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.

Gamification has been a buzzword in education for over a decade. Teachers now have access to more games for the classroom than ever, with a dizzying array of options to fill a limited number of weeks in the classroom.

To try to help teachers pick out the best possible options for your students, we want to lay out some of the core concepts of what gamification is, why it works in education, and some best practices for classroom implementation.

What Makes a Game?

Games have a formal definition, but that is boring, so let’s skip it. Instead, what really matters for gamification in the classroom is that a “game” consists of some goal the “players” are encouraged to achieve, and there are rules in place. Players start by learning the basics of the rules, then using those rules to reach the game’s objective.

A good game makes the person playing it feel clever when they succeed – hit that nice dopamine rush and build some excitement. This is the secret of why games work in education: this chemical reaction in the brain reinforces what worked, and helps students remember it later.

Games in Education

Okay, But What Makes A GOOD Educational Game?

People learn far more from their successes than their failures. A good game in education leverages that fact to hack the dopamine rush from games to crystalize important class concepts. This is the real tricky part for schools though; just because a game is FUN does not mean it is GOOD for use in the classroom.

Bind The Rules to Concepts

For a game to be effective in the classroom, the rules of the game need to be intricately wound around the important class concepts. This means that a student will not be able to understand what is happening in the game (let alone succeed) unless they have the class concepts mastered.

Here’s an example: “The Game of Life” by Hasbro is one of the most popular board games, and on paper it should cover most of the bases of what you want to talk about in a Personal Finance class. There are careers, retirement, family planning, cash transactions, and can be a lot of fun. But the Game of Life is really a poor game to use to actually teach personal finance concepts.

The actual gameplay does not require students to really know what is going on. Sure, they might have to make a payment towards a loan, but that does nothing to help understand how loans work (or when they are a good vs bad idea). Yes, there is money changing hands, but the winner is just who collects the most money by the end of the game. There is not really a “right” or “wrong” way to play, so students only get that sweet, sweet dopamine rush purely by chance, so nothing from the learning process is reinforced. This can be contrasted with PersonalFinanceLab’s Budget Game, where one of the key component’s of a student’s overall game score is their credit score. It is not possible for a student to improve that without fundamentally knowing what a credit score is, how their credit card works, and how to use it responsibly.

With that said, the Game of Life might be a good opportunity to add some financial terms into the vocabulary of kids, just not an effective tool to really teach financial literacy.

Have Many Opportunities For Small Wins

A good educational game makes sure students have a lot of “baby steps” from start to finish. Remember – the real crystallization of the knowledge we want students to walk away with happens when they use the rules of the game to have some success, so having many opportunities of small, meaningful wins along the way is crucial.

We can use the Game of Life as another example here. The totality of the player’s finishing position of the game is based on how much cash they have at the very end. The game is also set up to have plenty of events happen throughout the game that can instantly boost players who may be lagging or knock the current leader off the top spot. This is what makes the game more fun and exciting for students to play – if the winner was clear by the ½ way point, it becomes boring for the other players. But for use in education, it means there is no real small win – either they win it all, or they win nothing. Even the “positive” events in the game lose their potency when they can be erased by bad luck on the next spin of the wheel.

In our budgeting game, we take the opposite approach. The biggest component of the total score a student receives comes from setting and hitting savings goals every “month” of the game. Those points build up over the course of the game, and students maximize their monthly gain by following a basic “Pay Yourself First” mentality (save at least 10% of their total income). This gives an opportunity for a “small win” on a regular basis by putting into practice a core concept of what we are trying to teach.

Related – Watch our Webinar About Gamifying Your Classroom

Short Term vs Long Term Games

Okay, so now we know what makes a game work for education. But what about time frame?

Short Term, or Mini-Games

Short games are the easiest to implement – usually taking one class period or less. We consider these to be “Mini-Games”. The most basic (and least fun) would be a pop quiz, but this can be a far more involved exercise. All of the games provided by NextGen Personal Finance’s Arcade fall into this category, and here at PersonalFinanceLab we have some of our own mini-games embedded into lessons in our curriculum library.

Short games can be very effective at highlighting one specific class concept and giving students a more memorable experience to help recall that concept later. But beware of short games with high ambitions – there is only so much that students can take away from a 20 minute activity.

Long-Term Games

Long-Term Games, by definition, cannot be completed in a single class period. We think of these games as an embedded part of the class itself, helping to underpin concepts by having students revisit over several weeks (or even months). Long-term games usually do require a class period to “launch”, but then students revisit on the side later throughout the class. These types of games work much better when the “rules” of the game are set up to really reflect what the student should be taking away from the core class concepts, and they can continue to improve their game performance by leveraging their better understanding of the “rules” as time goes on.

Short vs Long Term Games – An Example

In the NextGen Arcade I linked to earlier, one of their popular games is called Stax. Stax is an investing mini-game where students allocate money over a 20-year period across different types of investments. This is an educational game designed to be used as part of one class period during an Investments unit.

A student who plays the Stax game is going to be more likely to remember the difference between the rate of return of a bond and a stock index than a student who did not – a short, specific lesson that is easy to digest.

This contrasts with the PersonalFinanceLab Stock Game, which is a long-term game where students build their portfolio of real stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more (depending on how a teacher sets up their class). This is designed for students to build and manage their portfolio over the course of several weeks, conduct research on their investments, and see how real-world news impacts their portfolio over time. By leveraging this long-term game, students not only learn about the difference between the security types, but will remember years from now the day when their portfolio suddenly spiked (or dropped) by 10%. Not only that, but they also have the opportunity to explore they “why” of how events in the real world intertwine to impact the health of their portfolio. Teachers can even set up their class to automatically deposit cash into student’s accounts every week that needs to be re-invested, like an accelerated version of building an IRA in the real world.

At PersonalFinanceLab, we advocate teachers use long-term games whenever possible – our recommended personal finance course outlines (available for 18-week semester, 9-week quarter, and 3-week enrichment classes) to leverage the repetition, small wins over a longer time, and constant reinforcement of core concepts. That does not mean teachers should avoid mini-games (they are absolutely fantastic resource), but leveraging the longer term whenever possible will get the best long-term impact for student outcomes.

Related – Watch our webinar about long-term games in the classroom

Get In Touch

Have any thoughts or comments on this article? Join our Teacher Group on Facebook to join the conversation!

About The Author

Kevin Smith is the Director of Product Development for PersonalFinanceLab. He has an academic background in economics and game theory, with a Master’s of Economics from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, and a join Master of Public Policy and Administration / MBA from the Stuart School of Business in Chicago, Illinois.

This Fall, new and returning teachers can look forward to using their favorite LMS for registering their students to their PersonalFinanceLab class. You will need an active account to be able to take advantage of this new integration. However, once you have your site license, you can take advantage of single sign-on through platforms like Canvas, Schoology, Blackboard, Moodle or D2L.

The best part is that your students won’t have to remember an extra username and password! They can seamlessly get access to the Stock Game, Budget Game and our curriculum library through whatever interface they’re already familiar with.

How It Works

Our new integration utilizes LTI Deep Linking to connect your students’ account on your LMS system directly to PersonalFinanceLab.

What this means is that after the first configuration of the LMS with PersonalFinanceLab, teachers can add PersonalFinanceLab as a resource to their class. After setting your class rules, students can click to sign in directly from the LMS – and only from your LMS (to help with rostering support), with first-time sign-up under their “Assignments”.

This makes it faster, easier, and more secure to get your classes set up and students registered than ever!

Please note that students who register to PFinLab through our regular registration path can NOT enable single sign-on to their LMS account later. Students also MUST log into PersonalFinanceLab via your classroom portal, since their accounts will be permanently tied to your LMS. The first-time setup of our LMS integration with your school also may take some coordination with your IT department – please ask your account manager for details.

Clever Integration

Our full LMS integration will require some coordination with your school’s IT department to get up and running. For schools that already leverage Clever for single sign-on, you’re covered too!

To take advantage of Clever, first add PersonalFinanceLab as an App in Clever for your classroom (this will allow students to access PFinLab with their Clever account).

Next, create your class with your PersonalFinanceLab, and get your unique class invite link, and share this link with your students.

Finally, when students click the link to create their accounts, they will “Sign up with Clever” instead of entering their other registration to complete the connection:

Unlike the full LMS integration, students who register through any other method (for example, if you as the teacher generated logins for each student instead of sharing the class registration link) can connect to their Clever account at any time from the “Edit Profile” page.

This means if you are a returning teacher who uses Clever, you can connect your existing teacher account too!

Google Classroom

For schools that use Google Classroom, we have you covered too! Your students’ Google accounts can also be used for Single Sign-On, with the same steps as Clever. Students will just “Login With Google”, and they are good to go!

If you need any help getting started, please contact our Helpdesk or your dedicated account manager. We are here to help!

Hey teachers – we have a major update in store for you this Fall! From budget game graphics updates to currency trading and everything in between, this might be our biggest update ever!

Clever Integration

We are making it easier than ever to get students registered into your class! Starting this Fall, teachers can add PersonalFinanceLab as an “App” in Clever, and have students join directly to their class via their Clever accounts. It has never been so easy to roster your entire class!

Class Quick-Create

Speaking of fast and easy, we’ve made it faster and easier than ever to set up your PFinLab class too! One of the greatest parts of PFinLab is the ability to tailor your class exactly how you want, with over 200 settings between the budget game and stock game to choose from.

But sometimes you just want to set up with the recommended settings and go! And now you can! When teachers set up their classes for this Fall, they will have the option to use either an “Express” set-up (using our default settings, preferred by most teachers), or “Custom”, to tweak their session options to best suit their class.

LMS Single Sign-On

Integrate Möbius Courseware with Learning Management Systems - Online  courseware platform for STEM | DigitalEd

We weren’t done with just Clever for single-sign on either! This Fall will also see the launch of the PersonalFinanceLab Deep Linking functionality, which will allow single sign-on and rostering between PFinLab and Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, BrightSpace, and Sakai LMS systems!

Integrating these LMS systems is not quite as “turnkey” as Clever – schools who are interested in LMS integration will need to reach out to their Account Manager, as some configuration will be needed with your school’s IT department.

Budget Game – “My Apartment”

My Apartment

Our budgeting game is a fantastic resource for teaching students about cash management and budgeting, and this fall we’re launching a major update based on user feedback!

The current game is based on the student moving forward through time, but it can be too easy to forget some of the choices made in the past, or feel that some options have less impact. With this update, every student will have their own “Apartment”, which will fill over time with purchases based on the decisions they’ve made in the game. Students will also have the opportunity to save up for bigger purchases, like a vacation package or new TV, instead of waiting for events to pop up in the flow of normal gameplay.

Students will even be able to visit each other’s Apartments from the rankings page!

Of course this is a new threat to their monthly savings goals – making it an even better learning experience on how to prioritize and Pay Yourself First!

Assignment Statistics Reporting

Teachers that that PersonalFinanceLab’s built-in lessons, videos, and curriculum will notice a major improvement to our on-site reporting.

Our previous versions would simply report the grades and whether or not a student completed the tasks that they were assigned. This semester’s update gives a lot deeper dive, both for each student and for the entire class. New data points include:

  • The total time taken for each task you’ve assigned
  • The individual responses students made to each quiz question (and whether it was “correct” or “incorrect”)
  • If your class allows students to re-try the quizzes, you will also get a count of their number of attempts, and responses for each attempt
  • Class summaries for the average time all students have taken per task, and average grades on each quiz

Curriculum Unit Introductions and Assessments

This is another update for our Personal Finance professors! PersonalFinanceLab includes over 300 lessons to teach financial literacy concepts. To help break this up for students, we have added new Unit Introductions and Unit Assessments for each of our 5 major content areas (Budgeting, Investing, Insurance, Credit, and Financial Decision Making), with automatically graded assessments for each unit.

Using the introductions and unit assessments is, of course, optional – you can still mix and match lessons in any order to match your preferred course structure.

Improved Option Spread Margins and Trading

Classes that do a deep-dive into investing are in for a major update too! This Fall’s update also includes a major change to our option spread mechanics.

Our previous system only supported a limited number of options, with a trading interface that some students thought limited their trading ability (or worse, were not sure how to enter orders for certain types of spreads).

This semester’s update completely revamps the option spreads trading pit, and makes margin calculations consistent regardless of whether students trade one leg at a time, or together as a spread. Best of all, each spread type also includes a short description of how it works, and a payoff diagram showing students their profit and loss profile based on the spread they are attempting to place!

Multi-Legged Option Spreads

Our improvements to our existing option spreads was really just a lead-up to a major overhaul of the spreads system to include many more spread types. Students can now place 3- and 4-legged option spreads in a single order. So bring on the Butterflies and Condors – along with snippet descriptions and profit diagrams to help students get started!

Real-Time Forex Trading

We have supported forex trading using real-time prices to execute trades for many years, but due to restrictions from our data vendors, we could only display delayed prices.

However, starting this Fall, we have a new data vendor for our currency feeds, now allowing all users to see the real-time bid/ask prices right from the trading pit.

Messaging Center

The last major update for this Fall is our new messaging center, built right into the PFinLab platform. This new inbox system will alert students of splits, dividends, or other corporate actions that have impacted their account, give updates on any support tickets with questions, allow teachers to directly message their students (or even their entire class), and more!

This is especially helpful for schools using pre-generated accounts, or where students normally are not able to contact our support team by email – they will also get updates straight to their PFinLab inbox!

Our messaging center is designed to keep your students updated with their PFinLab class – this is a new enhancement to the Forum feature that has been part of the system for the last several years. Students will not be able to send messages to other students, or across classes.

And Much More!

There are also dozens of behind-the-scenes improvements to site performance, report exports, and tweaks to make PersonalFinanceLab a more valuable tool than ever for your classes. We are looking forward to serving your classes this Fall!

Don’t Have A License For Your School?

If your school does not yet have a site license for PFinLab, or if you need to renew your license for the new semester, feel free to fill out the form below and our account managers will be in touch soon!

Introduction

This course outline is designed for condensed learning programs for financial literacy, usually taking place over the summer. Enrichment programs can vary in length, but our benchmark for pacing is a 3-week program that meets for approximately 2 hours a day, 5 days a week.

With student packets that can be easily shared with your students! And teacher grading rubrics too.

In the outline below, you will find a breakdown of activities for each day, along with the approximate time commitment. Many activities can be used either as a lecture/presentation/class discussion (and include a slide deck to get started), or as individual activities with an online lesson and associated pop quiz.

All materials can be utilized both in person or online to suit a variety of blended or remote learning experiences.

Notice for teachers joining our Free Financial Literacy Events – Our free events do not have full admin access for teachers – all settings are enabled with our recommended settings. You can skip our guides on course set-up and dive straight into the Unit Outlines and Teacher Packets!

General Course Structure

The course is divided into 5 units on a different aspect of financial literacy, largely aligned to the Jumpstart™ national standards.:

  1. Investing
  2. Budgeting
  3. Credit and Debt
  4. Careers and Income
  5. Risk and Insurance

The course begins with a pre-test assessment to measure student baseline understanding, before beginning each of the sub-units. Each day of the course starts with a recap of the previous day, with additional challenge questions to foster discussion and solidify learning. At the conclusion of each sub-unit, there are short assessments to measure understanding before continuing on.

Buffer time is built into the course outline to allow flexibility for students with different learning needs, with time set aside each day to progress through the PersonalFinanceLab™ budget and stock games for a complete experiential learning experience. The course concludes both with a summary of experiences from both games, and a post-test to measure outcomes compared to the pre-test at the start of the course.

What Is Different from The Longer Course Outlines?

This course outline is a condensed form of our other course outlines designed for quarter- or semester- long classes. Due to the condensed nature of enrichment programs, the overall content is roughly the same load as our 9-week course outline, but with additional time spent on in-class activities, videos, and discussion points.

In terms of course content, ordering, and pacing, the biggest change is that our Investing unit is moved to the front of the course. This is because giving students a hands-on component with the PersonalFinanceLab™ stock game is a cornerstone of our investment learning experience, and it is important to have as long of a trading period as possible to allow students to have the maximum exposure to how events in the real world can impact their portfolio.

In a typical 9- or 18- week course, we also recommend teachers close their class stock game before the end of the class so students can prepare final reports and presentations. In our enrichment program outlines, we recommend teachers extend the stock game beyond the end of the program, giving students the opportunity to continue to watch their portfolio grow (and practice investing strategies and research themselves) beyond the end of the course.

Setting Up Your Class

PersonalFinanceLab is highly customizable for your class. However, to make the most of our recommended projects, we encourage teachers to use the following settings when setting up their class (these settings are specific to this 9-week course outline):

Budget Game

  • Set up a 12-month game, where students are “Part Time” for the first 6 months, “Full Time” for the last 6 months (we include a “midpoint review” project that hinges on this transition). Budgeting starts in the 2nd unit of the game, and the course outline sets aside time to complete up to 12 months over the course of the enrichment program.
  • Do NOT enable speed limits for your session. As the course session is quite short, speed limits would interfere with the daily course progression.
  • You can use our pre-sets for bill expenses or choose settings more directly related to your area. However, confirm at the preview at the bottom of the screen that students should be able to save 10% of their income each month.

Stock Game

  • Create your stock game by giving students $10,000 of initial cash.
  • After your class has been set up and students have registered, utilize our Teams feature to organize your class into groups of 2 or more students per team. This will allow students to place their own trades, while aggregating team portfolios.

Our last recommended activity for the class involves each group making a 5-minute presentation to the class, and so we recommend you adjust your group sizes accordingly to allow all groups present in the same day at the end of class.

Your Assignments

Each unit outline has our recommended assignment tasks. The class begins with a pre-test and ends with a post-test, and the course outline specifies our recommended assigned tasks for each day.

Instead of having a single assignment for each day, we recommend grouping each of the 5 units in to their own “Assignment”, which students will complete over the course of 2-3 days (and give students who need more time a chance to catch up). You can find out more about creating assignments at our admin guide here.

Getting Help

If you have any questions about setting up your enrichment session, or would like a walkthrough on the specific needs for your school or program, you can connect with our account management team using the “Live Chat” on this page, or emailing info@personalfinancelab.com for more information.

We are looking forward to working with you soon!

How to use the Student Dashboard

After logging in, you will be brought to the page you see below, the Student Dashboard, where your portfolio in the Stock Game, your progress in the Budget Game, and your assignments are available. Other useful widgets are “My Watchlist” which you can edit to track particular stocks or ETF’s.

How to Place Your First Trade

To access the trading pit, you can select “Stocks” from the dropdown menu under “Stock Game” on the main menu. Alternatively, if your class has more securities available you can choose whichever one from the list. Your teacher may have included bonds and/or mutual funds as well.

If you’re in a more advanced class, you will also have other security types available like options, futures or forex. For a tutorial on how to trade all the available security types in your class, please go to the Video Library.

Stock Trading Page

Click the link above to open the stock trading page, you should see a page appear like the one below.

If you have no idea what to invest in first, you can always invest in what you know. Here are some questions to help you get started.

  • Where do you shop for clothes or accessories?
  • Where do you or your family shop for groceries or other household items?
  • What are the brand names of products in your kitchen, bathroom or closet?

The more questions you ask like these, the more you realize how interconnected the stock market is with your day-to-day life. You could also look up the names of the production companies that make your favorite movies, video games, the apps you use the most, or anything else you can think of.

Symbol Lookup

Once you have a list of companies, it’s time to check what their ticker symbol is. Your teacher may have included the following lessons as part of your class assignments. The two lessons take about 10 minutes to complete altogether, and will give you a basic knowledge about stocks and ticker symbols.

Whenever you’re ready, head over to the Symbol Lookup page. You can find it from under the “Investing Research” tab on the main menu. From this page, you can do a deep dive on the company’s financial situation, get a detailed stock quote, see company news and much more.

Start by typing the name of the company in the search box, in this example, Spotify. A list will appear below of all the relevant ticker symbols based on which exchange it’s listed in. You want to select the basic ticker symbol, in this case, SPOT.

If you want to learn more about stock exchanges, this 5 minute article goes over the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE). It will explain the basics of how a stock market works.

Using the Quotes Page

Once you’ve selected the ticker symbol from the dropdown menu, all the buttons in the left side panel will provide more information about that company. For instance, if you click “Analyst Rating” your screen will show you whether the company you selected is considered a good investment by financial professionals.

All the other buttons are equally useful to help inform your decision to invest in the company or not. You can see the company’s financial statements that were filed with the SEC, company news, price history, charting tools and more.

When you’re ready to place an order, click the “Trade” button beside the search bar, you will be taken back to the trading pit with the ticker symbol pre-selected for you.

How to Place a Trade

  1. Exchange: By default, the U.S. Stock Exchange is selected from the North American region. You can choose another one by changing the region from the dropdown menu, (if your teacher has enabled international exchanges).
  2. Action: Choose between Buy, Sell, Short and Cover. Your class may not have Shorting enabled, in that case you can choose either Buy or Sell as an action.
  3. Symbol: Enter the ticker symbol you want to trade. If you don’t know the symbol, you can use the Symbol Lookup page. This is available from under the Investment Research tab on the main menu.
  4. Quantity: The amount must always be whole numbers, you cannot enter a fraction or decimal.
  5. Order Type: The default “Market Order” is pre-selected for you, and will execute immediately while the market is open at the current market price. If you want to place a trade at a specific price, you can use the other order types, (Limit Orders, Stop Orders, Trailing Stop $ or Trailing Stop %). To learn more about how to use the different options, watch our tutorial video, Order Types.
  6. Charts: Use the simple or advanced charting feature to see the price fluctuations over time. Once you’ve entered the ticker symbol, additional company information will populate below the trading window. This will provide the same information that’s available on the Quotes page for that company.
  7. Preview: When you are done entering the trading settings, click “Preview” to see the total cost with commission included. If you like the price, you’ll be prompted to enter a trading note and to click “confirm” to execute your order.

After you click “Preview” you will see an image like what you see above. Your class might have Trade Notes required, however, it’s a good habit to add a note anyway. This will help you remember why you placed each trade at the end of your class when it comes time to prepare any reports or assignments on your performance in the Stock Game.

Open Positions

You can review your current holdings at any time by going to the Open Positions page, available from under the Stock Game tab on the main menu. For more information about each holding, click the “+” button. Whenever you want to close out your position, you can click the “Trade” button and you’ll be taken back to the trading page.

Please note that the Market Value will say “delayed” for the first 15 minutes after a trade is placed. However, the trading simulation is still using real-time data for the US stock exchange while the market is open.

My Rankings

One of the most popular pages on the site is the My Rankings page, available from under the Stock Game tab on the main menu. This is where you can see how your portfolio is performing compared to other students in your class.

How to Play the Budget Game

You can access the Budget Game by clicking the “Play Budget Game” button on the Budget Game dropdown menu, or with this link Budget Game Page. From the Budget Game menu you will also be able to access your class rankings, your account statements and useful videos to help you get started. The slideshow above will walk you through the main features of the game and how to navigate through each month.

Tutorial Videos

My Statements

As you progress through the Budget Game, you’ll be able to access your checking account, saving account and credit card statements just like a real bank account. All statements can be exported to excel, which will be useful if ever your class has any projects on your cashflow or choices you made in the game.

This page is available from under the Budget Game tab on the main menu, or this handy link Budget Report.

My Assignments

There are many different places you can access your assignments, like from the Student Dashboard, the Open Positions page, and the Budget Game page.

You can see all your lessons from the “View Active Assignments” page under the Learning tab. From here you can see your grades and what you still have left to do.

When you click on “View” it will open the lesson. Each lesson includes videos, text and other interactive elements, like you can you can see below, “What is a Stock?”

Each lesson ends with a pop quiz that will provide you a grade when you click “Submit”.

Help Desk

If you need any assistance along the way, please use the “Contact Support” button that is available from all pages in the bottom right corner. During business hours, (9:30AM to 5:30PM EST) we have live chat, and outside these times you can send in a ticket and our team will answer you as soon as possible the following business day.

PersonalFinanceLab.com is used by nearly 1,000 teachers each year and we love getting to know each and every one of them! Everyday we are impressed by their dedication and the many unique and innovative ways to teach students about Personal Finance. Today we celebrate one of our many outstanding educators — Terry Ley, a high school Personal Finance, Accounting, Microsoft Applications, and Web Design teacher. 

Hello! My name is Terry Ley, and I’ve been teaching at Bothell Highschool since 2006. We are located in the great state of Washington. I currently teach Personal Finance, Accounting, Microsoft Application, and Web design for grades 9-12.

How do you incorporate PersonalFinanceLab into your unique cirriculum?

Ley: “It’s [PersonalFinanceLab] definitely planned into the curriculum. [..] Once we finish my budgeting unit, then we play [The Budget Game]. And they [students] play that for two months.

I’ve created a worksheet that goes with it. And they have to answer questions along the way. It includes challenges they’ve had, things that went well, what they would do differently the next time they play, and then life lessons that they’ve learned. Then we will play again, later in the semester, as we learn more about credit cards and all that.

I also just introduced the stock market game. In my class, we just learned about stocks. Today, I’m finishing up teaching them about mutual funds. And so this week, in the stock market game, they have to buy two stocks and one mutual fund. And I require that they spend about $10,000, every week on three different stocks or stocks and mutual funds. So that way, they’re always researching and always trying to discover new, hot stocks that they think will do well.”

How do you make teaching financial literacy relevant to students’ lives today? 

Ley: “I work really hard to make my class very real life and very relevant. I love the budget game, because it’s the unexpected expenses [that] come up, and they have to deal with them. And, you know, some kids complain, ‘I had three flat tires last week or two speeding tickets,’ and they’re frustrated with that. But you know, I’d say, Well, does that ever happen? And then, they have got to find a way to deal with it. But yes, I try to incorporate as much real life into my classes as I can.”

How do you grade students on their use of the Budget Game?

Ley: “I do not grade on performance of their investments, I just grade that they have purchased three brand new stocks. Every student has a a paper copy of a portfolio and they have to fill out the portfolio. They have to go get all the information, like earnings per share, PE ratio, earnings growth, PEG ratio, large cap/small cap, what is the value of that, the 52 week range, the beta number. I want them to actually have to do some research. And I’ve have guest speakers come in and talk about what type of beta number to look for? What beta number are they looking for? What’s a good PE ratio? That type of thing. And so they have some guidelines, and hopefully those guidelines from our guess speakers guide them as they make their choices.”

What do you love most about PersonalFinanceLab?

Ley: “I love PersonalFinanceLab, because it has the two parts to it — the Budget Game and the Stock Market Game. The Budget Game is super engaging for the students. And it’s fun to sit back once they’re into it. And the students start talking and chatting with, you know, their neighbors about the good things going on, or the frustrating things going on. And what I love, particularly about the Budget Game, is that it incorporates their credit score and lifestyle, that type of thing. They have to think about the ramifications of partying too much on the weekend, or studying too much and not doing other things, or if they don’t work. And so it incorporates a lot of extra things that they need to really think about and not just doing one thing and trying to get a high score. So it’s a great fit into a classroom […] overall, it’s a great, great addition to my class.”

Helping students reach a deeper level of financial literacy is our goal at PersonalFinanceLab, and it wouldn’t be possible without teachers like Terry Ley and teachers like you! 

Click the button below to discover more about our Budget Game, Stock Game and Curriculum. If you would like to join one of our webinars, check our calendar by clicking the button below.

PersonalFinanceLab.com is used by nearly 1,000 teachers each year. In our conversations with many of them throughout the year, we are constantly impressed by their dedication and the many unique and innovative ways to teach students about Personal Finance. Today we celebrate one of our many outstanding teachers. Robert Fredette, a 10th grade Financial Independence teacher.

Hello! My name is Robert Fredette, and I’ve been teaching for 13 years. I work at Lamo Union High School, Hyde Park, Vermont. I currently teach Financial Independence, Accounting, and Entrepreneurship for grades 10-12.

How do you incorporate PersonalFinanceLab into your unique teaching style? 

Fredette: “We use it [PersonalFinanceLab] as a primary tool, I use it […] like an evaluation tool of what we’ve talked about all year long. We set the game up right at the end of the semester. And I usually run it for about 18 months or so. I do like three months of being a student in the game, and then they move to being a full time worker.
And I also look at […] where we’re at in the economy, what hourly wages seem like, I go through what rents look like, and try to mirror, at least a little bit of what might be really out there. So we’re not taking a test […] what we’re doing is, we’re experiencing this game. And now the students are explaining  the different concepts of money– and what we’ve talked about– and how they’re applying it in the game, what’s happening in the game, and how they’re feeling about the learning process of the game.”

How do you make teaching financial literacy relevant to students’ lives today? 

Fredette: “I think the ‘relevance’ part of teaching is really where we connect with kids. For me, it started with doing some simulations with financial independence. And that was good. But it wasn’t the Budget Game.
We were able to talk about events that happened in the game. And the online part of our school just went from me teaching, or trying to teach a PowerPoint slide to them interacting with a game, having an experience, and then being able to reflect on it, relate with it, and then communicate and talk about it as a group. And kids had similar experiences sometimes or different ones, and so that they were all able to share. And so it really made our online time really, really, so much better.”

How do you grade students on their use of the Budget Game?

Fredette: “At the end [of the semester], they write a paper that addresses things like, ‘what ways do you think differently about how to manage your finances?’ So things like personal decision making, earning and reporting income, budgeting and savings. And they have to write a summary paper about how they felt after they played the game and took the class.”

What is your favourite thing about PersonalFinanceLab?

Fredette: “As I was reading some of these [student reports], […] there are so many times as a teacher, I could stand up and talk about budgeting and save this for that, and don’t spend here […] and you know, what really connected with them is this game, this game made that connection more relevant and deeper than me just explaining that to them. […] This has changed their thought process. And that’s what I kind of look at when I read their summaries.”

Helping students reach a deeper level of financial literacy is our goal at PersonalFinanceLab, and it wouldn’t be possible without teachers like Robert Fredette and teachers like you!  Click the button below to discover more about our Budget Game, Stock Game and Curriculum. If you would like to join one of our webinars, check our calendar by clicking the button below.

Our 18-Week Financial Literacy / Personal Finance Course Outline

This recommended financial literacy course outline is designed for those who teach a 18-week Financial Literacy Course (aka Personal Finance Class). It makes heavy use of PersonalFinanceLab’s financial literacy games, budget game and stock games, as well as our financial literacy curriculum library and assessments to measure student progress.

Notice for teachers joining our Free Financial Literacy Events – Our free events do not have full admin access for teachers – all settings are enabled with our recommended settings. You can skip our guides on course set-up and dive straight into the Unit Outlines and Teacher Packets!

Structure of This Course Outline

The course outline is divided into 5 units:

  1. Budgeting and Spending Plans
  2. Investing
  3. Credit Cards and Debt
  4. Employment and Income
  5. Financial Risks and Insurance

To maximize impact of each lesson, classes make heavy use of our budgeting and stock games. We introduce these concepts early so students can continue to practice and build understanding as a course-long project even as the main teaching focus continues on to other topics.

Each unit is divided into several sub-units, each of which would take a typical class approximately 45 minutes to complete, including class discussion time. Each unit contains a mix of class discussion points, Assignments from PersonalFinanceLab’s curriculum and assessment library, class projects, and potential homework lessons. We’ve also included some activities, videos and course packs from other personal finance curriculum experts

We include a time estimate for each activity to allow teachers to easily replace any of our recommended lessons with their own projects.

What’s Inside

Each of the Units below contains an overview of the unit’s objectives and glossary terms, along with a PowerPoint Presentation for each unit (with glossary introductions and definitions to help facilitate class discussion). Many of the individual lessons also have an accompanying Google Slides presentation, which teachers can use in place of our online lessons. Each Unit has a Google Docs overview that you can copy, plus additional Teacher and Student packets with individual project prompts and grading rubrics.

There are also several “In-Class Projects” throughout the course outline. More details on each project, including grading rubric templates, can be found in our Teacher Packet. There is also a separate Student Packet for students with prompts for each project.

Quick Access Links

Setting Up Your Class

PersonalFinanceLab is highly customizable for your class. However, to make the most of our recommended projects, we encourage teachers to use the following settings when setting up their class (these settings are specific to this 18-week course outline):

Budget Game

  • Set up a 18-month game, where students are “Part Time” for the first 12 months, “Full Time” for the last 6 months (we include a “midpoint review” project that hinges on this transition).
  • Utilize Speed Limits, allowing students to complete no more than 2 months of the budget game per 1-week of class time.
  • You can use our pre-sets for bill expenses or choose settings more directly related to your area. However, confirm at the preview at the bottom of the screen that students should be able to save 10% of their income each month.

Stock Game

  • Create your stock game by giving students $10,000 of initial cash.
  • Also enable $1,000 weekly deposits. This will add additional cash to student’s accounts each week of class (as if they were making regular contributions to a retirement account that must be re-invested).
  • After your class has been set up and students have registered, utilize our Teams feature to organize your class into groups of 2 or more students per team. This will allow students to place their own trades, while aggregating team portfolios.

Our last recommended activity for the class involves each group making a 5-minute presentation to the class, and so we recommend you adjust your group sizes accordingly to allow all groups present in the same day at the end of class.

Your Assignments

Each unit outline has our recommended assignment tasks. Most teachers load these as Weekly Assignments for their class. We generally recommend teachers utilize the Rewards function to alternatingly award bonus cash to student’s budget game or stock game accounts throughout the class to encourage on-time submissions. Also, you can set-up pre and post tests from the Create Assignment page to gauge how much your students are learning about financial literacy and personal finance. Set-up the pre-test before students use the platform, and the post-test at the end of the semester.

Download Resources


 

Give Us Your Feedback

We would love the input of every teacher on our course outlines. They undergo constant revision to reflect new lessons and features on PersonalFinanceLab, with each update based in feedback from teachers like you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message below:

    Are you looking for interactive resources to bring personal finance concepts to life?

    PersonalFinanceLab has all the resources you need in one online platform that is ideal for K12 classrooms. To see how you can use this in your class, join the webinar that best suits your schedule.

    Our regional account managers are here to help YOU design the most engaging class activities and lessons.

    Get to Know Your Regional Account Manager

    Alyssa Adkins

  • Serves: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia
  • Hi! From Oklahoma, my name is Alyssa and I am a former High School Business and Computer Applications Teacher. I’ve taught Personal Finance, Accounting, Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Business Computer Applications I & II and more! I’m also an Entrepreneur with over 12 years experience in B2B Marketing. I love connecting with Teachers and strategizing how they can incorporate Personal Finance Lab into the classroom and curriculum!

    Heloise Frison

  • Serves: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington DC and Wisconsin
  • Serves (Canada): English and French
  • I’m Heloise, I’m an Account Manager and I help teachers get set up on PersonalFinanceLab and make the most out of our resources. I accompany teachers from onboarding, guide them and help them discover our platform and answer their questions throughout the year. Contact me if you’d like to find out more about what we do!

    Tyler Maxwell

  • Serves: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  • Hi! I’m Tyler, I’m an Account Manager and I help provide personal finance solutions for your school district. I enjoy meeting with district leaders and walking them through our products and how to best implement them. I am passionate about bringing finance tools into the classroom, knowing the impact that would have had on me as a young student. In my spare time, I manage my own personal investment portfolio and specialize in crypto trading. I have been partnering with educators for the past six years working with the western and central states. I am looking forward to partnering with you in the future. Feel free to contact me if we seem like a good fit for you!

    Come See Us!

    Below are the conferences that we will be attending, if you have any questions or would like to come say hello, we look forward to meeting you.

    There are a lot of new enhancements that will improve how both teachers and students use PersonalFinanceLab!

     

    Spring 2022 Key Updates

     

    • Dozens of new graphics for event cards
    • Lesson Cards have been improved with multiple-choice quizzes
    • Personal Finance curriculum has new sub-units based on the Jumpstart/Council for Economic Education standards. Each sub-unit has a short introduction and short unit review quiz.

    • Instructors can view the individual quiz responses from each student to see where they got questions right and or wrong, along with the time taken to complete each lesson and quiz.

    • Professors will have summary reports for their class showing the average time to complete each lesson and quiz for the entire class, along with statistics on the right/wrong averages for the class on every quiz question.

       

    New Graphics

    Our design team has been hard at work to bring more gamified elements to the pop-up choice and event cards in the Budget Game. As students play, they encounter some choice cards that ask them to spend money with either their debit or credit cards. Giving them the opportunity to practice using a credit card before they may have received one in real-life.

    Other choice cards ask students to decide if they want to purchase or participate in an activity at all. All these choices they make have consequences. The latest enhancement will tie in similar graphics across cards to thematically represent how choosing one option over another has long-term consequences.

    Pop-up Cards

    Pop-Up Lessons

    In response to requests from teachers, we’ve changed how students enter their answers into the pop-up lessons in the Budget Game. Before it was an open text field, and often students were getting stuck and couldn’t move forward. Now we will have a dropdown multiple choice list so students can still test their knowledge, but can quickly and easily keep playing after completing a lesson.

    Assignment Sub-Units

    With over 300+ lessons, it can be difficult to know where to start; this enhancement will group our personal finance lessons according to Jump$tart standards. Not only does it make it easy to identify the lessons that reinforce knowledge statements like budgeting, credit, financial risk and decision making etc. but it allows teachers to quickly assign a whole sub-unit at a time.

    By adding an introduction and exit quiz, you can be reassured that your student will be prepared for the lessons, and will be assessed on their knowledge at the end. 

    Student Progress & Assessments

    Teacher reports just got a whole lot more useful by allowing you to see EXACTLY which questions your students are getting right or wrong. You will be able to see trends, and cover the concepts in more depth that students are struggling with. Similarly, you will know what has been firmly understood so you can safely move on to new material!

    On top of what students got right or wrong, you will be able to see how much time it took to complete the quizzes. This is a great way to know which students are not being challenged enough, or who is struggling. Over time, you will see what topics your students need more time with so you can allocate class time accordingly.

    Offering your students four exciting and fun features:

    • A Personal Budget Game
    • A Stock Game
    • Built-in Lessons with Pop Quizzes
    • National Challenge with the opportunity to win prizes

    5 great reasons to invite your students to the challenge!

    • Your students will gain valuable experience by building a monthly budget
    • They will learn how to manage their checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and stock portfolios
    • Your students will practice what you learn in class before using their real money
    • It’s free, and it’s super fun – they can compete with their colleagues and practice your knowledge in an interactive game!
    • 10 Teachers will Receive a $100 Staples Gift Card!*

    *The 10 teachers that have the most students completing at least 6 months of the budget game will each receive a $100 Staples e-gift Card. That’s another $5000 in prizes for teachers.

    Dates: Registration is now open. Challenge runs from October 10th to November 18th, 2022.

    Prizes: The Top 10 students from each contest, (from the Budget Game and Stock Game) win a $100 Amazon gift card for their classroom. Teachers of the top-performing finalists will be notified the week after the challenge ends. Teachers will decide how the prizes will be spent for their class. PLUS 10 Teachers will Receive a $100 Staples Gift Card, (please see above).


    How Your Students Can Join The Challenge

    Your students will be able to register themselves via a pop-up message when they log into PersonalFinanceLab from now through the end of the competition.


    You can also invite students from other classes who are not already using PersonalFinanceLab! For these students, you will need to register a separate teacher account (see link below), and will be able to generate logins for the additional students. These extra students will NOT count towards your school’s site license.


    We will also send a trophy to the top-performing school in the Stock and Budget Games!

    How does it work? Your students must complete 12 virtual months of our Personal Budgeting Game, and build a diversified portfolio of stocks, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds to be eligible for prizes.

    They can earn a certificate in Personal Finance by completing all the included lessons as well – this certification will look amazing in their curriculum in the future!

    Do you already have a site license with Personal Finance Lab?

    If your students are already using PfinLab this semester, they will see an invitation to join the challenge when they login. You won’t have to do anything on your part!

    If other teachers at your school want to include their class in the Financial Literacy challenge, you can use the link below to register as a new teacher. Please note, this will not be tied at all to your existing account or site license!

    Pop-up Cards

    Stock Game Rules

    • Trading is open from October 10 to November 18, 2022.
    • Students may trade US stocks and ETFs, and US mutual funds, and bonds
    • Students manage a $100,000 virtual portfolio
    • Weekly deposits of $1000 will be distributed for students to begin trading on Monday mornings
    • There is a $5 minimum price for all stocks
    • Students may short sell and buy on margin
    • Students may day trade
    • Students may only invest 25% of their portfolio in any one security
    • Each student is allowed only one entry

    All results are subject to an audit to verify accuracy by the PersonalFinanceLab team. The results of the audit are final.

    Budget Game Rules

    • Students can play the Budget Game from October 10 to November 18, 2022
    • The game includes 12 months of gameplay where students manage their bills and expenses
    • They start as students with part-time jobs, and after 6 months graduate and take on full-time jobs
    • Students earn the most amount of points for meeting their monthly savings goals

    Optional Completion Certificate 

    • It’s not obligatory for students to complete all the lessons to be eligible for prizes.
    • For students who want to learn more, the included curriculum comprises 86 individual assignments on investing and personal finance.
    • Each lesson includes a pop quiz at the end with 3-5 questions.
    • Students are required to get 100% on all quizzes to earn the completion certificate.
    • Students are able to retake quizzes to improve their score.
    • Example assignments include:
      • What is the New York Stock Exchange?
      • Investing Strategies
      • Pay Down Debt or Save?
      • Life Insurance
      • Use the Saving to be a Millionaire Calculator

    Offering your students four exciting and fun features:

    • A Personal Budget Game
    • A Stock Game
    • Built-in Lessons with Pop Quizzes
    • National Challenge with the opportunity to win prizes

    5 great reasons to register your students to the challenge!

    • Your students will gain valuable experience by building a monthly budget
    • They will learn how to manage their checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and stock portfolios
    • Your students will practice what you learn in class before using their real money
    • It’s free, and it’s super fun – they can compete with their colleagues and practice your knowledge in an interactive game!
    • 10 Teachers will Receive a $100 Staples Gift Card!*

    *The 10 teachers that have the most students completing at least 6 months of the budget game will each receive a $100 Staples e-gift Card. That’s another $1000 in prizes for teachers.

    Dates: Registration is now open. Challenge runs from March 28th to April 29th, 2022.

    Prizes: The Top 10 students from each contest, (from the Budget Game and Stock Game) win a $100 Amazon gift card for their classroom. Teachers of the top-performing finalists will be notified the week after the challenge ends. Teachers will decide how the prizes will be spent for their class. PLUS 10 Teachers will Receive a $100 Staples Gift Card, (please see above).

    We will also send a trophy to the top-performing school in the Stock and Budget Games!

    How does it work? Your students must complete 12 virtual months of our Personal Budgeting Game, and build a diversified portfolio of stocks, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds to be eligible for prizes.

    They can earn a certificate in Personal Finance by completing all the included lessons as well – this certification will look amazing in their curriculum in the future!

    Register your students for our FREE Spring 2022 Financial Literacy Challenge!

    Stock Game Rules

    • Trading is open from March 28th to April 29th, 2022.
    • Students may trade US stocks and ETFs, and US mutual funds, and bonds
    • Students manage a $100,000 virtual portfolio
    • Weekly deposits of $1000 will be distributed for students to begin trading on Monday mornings
    • There is a $5 minimum price for all stocks
    • Students may short sell and buy on margin
    • Students may day trade
    • Students may only invest 25% of their portfolio in any one security
    • Each student is allowed only one entry

    All results are subject to an audit to verify accuracy by the PersonalFinanceLab team. The results of the audit are final.

    Budget Game Rules

    • Students can play the Budget Game from March 28th to April 29th, 2022.
    • The game includes 12 months of gameplay where students manage their bills and expenses
    • They start as students with part-time jobs, and after 6 months graduate and take on full-time jobs
    • Students earn the most amount of points for meeting their monthly savings goals

    Optional Completion Certificate 

    • It’s not obligatory for students to complete all the lessons to be eligible for prizes.
    • For students who want to learn more, the included curriculum comprises 86 individual assignments on investing and personal finance.
    • Each lesson includes a pop quiz at the end with 3-5 questions.
    • Students are required to get 100% on all quizzes to earn the completion certificate.
    • Students are able to retake quizzes to improve their score.
    • Example assignments include:
      • What is the New York Stock Exchange?
      • Investing Strategies
      • Pay Down Debt or Save?
      • Life Insurance
      • Use the Saving to be a Millionaire Calculator

    ➤ This challenge allows teachers and students to test the platform according to existing configurations. It is not possible to customize any of the games. If you want a fully customizable version of the platform, please fill out this form so that we can know how to better serve you!

    Upgrading to a Premium Account

    In this challenge, you’ll get to have access to a limited selection of what PersonalFinanceLab has to offer. To get a better understanding of what you’ll get when you upgrade to a paid account, check out our product matrix below.

    Offering you four exciting and fun features:

    • A Personal Budget Game
    • A Stock Game
    • Built-in Lessons with Pop Quizzes
    • National Challenge with the opportunity to win prizes

    5 great reasons to register yourself to the challenge!

    • You will gain valuable experience by building a monthly budget
    • You will learn how to manage your checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and stock portfolios
    • Tutorial videos will walk you through everything step of the way
    • You will practice what you learn in class before using your real money
    • It’s free, and it’s super fun – you can compete with your friends and practice your knowledge in an interactive game!

    Dates: Registration is now open. Challenge runs from March 28th to April 29th, 2022.

    Prizes: The Top 10 students from each contest, (from the Budget Game and Stock Game) win a $100 Amazon gift card for their classroom. Teachers of the top-performing finalists will be notified the week after the challenge ends. Teachers will decide how the prizes will be spent for their class.

    We will also send a trophy to the top-performing school in the Stock Game!

    How does it work? You must complete 12 virtual months of our Personal Budgeting Game, and build a diversified portfolio of stocks, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds to be eligible for prizes.

    You can earn a certificate in Personal Finance by completing all the included lessons as well – this certification will look amazing in your curriculum in the future!

    Register yourself for our FREE Spring 2022 Financial Literacy Challenge!

    Stock Game Rules

    • Trading is open from March 28th to April 29th, 2022
    • Trade US stocks and ETFs, and US mutual funds, and bonds
    • Manage a $100,000 virtual portfolio
    • Weekly deposits of $1000 will be distributed for students to begin trading on Monday mornings
    • There is a $5 minimum price for all stocks
    • You can short sell and buy on margin
    • You can day trade
    • You can only invest 25% of their portfolio in any one security
    • Each student is allowed only one entry

    All results are subject to an audit to verify accuracy by the PersonalFinanceLab team. The results of the audit are final.

    Budget Game Rules

    • You can play the Budget Game from March 28th to April 29th, 2022.
    • The game includes 12 months of gameplay where you manage bills and expenses.
    • Start as a college student with a part-time job, and after 6 months graduate and take on a full-time job.
    • You earn the most amount of points for meeting your monthly savings goals.

    Optional Completion Certificate 

    • It’s not obligatory to complete all the lessons to be eligible for prizes.
    • If you want to learn more, the included curriculum comprises 86 individual assignments on investing and personal finance.
    • Each lesson includes a pop quiz at the end with 3-5 questions.
    • You are required to get 100% on all quizzes to earn the completion certificate.
    • You can retake quizzes to improve your score.
    • Example assignments include:
      • What is the New York Stock Exchange?
      • Investing Strategies
      • Pay Down Debt or Save?
      • Life Insurance
      • Use the Saving to be a Millionaire Calculator

    Watch our new teacher tutorial video with an overview of our budget game, stock game, curriculum library, and how to set up a class!

    Want More Info?

     

    Stock Game

    Customize the exchanges and securities to suit the level of difficulty for your students. We have loads of tutorial videos on researching and understanding the different types of markets. We also have live data and quoting tools to allow students to perform all their research before investing in our site.
    Learn more

    How to Use the Stock Game?

    If you are not sure how to use our stock game, click the button below! 

     
    Want More Info?
     
    Want More Info?

    The Embedded Curriculum

    The curriculum and assignments: choose from investing, personal finance, economics, accounting, marketing, management and more. All grades and progress are exportable into convenient reports to integrate with your other lesson plans.
    Learn more

    6 Subjects, One Tool

    In addition to Personal Finance lessons, PersonalFinanceLab.com also includes dozens of integrated activities for economics, accounting, investments, marketing, and management classes!

     
    Want More Info?

    The Personal Budget Game

    Personal Budgeting Game is set up as a calendar. Students experience managing their own bills, fixed and variable expenses and meeting their savings goals as either a full-time student with a part-time job or a full-time professional. Pop-up lessons integrate core lessons like “Needs vs Wants” or “Credit Cards.” Each month of gameplay takes 20 minutes. However, student progress is saved so this is an excellent bell ringer!
    Learn more

    How to Use the Budget Game?

    If you are not sure how to use our budget game, click the button below! 

    This course outline is designed for a 9-week Personal Finance Class. It makes heavy use of PersonalFinanceLab’s budget and stock games, as well as our curriculum library and assessments to measure student progress.

    Notice for teachers joining our Free Financial Literacy Events – Our free events do not have full admin access for teachers – all settings are enabled with our recommended settings. You can skip our guides on course set-up and dive straight into the Unit Outlines and Teacher Packets!

    Structure of This Course Outline

    The course outline is divided into 5 units:

    1. Budgeting and Spending Plans
    2. Investing
    3. Credit Cards and Debt
    4. Employment and Income
    5. Financial Risks and Insurance

    To maximize impact of each lesson, classes make heavy use of our budgeting and stock games. We introduce these concepts early so students can continue to practice and build understanding as a course-long project even as the main teaching focus continues on to other topics.

    Each unit is divided into several sub-units, each of which would take a typical class approximately 45 minutes to complete, including class discussion time. Each unit contains a mix of class discussion points, Assignments from PersonalFinanceLab’s curriculum and assessment library, class projects, and potential homework lessons.

    We include a time estimate for each activity to allow teachers to easily replace any of our recommended lessons with their own projects.

    What’s Inside

    Each of the Units below contains an overview of the unit’s objectives and glossary terms, along with a PowerPoint presentation for each unit (with glossary introductions and definitions to help facilitate class discussion). Many of the individual lessons also have an accompanying Powerpoint presentation, which teachers can use in place of our online lessons. Each Unit has a PDF Course Outline overview that you can copy, plus additional Teacher and Student packets with individual project prompts and grading rubrics.

    There are also several “In-Class Projects” throughout the course outline. More details on each project, including grading rubric templates, can be found in our Teacher Packet. There is also a separate Student Packet for students with prompts for each project.

    Quick Access Links

    Setting Up Your Class

    PersonalFinanceLab is highly customizable for your class. However, to make the most of our recommended projects, we encourage teachers to use the following settings when setting up their class (these settings are specific to this 9-week course outline):

    Budget Game

    • Set up a 12-month game, where students are “Part Time” for the first 6 months, “Full Time” for the last 6 months (we include a “midpoint review” project that hinges on this transition).
    • Utilize Speed Limits, allowing students to complete no more than 2 months of the budget game per 1-week of class time.
    • You can use our pre-sets for bill expenses or choose settings more directly related to your area. However, confirm at the preview at the bottom of the screen that students should be able to save 10% of their income each month.

    Stock Game

    • Create your stock game by giving students $10,000 of initial cash.
    • Also enable $1,000 weekly deposits. This will add additional cash to student’s accounts each week of class (as if they were making regular contributions to a retirement account that must be re-invested).
    • After your class has been set up and students have registered, utilize our Teams feature to organize your class into groups of 2 or more students per team. This will allow students to place their own trades, while aggregating team portfolios.

    Our last recommended activity for the class involves each group making a 5-minute presentation to the class, and so we recommend you adjust your group sizes accordingly to allow all groups present in the same day at the end of class.

    Your Assignments

    Each unit outline has our recommended assignment tasks. Most teachers load these as Weekly Assignments for their class. We generally recommend teachers utilize the Rewards function to alternatingly award bonus cash to student’s budget game or stock game accounts throughout the class to encourage on-time submissions. Also, you can set-up pre and post tests from the Create Assignment page to gauge how much your students are learning about financial literacy and personal finance. Set-up the pre-test before students use the platform, and the post-test at the end of the semester.

    Download Resources


     

    Give Us Your Feedback

    We would love the input of every teacher on our course outlines. They undergo constant revision to reflect new lessons and features on PersonalFinanceLab, with each update based in feedback from teachers like you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message below:

      Our team has been busy this summer rolling out improvements to make teaching financial literacy and personal finance that much easier. Check out all the new features that will be available for this fall semester.

      Budget Game

      • Improved Bank and Credit Card Statements – student’s checking account, savings account, and credit card statements are new and improved to look like real online banking sites. You can see them yourself here!
      • Summary Statements – brings all the relevant details for each student’s activities while on the site in one place for a birds-eye view of their financial health.
      • Full-Time Mode Changes – the Budget Game has two game modes – a student with a part-time job, or a full-time worker who just started their first job. Both versions have a multitude of minor improvements, but the biggest difference is that paychecks are only distributed once every two weeks instead of weekly for full-time mode.

      Better Graphics

      Our graphic design team has been hard at work as well, adding new illustrations and graphics throughout the game to bring each scenario to life. Check out a sneak preview from the gallery below.

      Advanced Assignment Tracking

      • Time Tracking –you will now have the estimated time of completion for each lesson that you assign your students. This will give you a clear picture on how much time it will take to complete their work. We also are adding time tracking to each lesson, so you can see how much time each student in your class takes to finish each lesson and its accompanying assessment.
      • Grade Tracking – previously our system would track the score students received on each assessment, but not their answers to each individual question. This update will give you question-level insights for each student. If you allow students to re-take the assessments associated with each lesson, you can see their answers from each attempt.
      • Class Summary Statistics – this adds new class summary reporting, so you can see how long the average student in your class takes to complete each lesson, along with summary statistics on which individual questions in our assessments are frequently missed.

      New Student Dashboard

      We brought the student’s progress on your class Assignments front and center, so students are immediately greeted with what they need to focus on first.
      If your class is utilizing our Budgeting Game, their current game progress comes up with a button to continue from where they left off. They’ll also see their open positions and a snapshot of their portfolio. If your class is not utilizing the budget game or assignments, this will appear right on top.

      The new dashboard is the featured image for this post!

      Financial Literacy Lesson Update

      Investing101 Update

      Our Investing 101 curriculum is a great refresher for students on the fundamentals of investing as well as an essential component to department-wide or campus-wide investing competitions to help promote financial literacy. Our 10-chapter, 100-lesson course has undergone a comprehensive overhaul in light of changing trends in the investing world since its first launch. Highlights to the update include:

      • More and improved short video tutorials
      • Enhanced introductions to each covered security type, what they fundamentally represent, and how they can be combined for specific investing objectives
      • Complete revision of our chapters on Fundamental and Technical Analysis
      • Both new and improved tutorials on utilizing stock screeners and making your first trade
      • Improved focus on personal investing, including a discussion of tax advantages of “Buy and Hold” investing
      • Revamped chapter on Current Hot Topics in Trading, including lessons on cryptocurrencies, short squeezes, and ESG investing
      • Each chapter of Investing101 now includes two separate assessments – a short vocabulary quiz followed by a longer quiz on the substance of the chapter.

      Financial Literacy Update

      Our Financial Literacy lesson library has also received a major update. In addition to bringing our taxation lessons up-to-date with current tax policy and dozens of updates to our existing lessons, many new lessons have also been added. These include:

      • Unit introduction on taxation
      • Career development and the impact of different types of education
      • Charities and including giving in a spending plan
      • Simple and living wills
      • Understanding apartment rental agreements and obligations
      • Employer and employee rights and responsibilities
      • Using spreadsheets to compare loan terms to see which is a better deal
      • As with all of our lessons, each of our new lessons is bite-sized to take students 10 minutes or less, with an automatic assessment to check for understanding.
      • Our financial literacy lessons are perfect for Personal Finance classes utilizing both our portfolio simulation and personal budgeting game, or an excellent supplement to any business or finance class to ensure your students have exposure to the essential skills they need after graduation.

      Coming Soon…

      Course outlines on budgeting, investing, credit and other financial literacy topics to make it that much easier to integrate our platform into your curriculum. Once all the materials have been prepared, we’ll have a separate announcement to help explain to teachers how they can integrate this in their classes.

      Many CTE programs across the country already use PersonalFinanceLab!

      Find out what you and your students are missing!

      Research shows the students learn more by doing than by listening. And at PersonalFinanceLab.com, we totally believe that!

      Our simulations let your students “DO” Personal Finance so that they will remember it. Perhaps more than any other skill, learning to manage your money is a lesson that will truly last a lifetime.

      PersonalFinanceLab offers 4 tools in 1 site to help YOU teach and to make sure your students LEARN.

      With one easy to use site, your students will:

      • Play 12 virtual months of our Personal Budgeting Game, so they get to experience building a monthly budget and managing their monthly cash inflows, outflows, net worth, credit score, etc.
      • Experience the ups and downs of the stock market as they build a virtual stock portfolio
      • Supplement their knowledge with the embedded curriculum that teaches practical money skills, and…
      • Earn a variety of certifications

      This is a teacher introduction to the PersonalFinanceLab platform, with an overview of our budget game, stock game, curriculum library, gamification engine, and assessments.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqVX9NXSV6U&ab_channel=Stock-Trak

      Discover why the Budget Game, Stock Game and our Learning Library of assignments and lesson plans will transform how you teach financial literacy. And make teaching more fun, curriculum planning easy, and improve student engagement!

      The Stock Game

      • Teachers can customize the types of securities students can trade, the diversification, and amount of trades per day. The stock game provides integrated research and reports so students can make smarter investment choices. Great for distance learning, and engaging students through healthy competition and portfolio rankings.

      Completely Customizable

      Our stock game can be perfectly tailored for your class. Choose your own class contest length and dates, what students can trade (stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, commodities – even cryptocurrencies!), how students need to diversify, and over 50 different settings!

      You can even require students to take notes with every trade to connect the stock game back to your current course topics, use the built-in forums to drive class discussion, and post messages and alerts for your class!

      This makes our stock game the perfect centerpiece for any personal finance, economics, business, entrepreneurship, or accounting class – you pick whatever rules work best for your set of students!

      Integrated Research and Reports

      Income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, historical prices, accounting ratios, SEC filings, option chains, and over 40 other data points are available in our Research Center. We even integrated company info, analyst ratings, symbol lookup, and charting tools directly into the trading page, so students can do all their investing research all in one place.

      Teachers also get access to an unprecedented level of reporting and tracking, with real-time activity reports, diversification reports, trading activity, class summary data, and much more. Best of all, it is completely exportable to Excel or any other spreadsheet program!

      Great for group work and homework!

      Our Teams feature lets you group students into collaborative portfolios, so you can both see each student’s individual actions while keeping team class rankings as a group project!

      Since PersonalFinanceLab.com is entirely web-based with no software to install, students can also track their portfolios from at home or even between classes on any mobile device for the ultimate gamified investing activity.

      How to Use the Stock Game?

      If you are not sure how to use our stock game, click the button below! 

      Want More Info?

      The Personal Budget Game

      This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Images-Budget-Game.png

      • Students learn how to build an emergency savings fund while balancing their monthly expenses. The game is set-up like a calendar and each “month” of gameplay takes 20 minutes to complete.

      • Students make impactful decisions that change the opportunities they face in the game. These choices also affect their Net Worth, Credit Score, and Quality of Life Score. As they play the Budget Game they complete integrated lessons, pop quizzes, and mini-games that make personal budgeting fun and interactive!

      Real Life Scenarios & Events

      Your students take on the role of either a college student with a part-time job or a graduate just starting their first full-time job. Either way, they are now living on their own, paying all their bills, and managing their variable income, expenses, and lots of unexpected life events!

      Teacher Controls Game & Lessons

      You set the initial fixed expenses, wages/salaries, income tax rates, and more to make the game unique to your class! You also choose the lessons that pop up and influence what types of “Life Events” occur so your game evolves with the topics you cover in class.

      Impactful Decisions

      Students need to constantly make financial decisions – work extra hours or spend time studying in school. Buy renter’s insurance this month, or take the risk? Their game score increases as students reach their savings goals, improve their credit score, and build their Quality of Life.

      Easy to Use; Full Reporting

      Teachers can easily track student progress throughout the game. All transactions they make are exportable to excel or Google sheets; which includes their bank statements, credit card statements, and pay stubs!

      With this information students can run activities in the class based on their actions in the game. For instance; cashflow statements, monthly budgets or compare the different choices they made.

      How to Use the Budget Game?

      If you are not sure how to use our budget game, click the button below! 

      Want More Info?

      The Embedded Curriculum

      • Registering your class to the PersonalFinanceLab comes with an extensive collection of experiential learning exercises to maximize your students’ understanding of personal finance, investing, economics, and business. Assignments include articles, videos, interactive calculators, and exams that are self-graded and included in the students’ progress reports.

      6 Subjects, One Tool

      In addition to Personal Finance lessons, PersonalFinanceLab.com also includes dozens of integrated activities for economics, accounting, investments, marketing, and management classes!

      Want More Info?

      8 Reasons Why Your School Needs PersonalFinanceLab

      1. Personal Budgeting Game – Students take on the role of a young adult with their first job and manage a budget. Rent, car loan, utilities, groceries and many unexpected expenses challenge them to stay on budget. Students learn to manage cash and credit cards.
      ▶ Learn more
      2. Stock Market Game – Real-time stock game, with live streaming portfolios and class rankings, instant order execution, integrated research and reporting. Quotes, charts, news and analyst ratings help students research and learn to invest.
      ▶ Learn more
      3. Integrated Curriculum With Built-In Assessments – Teaching a class on Personal Finance, Economics, Business, Accounting and Investing? We’ve got integrated curriculum that meets National Standards that can be blended in to our games.
      ▶ Learn more
      4. Live data displayed in your Classroom – Use any LCD screen to broadcast Words of the Day, class rankings, streaming stock charts, watchlists, market news, and much more! Use real-time financial news and current events to keep students learning each day.
      ▶ Learn more
      5. Certifications – Students who complete all 50 Personal Finance lessons, as well as the 12 months of the Budget Game and place 25 trades in the Stock Game can earn the Financial Literacy Certificate. In both cases, all the badges the students earned is printed on the back of the certificate.
      6. New Enhancements – We are constantly improving our platform, with new features and updates. You can check the features for Spring 2022 here.
      7. Webinars and Events – Our team hosts webinars to introduce updates and answer any questions that teachers may have regarding the platform. Our support is exclusive and is always available to the teacher and school.
      8. Career Center – Your students will understand the importance of internships, certifications, and preparing for interviews as important life skills. Students have access to the PersonalFinanceLab Job and Internship center, which pulls local job postings from dozens of different job boards to continually remind students of what skills employers are looking for after they graduate – as an extra push to succeed in school!

      Want More Info, a Demo, or you Want Us To Call You?

       

      There are a lot of new enhancements that will improve how both teachers and students use the platform!

      General Improvements

      New Dashboard

      • Our new Dashboard brings all your student’s actions into one place

      Live Chat

      • PFinLab now has live chat support available for teachers and students (during market hours)

      Onboarding

      • First-time users now get help to get started on key pages (teachers too!)

      Stock Game Enhancements

      Weekly Deposits

      • Instead of lump-sum cash to invest, students have periodic deposits into their stock game account

      Custom Exchanges

      Restrict your investing universe! Common uses include:

      • Just the S&P 500 or DOW 30
      • Only stocks with a strong local presence
      • Each student picks 5 stocks at the start that they research, open to everyone to trade

      Mutual Fund Research

      New mutual fund research tools! See:

      • Fund overviews
      • Fund performance
      • Fund holding
      • …plus the same research you can find for Stocks and ETFs!

      Spots Trading

      • “Cash Spots” trading now supports basic commodities!

      Risk Adjusted Rankings

      For Finance Classes, improvements to Risk Adjusted Rankings!

      • Sharpe Ratio
      • Jensen’s Alpha
      • Treynor Ratio

      Budget Game Enhancements

      Images and Colors

      Improved Paychecks

      • Better transition from Part-Time to Full-Time mode
      • Part-Time mode hours are more consistent (14-30 hours, instead of 5-35 hours)

      Historical Views

      • Students can now look back and see when they had transactions in previous months

      Zero-Cost Bills

      The game now supports zero-priced bills
      • Example: Students do not need to pay rent while still in school (since they live with their parents)

      More Long-Term Impacts

      • Multi-month discounts on bills
      • Card deck shuffles differently depending on a “Status”

      Assignment Enhancements

      New and Improved Certificates

      • Financial Literacy Certificate + Investing101 Certificate
      • Students can download the PDF, and they earn a badge to show off on the rankings page!

      New Logging System

      • Some reports from schools that students were not getting credit
      • New assignment logging system opens the doors to more reports in the future!

      Administration Enhancements

      New and Improved Widgets

      • For schools with our Widget Packs, new ranking types, financial data, and even custom widgets now available!

      New Fun Facts Report

      • Great bell-ringer – see what students are buying and selling for any date range!

      Improved Data Exports

      • Admins can now pull transaction history and open positions export live
      • … But this may fail for VERY large classes (150+ students). Our support team can help!






      Offering your students four exciting features to bring some excitement and real-world learning into your classroom:

      • A Personal Budget Game
      • A Stock Game
      • Built-in Lessons with Pop Quizzes
      • National Challenge with the opportunity to win prizes

      4 great reasons to register your class to the challenge:

      • Your students will gain valuable experience by building a monthly budget
      • They will learn how to manage their checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and stock portfolios
      • Tutorial videos will walk them through everything step of the way.
      • Your students will practice what they learn in class before they use real money

      If you want a printable PDF to download and share with your students, click here.

      Dates: Registration now open. Challenge runs March 22nd to April 30th. Teachers can continue using PersonalFinanceLab for free until June 30th.

      Prizes: The Top 20 students from each contest, (from the Budget Game and Stock Game) each win a $100 Amazon gift card for their classroom. Teachers of the top-performing finalists will be notified the week after the challenge ends. They will decide how the prizes will be spent for their class.

      *Prizes are based on April 30th, and the winners will be announced on the first week of May. The challenge will remain open until June 15th, so teachers can continue using the games and lessons after the prize period ends.*

      About the Challenge: This is a free national competition where students learn about budgeting, credit cards, investing, insurance, income, taxes, and transitioning to their job after school – all in a fun game environment with national rankings and prizes. Students complete 12 virtual months of our Personal Budgeting Game, 30 Financial Literacy lessons, and build a virtual portfolio of stocks, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds. They can earn a certificate in Personal Finance by completing all the included lessons as well.

      Extra-curricular activity: The challenge works excellent as a supplement during Financial Literacy Month with little to no class time requirements – making it perfect for the entire school. The challenge is already set up for you! All you have to do is register, and your students will get access to our budget game, stock game, and assignments. Your students only need around 20 minutes a day to complete a virtual month and the accompanying activities. The best part is that they learn a variety of personal finance lessons at the same time!

      Register your class for our FREE Spring 2021 Financial Literacy Challenge!

      Stock Game Rules

      • Trading is open from March 22nd to June 30th.
      • Prizes will be awarded based on the top performing portfolios at market close on April 30th.
      • Students may trade US stocks and ETFs, and US mutual funds, and bonds
      • Students manage a $100,000 virtual portfolio
      • There is a $5 minimum price for all stocks
      • Students may short sell and buy on margin
      • Students may day trade
      • Students may only invest 25% of their portfolio in any one security
      • Each student is allowed only one entry
      • All results are subject to an audit to verify accuracy by the PersonalFinanceLab team. Results of the audit are final.

      Budget Game Rules

      • Students can play the Budget Game from March 22nd to June 30th.
      • Prizes will be awarded based on the top performing students at the end of the day on April 30th.
      • The game includes 12 months of gameplay where students manage their bills and expenses
      • They start as students with part-time jobs, and after 6 months graduate and take on full-time jobs
      • Students earn the most amount of points for meeting their monthly savings goals
      • Learn more about how to play here.

      Optional Completion Certificate 

      • It’s not obligatory for students to complete all the lessons to be eligible for prizes.
      • For students who want to learn more, the included curriculum comprises 86 individual assignments on investing and personal finance.
      • Each lesson includes a pop quiz at the end with 3-5 questions.
      • Students are required to get 100% on all quizzes to earn the completion certificate.
      • Students are able to retake quizzes to improve their score.
      • Example assignments include:
        • What is the New York Stock Exchange?
        • Investing Strategies
        • Pay Down Debt or Save?
        • Life Insurance
        • Use the Saving to be a Millionaire Calculator

      How to Use PersonalFinanceLab?

      If you are not sure how to use our budget game or stock game, click the buttons below! When you are ready, scroll up and click the “Register Now” button! 😉

      Coming to Personal Finance Lab Spring 2021

      There are a lot of new enhancements that will be coming this January and will improve how both teachers and students use the platform.

      Quick Overview

      Stock Game

      Weekly Deposits

      $1 Starting Cash

      Budget Game

      Starting Positions

      Graphics Update

      System Updates

      New Badges

      New Widgets

      New Certifications

      New “Combo” Dashboard

      New Onboarding for Teachers and Students

      Stock Game Updates

      Focusing on bringing more emphasis on Personal Investing, which mimics how people invest their money in the real world. Starting out with a small amount of cash, (like $1) and then adding weekly deposits every week for the rest of the semester.

      Students need to continually reinvest these new funds, ranging from $100 to $50,000 that is automatically added to their accounts each week. This rebalancing is replicating how investors save for their retirement, buying a car or house or any other goals they may have.

      To encourage students to complete their lessons, teachers can set rewards that add a lump sum into their account only when they finish their assignments. This integrates the lessons into the game so everything is interconnected. Students would only be able to make trades after they’ve watched the tutorial videos since their accounts will be empty when they first start. What stocks should students buy? Read this Motley Fool Review for the best performing stocks.

      Budget Game Updates

      Students will now start the game and immediately set their budget for the upcoming month. Including their expected income and expenses, as well as their savings goals BEFORE choosing their apartment, meal plan, internet and cell phone plans.

      We’re also upgrading all the graphics in the game to add more illustrations and images to every event card to bring the game to life. Also, we’re rearranged the Budget Game to be the first step when creating your class.

      New badges

      New Mastery badges have been added! These are earned by students who complete full units of lessons and activities in the Stock Game and Budget Game.

      For example, become a “Credit Master” by completing all the lessons related to Credit, plus building a credit score in the Budget Game and collecting badges for trading specific combinations of stocks from different sectors in the Stock Game. This encourages students to go above and beyond the bare class minimums

      Widget Update

      Customize and broadcast news to your classroom much more easily than ever before! You will now be able to change the parameters yourself from the administration tab. Options include; watchlists for top traded stocks, (e.g. the Dow Jones) portfolio rankings, word of the day for investing and more.

      Each widget can be set per class and for specified periods of time. A unique URL will be generated that automatically runs a rotation of your selection on any screen with internet connection.

      You can create as many screens as you want and host them on monitors in your personal finance lab or classroom. There are a lot more options than ever before, so you can broadcast your own google slides, your school website or even weekly or monthly rankings.

      If you’ve purchased the Data Widget bundle, a member of our team will be in touch with you in the coming weeks to explain how you can set this up yourself. Contact us at sales@stocktrak.com if you would like to add this to your classroom.

      Certifications

      New Investing and Financial Literacy certificates of completion are now in beta testing. If you want early access you can test it out now, and it will be fully functional by mid-January 2021.

      Students who complete all 10 chapters of our Investing101 course and complete 25 trades can earn this certificate. Students who complete all 50 Personal Finance lessons, as well as the 12 months of the Budget Game and place 25 trades in the Stock Game can earn the Financial Literacy Certificate.

      In both cases, all the badges the students earned is printed on the back of the certificate. Even if they weren’t part of the curriculum.

      The certification will be available from the main menu and will include 30-50 activities to complete. Once students are done, they can download their certificate as a PDF along with all their competencies on the date they finished.

      Combo Dashboard

      The new dashboard will be available before the holidays, and we expect further updates to continue into next semester as we get more feedback from teachers and students. Once implemented, anyone who logs into their account will have an overview of everything included in their class right from the dashboard.

      This includes portfolio rankings, open positions, budget game status and a summary of assignment progress with their due dates. Class announcements will also be available as well as market news, word of the day and top traded securities. Teachers will have a slightly different view with more information on how students are progressing overall.

      Onboarding

      Starting this January, new “product tours” will launch when students and teachers login to Pfinlab for the first time. It will continue to be available as a “help button” from the top menu if you ever need assistance later on.

      For Teachers

      When you login in for the first time, the tour will help you set-up your first class. Showing you the default settings and providing recommendations to help you customize everything for your class.

      For Students

      Students will be taken on an interactive tour highlighting how to access the Budget and Stock Game and what everything means. They will continue to have access to more in-depth tutorial videos demonstrating how to use the investment tools.

      Recommended Course Outline

      When you set-up your class for the first time, adding the name and description of the class etc. you may want to start using the private option to limit access from outside students. We’ve received many complaints about this from teachers, so if you haven’t used the password protection in the past, it’s a good feature to start using.

      If you choose to turn off “Show Certificates,” the system will still record all the assignments and tasks your students complete. So if you choose to turn it on later, they will still get credit.

      Moving forward, the Budget Game settings will be moved to the beginning of the class set-up process to reflect how most students use the platform in their class. Here is a proposal of how you could set-up your class to take advantage of some of our new features.

      1. Students get access to the Budget Game and learn about budgeting and saving goals.
      2. They have $1.00 in their portfolios so they can’t invest yet, so they can use this time to watch the trading tutorials.
      3. When they complete their first assignments, they get a reward of a lump sum (e.g. $100) that allows them to start investing.
      4. Every subsequent week, students will get a weekly deposit into their account to invest in stocks, mutual funds and bonds (or whatever else is available).
      5. This integrates the Budget Game, Stock Game and assignments together so that students learn how related their personal budgets are to their investing activities.

      Coming Spring 2021

      Curriculum Update – a huge overhaul to our assignment engine will enable faster updates and will improve the teacher reports. Later in the spring, we’ll have another update that provides more in-depth information to teachers on topics students are having the most trouble with. Allowing you to pinpoint what to focus on in lectures and provide more support for.

      Budget Game Speed Limits – a method to prevent students from racing ahead and finishing the entire game ahead of schedule. This will allow you to set assignments and tasks to complete in the game, (for example more insurance cards) to reinforce core concepts as they progress through the curriculum.

      What is a Student Loan?

      A student loan is exactly what it sounds like – a loan given to students to finance their studies. This is most common for college or university students, but also works for trade schools and other vocational studies.

      Most of the time when a person takes out a loan, they are using it to invest in an asset that they will use later – like a mortgage for a house or a car loan for a car. With a Student Loan, you are investing in yourself. The gamble you make is that the cost of the loan (plus interest) will be less than the extra income you’ll earn with the new education.

      Before You Start – The FASFA

      Federal Student Aid an Office of the Department of Education Logo

      The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you want to pursue higher education, this is the first place to start, even before you look at student loans. If you qualify for federal financial aid, it is basically free money you can put towards education (and reduce the total amount you need to borrow).

      The FAFSA form can be a bit long and may require you or your parents’ tax information to see what aid you can qualify for. But when you are looking to go to school, this is the first step in the process. Many universities insist every student complete the FASFA before taking out any student loans to lower the total debt burden students will have when they graduate.

      Types of Student Loans

      There are a few types of student loans available for students in the United States, depending on their needs.

      Federal Loans

      The cheapest loans are provided by the US Department of Education. These loans are only available for students at federally approved colleges, universities, or trade schools. These have a low interest rate, but also allow very little to be borrowed – potentially not even enough to cover tuition and school fees (let alone housing costs). Federal loans have two types – “Subsidized” and “Unsubsidized”.

      • With a subsidized loan, the Department of Education pays off all interest while you are in school, and for up to 6 months after you graduate while you try to find a job. This makes subsidized loans very cheap, but these loans are the hardest to get (with the lowest amount you can borrow). You need to show that you have “Financial Need” to qualify for a subsidized loan.
      • Unsubsidized loans accumulate interest as soon as you take out the loan, so you’ll be building up interest the whole time you’re in school. But Federal Loans typically have a low interest rate, so this can still be an attractive option for many students (compared to private loans).

      A single borrower can have both types of loans at the same time, so you might have some of your borrowed amount accumulating interest while the other is not.

      How Much You Can Borrow

      The amount you can borrow with a federal loan is determined by your school – schools work with the Department of Education to ensure students do not over-borrow on federal loans (meaning borrow more than the minimum it should cost to attend school).

      Year In SchoolBorrowing Limit
      1st Year Undergraduate$3,500 subsidized, $6,000 un-subsidized ($9,500 total)
      2nd Year Undergraduate$4,500 subsidized, $6,000 un-subsidized ($10500 total)
      3rd Year + Undergraduate$5,500 subsidized, $7,000 un-subsidized ($12,500 total)
      Graduate StudiesNo subsidized, $20,500 unsubsidized
      Total Cap (Across all years)$65,500 subsidized, $73,000 unsubsidized ($138,500 total)

      Source: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized

      You can borrow the less in your first and second years because of the risk of dropping out – the program is designed to prevent students who drop out of college from being saddled with massive debt that they are unable to repay.

      If You Are A Dependent – PLUS Loans

      If you are still a “dependent” of your parents for tax reasons, you can borrow even less, as it is assumed your parents should be helping you out with some of your school costs if they can claim you on their taxes.

      But if your family already has financial need, your parents can obtain what are called “PLUS” loans. With a PLUS loan, your parents would take out a student loan on your behalf to help pay for your school. The difference is that your PARENTS are the ones responsible for paying back the loan, not you.

      PLUS loans are not very popular – their interest rate is much higher than direct student loans, and parents in families with financial need are not usually able to take on the additional debt burden.

      Private Student Loans

      Private student loans are issued by other private banks and lenders. The interest rate is determined by the general market interest rate. Sallie Mae is the largest provider of private student loans – if you need student loans to finance your education, you will probably work with them at some point or another.

      Private Loan Advantages

      While federal loans are usually cheaper than private loans, private loans have some distinct advantages:

      • Much simpler application process – usually just one or two forms with a credit check. This means the time to apply and start school is shorter and easier.
      • Flexible Terms – with different payment plans, when you start paying, and ways to defer interest until you graduate depending on your needs.
      • Bigger Amounts – you can usually borrow a lot more with private loans than federal loans.
      • Easier to Manage – By having all of your loans in one place (skipping the federal loans entirely), you have one application process to go through each year, one payment to make after you graduate, and an easier time managing your budget.

      Private Loan Risks

      Student loan debt in the United States has skyrocketed, which makes some parts of private student loans controversial. The biggest drawbacks of student loans include:

      • Too easy to borrow too much – college students are not celebrated for their skill in personal budgeting. Private student loans let students borrow more money – and money in the bank is money that can be spent. It can be hard to remember when you’re taking out a loan that you will eventually need to pay it back, and over-borrowing as a student (and accumulating interest the whole time you’re in school) is a good way to start your career saddled with a huge amount of debt.
      • Discourages a mix – Private student loan providers usually encourage students to get all of their student loans in one place to simplify the process every school year, but this means you might miss out on better interest rates for part of your debt that you might have gotten with a federal loan. Mixing federal and private loans is a lot more work, but it can save a lot of money in the long-run.
      • Flexible terms can be confusing – all of the flexible repayment options makes it sound easier to manage, but it can be challenging to know when you first sign up for a loan which path makes the most financial sense for you. This can be an extra risk.

      At the end of the day, taking private loans is still a great way to finance your education, but it takes good financial discipline on your part to avoid graduation day saddled with debit.

      Risks of All Student Loans

      Whether you have a Federal loan or a Private loan, there are some unique risks associated with student loans.

      The Risk Is On YOU

      With a student loan, you are investing in yourself – the education you receive with the loan money should increase your future income. Unlike a house or car (which you can sell if you get behind on payments), if you do not complete your education, you get no benefit and all of the debt.

      This means that before you take out any student debt, you should be sure that you can commit to finishing school and obtaining your degree. Ideally, you should also do some career research to see what kind of starting salary you will earn after you graduate when you plan how much you can borrow. Most undergraduate students wildly over-estimate how much they will earn after graduation – you can find estimates per major through surveys conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (https://www.naceweb.org/).

      Bankruptcy Does Not Work

      If you rack up credit card debt or other types of loans, you always have the option of bankruptcy relief. But bankruptcy works by selling off your assets, negotiating with lenders, and coming out with a payment plan.

      Because student loans are based only on the skills and credentials you should have earned while in school, student loan debt does not qualify from bankruptcy protection – there is no escape, and you are stuck with it until you can pay it off.

      Budgeting Is Essential

      Knowing how to build an effective budget, and stick with it, while in school is the best thing you can possibly do to manage your student loans. Ideally, at the end of each year, you should have a sizable amount of the loan amount that you did not use (and kept as an Emergency Fund), and can repay immediately when you graduate to lower the interest you need to pay going forward.

      This means you need strong long-term planning, good impulse control, and the ability to see yourself after graduation – and understand how much your loan payments are going to cut out of every paycheck.

      Student Loan Best Practices

      If you are considering higher education and might need student loans, follow these steps:

      1. Complete The FAFSA. This is free money that you do not need to pay back, and so will reduce the amount of loans you need to take. You will need to complete this first before most student loan programs will even take your application.
      2. Look For Scholarships. Sallie Mae has a scholarship search tool, and others exist as well. Scholarships are another source of free money, and most scholarships receive very few applications because students never bother to apply. Spending a few hours searching and applying for scholarships can save off thousands of dollars from your final loan amount.
      3. Start With Federal Loans. Apply for federal loans first, especially subsidized federal loans. It takes a bit more work every year to get funded, but the lower interest rate will save big money when it comes to repay. You cannot apply for federal student loans directly – after you complete your FAFSA, your college or university should present you with your federal loan options.
      4. Minimize Private Loans. Most students end up needing some private loans to finance their education (particularly living expenses), but this should be the last piece you apply for once you’ve already shaved off as much as you can with the other options.

      After Graduation – Refinance

      After you graduate from school, investigate options to refinance your student loans. By the time you finish school, you will probably have several different student loans (mixes between Federal and Private, different periods and interest rates, ect), which can be tricky to manage.

      However, there are many companies set up specifically to refinance your student loans after graduation, usually paying you a loan transfer bonus, and potentially a lower interest rate. Refinancing companies want to see that you’ve started work (and how much you’re earning) before they give you options, but this is an often over-looked way to save thousands more dollars on your total debt burden right out of school.

      Pop Quiz

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      You may or may not have used PersonalFinanceLab in your classes before. Many teachers know how to take advantage of all its resources, but there are always new schools registered that need a basic tutorial on how to use the platform.

      With that in mind, we created this post to highlight the main points you should know about the Budget Game. If you have any further questions, check out our tutorial video below.

      About the Budget Game

      • Your students take on the role of a college student with a part-time job – in most scenarios, students have roommates, so they need to manage shared household expenses for the first part of the game.
      • They graduate from school and become a full-time worker part-way through the game – they become a full-time worker (40-hour work per week), with more consistent income, but also with bigger expenses, since they no longer have roommates.
      • Emphasis is on managing CASH FLOW and reinforcing PAY YOURSELF FIRST saving strategy – the goal is not necessarily to make students break their expenses down on a spreadsheet. The idea is to make students control and manage their expenses and income to build healthy finance habits.

      Students Objectives

      • Emergency Fund – Students’ first major goal is to save an Emergency Fund of $1000 – doing so earns a huge point bonus
      • Credit Score – Students have a credit card they can use for purchases. Using it responsibly builds up their Credit Score and increases their Credit Limit.
      • Savings Goals – We ask students to set a “Savings Goal” every month. Students get bonus points if they save at least 10% of their income every month.
      • Quality of Life – Avoiding every expense is not a winning strategy. Students earn “Quality of Life” points by buying nice things, having a better apartment, and spending time with friends
      • “Life” Balance – Students also need to take care to spend time on chores or studying – their landlords give inspections and fines, and failing an exam can have big penalties.

      Launching the Game

      To kick off the game for your class, give them a prompt describing their scenario:

      You are taking on the role of a college student in their last semester. You have a part-time job and are sharing an apartment with roommates. You will earn a paycheck each week, have bills to pay, and a credit card you can use – your goal is to build up your Emergency Fund and Credit Score while maintaining a high Quality Life.

      After you graduate from school, you will move to a new apartment on your own and start your full-time job. You will have more (and bigger) bills, but also a bigger, steady paycheck. Keep hitting your Savings Goals and keep a high Credit Score and Quality of Life to max out your financial future!

      – This is important because it helps students understand what they’re doing in the game as they’re moving through time. They need to understand that this transition from a student to a worker is very different –

      First Learning Points – Unplanned Expenses

      When students start the game, one of their first goals is to balance their expected income and expenses so they can set their first Savings Goal.

      We give students most information, but they need to take a guess at how much they will spend on “Unplanned” expenses each month.

      This is a key learning point – the first month will be a complete guess, but after a couple of months, students will see that small “impulse” and “last-minute” purchases add up quickly to be a major part of their spending!

      First Learning Points – Pay Yourself First

      Every month students also need to set their Monthly Savings Goal.

      The secret is that we don’t care what their expected expenses are – to get the most points, students need to save at least 10% of their expected income.

      This is a key tenant of the “Pay Yourself First” savings strategy, a foundation of the budget game.

      First Learning Points – Quality of Life

      When students start the game, they are also asked to make several lifestyle choices:

      • Where will they live? Crammed in with 5 roommates, or a nicer place with just 1 friend?
      • What kind of TV/Internet package do they want? Just the basics, or a full-service package?
      • How about their Cell Phone and data plan?
      • And how will they be feeding themselves? Lots of cheap ramen and pasta, or lots of eating out?

      These choices have a big impact on their Quality of Life – more expensive options give students a better Quality of Life and bonus points, but make it harder to hit their savings goals.

      Discussion Point

      Every student will have different events through the game – try launching a class discussion on what were the biggest expenses students faced each month. How frequently would students expect each expense to happen in the real world?

      First Month

      As students progress through the first few months, the game will pause and prompt students to complete short lessons.

      We cover Credit and Debit, Savings Goals, Emergency Funds, and other essentials students need to succeed in the game in the first month, and more general finance concepts as the game goes on.

      Life Events

      At the end of each term, they get a life event. There’s two major types of led events: Fixed Expenses and Choices.

      Fixed Expenses

      Students don’t get any choice in it.

      Either they need to choose to pay for something on their debit or credit card, either they need to choose to pay for it or skip it.

      Choices

      The choice cards have a big impact on their quality of life. Taking the more expensive option usually gives students a lot more points on the Quality of Life throughout the game.

      Example: Students need to choose either they want or not to pay for house insurance. If they choose to don’t pay for it, there is a chance to have a break in every month, costing them several hundred dollars.

      Discussion Point

      Every choice in the budget game matters. The “Life Events” that pop up through the game are somewhat determined by the choices students make as they play.

      What happened to you this month? What did you do before that had an impact on this? What would you have changed to make this outcome better? You can discuss this with students since they can give a recap of what worked well and what they would have changed in the past.

      Ending the First Month

      At the end of the first month, students get a summary of their savings and expenses, along with their progress to their savings goal.

      Hitting a savings goal of 10% or more of their income earns big bonus points.

      Teacher Tips

      Make sure to play at least the first month of the game together as a class

      End the first month of a recap – what were unexpected expenses? How did students cope? What will they do differently next month?

      Assessments

      Building assessments around the budget game is a matter of art. You will get the most out of your students if you ask them to provide “Monthly Summaries” as written document – specify what went right, wrong, and what they plan to do to fix it.

      Be sure to also use the Assignments built into PFinLab — these have quizzes with automatically-graded quizzes you can use for more objective grading!

      The Next Months…

      Students will build up their Credit Score and Emergency Fund for the first part of the game, with lessons along the way.

      Keep students “paced” by completing assignments and quizzes, rather than hour-long blocks of just the game itself.

      Students will build up their Credit Score and Emergency Fund for the first part of the game, with lessons along the way.

      Keep students “paced” by completing assignments and quizzes, rather than hour-long blocks of just the game itself.

      The Rankings

      The Budget Game also has a ranking page, showing student rankings by Overall Score, Net Worth, Credit Score, and Quality of Life.

      Pay attention and give students shout-outs – even students at the bottom of the list!

      Graduation

      After playing as a part-time student for a semester, students “Graduate” from school and start their first full-time job.

      They will need to pick a new place to live and other settings (as they no longer have roommates), and now get a consistent 40-hours per week salary at a higher pay grade.

      Key Learning Point

      The starting salary students get when starting their full-time job depends on how much they “studied” when a student. Students who “studied” often get a bigger paycheck with their full-time job!

      Full-Time Mode Differences

      • Bigger Bills – Students no longer have roommates, their bills all go up significantly
      • Bigger Paychecks – Students have a pay raise and work a steady 40-hours a week
      • Professional Development – Instead of studying, students can undertake “Professional Development” on the weekend (and raise their salary with enough of it)
      • New Bills – New “Student Loan” and “Health Insurance” bills to pay every month

      Key Learning Point

      On the weekend, “Study” becomes “Professional Development” – as every student in the modern economy should understand the importance of lifetime learning. Conducting “Professional Development” frequently leads to a raise at their job!

      Other Full-Time Mode Differences

      Once students start their full-time job, they will be faced with even more choices and long-term impacts than before.

      • Getting a pet? Expect to spend more at the grocery shop, and new vet bills pop up as Life Events… But also expect to boost your Quality of Life.
      • More emphasis on household expenses, insurance, and general “Adulting”

      Key Learning Point

      As students complete 6, 12, 18+ months of the game, most of the healthy financial habits should become second nature.

      After 12 months, how many students have a full 840 credit score? Launch a class discussion with both the students at the top and bottom of the class rankings to identify what went right and wrong, and discuss the importance of establishing healthy habits early!

      If you have used a stock game in your class before, you know the drill – you choose your class’s custom rules and starting cash (usually around $100,000), your students sign in, and they use that cash to build their portfolio that they manage over the course of a semester.

      This might make sense to a professional fund manager who has a certain amount of assets, but is a far cry from how personal investors build their wealth over time. PersonalFinanceLab’s newest enhancement turns this system on its head with our new Weekly Deposits – the biggest thing to happen to stock games since stocks!

      How It Works

      With Weekly Deposits, you would start off your class with a relatively small amount of starting cash – say $100, $1000, or even $10,000.

      Then every Sunday evening, your students get extra cash deposited into their account – as the teacher, you choose exactly how much.

      This completely transforms a passive “Fund Manager” stock game into a true Personal Finance exercise. Just like the real world, students regularly add money into their portfolio, which they need to continually re-invest and re-balance, rather than passively holding a few stocks they purchased on the first day of your class game.

      This matches how a small investor really builds their portfolio – one transfer at a time!

      Using Weekly Deposits In Class

      Weekly Deposits opens up a whole new world for ways to use the PersonalFinanceLab stock game in classes. Here’s a few scenarios to consider for your next semester:

      The Junior Investor

      When we ask for student feedback, one of the biggest downsides of a “$100k stock game” is that it is more money than the average student can really conceptualize. For Weekly Deposits, you can create a “Micro-Investor, Regular Saver” game!

      • Start students out with just $100 starting cash – putting a true limit on what they can invest
      • Set a weekly deposit of $100, to mimic students saving an extra $100 out of every paycheck for the duration of your class.
      • As your class stock game goes on, students will be able to afford different stocks, and need to rebalance their portfolio to adjust. Do they keep re-balancing to maintain diversification, or do they cash out all their Ford stock (around $8/share) to buy one share of Apple (around $120/share) after the first week?

      The Career Saver

      This scenario gives a bit more flexibility for students to build a diversified portfolio right off the bat.

      • Start students with $10,000 in starting cash, with our normal 25% position limit rules (students need at least 4 different stocks to use all their starting cash)
      • Deposit an additional $1000 cash each week. In the scenario for your students, this will be a “sped-up” monthly savings that they need to re-invest.
      • In this scenario, students need to continually re-balance their portfolio to stay diversified as their cash goes up. Do they keep investing in the same stocks they started with, or build up a wide portfolio of many holdings?

      Budget Game Combo

      The new Weekly Deposits also adds a great dimension for classes also using our Budget Game. By leveraging our Assignments, you can automatically credit students’ Stock Game accounts after they complete specific actions in the Budget Game, like completing a certain number of months or completing specific lessons in the Learning Center.

      What This Means For Rankings And Portfolios

      In our back-end, we adjust the Weekly Deposits by incrementing up the student’s starting cash balance. For the rankings, it means that the “percentage returns” are not distorted by the weekly deposits. However, classes that might be using more advanced rankings, such as Sharpe Ratio and Alpha/Beta, will see some distortion.

      How To Get A Weekly Deposit Stock Game For Your Class

      If your school already has a PersonalFinanceLab site license, “Weekly Deposits” are a new rule you’ll see right after choosing your Starting Cash Balance for your next stock game.

      If your school does not yet have a PersonalFinanceLab site license, use the form below to get a quote!

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        PersonalFinanceLab is a gamified platform that focuses on engaging students through interactive and experiential learning. The program has a Budget and Stock market game that allows students to learn while understanding the fundamentals of managing and investing money.

        When focusing on money management, people tend to concentrate on either looking for ways to earn more money or cut costs to have more money. However, we sometimes overlook another essential aspect of money: the quality of life. An important part of money management is finding a healthy balance. 

        In the Budget Game, students need to make choices. To increase their disposable income, they may choose to work extra hours or choose to purchase cheaper options. Here is where our Quality of Life concept comes in. If students are always working, they may neglect their studies. If they are always socializing, they may not have enough money to pay their bills or keep on top of their school work. The Quality of Life score rewards players for choosing a balanced lifestyle between working, studying, spending time with friends, and looking at ways to cut costs and keep on top of household chores and tasks.

        When discussing quality of life, we should not confuse this with standard of living. Standard of living refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods, and necessities available to someone. Quality of life, on the other hand, is a subjective term that can measure happiness.

        Points to consider

        Every $ saved from cutting coupons, looking for items on sale, reducing bills, etc. are fewer dollars that need to be earned.

        Socializing does not mean always going to the mall and “hanging out” with friends. It could mean networking and widening your social circle to get an internship or future job.

        Studying, learning a new skill or joining a club are always great to add as additional information on a resume.

        Working extra hours could mean building reserves of money to cover future expected costs. It also means showing a good work ethic and being given additional responsibility and possible promotions. 

        Quality of Life Exercises

        Sample activities:

        1. In your own words, explain the difference between quality of life and standard of living.
        2. When playing the Budget Game, you will be asked whether you want to work extra hours, socialize, complete household chores, or study. For each of these choices, explain the opportunity cost of choosing one over the other.
        3. Apart from working extra hours, describe some activities that may help you increase your savings.
        4. Regarding studies, are there any courses or skills you would like to develop or wish to try?
        5. Regarding household chores, is there anything in your house that you could do to save money? It might be painting some walls, changing the decoration, etc.
        6. If you had to spend time socializing, who or where should you go to improve your chances of getting an internship, future job, or improving your skills? 

        Want more examples? Check out our lesson plan library, or book a demo with our team to discuss how PFinLab can be used in your class!

        Congratulations on playing our financial life simulation and completing all of our lessons. We now invite you to make the transition from the simulation accounts to real world accounts…

        Where are you on your financial journey?

        We’re ready to give you personalized, face to face guidance in a safe environment* at a time and location that works for you. Our specialists can help you with more education and resources. We’re just a click away…

        You can speak to a specialist at a time that works for you.

        CLICK HERE NOW to get started , or save this link as a Favorite so you can review it later.

        If you want to learn more about finances, technology and tools to help you where you are in your journey, we have a dedicated student resource page for you. Visit the student resource page by clicking here.

        *Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our teammates and clients at each location. We have taken proactive steps to enhance cleaning procedures to limit the risk of exposure, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and follow local restrictions on the number of clients that can enter at one time.

        Congratulations! You will soon be graduating from college and negotiating your various job offers.

        You have worked hard to graduate and you deserve a great paying job.

        But as you start to negotiate your offers, keep in mind that you really should be considering the overall compensation package. Salary is important, but so are things like location and commute to work, your health insurance costs, your retirement plan, and many other benefits that are being offered these days.

        Click on the image below to review 9 different benefits that you should consider when selecting a job offer.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.


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        If you understand a little of the credit card company’s math, you can save yourself lots of money over your lifetime by realizing EVERY DAY counts.

        Click on the video image below to see a simple example of how your APR and your payment schedule really impacts the interest you are charged.

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        The average taxpayer spends over 10 hours preparing their taxes.

        To reduce the burden of getting organized and preparing your taxes, it is important to stay organized and know what documents and forms you will need to collect throughout the year.

        Click on the image below to review the forms and documentation you will need to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

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        A survey of the Class of 2019 showed that 69% had some form of a student loan.

        While most student loans require you to start making payments within 6 months of graduation, there are certain instances where you can defer these payments.

        Click on the image below to watch a brief video that explains the difference between loan deferment and loan forbearance. Even if you don’t have a student loan, it is important to understand the difference as it applies to most loans in general.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the video.


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        Shopping for a new car is always a fun day.

        But negotiating the final price and your payment method with the car salesman can be a dreadful and a challenging task.

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        Click on the image below to reveal 3 questions that you MUST understand about buying a car.

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        It’s a tough trade off that we all consider at some point: To buy a used car and save money, or to splurge and buy a new car.

        Buying a used car is obviously cheaper, but generally new cars are more reliable and get better gas mileage.

        So what factors should you consider and how to you make that decision?

        Click on the image below and watch this short video that answers those questions…

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.

        car resale
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        Your credit score will affect many segments of your financial life.

        It will determine if you get approved for a car loan or a mortgage to buy your house.

        If you get approved for either loan, it will also impact the interest rate you get charged.

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        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.


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        It seems like a Catch-22. How can you start building your credit if you don’t have any credit to start with?

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        This helps you build your credit history which then helps to raise your credit score which then helps to lower the interest rate you will be charged on other loans you might get.

        Click on the image below of the video to learn how to build your credit from scratch.

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        Most studies show that over 70% of Americans own at least one credit card and carry it with them when they go shopping.

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        Saving money is a lot easier than you think.

        The first question you have to ask yourself when you are thinking of making a purchase is: “Do I NEED this or do I just WANT it?”

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        Saving money is easier than you think and you will learn from this video how to get started and you will see how quickly it starts to add up.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the video.


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        Here is one of the most common questions that people who are trying to get control over their finances ask: If I have a little extra cash, do I pay down debt or do I put the money in my savings account?

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        The answer is easy, kind of.

        Click on the image below to review 5 questions that will help you decided if you should pay down debt or save.

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        Creating (and staying on) a budget is easier for some people than others.

        Watch this video to get more ideas on how to simplify your budgeting process and make it easier for you to reach your financial goals.

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        Over time, our society moved away from paying for goods and services with gold and silver to paying for things with cash. In the last two decades, we have been transitioning from paying for things with cash to credit and debit cards.

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        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.


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        Hopefully by now you have a real checking account that you use to manage your monthly cash inflows and outflows.

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        Now that you are getting used to managing your checking, savings and credit card accounts as part of this virtual platform, it is time you think about opening real banking accounts.

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        [qsm quiz=200]

        Once you get in the habit of saving money each month, the next question is where exactly to you put the money you are saving?

        The obvious choices are to keep it in cash in your piggy bank at home or put it in a bank account.

        Well here is a secret… Instead of keeping your cash stashed in your piggy bank, you might as well have the bank PAY YOU INTEREST on your savings balance.

        Consider the following quote from Albert Einstein…

        The bank will give you several options that pay you interest. Generally the quick options are to open a Savings Account or to put your cash in a Certificate of Deposit (CD).

        Click on the image below to learn the pros and cons of each.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.


        CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE

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        We all know that we should be saving money.

        We have all heard the saying from Benjamin Franklin that “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

        But it seems that it is just so much easier to SPEND money than it is to SAVE money.

        So how do we get started saving money?

        Ahh….. That is the hard part…….getting started.

        Click on the image below to read a great article that gives you 8 key points to help you start saving money immediately, to help you establish short-term and long-term goals, and to help you pick the right tools to save.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.

        8 Ways To Save
        CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE

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        At some point in your life you might find yourself in a situation where you need some cash quickly.

        For example, you might have a doctor bill you need to pay. Or you might need to get your car repaired so you can get to work or you might have a rent bill or a tuition bill coming due.

        If you don’t have any savings in an emergency fund, what would you do?

        It is a situation that you hope you never find yourself in, but inevitably most of us do.

        Click on the image below to read a great article that summarizes your choices, and the risk associated with each of those choices.

        Pay attention to the left hand column that shows the progression from the “Lower Risk” to “Higher Risk” choices. A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.

        BMH Emergency Cash
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        Congratulations on playing our financial life simulation and completing all of our lessons. We now invite you to make the transition from the simulation accounts to real world accounts…

        Where are you on your financial journey?

        We’re ready to give you personalized, face to face guidance in a safe environment* at a time and location that works for you. Our specialists can help you with more education and resources. We’re just a click away…

        You can speak to a specialist at a time that works for you…


        CLICK HERE NOW to view student resources,

        or save this page as a Favorite so you can review it later.

        If you want to learn more about finances, technology and tools to help you where you are in your journey, we have a dedicated student resource page for you. Visit the student resource page by clicking here.

        *Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our teammates and clients at each location. We have taken proactive steps to enhance cleaning procedures to limit the risk of exposure, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and follow local restrictions on the number of clients that can enter at one time.

        Whether we like it or not, April 15 comes every year and that means our Federal taxes are due.

        The average taxpayer spends over 10 hours preparing their taxes.

        To reduce the burden of getting organized and preparing your taxes, it is important to stay organized and know what documents and forms you will need to collect throughout the year.

        Click on the image below to review the forms and documentation you will need to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.


        CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE

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        Congratulations! You will soon be graduating from college and negotiating your various job offers.

        You have worked hard to graduate and you deserve a great paying job.

        But as you start to negotiate your offers, keep in mind that you really should be considering the overall compensation package. Salary is important, but so are things like location and commute to work, your health insurance costs, your retirement plan, and many other benefits that are being offered these days.

        Click on the image below to review 9 different benefits that you should consider when selecting a job offer.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the article.


        CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE

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        A survey of the Class of 2019 showed that 69% had some form of a student loan.

        While most student loans require you to start making payments within 6 months of graduation, there are certain instances where you can defer these payments.

        Click on the image below to watch a brief video that explains the difference between loan deferment and loan forbearance. Even if you don’t have a student loan, it is important to understand the difference as it applies to most loans in general.

        A short Pop Quiz follows below the video.


        CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE

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