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Old Money

Tips To Encourage Reasonable Spending From Grandparents

Here you are, watching your own Ma and Pa metamorphosis into doting extended caregivers as they gaze lovingly into your kid’s eyes. But be warned that things could get bumpy. Particularly when they buy your kid a fully-functioning mini Tesla that’s frankly more awesome than your own crappy whip.

After all, those tightwads wouldn’t even consider buying you a Super NES even though EVERYONE else in the neighborhood had one. So you had to play it over at Bobby Monolongo’s house, which sucked because he was way better than you at Mario Kart and his bedroom smelled like rotting feet. Thanks, jerks!

The struggle is real: if your parents have the means (and sometimes even if they don’t), they will spoil the living crapola out of your kid. That can put their financial future at risk while simultaneously making you look bad in the eyes of your little one. Best set the ground rules right now.

The Evidence

A study from AARP in 2012, during a down economy, showed that grandparents were totally primed to spend all over their grandkids. And that was even before special occasions like holidays and birthdays. In fact, a whopping 89 percent of grandparents said they spent money on their kid’s kids just because they damn well felt like it.

In fact, shopping was up there with hanging out and watching TV as one of the favorite activities grandparents enjoyed with their grandchildren. And this is when Matlock was in much wider syndication and the economy was in the crapper. So you can imagine how things have changed, except for Matlock, that show is still like old people catnip.

The Dangers

Even senior citizen financial gurus understand the dangers of grandparental open-wallet policies. There are a couple of reasons their unbridled generosity could be bad in the long run:

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Retirement Difficulties

Unbridled generosity can be an incredible drain on grandparents who are living on a limited retirement income. Not only does that make life hard for them, it could possibly make life hard for you. You might wind up having to help them continue to feed themselves and pay for medical treatments, like the new knees they’ll need after trying to keep up with your kid.

Relationship Problems

If your parents are legitimately able to outspend you, it could lead to some hurt feelings. What happens on Christmas Day when your grandparents unveil that bonkers gift that’s so much cooler than anything you put under the tree? It takes the wind right out of your sails, that’s what. And it also get your kids thinking the grandparents are money sprinklers rather than developing strong loving relationships with them.

Have The Talk

You parents don’t actually have the right to spoil your kid without your consent. You should have a frank discussion about their spending habits while also trying not to make them feel sad. Because there’s nothing more depressing than sad old people.

  • Remind them that your kid would just get a kick out of just spending some time with them.
  • Offer suggestions of free or affordable activities for uncreative grandparents.
  • Pool resources for one big gift that doesn’t come from any one person during the holidays.
  • If they insist they want to give more, ask to them to secure a safe investment in your kid’s name that could help them in the future.

In the end, the grandparents should be playing by your rules. And if they really want to spend money, remind them that your baby would really love a Super NES with Mario Kart. And then go find Bobby Monologo on Facebook.