Monday, September 8, 2014

Join the H&R Block Budget Challenge - $3 Million in Prizes

"You've got to show me the money."

That request never gets old. And, that phrase can still bring smiles to the faces of my students. Financial well being - the kind that Cuba Gooding Jr.'s "Rod Tidwell" was looking for as a client of Jerry Maguire - is on the minds of everyone these days. We are all looking for information on how to make good decisions that will give us stability. And, parents and teachers know that today's young people need this information as much as anybody. That's why H&R Block is promoting financial sense to young people.

H&R Block thinks "personal finance education is so important" that they are "paying people to learn" it. That sentiment is the gist of a new educational opportunity from the company that has been providing sound financial advice to people for more than fifty years. Everyone can use some good advice on managing their money these days, and young people just starting out are most in need of skills in financial literacy. To that end, H&R Block has created the H&R Block Budget Challenge, which is an "interactive financial education competition for high school students" that promises $3 million in prizes.

For many years, I have promoted financial literacy to my students, encouraging them to read books like David Bach's The Automatic Millionaire, where they will learn the magic of compound interest and the value of simple tricks such as "saving 10%" of what they earn. Lessons about managing a check book and deciphering credit card offers were a mystery to me until I was well into adulthood, and I could have benefited greatly from the opportunity to practice making adult financial decisions before I was actually an adult and risking my own money. That's why I have always been impressed with the high school social studies teachers I know who make economics and personal financial literacy are part of their standard curriculum. And, those who seek opportunities like the H&R Block Budget Challenge have the greatest impact by using a game and the spirit of competition to engage young people with possibly the most important and immediately useful information they'll learn in school - the ability to manage their financial lives.

H&R Block's program seems like a great opportunity for students and teachers alike. Classroom materials are readily available, and the program offers grants and scholarships for participating schools. Teenagers participate in the competition as "recent college graduates" just starting out in life. They will gain experience managing their money and facing personal financial decisions. I can remember the uncertainty of those first few months out on my own - and I was doing it half-way around the world after travelling abroad for my first job. My first paycheck was serious business, as I tried to envision how much I needed each month to cover rent, food, bills, etc. Teens these days face more challenges with cell phone bills and ubiquitous credit offers. Thus, the more experience they have, the better.

One of the best things about this opportunity is that it is FREE. That will certainly appeal to teachers dealing with ever tighter school budgets. Teachers who use the H&R Block Budget Challenge will receive a full starter kit of information and prepared lesson plans to get their kids on the right financial path. I've trusted my tax return to H & R Block for years, and I believe in the guidance they provide. And the Block Budget Challenge seems like a great opportunity for teaching personal financial literacy to young people. Being well informed on issues of credit and bill paying is invaluable.


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