Spreading financial education is an important goal for Iowa banks. Many banks throughout the state spend great amounts of time visiting classrooms and teaching children the benefits of financial responsibility.
Financial responsibility is a topic that is also important to Joey Beech, the executive director of the Ankeny Economic Development Corporation. After helping her daughter understand how to best manage her finances after accepting her first job out of college, she decided to create a resource that will help others starting out do the same thing. It’s called A Girl’s Guide to Personal Finances.
“[My daughter] had a lot of really good questions, and as I helped her through all of that – everything from understanding what benefits to select to affording an apartment to saving for grad school –I told my husband, ‘Who’s helping all of her other friends who may not have parents who are comfortable with these conversations or who may not have background in it?’”
Beech started searching for resources to see what was available and found that there weren’t a lot of materials that explain the basics of saving.
“There’s a lot out there for those who already have money or have money to invest or who have accumulated wealth,” Beech said. “And then there’s a lot of books out there for how to get out of messes you’ve made, how to get out of debt, how to file bankruptcy, but there’s not much of anything out there on how to avoid problems [when you are just starting out] so you become the person who has the money to invest and do things with.”
That’s where Beech’s book comes in. It provides insight into the basics of life finances, including budgeting, credit, insurance, savings, investing, compound interest, and simple interest and loans.
What makes Beech’s book unique, however, is that it does not read like a textbook. Instead, it focuses on Beech’s personal experience.
“Because my intended audience was young, I wanted to make it interesting,” Beech said. “I don’t think you can make it interesting unless you make it personal. To make something a really personal example, especially something like finance, I felt like I had to target a specific audience, and for obvious reasons – my daughter, myself, my mother – that drove me to start with the girls.”
One of the key mistakes that Beech hopes her book will help people avoid is accumulating too much debt. She says that it can be too easy to get a loan, and it can be too easy to get approved for more than what is needed, which she says can be very dangerous. She cites student loans as one example.
“As a society, we say we’ll give you everything you need so you can go out and get a degree even if it takes five or six years,” Beech said. “Well, that might not be a good decision. It is important to understand before you get into it what you’re going to have to do and what it’s going to cost you in the long term.”
Overall, Beech hopes her book will help young people gain the confidence they need to manage their finances wisely. She says her book explores core concepts that have gone untapped due to technological advances. She points to balancing a checkbook as one of the core concepts that doesn’t exist for the next generation. She hopes her book will help young people understand the importance of such concepts.
“I think we will have a stronger society if we do that,” Beech said. “Everything we do in our society is impacted in some way by our financial standing. If we have a good handle on our own finances, we look at things better and we have a better understanding of life; we have less worry; we have less drive to do things we might regret.”