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Interview with Michael Fischer

Q. Please tell us a little about your background?
A. I am the author of the book ‘Saving and Investing – Financial Knowledge and Financial Literacy that Everyone Needs and Deserves to Have!’ and the founder of my own investment firm. Prior to writing the book I spent nine years at Goldman Sachs advising some of the largest investment institutions in the world and managing Goldman Sachs’ relationships with some of their most important institutional clients. During this time I literally bought and sold billions of dollars of investments on behalf of clients and myself. I am a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), completed my MBA studies at INSEAD and hold a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering. I wrote the book (developed a series of instructional videos on YouTube) to provide an academically rigorous and factual account regarding the principles of finance to the general reader with a view to contributing to the general level of financial literacy.

Q. What drew you to writing about kids and/or money?
A. The fact that I was reading so much about the lack of financial literacy among the general population, and that in my own experience, I have met so many people who had no idea about the world of finance. Even in my own experience, even though I had gone to college and held good jobs, it was not until business school that I myself fully became aware of money, stocks, bonds and financial markets. This subject not only surrounds us every day, and forms the basis of our Western society – it also largely determines where we end up financially when we retire. Unless someone actually works in this field or studies it in college, the unfortunate reality is that they are unlikely to have been exposed to it enough.

Q. Who introduced you to saving and/or money and at what age?
A. My parents introduced me to saving money pretty early – they came from the post-war generation in Europe and had experienced quite a bit of poverty first hand. Saving and living frugally were always themes in our home. As far as investing or understanding money, and how our financial system works, it wasn’t until business school that I became well versed in this subject.

Q. Do you have a favorite place or container to save change? If so, would you tell us a little about it?
A. My wife picks up all my change and spends it (so I use other means of saving).

Q. What do you think the biggest challenge parents face when it comes to teaching children about money?
A. That for many families, the subject isn’t really spoken about and that perhaps sometimes people feel that the subject detracts from the quality time spent on creating the right emotional environment.

Q. What's your best tip for parents on teaching children about money?
A. I don’t think it is important to speak about the family’s money per se as a family - it is however important to speak about financial concepts in general – concepts such as saving, compounding, financial markets etc. should be discussed at some point much as in the same way that parents discuss the world of animals or plants with their children. Finance and money are such important topics, having some exposure to them is invaluable – and if necessary parents and children can even learn together.

Q. What's the biggest mistake you think parents make when it comes to teaching children about money?
A.  Not having the conversation or not encouraging kids to get informed themselves.

Q. Are you pro allowance? Briefly, why or why not?
A. Very pro allowance – I think it teaches discipline, value of money, financial planning and it allows kids to share in the families financial well-being in a structured way.

Q. At what age do you think credit card education should begin?
A. 14 (or when children start asking about it).

Q. At what age do you think parents should allow children to have a credit card?
A. 16

Q. If you could only give a child one piece of advice on money, what would it be?
A. Learn as much as you can about it – no matter how important spending time on other things may seem – having money working for you in the background just adds that extra sense of security that can take everything to another level.

Q. What's your favorite family activity?
A. Road trips to see natural parks.

Q. What's your favorite money quote or saying?
A. A penny saved is a penny earned.

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