Feature Highlight – Weekend Choices


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

Weekend choice

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

The Four Weekend Choices

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

Working Extra Hours

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

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

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

Household Chores

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

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

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


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

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

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

Study/Professional Development

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

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

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

Other Considerations

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

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

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

Happy Learning!

-The PFinLab Team