See our introduction webinar to walk through every aspect of creating your class stock, adding assignments, viewing reports, and much more.

Also check our webinar in managing your class Budget Game, including how the game works, class set-up, and teacher reports.

Learning about the stock market can be tricky for students, especially when they are just starting to understand the concepts of sectors and industries. Finding stocks to build a diversified portfolio can feel overwhelming. To help, we’re excited to introduce PersonalFinanceLab’s newest feature: Stocks by Sector.

Introducing Stocks by Sector

Stocks by Sector is an easy-to-use tool that helps students find stocks in different industries. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by too many choices, students can now focus on specific sectors to learn more about them and find good investment opportunities.

How Stocks by Sector Works

With Stocks by Sector, students can:

  1. Pick a sector from a list, like technology or healthcare.
  2. See a list of companies in that sector.
  3. Get key information about each company, like stock prices and recent performance.

This tool makes it simple for students to understand how different industries work and find stocks that interest them.

Using Stocks by Sector with the Stock Comparison Tool

One of the best ways to use Stocks by Sector is with our Stock Comparison Tool. Here’s how:

  1. Explore a Sector: Use Stocks by Sector to pick a sector and find some companies in it.
  2. Gather Data: Use the Stock Comparison Tool to get detailed information about these companies, like their financial statements and stock history.
  3. Compare Companies: Compare the companies in the same sector to see which ones are the best choices for investing.

Using Stocks by Sector In Class

Teachers can include Stocks by Sector in their lessons, using it with the Stock Comparison Tool to give students a complete research experience. This helps students learn how to analyze the market and make smart investment choices.

Try It Out

Teachers can try out our Sector and Industry Explorer and Stock Comparison Tool. Note – you must have a PersonalFinanceLab account to view. If you are not already signed up for PersonalFinanceLab, feel free to try it out with our Teacher Test Drive!

Life is full of surprises, but not all of them are pleasant, especially when it comes to our finances. Unexpected expenses, also known as “Spending Shocks,” can derail even the most carefully crafted budgets, leaving you scrambling to cover the cost. According to CBS, over 60% of Americans would struggle to handle a $500 spending shock. So, how can you protect yourself from the financial fallout of these unforeseen expenses?

Before we delve into strategies for managing spending shocks, take a moment to watch PersonalFinanceLab’s latest video, which is part of a larger lesson on preparing for unexpected expenses. In this video, you’ll discover practical tips and expert advice on how to prepare for and mitigate the impact of unexpected expenses on your finances.

Once you’ve watched the video, you’ll have a clear understanding of the two main types of spending shocks: Budgetable and Unbudgetable. Budgetable spending shocks are those predictable expenses that occur irregularly but can be anticipated with some planning, such as holiday gifts or annual car maintenance. On the other hand, unbudgetable spending shocks are unforeseen expenses that catch us off guard, like sudden medical bills or emergency home repairs.

Bank and credit statements

Strategies for Preparation:

  1. The Rainy-Day Fund: Learn how to establish and maintain a rainy-day fund—a dedicated savings account designed to cushion the blow of unexpected expenses.
  2. Emergency Credit Card: Explore the concept of an emergency credit card and how it can serve as a valuable tool for covering unexpected expenses when other funds fall short.
  3. Borrow from Savings: Understand the risks and considerations associated with borrowing from your savings account to cover a spending shock. Our video above offers insights into when and how to use this option responsibly while safeguarding your long-term financial goals.

Preventing Spending Shocks

While it’s impossible to predict every financial curveball life may throw your way, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of spending shocks:

  • Regular Budget Reviews: Dedicate time each month to review your budget and identify any upcoming expenses that could be considered budgetable spending shocks. Adjust your budget accordingly to accommodate these costs.
  • Routine Maintenance: Proactively maintain your belongings, such as scheduling regular vehicle check-ups or inspecting your home for potential issues. Addressing minor problems early can prevent them from escalating into costly emergencies.

Explore Further: Lessons on Spending Shocks

Ready to dive deeper into the topic of planning for unexpected expenses? PersonalFinanceLab offers a comprehensive lesson on the same subject, providing additional resources to help you strengthen your finances and be better prepared for unexpected situations.

Note: The above video is part of a larger lesson. Teachers need a login to PersonalFinanceLab to access the lesson. If you haven’t already, you can sign up for the Teacher Test Drive to view it.)

When you have students participating in our stock game, it can be a struggle to get students to understand the basics of conducting research and comparing stocks.

After all, between stock prices, the news, financial statements, stock charts, and what they hear from their friends, there is a lot of noise out there – and hard to teach students what it really means to do “research”.

Introducing The Stock Comparison Tool

PersonalFinanceLab’s newest addition is a super-simple tool that students can use to learn how to conduct basic stock research and choose their first stocks.

The tool is not an automated system that uses complicated data feeds to spit out an answer for students to blindly pick – instead, it is an interactive tutorial that walks students through how to find and interpret key information about a stock, find the same information about a similar company, and walks them through how to compare these metrics, apples to apples, to make a decision on what to add to their portfolio.

How The Stock Comparison Tool Works

The Stock Comparison Tool is an exercise where students are prompted to gather data about a stock from 6 sources:

  1. The stock’s Quote
  2. Income Statement
  3. Balance Sheet
  4. Cash Flow Statement
  5. Historical Prices
  6. News Featuring This Company

At each step, the Tool guides students on where to find each of these sources, all directly within the PersonalFinanceLab platform.

After finding all of the data points for one single stock, it then shows students how to use a Stock Screener to identify other companies in the same sector or industry as their first stock – and pull the same data for the comparison stock.

Once the student has all information from both stocks, the Tool guides students through making an apples-to-apples comparison to guide them towards which choice would be the best option for their own portfolio.

What Is Compared

One of the strengths of the Tool is that it introduces students to a wide range of different data sources they can look at for each stock, without being too complex or time-consuming for a beginner. The specific data points students learn to find and analyze include:

  • Ticker Symbol, from our Symbol Lookup tool
  • Price, from a stock quote
  • Earnings Per Share, from a stock quote
  • Dividends, from a stock quote
  • The trend of the last 3 years of Net Income, from the Income Statement
  • The trend of the last 3 years of Shareholder’s Equity from the Balance Sheet
  • The trend of the last 3 years of Cash and Cash Equivalents from the Cash Flow Statement
  • The total price change from the stock’s Historical Prices
  • A measure of how volitle the stock is from the stock’s Historical Prices
  • And the general sentiment of how the market as a whole feels about this stock from the News Feed

Most importantly, as your students find each data point (and compare with another stock), the built-in tutorial explains what exactly each of these data points are measuring, why they are important, and how to interpret them.

While these data points are in no way exhaustive of everything an investor can investigate before buying a stock, together they make a powerful introduction to basic research and financial statements for students.

Using The Tool In Class

Teachers can assign the Stock Comparison Tool to their class as part of an Assignment (found in the group of Intermediate Investing Tips) for students to practice for the first time, but students can find and leverage the Tool all throughout their class period from our Investing Research Center.

Try It Out

Teachers can try out our Stock Comparison Tool by clicking here. Note – you must have a PersonalFinanceLab account to view. If you are not already signed up for PersonalFinanceLab, feel free to try it out with our Teacher Test Drive!

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

Personal Finance is all about choices – like economics, it is a “dismal science” of choosing between trade-offs. In our budgeting game, we make a point to highlight these tradeoffs in how students choose to spend their free time each weekend – the Weekend Choice.

Weekend choice

The Weekend Choice is a decision students need to make every “weekend” of the game – how are they going to spend their time?

The Four Weekend Choices

Each of the four choices on the weekend have their own benefits and costs:

Working Extra Hours

Working Extra Hours has students participate in the “gig economy” – taking on a side hustle to earn extra cash. Students need to complete a short mini-game, and their performance in that game determines how much they will earn (these earnings will appear on their next in-game paycheck).

The benefit is cold, hard, cash. This can be a life-safer when students are early in the game (as a part-time student who is still in school), and they have a shortfall in their cash this month.

The cost is a loss of Quality of Life. Every other option gives at least SOME Quality of Life bonus, but working extra hours has none. Over-working themselves can also get additional game penalties.

Household Chores

Household Chores has students take care of things around the house, spend time investigating ways to save on groceries or bills, and generally keeping their “house in order”.

The benefit is that many of these events result in discounts on future expenses – like reduced grocery bills, successfully negotiating a better cell phone plan to reduce that bill for the next several months, or immediate rebates by finding and correcting financial errors.

The cost is that not every opportunity to take care of the household has an immediate benefit (there is a lot of cleaning to do, after all), so some weeks are spent just on housekeeping.

Socializing

Socializing has students spending time with their friends and family. Most of these activities cost a bit of cash to do, but result in a lot of fun.

The benefit is that these activities result in a big boost to a student’s Quality of Life (for normal choices in the game, we award 1 Quality of Life point for each “optional” dollar spent – but Socializing is about 3 points per dollar).

The cost is cash. These activities do not necessarily “break the bank” but all of them have some cost involved. This makes Socializing the most expensive way to spend a weekend.

Study/Professional Development

This option changes whether a student is currently a part-time worker who is still going to school (the option is called “Study”, or a full-time worker (the option is called “Professional Development”). In either case, the student is looking forward to the future. There is not a big immediate impact from this choice, but their decision can have longer-term impacts.

The benefit really comes into focus when students transition from a part-time student to a full-time worker. Students who studied often while in school will start their job post-graduation with a salary bonus, while workers who often engage in professional development can earn a permanent raise to their salary.

The cost is that students sacrifice both extra cash and extra Quality of Life in the short term, because they are sacrificing each of the 3 other options.

Other Considerations

Beyond the immediate costs and benefits of the choice a student makes each weekend, there are also penalties in the game for students who constantly neglect each choice.

  • Students who never choose to Work Extra Hours will have months where their paychecks will simply not be enough to cover all of their bills and unexpected expenses, while also meeting their savings goals. These students will miss out on their monthly savings goal bonus points.
  • Students who constantly neglect their Household Chores will get hit with household disasters – like cockroach infestations (and the associated exterminator costs).
  • Students leave their social life to rot and never Socialize will find that some of their friends simply stop asking to hang out – resulting in big penalties to their Quality of Life.
  • Students in part-time mode who never Study may find they fail some of their exams – and need to pay for expensive tutors to catch up. While there is no major penalty for skipping Professional Development, the lack of pay increases over the course of the game will put them behind all their peers in the Game Rankings, since they will end up with lower average pay in the long-term.

The Weekend Choice is a key component to the “Personal” part of Personal Finance, and a great insight into the real decisions adults need to make in the real world – and an invaluable component to the classroom learning experience.

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

Investing is all about trying to maximize gains and minimizing losses. But we aren’t trying to teach students to be constantly watching every investment in their retirement account – what can the average investor use to protect their nest-egg without limiting their investment growth?

Introducing Trailing Stops

There are more options when investing than just entering a “Buy” or a “Sell” – you can also specify instructions (such as “Buy if the stock’s price goes above $250”, or “Sell if the stock’s price falls below $230”). PersonalFinanceLab supports Limit Orders, Stop Orders, and the most advanced of these – the Trailing Stop order.

With a Trailing Stop order, you can specify a dollar amount or percentage, and your “order” follows that direction – and moves with the stock’s price.

Examples

The most appropriate example with a Trailing Stop order for personal investing is a Trailing Stop Sell Order.

Let’s say you buy a stock in your portfolio that you expect to grow a lot in the next year or so. But there is still risk – and you want to make sure you “lock in” any gains before the stock’s price falls more than 10%.

In this case, you would use a 10% Trailing Stop Sell order, and leave the order open until you cancel it. What this means is that the stock will stay in your portfolio until it drops more than 10% of its peak price since you bought it – then it will sell automatically.

trailing stop order

So if you buy a stock at $100 and its price doubles to $200 while you own it, placing a 10% trailing stop will cause the stock to sell when its price falls below $180 (10% drop from its peak price) – locking in your gains.

This is an important concept for long-term investing: we don’t want to teach students that they need to be watching their portfolio like a hawk, but we do want to teach about protecting against risk, and trailing stop orders are an excellent way to protect against price drops without being an investing fanatic.

Teach your students to put in their Trailing Stop Sell orders as soon as they buy a stock, and set them up for a healthy financial future.

Happy Trading!

-The PFinLab Team.

As your students explore PersonalFinanceLab, they’re not only dealing with budget details but also shaping their financial futures. We understand the importance of giving them tools that go beyond numbers. That’s why we’re excited to introduce our new presentation templates on economic concepts, making complicated financial topics easier for your students to grasp.

What are Presentation Templates?

These user-friendly presentation templates, available in both PowerPoint and Google Slides formats, are designed to make learning easy and engaging. They will help you to guide students through important economic ideas in a structured way. Every slide comes with simple explanations, making it a breeze for teachers to highlight essential points during class.

But wait, there’s more! Teachers will find full descriptions on each slide, giving them everything they need to explain concepts clearly. 

Plus, we’ve added class discussion prompts at the end of each presentation. It’s like a built-in conversation starter. And for teachers, we’ve got helpful guidance in the slide notes, making your job even easier.

Our Economic Concepts Presentation Templates cover a variety of units. Take a peek at some of the included units:

…and more!

Reports

Conclusion

These Presentation Templates are designed to make economics straightforward for both teachers and students. With clear slide descriptions and discussion prompts, these templates aren’t just tools – they’re here to help students understand economic concepts better. Whether it’s the Benefits of Competition or Inflation, these units provide a thorough exploration that makes learning easy and interesting.

Here’s to making economics accessible and enjoyable for everyone!

-The PFinLab Team

This presentation examines the costs and benefits of different economic decisions (trade-offs). It defines key terms like supply and demand, market outcomes, resource allocation and different allocation methods. Students will learn about the pros and cons of wealth redistribution, and different redistribution methods.

Click Here To Copy This Presentation in Google Drive

Click Here to download this presentation as a PowerPoint

This presentation explains how stock prices are determined by the company’s financial performance, market trends, investor sentiment, and economic conditions. Also, the Initial Public Offering (IPO) process is reviewed.

The presentation also covers the key terminology for bonds including; the principal, coupon rate, maturity date and yield. It explains the mechanics of bond trading and how bond prices are determined.

Click Here To Copy This Presentation in Google Drive

Click Here to download this presentation as a PowerPoint

This presentation provides a brief overview of the benefits and negatives of competition in a free market economy. Key concepts are defined such as the profit motive, externalities, the role of innovation, monopolies, cartels, and real vs artificial barriers to competition.

Click Here To Copy This Presentation in Google Drive

Click Here to download this presentation as a PowerPoint

Hey Teachers – we’ve got an exciting update for our learning library for January 2024!

New Video

First up, we have a new video about how to manage receipts!

This video is included in our lesson on “Managing Receipts” in our Personal Finance Learning Library for classes too.

This joins our other video lessons covering What is Money, Pay Yourself First, and Budgeting, with more coming soon!

New Personal Finance Lessons

For the start of the Spring semester, we have added three new financial literacy lessons to our library:

Note – you will need a PersonalFinanceLab admin account to view these lessons. If you don’t have one yet, sign up for our Teacher Test Drive!

New Budget Game Lessons

Our Budget Game also has mini-lessons sprinkled throughout each game checkpoint to hammer home important financial concepts for students. We have added shorter versions of our main lessons on Retirement Planning, Disability Insurance, Workplace Benefits, and Annuities to the budget game as well, plus a lesson on Term Life Insurance (based on our existing lesson on Life Insurance).

New Canadian Lessons

For Canadian schools using PersonalFinanceLab, we’ve also added Canadian versions of 7 of our most US-centric lessons. These new lessons include:

The Canadian lessons appear at the bottom of our Personal Finance task list.

If you accidentally require students to complete both the US and Canadian versions of any lessons, don’t worry – students completing either version will give credit for both.

New Activities

We also have two new interactive projects for students as well, which you can also include when creating an Assignment.

Filling Out The 1040

In this activity, students are provided with basic tax forms – a W-2, 1099, and information about their background.

They need to work through filling out a Form 1040 to file federal income taxes with the information provided. The activity gives them information on each form to guide them, and real-time feedback on each item they entered to find out if they still owe taxes or are getting a refund, and how much.

You can require this activity for your class by using Assignments, within the unit on taxes.

View This Activity (requires login)

How To Compare Stocks And Conduct Basic Research

This activity walks students through the action of researching and buying their first stock. We have them start with “buy what you know”, and use our Research Tool to find the ticker symbol of a company they are already familiar with.

Then we walk them through using the Research Tool to find basic fundamental information on this company, including:

  • Current Price, price last year, and its change over time
  • Earnings Per Share (EPS), Dividends, and what this means
  • Fundamental information from the company’s Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement
  • New stories mentioning this stock
  • A stock chart showing the stock price’s movement over time

This is a fundamental activity to help students get started in the Stock Game, introducing them to key data points (and how to find/use basic information on financial statements), find a comparable stock, and make an educated decision on their first purchases.

This activity is included in our “Intermediate Investing” unit. If you choose to include it in your Class Assignment, students can re-use this template for future stock comparisons too – not just their first purchase.

View This Activity (requires login)

Coming Soon

We have more updates to our lesson library coming this Spring! Watch out for more animated videos (“How to manage bills” coming up next), new Economics lesson plans, a slew of new pre-built PowerPoint templates for your classes, and more!

We hope you’re as excited as we are!

-The PFinLab Team

As students work through the PersonalFinanceLab Budgeting Game, they can see their class rankings, and might have some sense of how their game score or net worth has grown over time. But to really get a clear picture of how their financial future is shaping up, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a single place where they can get feedback on their decisions and see how their finances have fared over time?

Introducing The Budget Game Summary

The Budget Game Summary is a report available to all students, giving them a breakdown on how their game has evolved so far. It consists of 4 modules: the Feedback Module, Statistics Overview, Net Worth Breakdown, and Recent Transactions.

Budget Game Feedback Module

The Feedback Module gives students personalized feedback on how they have performed so far in the Budget Game. This module is similar to the feedback students receive at the end of each month of the game, but encompasses their performance through the entire game (not just one month).

The Feedback Module has 6 components:

General Stats

The General Stats shows some of the same information that students see in the “ribbon” at the top of the budget game itself.

What is new here is their total “bonus points” (points they earned from hitting monthly savings goals and building their emergency fund), plus a gauge indicator for their credit score.

Quick Stats

“Quick Stats” is more about what students have accomplished financially through the whole game, in terms of big metrics that can really make-or-break their financial future.

  • “Bills Paid On Time” is how many total bills they recieved that were paid on or before their due date.
  • “Total Late Fees” is the total amount of money they paid out in late fee penalties through the game.
  • “Total Interest Changed” is the total amount of interest payments they have made on their credit card through the entire game.
  • “Total Interest Earned” is the total amount of interest earned on their savings account throughout the game.

Savings Goals

Savings Goals looks at how many months the student has played the game, and how often they set, and hit, achievable savings goals.

The system provides personalized feedback based on areas of improvement – particularly if they need to be more aggressive or more conservative with their goals, and tips on how to do better in the future.

Emergency Fund

One of the primary objectives of the budget game is for students to understand the importance of building an Emergency Fund. If students had not yet saved up a $1,000 cushion, the system will give them a reminder of how important this is, and to focus on building that safety net in the future.

Credit Score

Credit Score Feedback is based on how many total credit score points a student could have earned so far in the game, and gives them tips on what they can to to continue to improve in the future.

For example, this “555” credit score is after having played 3 months of the game (where students start with 450, this student has already improved their score by over 100 points), saying there has been an excellent use of credit. However, if after 5 or 6 months, the credit score has not continued to improve, the feedback would give specific examples of what steps they need to take to do better going forward.

Weekend Choice

Last, students get a polar area chart of how they have chosen to spend their weekends throughout the game so far, so they can visualize how they have been spending their time.

The system also gives them personalized feedback in each of the 4 categories, outlining how they use their “free time” is likely to impact their personal finances in the real world.

Statistics Overview

The next module gives students a line chart on how their key financial indicators have moved over time, namely their Net Worth, Quality of Life, and Credit Score. The data used for the chart is what their values were for each of these metrics at the end of each month of the game.

Net Worth Breakdown

Next, they can see a breakdown of their Net Worth, for the month-end of every month of the game. We break down their Net Worth by 4 categories: their “Assets” of their checking and savings accounts, vs their Liabilities of any unpaid bills or amount due on their credit card.

Recent Transactions

The last module is a snapshot of their 5 most recent transactions in their Checking Account, Savings Account, and Credit Card – with quick links to jump straight to each of those Statements for more information.

Conclusion

The Budget Game Summary is the secret weapon to helping students truly understand the financial impact of their decisions, and how they can improve in the future. This should be a quick-stop-review for each student every day they are playing the game to make sure their financial future is secure.

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

Learning how to file a federal income tax return is a cornerstone of every Personal Finance class. At PersonalFinanceLab, we’re excited to share our two activities specifically designed to help students learn how to file their own taxes once they start work.

Filing Taxes Mini-Lesson

As part of the Budget Game, we have a built-in mini-lesson on the 1040 Income Tax Return. This includes a brief overview of what the form is, and “hotspots” where students can see more information on some common fields to try to remove some of the mystery around the tax return:

This mini-lesson occurs on April 15 of the budget game, with a one-question quiz afterwards to check for understanding.

Filing The 1040 Interactive Activity

Our mini-lessons are designed for students to complete in less than 5 minutes, but we also have a more robust income tax activity as part of our “Taxation” lessons in our Assignments tool.

This activity has students work through the full Tax Return to correctly file an example federal income tax. In this exercise, students are given a sample W-2 and 1099-INT forms, and every field has a helpful tooltip explaining what this is for, when it might be used, and how it applies with a person filing their taxes for the first time.

With this exercise, students work through the form field-by-field, with the system giving them feedback on each entry if they make a mistake. The exercise ends with the student finding how much of an income tax return they will be getting (or how much tax they would need to pay if they owe anything).

Teachers who have an existing site license, or a Teacher Test Drive account, can preview this exercise by clicking here, and can include this for their class by creating an Assignment, and including the “Activity – Practice Filing The Form 1040” activity.

Other Lessons on Income Taxes

Our learning library also includes two other lessons focusing on income taxes:

  1. Taxation Overview: This lesson gives a brief overview of the concepts of a “progressive income tax” (with current tax rates and brackets), and contrasts with Regressive Taxes (like sales tax), Capital Gains Taxes, and Property Taxes.
  2. Income Taxes and the Form 1040: This lesson is a more “reading and understanding” version of our “Filing Taxes” activity. This lesson goes more into the details of the different information found on a person’s W-2 form, differentiating between “Gross Income”, “Net Income”, and “Taxable Income”, and what happens if the IRS finds an error on your tax return.

Both lessons can be previewed by teachers with a site license or a Teacher Test Drive account.

These tools were designed to help students overcome the hurdle of filing a basic income tax return on their own, not running off to buy expensive tax-prep software or hire an accountant for relatively simple returns.

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

PersonalFinanceLab is packed to the brim with Financial Literacy Resources for schools, with the cornerstone being our library of 300+ standards-aligned, customizable lessons built into our Assignments engine that teachers can leverage for their class. Most of our lessons take students less than 15 minutes to complete, with a 3-5 question, automatically-graded quiz at the end.

But if your students are playing our budgeting game, they may face financial decisions that have not yet been covered in class, or your class may want to focus just on the games without setting up a customized assignment. Even without building a full assignment for students to complete before playing, it would be great to make sure students are gaining the key take-aways of the financial topics the game is meant to crystalize.

Introducing Mini-Lessons

Mini-lessons are a key feature of PersonalFinanceLab’s Budget Game to help ensure students are familiar with the concepts they are practicing as they play. Mini-lessons pop up as a required event as students progress.

Unlike our full lessons as part of our Assignments tool, mini-lessons are designed to take students no more than 5 minutes to complete, consisting of a short article, video, or infographic, with a 1-question quiz at the end to verify they understand the key concept being presented.

For the first few months of the game, these mini-lessons are somewhat frequent, and cover essential concepts they need to be successful while playing (for example, the difference between a credit card and debit card). As the game progresses, the mini-lessons become less frequent, and cover a broader range of financial topics.

There is also a special mini-lesson that occurs on April 15 of every year – students need to complete a short lesson on Filing Taxes and the Form 1040.

Current Mini-Lessons

This is our current list of Mini-Lessons included in the Budget Game. Please note that this list is subject to change. At this time, all mini-lessons occur during the first 12 months of the game.

This list was last updated on December 28, 2023.

  1. Your Debit and Credit Cards
  2. Needs vs Wants
  3. Building Your Emergency Fund
  4. Budgeting and Estimating Expected Expenses
  5. More About Credit Cards
  6. Managing Your Bills
  7. Preparing For Spending Shocks
  8. Understanding Your Paycheck
  9. Writing A Check
  10. Net Worth
  11. Credit Reports
  12. Comparison Shopping
  13. Types of Insurance
  14. Opportunity Cost
  15. Financial Institutions
  16. Your Savings and Inflation
  17. Investing in Stocks
  18. Investing in Mutual Funds
  19. Investing in Bonds
  20. Mortgages: Facts and Fiction
  21. Filing Your Taxes

Disabling Mini-Lessons

If you want your students to complete the budgeting game without the mini-lessons (for example, if you are using the budgeting game as a capstone to your class and students are expected to already be familiar with these concepts), it is possible to disable mini-lessons by reaching out to our Support Team or your Account Manager.

PersonalFinanceLab’s Budget Game is an awesome tool to help teach students how to manage their money, pay bills on time, build up their credit, and get experience managing personal finances in a safe enviornment.

But one of the cornerstones of true financial literacy is being able to look over financial records, like bank statements, and draw conclusions about spending and saving habits. This is why we also have our built-in, exportable statements for each student’s checking account, savings account, and credit card!

Introducing Bank and Credit Statements

As students play through the budget game, they have a number of other tools available in their main menu. The Bank Statements are easy to overlook as students play through the game, but provide important extra insights, and a gateway to a wealth of other class activities outside the game itself.

Features of the Bank and Credit Statements

As students play through the budget game, they get paid into their checking account, and can use their debit card or credit card for transactions. They also are encouraged to transfer money into their savings account, both to build their emergency fund and as part of a long-term savings strategy.

Their Statements allow them to get a list of all of their transactions in each account, and see transaction summaries for any date range.

Choosing A Date Range

At the top of each statement, there is a place to choose the date range to examine. By default, this will be set to the student’s current month in the game, but they can change the date range to look back at previous months, or even view everything from the game so far in one view.

Summary Section

After choosing a date range, students can see the summary of all of their transactions in this account over that time. For example, they can see what their starting and ending balance was from their Savings Account to see exactly how their savings has grown over time, along with their current account balance.

Transaction List

After the summary, students can see a complete list of all transactions on this account over the selected date range.

Exports

Perhaps most importantly of all, students can export their statements as an Excel spreadsheet, or straight to Google Sheets. This allows teachers to create additional in-class activities based on the financial data students created themselves in the budget game. Some activities can include:

  1. Building Spending Summaries: Export both their Checking Account transactions and their Credit Card transactions, and build a pie chart of their spending based on “Needs vs Wants”, and “Fixed vs Variable”.
    • How does each student’s pie chart compare with their neighbors?
    • How do the pie charts of students at the top of the class rankings compare with those near the bottom?
  2. Credit Card Utilization: Export their Credit Card transactions, and use a spreadsheet to create a sum of all transactions by month. Over the course of the game, students’ credit limit increases – are they spending more on their credit cards just because they “can”?
  3. Power of Compound Interest: Towards the end of the game, have students export their Savings Account statements, and use a spreadsheet to filter down to just the interest earned. Make a line chart, showing that the line chart has an upward curve (not a straight line), illustrating the power of compound interest even in a basic savings account over a short period of time.

Teacher Access

While teachers cannot dive directly into the full bank statements of every student, they do have the power to view and export the transactions from each student’s checking, savings, and credit accounts. This also includes extra information that is not normally visible to students.

Single Student View

To view the transactions of any one student, go to “Reports” on your main menu, and click “View Transaction Histories By Student”.

This lets you see each student in your class, with their summary stats, and a button to view more details. Clicking “View Details” will show you the same transaction lists that students see on their statements, plus other “hidden” information too.

This view gives you 6 tabs to dive into students in greater detail, each of which is exportable to Excel or Google Sheets as well.

  1. Score: This is a summary of the student’s overall game stats, including their current date in the game, score, net worth, quality of life, credit score, and the combined fixed monthly expenses they face each month.
  2. Checking, Savings, and Credit: These three tabs pull the full transaction histories for each student in each of their three accounts. Teachers do not have the ability to filter by date range (like the students’ statements), but they can export.
  3. Bonus Points: This view lets teachers see the extra bonus points students earned (or lost) throughout the game. For example, this will let you see the points a student has earned by hitting monthly savings goals, or hitting milestones in their Emergency Fund.
  4. Student Details: This gives teachers an explicit breakdown of what each student has chosen for the 4 “fixed” expenses they can control – what apartment type they rented, phone package, TV/Internet package, and grocery plan. This allows teachers to see directly which students “spend big” on their fixed expenses, and which choose less expensive options.

Conclusion

Getting deeper access into how a student actually spends money through the game is an essential component of building lifelong financial literacy. Leveraging our built-in bank statements in your classroom is a great way to help prepare students for the real world after school!

One of our recently featured highlights was Assignment Rewards – a great way to incentivize students to complete their lessons on time. But as the teacher, how can you find which of your students earned their bonuses?

Introducing Rewards Reporting

When you set up your Assignment Rewards, you have the option to credit it to the student’s Stock Game or Budget Game. If you want to check if your student got their rewards, you will need to look at a different report for each.

Stock Game Rewards

Rewards for the Stock Game is treated like a free cash dividend to their account.

Teacher Reporting

For teachers, you can find the total cash rewards a student received for their stock game on what we call the User Summary report. This is called “Bonus Cash”.

If you added or removed cash from a student’s portfolio with our “Add/Remove Cash” tool, it is also included in this amount. Note: you can also pull the Bonus Cash into any Custom Report for your class, under the “Stock Game Stats” section.

Student Reporting

For students, their Stock Game Rewards act just like a dividend – so they can see each of their Rewards listed under their “Transaction History” under stock game in the main menu. They can also see the total of their Rewards as Bonus Cash on their Portfolio Summary page – the same summary teachers see on their User Summary report.

Budget Game Rewards

If you chose to give your students rewards in their Budget Game, they will appear as a Direct Deposit into a student’s checking account.

Both teachers and students can find these transactions in the Checking Account statement, with two special considerations to keep in mind:

Students Must Start The Game First

Students cannot earn rewards for the Budget Game until they’ve completed their first day of the game. This means you should make sure that students have at least started the Budget Game before giving them an assignment that has a Budget Game Reward.

Reward Dates

The budget game has students playing through time – each die roll is moving them forward through their financial journey. The first “day” of the game is the first day of the month (in the real world) when they started the game, but every die roll moves them into the future.

However, the day when a student earns an Assignment Reward is “today”, in real time. This means that when you look at their checking account statement, their reward will be listed as the real-world date when they completed that assignment.

For example, let’s say you have a 12-month budget game, starting in January. In your first 2 weeks of class, your student completes 2 months of the game (and is now on March 15 of the game).

At this point (January 15 in the real world), your student finishes an assignment which grants them a $500 bonus to the Budget Game. This will appear as a deposit into their checking account, with a transaction date of January 15 (the real-world date when they completed the assignment). This means the reward date may be back-dated in the game compared to where they have progressed so far, and they may need to look at older bank statements to see the deposit.

Conclusion

Assignment Rewards are a great way to keep your class engaged and on-task; but it can be just as important to see how those rewards add up!

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

We understand the increasing importance of personal finance education across the United States. That’s why we revised our financial literacy standards alignment to cover the majority of state academic standards. Our goal is to provide teachers and curriculum specialists with the resources they need to meet these requirements and deliver engaging learning experiences for their students.

We strongly believe in the significance of developing financial literacy skills in students. By equipping your students with the knowledge and tools to make informed financial decisions, we can empower them to navigate the complexities of the modern world.

Together, let’s shape a generation of financially capable individuals who are prepared to tackle the challenges that await them. We are here to support you on this mission every step of the way!

PersonalFinanceLab’s Alignment to State Financial Literacy Standards

Please use the links below to find out how our resources align with the specific knowledge statements in your state’s academic standards. You will find self-grading lessons, interactive calculators, comprehensive chapters, and interactive games to support your teaching.

Please Note: Certain states like Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas and Montana will link directly to the Jump$tart standards page, as these states have not specified financial literacy or personal finance standards.

At PersonalFinanceLab, we’re all about making Personal Finance easier to teach – and that means making sure teachers have the resources they need, right where they need them.

With this in mind, we’re excited to announce a complete revamp of our Admin Dashboard!

Meet Your New Dashboard

The new Admin Dashboard was designed with ease-of-use in mind; bringing exactly what you need to see when you first log in right to the forefront. Here’s what teachers can expect to find when they log in soon:

Stock Game Top 10

If your class uses our Stock Game, you can find the top 10 student rankings as the first widget on your page – a great way to start off with a class bell-ringer of what’s going well in their portfolios!

We also have quick links to view more stock game reports, or your complete class ranking as well if you want to dive deeper.

Budget Game Top 10

Next up are the top 10 for your class’s budget game (if you’re using our budget game). This also keeps it down to the top 10 only, with quick links for the full rankings or to dive into deeper reports.

Assignment Snapshot

The Assignment Snapshot lets you browse the active assignments for your class, giving you a bird’s-eye view of how far your class is progressing, how much time they are taking, and the average grades – giving you an easy way to spot topics that your class is having trouble with, and which they are breezing through.

Admin Message

On the right side of the page, you can see any announcements you have posted for your class. Announcements appear on the student dashboard when your class logs in, and on the right-hand side of every page. Announcements can include basic text, an uploaded image, or even HTML-formatted messages for your class.

Resource Links

Also on the right hand side, we highlighted the most frequently-used Teacher Resources and reports – particularly our Teacher Guides, and quick access to reset student usernames/passwords to help with login troubles.

PFinLab News

We also updated our News Feed for teachers! This will include both new features (like this fancy new dashboard), but also when we do our regular Feature Highlights, so new teachers can get up-to-speed on all the new functionality PFinLab has to offer!

Site License Usage

And last, you can see your school’s current site license usage. If you notice you’re running out of seats and your next semester’s class is coming soon, we even have a quick-order button built right in to add more student accounts to your school license in just 5 minutes!

As always, the dashboard also has a Live Chat access for our support team, standing by for any questions about your class. We hope this new dashboard will make teaching personal finance simpler and easier than ever!

Happy Learning!

The PFinLab Team

PersonalFinanceLab has over a dozen different reports – showing class registration information, budget game progress, stock game trades, and more.

But you’re a busy teacher – you want one page that has exactly the information that is most relevant to your class.

Don’t worry – our Custom Reporting tools are here to help!

Custom Reports

Our Custom Reporting tool allows teachers to build their own reports by bringing in data from different areas of their class all into one place.

One example would be if your class uses our Stock Game and Budget Game, so you want to see student’s names, the last time they logged in, portfolio values from the stock game, net worth from the budget game, and a button to reset each student’s passwords if they need it. Normally, you would have to look at 4 different reports to get each of these data points – but you can choose to bring it all together in one single custom report!

Custom reports can be exported too (like any other report), and every custom report you create is immediately available for all of your classes.

What You Can Include

We grouped the items available in a custom report into a few categories:

User Info – This is basic information about the students in your class, like their username, last login date, first names, and last initial. This section also allows you to include quick-access buttons to reset students’ usernames or passwords, or remove students from your class.

Stock Game Stats – This is basic stat info about student’s stock game performance, like their current portfolio value and total trades made. There are also quick-access buttons to view a student’s complete portfolio in a pop-up window, add or remove cash from a student’s portfolio, see a graph of their portfolio over time, or reset their stock game back to the starting position.

Stock Game Historical Data* – You can also pull historical data from the stock game, like what their portfolio value was each Friday of the game.

Stock Game Open Positions* – This can provide you information about each student’s current holdings in the stock game.

Stock Game Trades* – This will provide information on each student’s individual trades in the stock game.

Budget Game Stats – These are summary stats of each student in the budget game, like their net worth, credit score, and overall score.

*A custom report can contain information from Historical Data, Open Positions, OR Trades, but it not mix these together.

Other Custom Reports Info

  • You can create up to 5 custom reports
  • A single custom report can be used across all of your classes
  • Custom reports can be exported to Excel or Google Sheets
  • At this time, data from Assignments cannot be included in Custom Reports

Happy Learning, and if you have any questions contact our support team at support@personalfinancelab.com!

-The PFinLab Team

Teaching personal finance is super important, but it can be a real hassle for teachers. It takes up a lot of their time and energy, which can lead to burnout. That’s where PersonalFinanceLab comes in! We get it and want to make things easier for educators.

Our Teacher Resources page is like a gold mine for teachers. We’ve got everything sorted out for you so that you don’t have to start from scratch. We offer loads of lesson plans and teaching materials that are all ready to go. No need to spend hours creating content or figuring out how to make it engaging. We’ve already done the hard work for you!

Plus, our resources are designed to meet educational standards, so you can trust that they’re top-notch. We’re all about saving teachers time and effort while still giving students an awesome learning experience.

Teaching with PersonalFinanceLab is like having a super easy remote control for your classroom. Our platform is so user-friendly that teachers can breeze through their day without getting bogged down in admin stuff. You can make assignments in a snap, keep tabs on how your students are doing, and our lessons are like games – they’re fun!

You know that feeling when you’ve got a classroom full of different learners, and it’s tough to cater to everyone? Well, we’ve got your back. PersonalFinanceLab comes with interactive simulations that you can customize for each student. It’s like personalizing the learning experience for everyone, making your teaching more effective and keeping those students engaged.

We’re not just about the cool content and easy interface. Our Teacher Resources page is like having a whole team of tech support wizards at your beck and call. We’ll help you get started, give you tons of course outlines – basically, we’ve got your back from start to finish. No stress, just smooth sailing through your financial education journey.

At PersonalFinanceLab, it’s not just about the kids – it’s about you too! We’re all about giving teachers the tools they need to kick burnout to the curb. With our help, you can focus on the important stuff: making sure the next generation knows their finance game inside out.

PersonalFinanceLab’s lesson library and assignments is an awesome way to add extra supplements to your class – you can even give students rewards in their stock portfolio or budget game checking account when they complete their lessons on time!

But an article with a quiz at the end is not the best way to keep student engagement (which is why we have our games to begin with – to bring more excitement to your classroom). This is why we have been working hard to update our lesson library with more and more video content!

Introducing PersonalFinanceLab’s Video Libraries

Our team of financial literacy experts works to release new videos every month! These work to supplement core financial literacy concepts in our existing lesson library, but are also available for teachers to use stand-alone in their classes to introduce new topics. Here are some of our latest new releases:

We like to keep our videos short – just a few minutes – to make sure they keep students’ attention and act as an excellent way to introduce new topics to your class.

We are constantly adding new videos to our YouTube channel, and post them up to our Facebook Teacher Group with every release! Follow us to stay up-to-date with the last awesome, engaging resources for your classes!

Happy Learning

-The PFinLab Team

In the world of educational technology, support matters as much as the tools themselves. PersonalFinanceLab understands this and stands out with its dedicated account managers. Every teacher at every school has their own dedicated account manager, whose main focus is ensuring teachers are using the PersonalFinanceLab platform with confidence, and being the teachers main point of contact for any questions they have.. These professionals provide invaluable tech support, offering a one-on-one support system that is indispensable for educators.

The onboarding process is where PersonalFinanceLab shines. Dedicated account managers make transitioning to the platform a breeze, working closely with teachers to guarantee a smooth start. With their wealth of experience working with other schools, they bring unique insights and innovative ways to utilize our simulations, tools, and teaching  resources effectively in their classes. They assist with the initial setup, saving teachers precious time and energy. Moreover, they instruct teachers on how to customize the platform to match the unique teaching goals of each individual class. Thus ensuring that all features align seamlessly with their requirements.

However, the support doesn’t stop at onboarding; it’s an ongoing partnership. Our account managers serve as more than just setup guides; they are your partners in creating a seamless educational experience. Teachers can reach out at any time for assistance via email, phone, or through our constantly monitored live chat with any questions or issues they may have. Quick response times, and personal help with issues are crucial in the classroom, and our account managers deliver! These professionals are well-versed in the platform’s intricacies, making navigating a financial education platform a much more straightforward task. Their expertise ensures that teachers can make the most of PersonalFinanceLab’s extensive features and resources.

Customization is essential in effective teaching, and PersonalFinanceLab offers various options to meet specific classroom needs. Dedicated account managers collaborate with teachers to tailor the platform to their requirements. They discuss unique ways our games and resources can be used in their classes, aligning the platform perfectly with their teaching style and objectives. With their wealth of experience, they bring in insights and best practices from working with other schools, making the whole teaching process faster, easier, and more effective.

PersonalFinanceLab’s Budget Game is an awesome tool to help students master the core skills needed to build a healthy financial future. But while students are progressing from month to month, it can be hard to tell how well they are doing – apart from their Class Ranking.

With this in mind, we’re excited to announce our new Monthly Feedback system!

Monthly Feedback

When students finish each month of the Budget Game, they will get a prompt outlining how much progress they made towards each of the core game objectives:

  • Setting (and hitting) realistic savings goals
  • Building an Emergency Fund of at least $1,000
  • Building their Credit Score through responsible credit habits, and
  • Once they are on the right track for their other goals, spending responsibly to maintain a high Quality of Life.

We outline this in each step of our new Feedback System!

General Stats

General Stats

First, students get a snapshot of the big items for the game:

  1. Bills Paid On Time: what percentage of their bills did they pay before the due date? In the example above, I was late on most of my bills. Later in the feedback I will see exactly what this means for my financial future!
  2. Total Late Fees: I was late on several bills – but not every bill has the same penalties for being late. This is the total amount of late fees I accumulated this month (hopefully $0!).
  3. Total Interest Charged: If I am carrying a balance on my Credit Card, this will show the total interest charges I accumulated this month (again, hopefully $0!)
  4. And Total Interest Earned: At the end of each month, students earn interest on their savings account. This shows how much I earned this month.

Savings Goal Feedback

Savings Goal

Next, students get a summary of how well they worked towards their savings goal. Their feedback is based on two factors:

  1. Did they hit their savings goal for this month, and
  2. Was their savings goal above 10% or 5% of their expected income for the month

The feedback they get will congratulate them on hitting goals, with additional feedback on making sure to try to hit 10% of their expected income.

Credit Score

Credit Score

Next, students get feedback on how their credit score changed this month. Credit score improves as students pay bills on time and use their credit card responsibly (with the most points earned by using their credit card a bit, but paying off the full amount on time), with points lost by over-using their credit card or being late on bill payments.

The feedback students get will depend on how their credit score changed this month, with specific hints on what to do next month to earn the maximum points.

Quality of Life

Quality of Life

The last feedback they get is on their Quality of Life – showing their total current score. Their specific feedback items are actually based mostly on their Emergency Fund – if students have not yet saved up a full $1,000 in their Savings Account, their feedback will remind them to work on saving up before spending extra cash. If they have built up their $1,000 fund, it will then confirm they are still setting (and hitting) that 10% savings goal.

If their savings are in good shape, then the game will congratulate them, and suggest they continue to invest in their Quality of Life as well – including buying new items for their Apartment.

We hope the End Of Month Feedback will bring the learning experience of the Budget Game to a whole new level, and help students really keep focus on the goals that matter.

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

Using a stock game in class to teach about investing has been a staple of classrooms for decades. And for the whole time, building a portfolio has been a great group activity to help students work and learn together.

But there is always one nagging problem with every group project – how can teachers measure the contribution of each team member?

Introducing Teams!

“Teams” is a feature of PersonalFinanceLab that allows teachers to put their students in groups for the Stock Game. Students in a Team still have their own login and their own individual portfolio, but it also adds a new Team Portfolio and Team Ranking, which aggregates all the team members together.

Creating Teams

After you have set up your class and gotten your students registered, teachers can create and manage Teams from their administration menu:

On the Manage Teams page, you will see all of your students without a team on the left side, and all of the current teams on the right side.

To create your first team, click the “Add Team” button on the top right.

All you need to do is set a username for each team. Like student usernames, they must be unique across all classes.

Once you have created a team, use the dropdown next to each student’s username to add them to a team. You can also remove students from a team at any time by clicking “View Team”, and removing a student. Students can be added or removed from teams at any time.

How Teams Work

When a student is in a team, they have two new items appear on their menu – “Team Portfolio” and “Team Rankings”.

Students still make their own trades in their own portfolio – but the Team Portfolio page shows the combined positions of everyone on that team, so they can coordinate their strategies.

For the Team Rankings, the portfolios of all team members are combined, and teams are ranked by their percentage return. This means it is okay to have teams with different numbers of team members – even though one team might have a combined portfolio value of $500,000 and another team might only have $100,000, the ranking will be based on how much their investment has grown (not just $500,000 vs $100,000).

Best of all, because each student has their own login, as the teacher you can still see what the contribution of each team member is – no more free riding!

We hope teams help take your class stock game to the next level – happy trading!

-The PFinLab Team

Picture this – you set up your class stock and budget games, along with assignments with tutorials and other info you want students to work through before finishing the games. But students always seem to want to play first, learn later. How can you incentivize them to get through their lessons and quizzes first?

Introducing Assignment Rewards

When you create an assignment on PersonalFinanceLab, one of the settings at the top is if you want to set a reward. Setting a reward gives students a cash deposit (either as “bonus cash” to their stock game portfolio, or a deposit into their Budget Game checking account). You can choose which type of bonus to give students with a dropdown:

By letting your students know there is a reward to be earned by using Announcements or Messages, it gives a clear incentive to finish the tutorials or other lessons before jumping back into the games.

Getting Creative With Rewards

You can also leverage the Rewards system to really get creative with your class structure. Here are some ideas for your class:

  1. Complete The Stock Tutorials Before Trading
    • Set up your class stock game with very little starting cash (say, $100). Then create an assignment requiring students to go through each of the basic investing lessons and tutorial videos, granting a $9,500 cash reward to round out a $10,000 starting portfolio
  2. Complete The Budget Game Tutorials Before Starting
    • Set up your class budget game with $0 cash in students checking or savings accounts. Only grant them their first $1,000 to “get started” as a reward for completing the budget game tutorial lessons
  3. Connecting the Budgeting and Stock Games
    • Start out your students with very little starting cash in the stock game, and use a speed limit of 1 month for the budgeting game. Then every week, create an assignment requiring students to complete 1 month of the budgeting game, with a reward of $1000 to their Stock Game portfolio. This grants students cash to invest in the stock game when they first complete a month of the Budgeting Game

The combinations are endless – be prepared to get your students excited to finish their quizzes!

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

The PersonalFinanceLab Budgeting Game is an excellent way to get students thinking about money over time – sometimes even TOO engaging. Teachers may set up a game lasting 18 virtual months with the intention for the class to progress through it over the course of 10 weeks, only to find some students moved too far ahead and finished the whole game early.

How can teachers make sure students all keep the same pacing?

Introducing Speed Limits

“Speed Limits” is a setting for a class budgeting game. Setting a Speed Limit controls how many in-game months a student can progress for each week of real-life time.

For example, if you set up your class with a speed limit of “2”, it means students can complete up to 2 months of the budget game each week. This is cumulative – so after 2 weeks, students can complete up to 4 months (even if they just started), allowing students who need more time to catch up.

Speed Limits are one of your class Budget Game settings. Speed Limits can be set both when creating your class, or later from the “Edit Session Settings” page under “Administration” in the menu.

If your students progress up to the speed limit, the game will let them know with a warning message:

Students who have reached the Speed Limit can instead work on their assignments from the Learning Library, or continue to build their portfolio in the Stock Game while the rest of the class catches up.

We hope this makes it easy to manage your classes, and keep everyone on the right track!

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team

Every teacher has been there – you’ve had your students complete a formative quiz, and you want to review their answers to see where the class is struggling. All the quizzes are graded, but going through every student one-at-a-time to find patterns can be frustrating and time consuming.

This is where our Class Quiz Summaries come in to help!

Class Quiz Summaries

The Class Quiz Summary is a tool available in the teacher administration reports. It can be accessed from the main menu, from “Reports” -> “Assignment Class Progress Reports”.

There are two tabs on this page – the “Progress Report” (where you can see the quiz results from each assignment for each student), and the “View Assignment” (which has the class summaries we’re focusing on today).

Class Summaries

At the top of the report, you can find how many students in your class have fully completed this assignment, along with their average grade across all quizzes in this assignment. Note that students who have not yet completed a quiz are counted as “0” (which is why the average grade is so low in the example above – very few students have finished this assignment yet).

Below, for each quiz in this assignment, you can see what percentage of your class has finished, how long (on average) they took, and the average grade (again, students who have not yet taken the quiz are counted as 0).

Digging Deeper

The most valuable information for an educator can be found when you click “Details”. This will give you a breakdown of every question in this quiz, and (of the students who completed it), how many students got this question right and wrong.

Quiz Summaries

This gives teachers a quick and easy birds-eye view of their class for each quiz. With the results above, I can see that most students knew what a “Preferred Stock” is, but I might want to spend a bit more class time covering the fundamentals of what a “stock” actually represents.

We know this will save teachers a lot of time, and make their classes more efficient than ever!

Happy Learning

-The PFinLab Team

Picture this – you are a student playing through the PersonalFinanceLab budgeting game, and you get a prompt – do you want to buy an aquarium? The cost is $100.

In the real world, tons of people buy aquariums – it is a personal preference, but maybe you really like looking at fish. This is a Quality of Life decision. But with just a “buy or don’t” decision, it is hard to make that feel impactful for students. This is where the My Apartment feature comes in!

Introducing My Apartment

The My Apartment function is a place where students can see the impact of the decisions they have made throughout the budget game – and make new decisions too!

When students buy some items through the game, they will appear in their Apartment (like the aquarium example above). Bigger decisions have an impact too – like do they want a cheap, shabby apartment, or a more expensive pad.

Cheap Apartment

An example of a cheap apartment – with cracked windows, many roommates, and leaks from the ceiling

An example of a luxury apartment, with two private bedrooms, granite countertops, and private balcony

The apartment is a great way for students to SEE the impact of their financial decisions. Number metrics like “Net Worth”, “Credit Score” and the balance of their savings account are one thing, but in the real world, there is value to one’s Quality of Life too. The essence of Personal Finance is weighing these decisions!

Showing Off

This means they need to be able to show off – and they can! From your class’s Budget Game Rankings page, there is a button next to each student to visit their “Apartment”, letting each student “visit” each other’s apartments to see how they have developed over the course of the game. This is an excellent launching point for class discussions – did students with the nicest homes meet all of their savings goals? And how is their credit score?

The Apartment brings a whole new dimension to the “Spend vs Save” decisions throughout the games – and a whole new level of engagement for students!

Happy Budgeting!

-The PFinLab Team

You’ve got an important announcement for your students. Maybe you already posted it to your classroom page, and sent out an email. Even wrote it on the board in class.

But if you want to be extra sure they see it, you also want to pop it in front of them while they’re working through the games on PersonalFinanceLab. This is where our Announcements and Messages come in!

Introducing Announcements and Messages

Announcements and Messages are an on-site way to communicate with your students on PersonalFinanceLab.

Using Announcements

An “Announcement” is a message that appears for every page for students while they use the site, appearing at the top right of every page.

Announcement

Announcements can be text, images, links, or all three. They stay on the page for as long as you have the announcement active. This means Announcements are a great way to remind your students of important things coming up, but also to give recognition to banks or credit unions that sponsored your class’s site license!

Teachers can post Announcements from their Admin menu. Go to “Admin” -> “Post A Message” to post your announcement.

Messages

Messages are another communication tool built into PersonalFinanceLab. The messaging center is an inbox for every student. Students can access their inbox through the message icon next to their username at the top of the page.

Messages

If students have unread messages, it will have a flashing indicator here, and on their Dashboard when logging in.

Students using the Stock Game will regularly get system messages about important events in their portfolio – like a stock they are holding issued a dividend or had a split. Students can also manage some of their inquiries to our Technical Support team through the messaging center when Live Chat or Email are not available.

But teachers can also send messages to their full class about important dates and announcements too!

Sending Messages

Teachers can send a message to their class from the Registration File report. Simply go to “Reports” -> “Registration”, and near the top of the page there is a button to “Message All Users”.

Just like email, you will set a subject line and the content of the message, then send! The Messaging System also accepts HTML content, if you want to include things like pictures or links in the message you send (if you aren’t sure how to write HTML, no problem – our support team can help)!

The Bottom Line

Posting Announcements and sending Messages are just one of the many tools teachers have available to reach their students on PersonalFinanceLab, along with their other courseware messaging systems. But it can be an important way to recognize sponsors, or give information you want your students to see explicitly while playing the games.

Starting in Fall 2023, students can also use the Messaging Center to manage their support tickets, removing the need for email entirely – an important improvement to protecting student data privacy. And speaking of privacy – only teachers and our staff can send messages or modify announcements – students cannot directly send messages to each other.

Let us know if you have questions about Announcements or Messages, and good luck this semester!

-The PFinLab Team

You’re planning to use the PersonalFinanceLab stock game in your class. You’ve used stock games before, and have seen some students buy something in the first week, then forget about it until the end of the semester.

You want to encourage students to keep an eye on their portfolio, and re-balance it over time, just like a real retirement account. What can you do?

Introducing Weekly Deposits

Weekly Deposits was designed exactly with this scenario in mind. With Weekly Deposits, you can start off your class stock game with much less “initial cash” – maybe just $500 or $1000 (which is a lot more tangible to students than a $100,000 portfolio).

Then each Monday, the system will automatically deposit extra cash into their account, which students can use to build their portfolio over time – just like a real, growing retirement account.

Here’s How It Works

  • When you create your class, choose the “Custom Settings”.
  • When you get to the Stock Game settings, you’ll have the option to set a “Weekly Deposit” for your class
    • You can also add weekly deposits later from “Edit Session Settings”
  • Now every Monday morning, students will have that extra cash available to invest
  • This extra cash is added to their Initial Cash, so it doesn’t count as pure portfolio returns (just like adding cash to a regular brokerage account).

Here’s WHY It Works

With a regular stock game, you will always have a few students who get super engaged and find it to be the best activity of the year. But students who don’t immediately get attracted to investing might not be so enthusiastic.

From our student feedback, the most common reasons for this fall into two buckets:

  1. That the starting cash is just too much money – they’ll never have $100,000 in cash, so investing is only really for rich people
  2. They spent time at the start of the semester picking a few stocks, and didn’t see a good reason to change their first picks

Weekly Deposits addresses both of these concerns. First, it allows teachers to start off with very little starting cash for their class (as little as $100), which brings down the bar for how much money a person needs before they think about investing.

Second, extra cash is added to their portfolio every week, forcing students to think about what they want to DO with it. Maybe they will add it to the same stocks they already had. But maybe they heard something about what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla this week, or that an AI revolution is making waves with Nvidia – is that something they want to add to their portfolio? And what does that mean for their other holdings?

We think that Weekly Deposits can bring your stock game to a whole new level of engagement – and that’s what we’re all about!

Happy Trading!

-The PFinLab Team

Students can work in teams to complete this assignment. After logging into PersonalFinanceLab, they can go to the Stock Screener, in the Investing Research section to compare two companies from the same industry. Adjusting the Industry filter, they can compare any companies that trade on the US stock exchange.

For example, students could choose Electronics/Appliances and compare SONY to ROKU or WEBR to GPRO. Once students have the industry, they must pick any 2 ticker symbols and compare their financial positions, analyst ratings and if your class is advanced enough conduct technical analysis on how the companies’ price and share volumes fluctuate over time.

Students will need to justify why they would invest in one company over the other based on the fundamentals of the company. I.E. which one is more likely to succeed based on their past performance? And therefore, which stock is more likely to give them more dependable returns?

Students can use the Quote Research page to get access to SEC filings, financial statements and more to complete the assignment. They can access the information they need for all publicly traded companies by selecting Financial Statements from the left side panel on the Quote page.

Income Statement

  • Students should compare the line EBIT (Earnings Before Income Tax) and EBITDA (Earnings Before Income Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) of both companies, which one is higher and why?
  • Can they see any major differences from one year to the next for one of the companies? If they research company news for that period, was it a global event that caused this change in price? Or did something happen to the company in particular?
    • For example, a change in leadership, or bad publicity after a bad product launch?

Balance Sheet

  • What are the current and non-current liabilities of both companies?
  • Have they gone up more for one company than the other over the last 2-3 years?
  • How much current assets does each company have?
  • If they suddenly had to pay off all their current debts (liabilities) would they have enough “liquid assets” to cover it?
    • I.E. Are the total current assets larger or equal to the current liabilities?
  • How much Retained Earnings does each company have? How much common stock do each have?

Cash Flow Statement

  • When comparing both companies, which company has more extra cash available at the end of each period?
  • Is that amount going up or down over the last 2-3 years?
  • What is the biggest source of incoming cash? Is it from Operating Cash Flow, Investing or Financing?
    • Note: A company in good standing will have most money coming from Operations. 

Next students should consider the industry as a whole and answer the following questions.

  • Is this industry growing or is it established? Explain why or why not.
  • If this is a growing industry, are one or both companies experiencing rapid growth? How much are they investing in Research and Development?
    • Note: they can access this information from the Income Statement under Operating Expense.
  • If this is an established industry, are one or both companies offering dividends? If it is an established industry and the companies are not paying out dividends, why do you think that is? Where is the company investing their money instead?
  • Is it possible the industry is shrinking? If so, how much market share is there available for all the existing companies?
    • I.E. Are there any major changes in technology, regulation or some other global shifts that could put pressure on the industry as a whole?
    • For example, all travel was banned during the COVID-19 crisis impacting the entire tourism industry from hotels, airlines, restaurants to leisure or recreational activities.

Once students have completed their analysis, they should explain which of the two companies they would invest money in. Or why they will invest in neither option based on the industry and how it is currently performing.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
AccuracySome or all the answers are incorrect.The answers are correct, but the conclusions drawn from them may not be.The answers are correct, and the conclusions drawn from them are logical and actionable.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling/ grammar errors.

Student Packet

Download and distribute the student packet for this activity by clicking the button below!

For an 18-week class, we recommend that students write their own personal investing strategies that is separate from the group portfolio project. This allows each student to reflect on their current financial goals and how they intend to meet them.

Students should choose one of the following financial goals:

  • Buying a Home
  • Hosting a major event, (like a wedding)
  • Starting a business
  • Starting a family
  • Retirement

Based on their selection, students should do some preliminary research into how much this financial goal will cost. If you decide to include their research as part of the assignment, consider using the second grading rubric.

Next, they will have to approximate how much time from today they have to reach this goal. Their time horizon will be a critical factor in what investment strategy they will choose. The assignment is going to walk them through answering some basic questions to get them thinking about the effects of compound interest, risk, time horizons, liquidity and how comfortable they are with investing.

  1. What is your financial goal?
  2. How many years from today do you expect you have to save and invest before you are ready to pursue your financial goal?
  3. How much money will you be able to put into your savings for this financial goal every month?
  4. How much money will that be per year until you reach the time you need the money?
  5. What is the total cost of the goal at the time you intend to take your money out of your savings/investments? Remember to factor in inflation!
    • For example, if your goal costs $5000 today, and you need this money in 10 years, you will need to save $6,094.97 if inflation stays constant at 2%/year.
  6. How much does your capital need to grow per year to allow you to reach your goal on time?
  7. What investments will you use that will allow your investment to grow, keeping in mind there are risks of losing your initial capital, (and/or your savings)?

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds ExpectationsTotal Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors.
ResearchThere is little research included, or the sources are not credible.There are some good references or sources, but more research is required.The student can fully support their conclusions based on the research they conducted.

Student Packet

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In this project we will be asking students to conduct a comparison-shopping exercise. They will first look at their most-preferred smartphone, and what it costs. They also need to specify what exactly makes this their preferred smartphone.

Next, students will need to identify cell phone service providers that support their phone. This is the bulk of the project. Students are asked to:

  1. Compare the price of their preferred smartphone if they were to buy it outright versus make monthly installment payments through a cell phone provider.
  2. Compare cell phone plans from at least two providers.

Students are asked to compare two different cell phone providers with similar plans. To drive home key financial literacy concepts, they are also asked to compare both providers’ total costs over a 3-year period. This will help students internalize:

  • The full cost of the phone when it is financed vs purchasing up-front.
  •  The difference between the introductory (advertised) plan cost against what it costs long-term after the intro period expires.

Last, students are asked to evaluate their final choice, and consider the impact of the research they have done so far. Specifically, they are asked to consider how much of a better deal they could get themselves if they sit down for two full hours to compare different combinations between phones, cell phone plans, and cell phone providers to try to find the best deal. They are asked to compare this against an hourly wage rate to drive home the importance of comparison shopping in their day-to-day life.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
AccuracyInformation about cell phone prices or plans is missing or inaccurate.Information about cell phone prices or plans is present but does not have all appropriate references or calculations for the long-term costs.All pricing information is present with appropriate sources, and long-term price calculations are present and accurate.
InsightPreferred cell phones and/or cell phone plans are presented without any justification on why they are preferred.Student lists their preferred cell phone and cell phone plan but does not explain why key features are important to the decision-making process.The student demonstrates their preferred cell phone and/or cell phone plan and shows a clear distinction of why it is their preferred choice over the long run.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors.

Student Packet

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At the conclusion of the class period, students will build a final report and presentation synthesizing their experiences from both the budget game and stock game. Students will work in the same teams that they used for the Stock Game project to build this report. The Stock Game freezes all student portfolios automatically at the end of your class trading period – students do not need to sell off their holdings.

Each group will be asked to prepare a final report, plus a short presentation they will make to the rest of the class. Group presentations should not exceed 10 minutes, plus time for questions. Each student will also be evaluated based on a participation score, which is a combination of questions they asked during other presentations and a group self-assessment for the stock game.

The Final Report Should Consist Of:

  1. Final Stock Game Report
    • Restate their original objective statement.
      •  If they revised their objective statement as part of the “Check-In Project”
      • State their updated objective statement and explain why they made the change.
    • Restate their original team roles.
      • If they revised their team roles as part of the “Check-In Project”
      • State the updated team roles, and why they made the change.
    • Include a discussion of how they set their objectives, and how well they stuck to their objectives over the duration of the class.
    • Identify the final portfolio holdings of the team using a pie chart.
    • Identify the investments the team made with the biggest gains and worst losses. Include the total profit or loss for each.
    • Identify two major real-world events that had a significant impact on their portfolio
    • If they were starting over from scratch and building a portfolio for 7 years instead of 7 weeks, what would they as a team have done differently?
  2. Final Budget Game Report
    • A summary of each student’s final positions in the budget game, including:
      • Final Overall Score
      • Final Credit Score
      • Final Quality of Life Score
      • Final Savings Account Balance and Checking Account Balance
      • The number of months each student was able to reach their savings goal
    • A discussion on the differences between the events in the budget game between the participants. Why did each team member finish with different scores? Did some team members encounter significant events in the game that made progress harder or easier than their teammates?
    •  If students were playing through the game again, what would they do differently?
    • As a group, what do students think were the most realistic and least realistic parts of the budget game compared to what they expect to encounter in the real world.
  3. A Group Evaluation
    • Team members should also separately submit a group evaluation of how much each team member contributed to the total project.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
Completeness – Budget GameNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered for each team member.
Insight – Budget GameStudents have not identified significant differences in the game for each group member.Some game differences were listed for each group member, but without discussion of the significance.The group explores differences in how the game played out between the group members and how this impacted their final scores, highlighting key events that students handled differently and the long-term impacts of those events.
Reflection – Budget GameLittle or missing reflection on what students would do differently if playing again, and how the budget game compares to what they expect in the real world.Students include a brief explanation of mistakes they made in the game and would improve on if playing again. Some explanation is provided of what they think would be different in the real world.Students explain differences between the group members in what they would change if playing the game again. Specific examples are provided of the difference between the game and the real world, and what this would mean for a person managing a real budget.
Completeness – Stock GameNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered for each team member.
Insight – Stock GameStudents do not fully connect their initial and/or revised investing strategy or team roles to the final portfolio returns.Students explain how their investing objective statement impacted their choice of investments, and how this would be different from other groups.Students explain both how their investing objectives and team roles did or did not change over time based on how their portfolio performed. They include key real-world events that had a large impact on their portfolio, and what this meant in the context of their objective statement.
Reflection – Stock GameLittle to no reflection is provided in how the team would adapt their investing strategy for a long-term portfolio.A short explanation is provided about what went right and what went wrong as part of their team portfolio, and what they would do differently if the game lasted 7 years.Students propose a new or revised objective statement for a 7-year portfolio, outlining what they learned as part of this class but also why investing for a longer term is different than the class game.
Participation – Stock GameStudents receive poor or zero scores from teammates, indicating very little engagement with the stock game project.Students receive average participation evaluation from their teammates regarding stock game participation.Students receive outstanding participation evaluation from their teammates as part of the stock game project.
Participation – PresentationsStudents did not ask questions or provide comments to other groups’ presentations.Students asked cursory or irrelevant questions to other group presentations.Students asked meaningful and insightful questions to other groups after their presentations.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors.

Student Packet

Download and distribute the student packet for this activity by clicking the button below!

In this project, we will be asking students to investigate different budgeting “apps” and resources that people use to help manage their money. Student will be challenged to use critical thinking to address two primary concerns with budgeting apps:

  1. What features would really be important to them to help manage their budget?
  2. “Free Apps” are never free. How do the companies that make these apps make their money?

Students are asked to identify at least two different budgeting apps or online resources, and do a short review of the strengths and weaknesses of each app. For each app, they are also challenged to think about how the app creator makes their money. Do they charge for the app, or do they try to sell the users other services later? How would this impact how they use the app in the long run?

After each student picks their favorite app, they also are asked to identify its weaknesses that might make it challenging to use in the long run. Finally, students are asked to provide a comparison of using an app to track their personal finances against using a spreadsheet (or just pencil and paper) over 1 month, 1 year, and 10 years.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
AccuracyInformation reported about the apps being reviewed has factual errors.The answer presented is accurate, but not complete. Important features or drawbacks are missing.Student provides a complete and impartial assessment of each of the apps being reviewed.
InsightIncomplete or unrealistic understanding of how the app’s developers make money or how the app would be used.Basic understanding of the app’s revenue model and how it could be used in the real world.Strong understanding of how the apps make money, how this might create conflicts on how the app is used, and creative approaches to what this means for users.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors.

Student Packet

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This project is placed towards the end of the Investing unit, after each student has already begun to place a few trades. Ideally you will also have organized students into Teams as well.

From this point of the class onwards, students will continue to be managing their portfolio as a project in the background (just as they continue to progress in the Budget Game), but we will be dedicating less in-class time to the project. The purpose of the Investing Strategy Document is to have your teams: Define the overall objectives of the Team Portfolio. This could be something as simple as ‘maximize total returns’, or more nuanced, like ‘build a portfolio representing at least 6 different sectors that outperforms the S&P 500’.

  1. This objective statement will be referred to in later projects for students to reflect on how their portfolio evolved compared to the original objectives.
  2.  Define the roles of each team member. While each student will be placing trades in his or her portfolio, they may have different individual objectives (for example, one student may focus on healthcare and financial stocks for their research, while another student focuses on ETFs and mutual funds)
  3. Each student should also examine the portfolio they have built from the trades they placed since the start of the project until now. Do they believe that their original trades are in line with their new strategy, or will they need to sell off many holdings and start over?
  4. And finally, the team should create an estimate of how many total trades they expect to place per week to fulfill their investment objectives.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
CreativityThe objectives and goals of individual team members are not very well defined.The overall objectives of the team, and the role of each team member is present, but the roles of each team member are not very well connected to the group’s overall objective.The overall objective is well-defined with specific goals or milestones in place. The role of each individual team member is also well defined and connected to how it relates to the overall strategy.
InsightLittle to no analysis is presented on how the team’s trades so far fit into their new objective statement.Students present an analysis of their previous trades considering their new objective statement, but activities of students so far do not factor into team roles.The objective statement and team roles show a basis both in topics covered in class, and the trades students have made so far have a clear connection to the roles established for each team member.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors

Student Packet

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The stock game project utilizes PersonalFinanceLab’s stock game to teach students about investing. The key to a successful class stock game is making the game last as long as possible so students have exposure to the real markets and see how real-world news impacts their portfolio. Therefore, our course outline places the investing unit early in the class – just after budgeting.

For a 9-week class, we make the following recommendations for your class rules:

  • Use $10,000 starting cash. What this means is that students will start with $10,000 of cash to invest (which is large enough to buy almost any stock, but small enough to be a tangible number for most students).
  • Also include $1,000 weekly deposits. This means the system will also deposit an additional $1,000 in each student’s account every Monday morning, which students need to continually invest (just like making regular contributions to their retirement account).

We also recommend using the “Teams” function of PersonalFinanceLab. This will allow you to group your students into groups of two or more for the portfolio simulation. While each student has their own initial cash and portfolio, we also group the portfolios of “Teams” together for additional team rankings. This gives both you and your students a clear view of both their individual performance and their team to encourage collaboration, but not freeloading. The team rankings are based on the total % return of the team, and so it is not a problem if you have groups with uneven numbers of students.

At the end of the class, the final project involves a report and presentation of takeaways from both the stock game and budget game. We recommend this as a group project, based on Teams set up at the beginning of the class.

Similarly, to the Budget Game, the Stock Game project involves multiple smaller assessments: formative “Investing Strategy Report” and “Check-In” reports, and a summative final report and presentation, combined with the budget game. All three reports are best addressed as group projects, based on Teams in PersonalFinanceLab.

Unit 2.1 Starting the Stock Game – First Trades

Students will start the stock game at the beginning of the investing unit by exploring, watching tutorial videos, and placing their first trades by buying stocks that they have heard of before and think are doing well. Extensive research is not needed for the first trades – students will learn more about diversification and how to build a proper portfolio throughout the investing unit. Towards the end of the Investing Unit, students will begin working more directly with their Team to define their Team’s investing objectives and how to achieve them, which will continue through the duration of the course.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors.

The second project of the budget game takes place after 7 months of play, immediately before beginning our unit on Careers. This timing is important – after 6 months, your students will have “graduated” from school in the game and begun their first full-time job, and so at this point students have gotten their first taste of full-time work. There are several changes to the game when the students enter “Full Time Mode”, but the most important are:

  1. Students move out of their old place and need to choose new, more expensive, fixed expenses (since they no longer have roommates).
  2. Students will now work a fixed 40 hours per week and receive their paychecks every 2 weeks instead of weekly.
  3. Students’ starting wage at their new job is based both on your class settings, but also by how much they “studied” in school. Students who did a lot of studying while in school will have a higher starting wage than students who did not.
  4.  “Study” on the weekends is replaced with “Professional Development”. Conducting a lot of professional development can lead to raises at their job.
  5. New bills for Student Loan Payments and Health Insurance are added.
  6. There are new events added to the game to reflect their full-time status. Some students will have the opportunity to adopt a pet (which will improve Quality of Life but cause a permanent increase to their grocery bills) or buy a new car (which will increase their Quality of Life but cause a permanent increase to their Car Insurance and Car Payment bills).

The game is generally balanced so students will have just as easy (or hard) of a time reaching a 10% savings goal each month as they did in part-time mode, but bigger expenses, new bills, and less frequent paychecks make it more difficult to manage their cash flow over the course of the month. Building a higher credit score and having a higher credit limit to help cover cash crunches becomes much more important.

The first Budget Game activity we recommended as homework, followed up by a short discussion at the start of the next class. This activity we recommend to start with a 10 minute in-class discussion of what students noticed was different in the game once they entered full-time mode (ideally identifying a student who did a lot of “studying” before and now is earning more at their job than their peers), followed by a short 5-minute homework to write a half-page plan of how they expect to approach the game differently now that they are a full-time worker.

Evaluation is based on the creativity and insight of the student’s response based on elements they were able to pull out of the in-class discussion.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
ParticipationStudent did not participate in-class, and the written response was missing or incomplete.The written assignment was completed, but student did not participate in-class.The student participated actively in the in-class discussion and submitted a complete assignment.
InsightDescription of changes to the game were not in line with topics covered through the in-class discussionDescription of their new game plan incorporates elements from in-class discussion.Description of new game plan incorporates both in-class discussion and other expectations on how the student thinks the game may continue to evolve.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors

Budget Game – Activity Rubric

The budget game is balanced students playing a “perfect game” following all financial literacy best practices should be able to:

  • Set and hit a savings goal of least 10% of their income every month
    • This would earn 7,200 “bonus points” through the game
  • Build a $1,000 emergency fund
    • This would earn 2,000 “bonus points” through the game
  • Earn a total credit score of at least 780
    • And accumulate at least 9,000 “Quality of Life” points.

We do not recommend student evaluation based on their final Net Worth, and this does not factor into their overall score. We do, however, include this on the class rankings page so students can see their final standing.

This would give a student playing a “perfect game” an overall score of around 30,000 points. However, because there can be a learning curve (especially in the first three months) and these scores may be different depending on the individual settings teachers make for their class, our recommended student evaluation of the game is a bit more flexible.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessStudent has completed fewer than 8 months of the gameStudent has completed between 8 and 11 months of the gameStudent has completed all 12 months of the game on time
Emergency FundStudent finishes the game with less than $500 in their savings account as an Emergency FundStudent finishes the game with between $501 and $999 in their savings account as an emergency fundStudent finishes the game with over $1,000 in their savings account as an emergency fund
Monthly Savings GoalsStudent has accumulated fewer than 3,000 “bonus points” for hitting savings goalsStudent has earned between 3,000 and 8,000 “bonus points” for hitting their savings goalsStudent has earned over 8,000 points through the game by setting and hitting realistic savings goals
Credit ScoreStudent has a final credit score of less than 500 pointsStudent has a final credit score between 500 and 650Student has a final credit score above 650
Quality of LifeStudent has a Quality-of-Life score less than 3,000 pointsStudent has a Quality-of-Life score between 3,000 and 6,000 pointsStudent as a Quality-of-Life score above 6,000 points

Student Packet

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Midpoint Check-In

At this point students will be about 2/3 of the way through their stock game. The “Check-In” project is a short exercise for teams to evaluate how the group has performed so far, both relating to their original objective statements and how each team member has been fulfilling their roles.

The primary objective of this project is for students to look critically at how their investing strategy has worked (or failed) so far and offer an opportunity to update their objective statement or team roles for the last leg of the class.

Students are asked:

  1. Identify their team’s current ranking in the class.
  2. Identify how well they have stuck to their original investing strategy and team roles.
  3. Identify real-world events that have had both a positive and negative impact on their team portfolio.
  4. Based on their performance so far, do they feel they need to update their objective statements or team roles?

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have an answer, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors

Student Packet

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The Budget Game on PersonalFinanceLab is a long-term project where students will learn how to manage cash flow, savings goals, and credit over the course of your class. While the budget game is customizable for every class, for a 9-week course we recommend using a 12-month game (with each game taking 10-20 minutes to complete), with students “graduating” after 6 months.

What this means is that your students will start the game taking on the role of a college student with a part-time job. They will have roommates (and so lower bills), but variable hours at work (and so their income each month will vary). After 6 months, students will “graduate” from school and start their first full-time job – right as the other topics in class transition to career planning. This will give them more consistent income, but their bills also increase (because they move into their own apartment) and new bills are added for student loan payments and health insurance.

Your students will need to complete “months” of the budget game a little more than once per week of your class. Approximately every three weeks, we also have recommended in-class activities to encourage students to reflect on what has happened so far in the game and encourage a class discussion of each student’s journey.

Besides setting aside time for students to play the game itself, we also have four other sub-projects relating to the game – a “Transaction Review” after the first three months, a “Midpoint Review” after students are halfway through the game, and a Final Report/Presentation that students can prepare individually or in groups. We also have a grading rubric for how students performed in the budget game itself.

The final presentation/report combines both elements of the stock game and budget game. Students will be participating in the stock game in teams, and so the final report also has students compare their final budget game performance with their teammates.

Unit 1.6 – Budget Game – Transaction Review

If you are following wither the 9-Week or 18-Week Course Outline, this project is ear-marked for Unit 1.6. However, you can use this grading rubric at any time to accompany the Budget Game.

The first project leveraging the Budget Game comes at the end of the first unit (covering budgeting and spending plans). At this point, students will have completed their first 3 months of the game. The primary goal of the first project is to check students’ understanding of the core concepts of the game, and if they have a basic understanding of what’s happening in the game and how this translates to the real world so teachers can help clarify key learning takeaways before students dive too deep into the game itself.

They will be asked to utilize their Debit Card Statement, Credit Card Statement, and Savings Account Statements to conduct a brief review of their spending so far in the game and will be asked basic questions about their status in the game. Evaluation at this stage is based mostly on how well the students organize their thoughts and answer a few basic math questions.

Specifically, they will need to:

  1. Identify if they currently have any outstanding bills, or if they were faced with unexpected challenges paying their bills on-time in the game.
  2. What was their average savings goal each month? Were they able to consistently reach that goal?
  3. Identify their current credit score and give a summary of actions they have taken in the game that they believe improved or hurt their credit score.
  4. How did they most frequently spend their weekends in the game? Do they think it is best to focus on one or two activities, or balance their time across different activities?
  5. Build a summary of their total spending, categorizing spending by:
    • Money spent on bills (known expenses)
    • Money spent on other events in the game (unknown events)
  6. Students in the game have the option to change some of their fixed expenses for a fee (for example, breaking their lease and moving to a cheaper/more expensive apartment). Do they believe that this will be necessary to maintain their budget in the long run?
  7. Based on how the game has gone for the first three months, and their current ranking on the budget game rankings page, what (if any) changes do they plan to make to how they play the game going forward?

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessNot all questions have been answered.All questions have answers, but some responses may lack full detail.All questions are fully and completely answered.
Style and PresentationAnswers are disorganized and difficult to follow. Numerous spelling/grammar errors.Answers can be understood easily with minimal spelling/grammar errors.Answers are creatively presented in an easy-to-understand format with no spelling or grammar errors

Budget Game – Activity Rubric

The budget game is balanced students playing a “perfect game” following all financial literacy best practices should be able to:

  • Set and hit a savings goal of least 10% of their income every month
    • This would earn 7,200 “bonus points” through the game
  • Build a $1,000 emergency fund
    • This would earn 2,000 “bonus points” through the game
  • Earn a total credit score of at least 780
  • And accumulate at least 9,000 “Quality of Life” points.

We do not recommend student evaluation based on their final Net Worth, and this does not factor into their overall score. We do, however, include this on the class rankings page so students can see their final standing.

This would give a student playing a “perfect game” an overall score of around 30,000 points. However, because there can be a learning curve (especially in the first three months) and these scores may be different depending on the individual settings teachers make for their class, our recommended student evaluation of the game is a bit more flexible.

Grading Rubric

Needs Improvement (1)
Meets Expectations (2)Exceeds Expectations (3)Total Score
CompletenessStudent has completed fewer than 8 months of the gameStudent has completed between 8 and 11 months of the gameStudent has completed all 12 months of the game on time
Emergency FundStudent finishes the game with less than $500 in their savings account as an Emergency FundStudent finishes the game with between $501 and $999 in their savings account as an emergency fundStudent finishes the game with over $1,000 in their savings account as an emergency fund
Monthly Savings GoalsStudent has accumulated fewer than 3,000 “bonus points” for hitting savings goalsStudent has earned between 3,000 and 8,000 “bonus points” for hitting their savings goalsStudent has earned over 8,000 points through the game by setting and hitting realistic savings goals
Credit ScoreStudent has a final credit score of less than 500 pointsStudent has a final credit score between 500 and 650Student has a final credit score above 650
Quality of LifeQuality of Life
Student has a Quality-of-Life score less than 3,000 points
Student has a Quality-of-Life score between 3,000 and 6,000 pointsStudent as a Quality-of-Life score above 6,000 points

Student Packet

Download and distribute the student packet for this activity by clicking the button below!

Order your PersonalFinanceLab 3-year school license and get a free ticker

At PersonalFinanceLab.com, we have helped many schools transform their traditional classrooms into exciting Personal Finance or Business Labs by combining our gamified platform with colorful tickers carrying the latest stock prices and business news.

Now with our partnership with our preferred ticker vendor, Rise Display, we are providing schools a voucher for a FREE ticker when they purchase a 3-year PersonalFinanceLab.com school-wide site license.*

Here’s what you get:

1. A School-wide Site License to PersonalFinanceLab (Year 1) $3,375
2. A School-wide Site License to PersonalFinanceLab (Year 2) $3,375
3. A School-wide Site License to PersonalFinanceLab (Year 3)           $3,375
4. A colorful 4.5”x93” Rise Display ticker * $2,199
5. 3 Years of Ticker Data License$960
Total Value$13,284

FOR ONLY

$9,995

Our PersonalFinanceLab.com site offers 4 resources in 1:  a budgeting and money management game, a stock market game, an embedded curriculum, and certification. The School-wide Site License allows all the students at a specific school location to access our platform.

Rise Display’s low cost LED tickers typically ship within 48 hours when in stock. The specifications are as seen below:

  • Pixel Pitch: .23 inch (6mm)
  • Cabinet Height: 4.6 inches
  • Cabinet Widths: 48″, 63″, 78″, 85″, 93″, 122″, or 176″
  • Cabinet Depth: 1.9 inches
  • Mounting Depth: Adjustable 2.8 to 7.5 inches
  • Color Depth: RGB (Full Color) 65,000 color shades
  • Network: Hardwire RJ-45 or Wifi
  • Weight: 2 pounds per foot
  • Max Power: 11.2 watts per foot
  • 1 year manufacturer warranty (return to depot)

Please contact your PersonalFinanceLab account manager, fill out this form to get more info on this offer, or visit Rise Display for more information on their tickers.

*Orders must be received by August 1, 2023. When we receive your Purchase Order, we will give you a Rise voucher valid for the ticker and data license described above. Schools will contact Rise to place an order for tickers. Tickers require electricity, wifi internet connection, and installation (mounting brackets included). You may use this voucher as a partial payment on a larger ticker if you wish. The image is representative only. 

Did It Work?

That is the biggest question teachers need to know after using any resource in the classroom – did it actually improve outcomes? And we at PersonalFinanceLab could not agree more.

That is why a year ago we implemented our Pre- and Post- tests as part of our Assignments engine, allowing teachers to see how their students improve over time. Pre- and Post- test data is also an essential part of our design process for our financial literacy games and curriculum, and a big part of our feature roadmap in the future.

That is why we are excited to announce that Pre- and Post- tests are now an automatic part of the student experience on PersonalFinanceLab! This means students will automatically be prompted to complete the pre-test when they first sign into PFinLab, and will be prompted to take the post-test at the end of their class.

What do the Pre- and Post- tests cover?

Our Pre- and Post- tests consist of 29 questions across 5 categories:

  1. Saving, Spending, and Budgeting
  2. Risk Management and Insurance
  3. Using Credit and Debt
  4. Investing
  5. Earning Income / Employment / Income Taxes

The questions were developed with reference to the Jump$tart national standards for personal finance, and have been developed to be usable for ANY resource that aims to improve outcomes for financial literacy education – not just the PersonalFinanceLab platform. The full methodology on the test development can be found here.

How can I see my students’ results?

Teachers can also have access to the results of the pre- and post- tests for their class.

For teachers who have a site license and create their own sessions, they must simply include an “Assignment” requiring the Pre-Test (set up before their students register and begin using the platform), and another assignment requiring the Post-Test. This can be found in the Assessments section of the assignment creation:

After your students have completed the assessment, you will be able to view their results in the standard Assignment Reports.

Please note that if your students have already signed in and completed the pre-test before you have created your assignment, their results will not be visible (however, our product team can still provide a custom report for your class).

If your class is participating through another public challenge (like our Financial Literacy Challenge), the pre- and post- test results will be available through the standard reports on your Instructor Administration page.

Let us know if you have any feedback – and we look forward to serving your classes soon!

Stash101 shuts down as a money management and investment simulation for schools, with all existing accounts disabled on January 31, 2023.

What happened to Stash101?

Stash is primarily a banking app, which also can include a personal checking account. Stash101 was a free “practice” version with other educational resources built in, designed for schools and help students open their first accounts after graduation.

While there has not been an official press release for the reason Stash101 was shut down, this change happened shortly after an announcement that Stash is changing their partners for the banking side of their app. This may mean that the new version of Stash no longer matched the Stash 101 interface, or that their new partners were not interested in direct marketing to schools and students, as this can create a lot of student data privacy headaches for app providers that do not normally work with schools.

Best Alternative to Stash101 For Schools

While this comes as a blow for many teachers who relied on this app for their personal finance class resources, there are other options!

PersonalFinanceLab is the closest alternative available for schools today, containing a money management/budgeting simulation to manage bank accounts, credit cards, income, expenses, and more over a simulated year, plus a real-time stock game with stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, and more – all configurable by teachers for their own class contests. PersonalFinanceLab is designed specifically for schools and classrooms.

This year, PersonalFinanceLab is holding a free Financial Literacy Month event during the month of April, giving free access to their budgeting game and stock game to all classrooms. Schools interested in setting up their own sessions with their own rules, as well as using their games and resources in the Fall, can acquire a site license for extended access.

About PersonalFinanceLab

PersonalFinanceLab is an online resource that offers budgeting/money management games, stock market/investing games, and standards-aligned financial literacy/economics/business lessons and assessments on our fully-gamified platform for schools.

Teachers can check out our platform through our Teacher Test Drive, or book a demo with one of our specialists today!

For Spring 2023, we have one of the most exciting additions we’ve ever seen to the PersonalFinanceLab Budget Game!

One of the most consistent items of feedback we get from students every semester in our budget game was that most events of the game had no long-term visual impact – a choice to buy an aquarium, for example, might improve their “Quality of Life” score, but they could not actually see what they bought, or compare against other students.

Our new Apartment changes that!

What is the Apartment?

Now every student will have their own place to call “home” as they progress through the budget game. The initial look of their Apartment depends on what students choose for their living arrangements at the start of the game:

This determines where their “stuff” will be when they check later; a run-down crash pad, or a swanky new building. Students will start with the “bare essentials” – folding chairs, a basic bed, and some other necessities.

However, as students progress through the game, their Apartment will start to develop based on their purchasing decisions. Even better, students can choose to purchase additional furniture for their Apartment at any time, contributing to their Quality of Life score!

Full Apartment

Students can also visit the Apartments of their classmates at any time from the Rankings page to show off their new digs!

What This Means For Learning

The Apartment is not purely decorative – there are some essential learning enhancements for the classroom. Now with the Apartment:

  • Students can “Save Up” for purchases, instead of just the random events that occur in the game
  • More opportunities for students to improve their Quality of Life
  • Which also can make it harder to set and reach Savings Goals, since students have more temptations to over-spend!

If you want to try out the Apartment for yourself, feel free to hop onto our Teacher Test Drive challenge and complete your first month of the budget game!

Happy Saving!

Hello! My name is Marta Watson, and I work at Bishop Kelly High School, in Idaho. 
I currently teach Business and Economics!

Can you share a positive experience using PersonalFinanceLab?

“Oh, my goodness, I can share 100 [examples]. The kids literally walk in with their laptops open talking to each other about their portfolios and their strategies. You can tell by how many trades they’re making that they are hooked on both the market and budget games, and that they’re not just trying to win.” Watson said. 

In my school only game, I’ve got students with over two hundred trades, which is remarkable. But I think the excitement [is the best part], and the conversations I hear like, “Well, why would you be investing in that?” “Where did you find that?”  “Well, I found it on this website or I read it on Bloomberg, or I saw it here…” 

It’s really interesting listening to them talk about it, because they’re using some very high level analytical and synthesizing skills. Which, as teachers, is exactly what we want them to do. They are asking themselves how can I step in and out of the market at the right time? All of that requires attention to current events and market trends.”

What is your favorite feature of PersonalFinanceLab?

“I like how interactive it is. I also like how I can actually monitor what the kids are doing. And if I give them an assignment from the website, I require both 100% Completion and 100% accuracy on their assignments.” Watson said.

“It’s really more challenging for the kids to know that they finished it perfectly.”

Do you recommend PersonalFinanceLab to other teachers? If so, why?

“Having a tool that is outside of the classroom, but is connected to the classroom curriculum and goals is powerful. It really affords students an opportunity to learn the material, and they can drive the direction they want to go, because I don’t tell them what to invest in.” Watson said.

“I teach them how to research. I teach them things to go look at, but I don’t tell them what to do. And then bit by bit, they start talking to their parents or their grandparents asking for other strategies. Each semester I probably have at least a half dozen students  open up their own accounts at brokerage firms as they turn 18 to begin investing on their own. That is powerful. The students are realizing that this isn’t just a game, but actually a learning platform that helps them understand how they can augment their life earnings and control their own destiny.”

Want to get similar results at your school?

Book a discovery call to find out how PersonalFinanceLab could be the solution you’ve been looking for.

Contact us to get the conversation started!