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Teaching kids ABCs of personal finance, investing

When Miami attorney David Bianchi and his wife realized their 13-year-old son was not learning anything about money, personal finance or investing in school, they thought about buying him some books on the topic. But most of the ones they found seemed too textbook-like for a teen.

So Bianchi, who has invested in start-up companies and has an undergraduate degree in economics from Tufts University, decided to write down some basic information about finances to share with his son. What began as 10 pages turned into 100 topics with illustrations that have been published in his new book Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing, and the Stock Market.

USA TODAY talked to Bianchi about his book:

Q: You recommend kids be disciplined savers and conservative spenders. How do you get that message across to them?

A: The most important lesson from the entire book is teaching kids that they must live within their means, to save some of what they earn and to avoid the temptations of having to buy every new thing they see or everything their friends may have.

I tell kids about the satisfaction they will have from building up a savings and investment account and knowing that they have a financial cushion in life. Even at a young age they get it. Blue Chip Kids teaches children (and their parents)

Blue Chip Kids teaches children (and their parents) the basics. (Photo: Wiley)

Q: What is the hardest concept to get across to kids?

A: The hardest thing is getting them to understand why they need to spend time learning about money at a young age. They often want to know why they can't just wait until they are older. I tell them they need to learn it now for several reasons.

First, the better money management skills they have by the time they graduate from high school the better off they will be in college and later on.

There is over $1 trillion of student debt outstanding in the country, and most of it was taken out by teenagers. If kids were better educated about money, they would be more careful about taking on student debt.

Second, they need to understand the power of compounding investment returns at a young age. The book talks about the power of compounded returns over time and has examples of that.

I explain to them that they will have much more money over their lifetimes if they learn to save, invest and watch what compounding can do to their money from day 1.

Third, I tell them that we live in an increasingly competitive world, and for them to get ahead and compete they need to know how to earn, manage and invest money sooner rather than later. Kids from around the world are learning about money right this minute, and America's kids need to be money smart as soon as possible.

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