What Our Elders Can Teach Us About Money

Attitudes to money have undoubtedly altered over the generations, due in part to societal changes and expectations.

What can our elders teach us about money, then? From how to spend it to how to save it, we look at some top advice from around the world, most of it from those who’ve lived through difficult financial times. Read on…

Only Spend What You Earn

On his ‘Savvy Londoner’ blog, site author Goren offers a host of advice via his own grandparents. One such piece of wisdom is this: ‘never get into debt/only spend what you earn’.

‘It’s hard to believe, in the world we live in today – but my grandparents were very much against any type of debt – be it a loan, an overdraft, or just owing a friend money.’ Goran writes, adding that the one exception, as it is for many, was when buying their first home – a home they lived in for more than 60 years.

‘…even then, the “mortgage” they took was from…my grandfather’s father, which was a small loan they paid back every single month.’ Goran adds.

The Value of a Dollar (or a Pound!)

In a piece on The Forbes site, US-based Richard Eisenberg writes about the importance of teaching grandchildren about money. He says these lessons can start when the kids are between five and 10, with a good topic to begin with being ‘the value of a dollar’ (or, for those of us here in the UK: a pound).

"We used to always say 'Money doesn't grow on trees,' you know. But now kids think it just comes out of an ATM”, Richard says.

At Unity Mutual, we’re advocates, too, for teaching children and young adults about budgeting. We’ve delve into the topic, via a piece on instilling some top tips on looking after money, in teenagers specifically. We also published this piece on how your own attitudes to money may have been shaped by others

The Importance of Saving

‘Children don’t always take older generations’ advice on board’, states this article in The Independent, adding that new research suggests that more than a third of adults surveyed ‘wish they had listened more to their parents or grandparents about saving money for the future.’

The piece goes on to say that, of those who took part in the research, ‘People in Northern Ireland (50%) and Scotland (43%) particularly regret not taking advice on saving from older generations.’ People in the North East of England (41%) and South East (40%) echoed this sentiment.

A Sense of Responsibility

In Australia, a survey of over 1,000 grandparents (with grandchildren in education) revealed how grandparents in the country are ‘contributing to their grandchildren’s lives and their education aspirations’.

This article, which details the survey’s results, states that the most common motivators among grandparents to transfer their wealth to their children and/or grandchildren is a desire to set up them for the future (55%). This was followed by ‘not wanting them to lack financially (46%) and altruistically wanting to give back to their children or grandchildren (42%).’

These motivators ‘reflect a sense of responsibility and care for grandparents’ descendants’ – and the picture is similar here in the UK.

Unity Mutual conducted its own research amongst the over 50s demographic, outlined in this extensive report.

This generation is perhaps the best prepared for the world we live in today, having lived through wars and recessions, amongst other financial hardships.

Almost two-thirds of the survey participants (64%) said they wish they had planned earlier to help their children out financially. Nonetheless, many are still lending a hand, in terms of monetary handouts and assistance with childcare, with time often as valuable a gift as money in times of financial strain.

This ‘sense of responsibility’ – and a need to step in to help children and grandchildren – could well be passed through the generations. Financial pressures in their own lives could well lead parents of today to teach their children the importance of saving – and to look out for their offspring (and later, their children’s offspring).

Saving in 2024: let’s chat?

Are you keen to grow your own savings pot to ensure a healthier financial future in 2024 and beyond? If so, check out our range of financial products* and do not hesitate to contact our team with any questions you may have.

Until next time…

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