Passing on life skills

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child and bike

Grandparents and older people have a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren

In the early years you teach the kids in your life without even thinking about it; how to use a knife and fork, tie their laces or learn to ride a bike. As your grandchildren grow up their view of their world grows too and so do the chances to have meaningful conversations with them.

Can you remember the things you and your grandad talked about or fun you had helping him complete a task like baking bread or weeding the flowerbeds? What about the sense of humour you shared with your grandma whilst helping with the food shopping or cooking tea?

We asked our members to tell us about some of the skills they picked up from their grandparents:

From all the feedback we got, there were two key types of skills that shone through.

  • Practical skills – valuable life skills, such as cooking and looking after the household; Planning for the future and learning to budget.
  • Values & beliefs – important personal skills and family traits especially how to be respectful and treating others with kindness and compassion.

Financial know-how fell between the two. Knowing how to budget and save. Learning the difference between what you need and what you want and some members mentioned how they were taught to be careful with money and value what they owned.

When we polled our members on what kinds of life skills they were passing onto the children in their lives, the top 4 reflected the things they had been taught by their own parents and grandparents.
With financial know-how being high on the list, we also asked our members whether they expected to pass on their money skills.

87% of respondents said they expect to give financial guidance to their children/grandchildren


What life skills will you pass on to the children in your life?

The life skills you pass on may be important family traditions like culture and language, for example traditional recipes or arts and crafts. Other, equally important skills, are more obvious like learning to read a map, a love of books, or being able to do times tables or calculate the change you will need from your shopping.

From learning to sew, to seeing savings grow

Sometimes you might worry that some of the skills you want to teach, especially financial skills, might sound a bit boring to kids. You might be wondering how you can start these conversations. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a “sit-down” chat, it can be a little and often. You are probably doing it already and there are plenty of creative ways to get started!

Go shopping

  • You love to treat your grandchildren but rather than always splurging on treats, give them a small amount of money and let them budget on how to spend it – an ice cream or a toy?

If your grandchild mostly sees you using card or contactless payments , the lack of cash in your hand doesn’t have to stop them from having a sense of value.

  • Look at your receipt together. Can they point out amounts saved by buying 3 for 2 offers, or show the amount of extra points you have on your loyalty card?
  • Can you ask them to pick the cheapest tin of tomatoes on the shelf? Look at the prices per 100g versus kilograms on the price tickets and think about the differences they show for price.

Where the money gets spent at home

  • Check out your smart meter. See the difference in usage of electricity or gas and compare the costs day to day. Teach them the impact an every day activity like using the oven has by reading the meter, before and after cooking Sunday dinner.
  • How much did you spend on all the food for everyone eating the Sunday dinner? And what was the total cost of food and fuel to cook the dinner for each person?
Could you do with some help to work out your savings plan? Try our Personal budget calculator.

Regular income and reasons for saving

  • Share some of the things you spend your monthly income on that are rarely discussed. The things you have to spend some of your monthly budget on – mortgage or rent, food, fuel bills, phone and internet subscriptions, insurance premiums etc.
  • What’s left over and how much do you spend on things you don’t necessarily need but want – such as day trips, new clothes, gadgets for home or other treats?
  • How much do you save? Why do you save money?
  • Is it for holidays, or a financial cushion for emergencies (anticipating those unexpected or irregular bills like when the car or boiler breaks down) or perhaps you’re saving for a specific item like a new car or to help pay for an event like a wedding?

Start the saving habit early

Lots of children receive money for birthday or Christmas gifts. The temptation for many is to go and splurge their money on a treat. You can teach them to save it up for a bigger reward.

  • Saving some pocket money or birthday cash can soon add up. A piggy bank is a good place to start. They can see the money building up, shake the piggy and feel it get heavier over time. Wouldn’t it be nice to know there’s a handy pot of money when they want to dip into it for a special occasion?
  • Ask your grandchild if they have a special toy they’d like to buy and as an incentive, suggest if they save half towards it, you’ll pay the other half.
  • Instead of giving the kids the whole cash gift, how about opening a savings account especially for them and putting some of the money aside in their own special account?
  • Many children’s accounts come with a pass book so they can have a special trip to the bank, or building society with you and get it updated; gradually watching their savings grow.
Yorkshire Building Society has a range of savings accounts.
View our children's savings accounts.

Spending, borrowing and credit

Financial education can come from many places. Children spend a lot more time in front of television than previous generations, and have grown up with the internet. This often means they see more advertising for credit, loans and offers to buy now, pay later. Ask your children what they know about credit cards and loans.

  • Do they know you will most likely pay interest on a loan or credit card and the final cost of buying something on credit can be much more than the original price?
  • Explain the difference between credit and debit cards. Spending your money with a debit card and borrowing money using a credit card.
  • Do they know what interest on savings and credit cards means? Making or earning interest on your current or savings account and being charged interest on a credit card.

More information

You can get some ideas of where to start and how to carry on the conversations you’re having about money in our guide, 5 chats to have with kids.

Did you know that Yorkshire Building Society run a financial education programme for children of different ages? Money Minds has been developed to inspire kids and young people how to learn about money. On their page you might find some useful tips to help you to carry on the conversation, or just find out more about Money Minds.