German American Financial Literacy Bee Winning Essays

During April’s Financial Literacy Month, German American Bank partnered with leading education technology company EVERFI to host the second annual Financial Literacy Bee. This digital learning challenge enabled high school students to learn about important financial literacy concepts ranging from budgeting and saving to employment, income, investing, and insurance. High school students were able to compete to win a total of $20,000 in national college scholarships from EVERFI in addition to one of four regional $500 savings account prizes awarded by German American Bank. Participants completed a capstone entry in which they shared a short-term or long-term savings goal and outlined a plan for how to get there.

The German American winners are Jillian Tretter, a Heritage Hills High School student from Ferdinand, IN, Mia Weyer, a homeschooled student from St. Anthony, IN, Lily Cecil, a Daviess County High School student from Owensboro,KY, and Josephine Deye, an Assumption High School student from Louisville, KY. Read their stand-out entries below.


Jillian Tretter - Ferdinand, IN 

Heritage Hills High School

Imagine a job where you get to bring fantasy worlds to life. Dancing ghosts and singing pirates can become part of your everyday experience. That’s what I hope to do working as an imagineer in Walt Disney World. But in order for this to work, I need to accomplish my long term financial objective of owning an apartment in Florida after I graduate from college. I expect this goal to be accomplished in six years after saving twenty thousand dollars. To reach this aspiration, I will earn income, save my money and create a budget.

To earn money, I will have a part time job. This summer I am going to be working at Holiday World, a local theme park, to gain some experience throughout high school and college. I do not plan to work during the school year and instead focus on school during that time. However, I will pick up some odd jobs such as babysitting or mowing lawns to earn a little extra money. I hope to earn $2,500 a year.

The money I save is currently going into a savings account. Once I have more money, I will open a checking account. I plan to put some of my money into a CD as well, but I will not invest money into stocks, bonds or mutual funds until I have a steady income source with a full time job due to the increased risk involved. 

I will create a budget for my money based on the 50/ 30/ 20 rule that states that fifty percent of my money should be spent on needs, thirty percent should be spent on wants and the remaining twenty percent should be saved. My personal needs would not include tuition, room, and board in college because my parents will provide that, thankfully, but they would include expenses such as gas for my car, car insurance and other living costs. My savings would go into a savings or checking account as I stated previously, while I would spend the rest of my money on wants such as clothes and entertainment.

It is very important to prepare financially for the future because you never know when an emergency could arise, so therefore, I plan to keep at least three months worth of savings in my account. With this plan, I hope to achieve my long term financial goal of owning an apartment in Florida after college graduation, but I know I have to be flexible with my financial plans because circumstances can frequently change. For example, if I win this contest, I’ll have $10,000 and be halfway to my goal. But that’s the kind of change that I don’t mind!


Lily Cecil - Owensboro,KY

Daviess County High School

As a young person, I often think about the long future ahead of me. I have many dreams, all of which will be affected by my financial situation. How I handle money now and in the future will greatly impact my life. My greatest dream is to create an amusement park right here in my small town. This will bring joy to many citizens in and outside my community. Since people will want to come stay and enjoy the activities here, it will also bring money to hotels and restaurants in my city. Some revenue gained from the amusement park would also be given to local organizations that benefit the community. This will not be an easy feat to accomplish. 

In order to fulfill this dream, I need to earn enough money to buy land, build on it, pay employees, and pay other park expenses. To achieve this long-term savings goal, there are three ways in which I need to save the money I want to go towards it. The first way is through budgeting. Using the 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule, I will split my income in three ways. 50% will go toward my needs, such as debts, bills, and my emergency fund. 30% will go toward my wants, like going out to eat or to buying a new outfit. Lastly, the 20% leftover will be placed in a savings account so that I cannot take from the money that is going towards my dream. I already have a custodial compound interest savings account at a local bank that is helping me earn money for my future. Another way to help with my budgeting would be to use an app on my phone to guide me on how much to save and spend.

A second way would be to earn extra money through working more and investing. By working additional hours, I would gain more money that could go in my savings account. This would help me to achieve my goal faster. Investing also would increase the rate at which I gain the money needed for my dream. I would invest in mutual funds. These bring in more money than a savings account alone will, but also do not have as high of a risk of losing money as stocks do. This is because my money is put into many different companies instead of one.

The third way that I will accomplish my dream is by gaining scholarships and cutting spending. A big part of many people’s debt is from their schooling. By earning scholarships, I can decrease how much money I spend on schooling. All the money that would’ve gone toward paying off that debt could then be used for saving and investing. Cutting spending is a major part of gaining the money as quickly as possible. By not spending a lot of money on wants I can increase how much I put into my savings account, and if I also find cheaper ways to supply my needs, such as buying gas for my car at a place that sells it for less, I can gain money faster.


Mia Weyer - St. Anthony, IN


My biggest financial goal is to start my own music-producing business. I have always enjoyed playing and listening to music, and this is what I have wanted to do since I picked up my first guitar at the age of 8. Playing music has always been so natural and easy for me, and it's especially important to me to I attain a job that I love.

Another ambition that is paramount to me is going to college, which is a medium-term goal. I have always understood why saving money for unexpected situations or known intentions is important, which is why I believe saving money for college will come easy to me. 

In my opinion, the best way to save money is to deposit it in a savings account. When saving money in my own home it usually tends to get lost or spent, and I have always found it easier to save money when I don't have easy access to it. 

Additionally, it is also useful to have a quality approach to saving. For example, the 50/30/20 rule is a saving strategy where 50% of the money that you earn goes to needs, 30% goes to wants, and 20% goes to savings. The 50/30/20 rule is a very useful technique and can provide a real advantage when learning to save money. 

My plan to save for college consists of setting aside a specific percentage of my earnings obtained from employment. I have worked at several places since I became 12 years old, and this experience has given me a bit of an edge on saving money. Having a job is a good way to learn discipline and provides a steady stream of income. However, with income comes a budget, therefore it would be helpful to decide which saving strategy you are going to implement before you get a job. The 50/30/20 rule can be beneficial in this situation. Since I am still a freshman in high school, my needs are still being met by my parents, which gives me an advantage. Because of this circumstance, I currently go by the 90/10 rule; meaning 90% of the money I earn goes into my savings account, and the remaining 10% is for spending. Additionally, having a job can aid in discovering your strengths and can eventually lead to a full-time career. 

A good point to remember is to attempt to stay out of debt. I want to be able to pay for college without taking any loans, thus having a job is a high priority to me. If you must take a loan, it is always wise to have an aggressive plan to pay it back quickly. My plan does not include a loan unless it becomes a need.

Overall, what I have learned from EVERFI has helped me get a broader understanding of the importance of being a disciplined money saver. I believe that knowing the value of saving money as a teenager will certainly help me throughout life. 

I am very determined to do what it takes to achieve this financial goal. Going to college and becoming a successful musician has been my dream for a very long time, and I would like to share my talent and dedication to inspire young individuals with the equivalent dream to do the same.


Josephine Deye, - Louisville, KY

Assumption High School

Adulthood sometimes seems like it is miles away, but it is just around the corner. Every day brings me another step closer to that moment. The time to start preparing for the future is now. My biggest financial goal is to open my own piano studio. I started taking piano lessons in kindergarten and it has become one of my favorite things to do. Mastering the piano takes hard work, dedication, and hours upon hours of practice. Starting my own studio will also require hard work and time, but nothing worth having comes easy. One thing I can start doing now is to start saving by using the 50/30/20 rule. Currently, I do not have any costs for living as my parents provide me a house, clothes, and food. This means that the majority of the money I earn can go into my savings account and will be there for my future expenses. I work many part time jobs including baby-sitting, dog-watching, and lawn mowing. I also am a piano teacher for a few students. Right now, I am teaching at my house in a small room that also doubles as my mom’s office. While this is semi-functional, it is not preferred if I want to expand my studio to more students and have a more professional workspace.

When I open my piano studio, I will have some initial costs such as pianos and buying/renting a studio space. While I could take out a loan, it would be better if I could pay the initial costs with money from my savings, so I do not go into debt. Another goal of my future studio is to offer affordable lessons. Piano lessons usually range from about $20-$50 for a 30-minute lesson. This may deter parents from putting their children into piano. I want children of ALL financial backgrounds to be able to have lessons that do not cause financial hardships. Another thing I learned is to always have some extra money saved in case of emergencies. There are many things that happen in life that you don’t expect such as injuries, breaking your phone or computer, or household accidents. While these are unexpected events, I should expect for them to happen and plan accordingly.  I also have many other goals in my future including buying a house, buying a car, and paying for my college education. I will be able to do these things by budgeting the money I have now and continuing to make smart choices with my money. I will use the things I have learned in the Financial Literacy Bee course to use my money wisely and to save for my future goals, whether they are currently known or will be created later in my life.

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