- Associated Press - Monday, October 19, 2020

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A Fayetteville native is doing her part to educate young people on financial literacy with her book, “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.”

Crystal McLean, a financial banker, wrote her children’s book on financial literacy after coming to the realization that there isn’t enough resources to prepare people for the financial world of budgeting, investing, saving and debt.

McLean was inspired to write the book after taking her daughter to Barnes & Noble bookstore in hopes of finding a book on financial literacy. Frustrated, McLean decided to write her own book for her daughter, and then it turned into something much bigger.

“What I have learned after graduating college and not really learning a lot about finances until after being in the real world, they don’t really teach you about how to handle money,” said McLean, a Fayetteville State University graduate. “They teach you the core principles about the accounting side of it. They teach you all these different things. But they don’t really teach you how to budget and manage your money, so I didn’t really learn a lot until I got into the ‘real world.’”

As a student at FSU studying banking and finance, McLean said the didn’t appreciate the importance of financial literacy as much as she does now.

“I knew it needed to be talked about, but I didn’t feel that I was the one to talk about it at that time,” said McLean. “I didn’t feel like I was qualified to until it was to the point when I graduated that I was like, You know what? Who’s going to teach us? When are we going to learn this. And why are we not learning this until after we get out of school?’”

McLean added that it was after graduating that she felt qualified to “change this narrative.”

Along with being inspired by trying to educate her daughter, the book is also named after her daughter, Harmony - with a twist on the spelling to emphasize the book’s theme of money. McLean also decided that she wanted the main character to be Black.

“The character is an African American child because our community is impacted the most by lack of financial literacy,” said McLean. “They don’t know it because, unfortunately, we’ve been behind the curtain for many years because it wasn’t taught. So it’s just been this generational cycle of a lack of literacy around it.”

McLean’s book is geared toward third- to fifth-grade children because she said there is a lack of books for that age group.

“There was a big gap,” said McLean. “There were baby money books, like counting money and things like that. Then there were some high school books about money, but there was nothing for that gap in between.”

She also thinks that middle school students could benefit from it since it’s a book of chapters.

Along with writing and her work as a banker, McLean also speaks to youths about money.

“My overall goal is speaking, teaching, workshops, things that will teach our next generation as well those that already made some mistakes how to become financially literate,” said McLean.

“Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank” is McLean’s first book, but she plans a series of books and is currently working on a “money guide” for recent graduates.

McLean hopes the book is used to guide teachers to teach financial literacy to children.

“My ultimate goal is to be able to complement the book with a curriculum that I am able to incorporate into the school system that would assist teachers with being able to, first, teach it but also being able to really teach the children through that curriculum,” said McLean. “I believe there is a curriculum that is needed in the school system so that kids are learning about (finance) while they are still in school.”

According to McLean, her book will be available on Amazon on Oct. 27.

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