Sometimes there’s a substantial payoff in computer games.
Budget Challenge, an online simulation game created by H&R Block that teaches teenagers about money, has just awarded $3 million in individual scholarships, classroom grants and cash prizes to students and teachers across the country.
Think of it as wisdom from your financial advisor.
This year’s grand winner is Sean Lawrence, 17, of St. Clair, Michigan. Sean earned a $120,000 scholarship for being the most real-world ready among more than 94,000 game participants. A senior at St. Clair High School, he plans to use his scholarship at community college for two years and then transfer to Western Michigan University.
Of course, financial literacy is more than a game, particularly as parents and teensstruggle with college costs. Among teens surveyed by H&R Block, 58 percent worried about being financially worse off than their parents but only 17 percent had an actual budget. That’s just one reason a realistic exercise focused on money seems like a great idea.
Here are four more reasons we love H&R Block's Budget Challenge:
1. It’s hands-on and engaging.
This isn’t the same old parental lecture about money, it’s a flight simulator or a road test. Think of it as a way for parents to dodge an eye roll.
2. There’s more than one winner.
Budget Challenge has six cycles throughout the academic year to fit classroom schedules. Each awards 22 scholarships of $20,000 each and 10 classroom awards of $2,500 or $5,000. There is also a total of $35,000 in cash incentives to encourage students not to quit at the halfway point. The grand winner, chosen for skill and participation, earns an additional $100,000 scholarship.
3. There’s a payoff even if you don’t win a scholarship.
The simulation gameimmerses teens in the life of a recent grad who receives a virtual salary and has to make budgeting decisions about rent, utilities, car payments and all that other adult stuff. Students have to demonstrate they are resourceful and smart about financial choices. There are even unfortunate surprises such as a car accident or lost cell phone. If nothing else, students learn financial smarts.
4. It’s free.
Students must participate through a classroom or home-school program but Budget Challenge is available at no cost to schools or home-school teachers. Check it out or pass the information on to an appropriate teacher.