Introducing The H&R Block Budget Challenge
Properly managing personal finances is critical to success in adulthood, and yet teenagers are woefully under-educated and under-informed when it comes to money matters. In response to this nationwide shortcoming, H&R Block founded Dollars & Sense to provide teens with financial management skills that will last throughout adulthood.
Why the H&R Block Budget Challenge?
During the 2014-2015 school year, H&R Block Dollars & Sense is focusing on budgeting, a skill that is frequently learned after costly mistakes. A study by H&R Block Dollars & Sense found that 57% of teens make purchases using their own money but only 17% maintain a budget. The H&R Block Budget Challenge is like a road test for financial management. Players learn how to time their student and auto loan payments, the consequences of being late on rent, how to stay under their credit limit and more, all through a 9-week online simulation.
“America’s teenagers need to learn and practice budgeting skills now so they can manage their personal finances later. The H&R Block Budget Challenge is unique because it allows students to learn by doing. But unlike the real world, all they have to lose is points – not their credit or hard-earned money,” said Bill Cobb, president and chief executive officer of H&R Block.
The Money is Real
Over the course of the H&R Block Budget Challenge, launching in September 2014, H&R Block Dollars & Sense will give away $3 million in scholarships and classroom grants. The 20 top-scoring students in each simulation will be awarded a $20,000 scholarship to help pay for higher education costs – resulting in 120 scholarships total. The top five classrooms in each simulation can win up to $5,000 in grants. At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the highest scoring student will receive a $100,000 scholarship in addition to the $20,000 they’ve already won.
How Does it Work?
Each student is given a job and salary. Then each student must set up accounts with a number of vendors from cell phone companies to cable providers. Throughout the simulation, bills arrive and students are challenged to figure out how to balance their paycheck and pay their bills, as well as contribute to their 401k plans. Scores are determined based on the amount in a student’s 401k, paying their bills on time (fees detract from the score) and performance on short finance quizzes offered every few days.
Teachers are given lesson plans and classroom materials to help educate and guide their class through the simulation.
When Texas high school senior Saad Khawaja isn’t shooting hoops with his friends or participating in DECA, you can find him checking how stocks are doing on the stock market. How’s that for “average teenage behavior”? So, it should come as no surprise to learn Saad is one of five Fall 2016 H&R Block Budget Challenge winners.
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