By Tessa Bradshaw


Western Carolina University graduate Daniel Hartness has made it his life mission to make more North Carolina high school students financially literate with his book “The Student’s Pocket Guide to Personal Finance.”

Hartness, who lives in Cullowhee, published the book June 30. It is available on Amazon and  at Barnes & Noble.

“Very simply, it is meant to teach the student, high school and college, all the bare essentials they need to know about personal finance to prepare them for after school and early adulthood,” Hartness said.

He was inspired to write the book because of Bill 924 that was passed in the N.C. House of Representatives in 2019. The bill requires all North Carolina high school students to complete and pass an economics and personal finance course to graduate, he said.

The student and young adult-oriented book “is designed so that you can easily build a personal finance course off of it,” Hartness said.

Each chapter in the book was designed for a course setting, either as a supplemental textbook or as a guide for teachers to suggest to students, he said.

“If the book is as remotely as important as I claim it is, hopefully it should be in the hands of every single student in the state to start with,” Hartness said.

He hopes to start conversations soon with school officials regarding implementing his book into financial courses.

Hartness said the process would not happen immediately, but he must first start the conversation with school officials and then work his way up to getting the book implemented.

“The goal is to save any student from having to go through a lot of confusion where they can just depend on my book as their pocket guide,” Hartness said. “This book represents that person that I didn’t have. I’m taking that place for them. I’m trying to fill that void.”

The book was written to sound like a conversation, he said.

“I just said to myself that I have to try something and take that risk, and that’s what has gotten me here and just continuously building on that research,” Hartness said.

Most of his research came from trial and error, he said. He had many questions that most people did not have an answer to and if they did, the answers were never the same and he didn’t know who or what to believe.

“It was essentially me making mistakes in my life, asking questions like ‘what are investments?’ ‘why do credit cards matter?’ ‘what’s a loan?’ and trying my hardest to figure it out,” Hartness said. “I had to figure it out through trying things on my own and researching because I didn’t really have anyone to ask who was knowledgeable.”

He began working on his book in December of 2019. He finished in May of this year and self-published in June.

“Financial books do all the exact same things,” he said. “Through charisma, they try to charm you to do the right thing. They all say it’s good to do this, it’s good to do that and your life will be better. But very few of them provide the tools on how to do it. The goal is to provide every nut and bolt you need for that journey, with every piece of advice in this pocket guide being a tool for the students.”

Hartness, who came to WCU from Murphy, graduated in May of 2020 with a computer information systems degree and integrated health sciences degree.

Tessa Bradshaw is an intern at The Sylva Herald.