Interview with Robert Bacarella
Founder the Monetta Funds, Author
Q. Please tell us a little about your background?
A. I have always had an interest in investing. I started an investment
club in 1975 with four individuals and $750. The club grew to a partnership
and eventually to a mutual fund organization, which I am currently
chairman/president. I am very concerned about the financial literacy
effort to teach our children about money and recently introduced a
Young Investor Fund that will encourage kids to get involved in the
Q. What drew you to writing about kids and money?
A. A recent national survey testing high school seniors about basic
financial literacy facts showed an average score of a dismal 52%…with
most students flunking the exam.
Q. Who introduced you to saving and/or money and at what age?
A. My parents did, at around five years old.
Q. Do you have a favorite place or container to save change? If so,
would you tell us a little about it?
A. Yes, a large plastic Coca Cola shaped bottle. Each day I would
put my loose change in the bottle, and to my surprise when I took
the coins to a local bank I had accumulated approximately $1,200 in
Q. What do you think the biggest challenge parents face when it comes
to teaching children about money?
A. Getting kids involved in the savings process.
Q. What’s your best tip for parents on teaching children about
A. Encourage kids to start collecting something, i.e. baseball cards,
Thomas the Engine train cars or coins, which gets them in the habit
of accumulating items to reach a goal. This accumulation process easily
connects to saving for the things they want.
Q. What’s the biggest mistake you thing parents make when it
comes to teaching children about money?
A. They assume kids learn about money through hands-on experience,
which fails to develop good attitudes and behaviors.
Q. Are you pro allowance? Briefly why or why not?
A. No, allowances do not instill good financial habits…knowing
that they get money every week no matter how they spend it removes
an incentive to save.
Q. At what age do you think credit card education should begin?
A. It depends on the child, but the earlier the better. Most kids
don’t understand the difference between cash, debit cards and
Q. At what age do you think parents should allow children to have
a credit card?
A. Credit cards for kids should be used primarily for emergencies
and should have a low credit limit. When a child is allowed to go
somewhere without their parents is when they should have a credit
Q. If you could only give a child one piece of advice
on money, what would it be?
A. Save on a regular basis so that money will begin working for you
rather than you always having to work for money.
Q. What’s your favorite family activity?
A. Attending various sporting events, going out to dinner or to a
Q. What’s your favorite money quote or saying?
A. My favorite money quotes comes from the movie Wall Street: “Nothing
ruins my day more than losses” or “You’re doing
good kid, but you gotta keep doing good…”
Q. Do you have any final thoughts or suggestions
for parents when it comes to kids and money?
A. Financial classes don't teach kids about money because they are
usually offered to late to change already ingrained behavior
and attitudes about money. Introducing children to having and handling
their own money should be a primary goal for parents. The
core of teaching financial independence is "involvement"
in the savings process. The process begins at a young age by first developing
a saving habit to reach a concrete goal. Once children learn
how to save and reach a goal the next step is to teach them how money
can work for them which introduces them to the investment process.
Learning these basic financial skills will boost a child's self-esteem
and internal motivation which is critical to their long-term ability
to excel and succeed.
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