Entering the real world after high school can be quite startling and eye opening for many teens. Unfortunately, far too many teens are graduating without basic financial skills, and end up with some costly mistakes. My parents did a pretty good job of training me in regard to money and finances, but there are a lot of youth who don’t get that kind of training. With the H&R Block Budget Challenge, teens can take a personal finance “road test”, for the chance at grants and scholarships awarded by H&R Block.
The way this finance road test works is that it immerses students in the life of a recent graduate who has been working for six months. Everything is virtual, and works online through a simulation of real-world budgeting and decision making. Each participant receives a virtual salary and must make smart budgeting decisions regarding expenses, such as rent, utilities, car payments and more. Students are challenged to balance current and future cash needs and demonstrate resourcefulness, understanding and practical application of financial concepts. I personally think this would have been fun as a teenager!
Students receive bills on a regular basis and must pay them on time, while maximizing savings via a virtual 401(k) and minimizing penalties such as late fees, overdraft fees or finance charges. The simulation includes realistic surprise scenarios and monetary challenges such as a car accident or lost cell phone. Participants earn bonus points for completing quizzes on personal finance topics such as interest or starting a 401(k).
While I was pretty good with money in my young age, and managed to stay out of debt most of life (with the exception of a house payment), there are still some financial aspects of real life that I don’t completely grasp. I wish I had known more about a 401k, investing and more complicated matters. I think the Budget Challenge is a great way to give our youth hands-on experience, without actually giving them the freedom to truly mess up their finances.
H&R Block recently awarded $1.4 million in classroom grants and student scholarships through its H&R Block Budget Challenge. More will be awarded, so get your teens involved, for a chance at some of that money to be had for college! Participation in the H&R Block Budget Challenge must be facilitated by a classroom teacher at an accredited high school or home study program. Educators may visit hrbds.org to register their classrooms. Registration closes one week prior to the simulation start date. So, what you need to do is tell your kids’ teachers about this awesome challenge, and get your youth involved!
This year’s H&R Budget Challenge program for 2015 and teacher registration is open for the following two simulations:
- Jan. 30 – April 2 (Teacher registration ends Jan. 23)
- Feb. 13 – April 16 (Teacher registration ends Feb. 6)
The grants and scholarships will be awarded as follows:
H&R Block will award $3 million in classroom grants, college scholarships and cash prizes via the H&R Block Budget Challenge. Winners will be determined on both an individual and classroom basis.
- A total of 30, $2,500 grants will be awarded to the top five scoring classrooms at the midway point of each simulation.
- A total of 30, $5,000 grants will be awarded to the top five classrooms at the conclusion of each simulation.
- Students will compete for 132 scholarships worth $20,000 each, awarded to the top 22 scoring individuals in each cycle.
- The student who demonstrates that he/she is the most “real-world ready” at the conclusion of all six cycles will receive a $100,000 college scholarship.