Once upon a time, in the world of personal finance . . .

By dsm staff

Remember poor Jack, who sold his family’s cow for some magic beans? Or Rumpelstiltskin, who bragged about spinning straw into gold?

Either one of them could write up his fairy tale for a new contest the Principal Foundation has launched to encourage people to talk about personal finances. As part of the “Money Chronicles: A Story Initiative,” anyone at least 18 years old can enter an original short story — real or imagined — about an experience with money.

The Principal Foundation launched the program with help from the Center for a Fiction, a national literary nonprofit, and Short Edition, a publishing house, along with a distinguished panel of writers who will judge the entries. Thirty finalists will receive $250 and have their stories distributed at special printing kiosks in libraries, bookstores and cafes in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Charlotte and Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature.

Leaders at the Principal Foundation hope the contest will encourage people, especially younger people, to have meaningful conversations about their finances. Nearly 50% of millennial and Gen Z Americans feel it’s inappropriate to talk about money, according to a survey the Principal Foundation commissioned from YouGov. The same survey found that more than 40% of millennials and Gen Zers avoid the subject out of fear they’ll be judged for their salaries or spending habits.

“People develop narratives around money and personal finance based on familial experience, and those narratives tend to impact their relationship to money and inform their financial decisions throughout their lives,” Principal Foundation Director Jo Christine Miles noted in a prepared statement. “This contest is a way to inspire people, through the universal human art of storytelling, to reimagine their narrative, resolve any struggles and ultimately feel more comfortable having more robust financial conversations that advance their financial goals.”

The short story submissions are due Aug. 31, and entries can be no longer than 7,500 characters (about three times as long as this article). You can find all the contest details online and maybe, just maybe, live happily ever after.

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