New Book by Washington & Jefferson College Professor Takes Unique Look at Personal Finance

Created: April 10, 2014
Last Updated: December 17, 2019

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WASHINGTON, PA (October 4, 2013)—James West, Ph.D., who will retire from Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) at the end of the upcoming school year after more than 40 years as a professor, leaves a legacy he hopes will educate people for years to come.

The first-time author’s new book, “Finance and Manage Your Life: A Planning Guide for Generation Y,” is designed to help young people learn how to manage their personal finances while developing other important life skills.

“We need to be doing more to help them avoid some of the problems that have plagued previous generations, such as excessive debt and inadequate savings for emergencies, not to mention retirement. Young people need to learn to budget money, reduce spending, and invest in their future,” West said.

West has taught at W&J for 17 years. Prior to joining the Economics Department at W&J, he served on the faculty at Bowling Green University.

West said too little is done in either secondary or higher education to help young people learn to manage their personal finances or develop other important life skills. In public schools, courses on personal finance and life skills are offered as electives that most students choose not to take. In college, these topics are often ignored in the curriculum, West said.

“People from the age of 18-34 in particular would benefit from reading a book on this topic, one which not only provides a guide for handling personal finances, but shows the financial implications for life skills such as: developing life goals, career planning, time management, stress management, personal and professional development planning. This is particularly important for young people who are entering the work force or have done so recently,” West added.

West is also organizing a mini-workshop on “Personal Finance and Other Life Skills” for W&J juniors and seniors that will be offered this fall and again during the spring semester.

The fall workshop will be developed in conjunction with Terrence MacAllister, a W&J alumnus who works as a financial services representative for MassMutual. The workshop will be a broad review of the issues involved in developing a “total life plan,” that includes personal finance and other related life skills. The spring session will be focused more specifically on strategies and actions to implement a total life plan, with a primary focus on personal finance.

West is also planning on offering an Intersession 2014 class that will delve much further into the topics discussed in his book, and include exercises that will result in each participant drafting a personal finance plan.

The cover of West’s book was designed by W&J graduate Chris Griffith. The editor is Brianne Bilsky, Ph.D., W&J graduate and Magellan Project Program Coordinator.

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