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Grandparents Tend to Overspend.

There are 46,000,000 grandparents in the U.S. When it comes to grandchildren, they admit that they are inclined to overspend and buy less rationally than they do for themselves or their own children.

In a survey of The Senior Panel conducted by Research 100, Princeton, N.J., people were asked about their role as grandparents. Sixty-eight percent say visits with grandchildren usually take place in the grandparents' home. Some visits have grandparents filling the role of babysitter, while others are for an afternoon, a day, or an extended visit. Regardless of the reason, when the youngsters come to visit, their arrival has a substantial influence on the food that comes into the house. This is especially true for treats, a category where grandparents will splurge on individual snack items and prepared foods.

In addition to stocking their grandchildren's favorite foods, grandparents acknowledge that the time they spend with them frequently involves laying out money. Activities with grandchildren include taking them shopping; going to the movies, parks, or museums; dining out; or other events that lead to additional buying.

While 40% of grandparents feel they spend just the right amount of time with their grandchildren, 60% say they would like to spend more time with them. They also take pride in feeling that they have some influence over important aspects of their grandchildren's lives, particularly in the area of cultural heritage, morals, and over-all quality of life.

Eighteen percent of grandparents cite a willingness to contribute to tuition and to offer financial security for the child's future through investments. A less common form of assistance is life insurance, with six percent naming the grandchild as beneficiary.

People over age 50 usually pride themselves on being seasoned consumers who are less susceptible to the influence of advertising. When purchases involve grandchildren, however, their behavior softens. They tend to avoid adding up how much money they spend on their grandchildren, and they are not always certain that they receive good value. Their desire to please the youngsters is great, but they acknowledge that they often do not feel well-informed about the products they buy. Given their uncertainty, it is not surprising that 60% indicate that most of their gifts to grandchildren take the form of money tucked inside a card.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Dec 1, 1998
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