percent of any gifts or anything they earn and that they also donate 10 percent to a church or charity or other cause that they choose.

7. Consider setting up a separate college savings account in the Grandfather’s Bank for each grandchild. In this special account, the money they put in is earmarked for college and can’t be taken out until then — but it pays a higher interest rate of 10 percent per quarter.

It’s important as grandfathers to coordinate these efforts with your kids — the parents — to explain to them what your objectives are and be sure that it fits in with their own efforts to teach independence and overcome entitlement attitudes.

As NY Times #1 bestselling authors, The Eyres have now written 50 books and speak throughout the world on families and Life-balance. For seminars and presentations available locally go to www.lifeinfullcruise.com or www.lifeinfullonq.com.

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