Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew
Finances and budgeting are critical lessons to teach kids as they prepare for personal independence. I was excited for the opportunity to review the Budget Game, Stock Market Game, and integrated curriculum from PersonalFinanceLab.com to help instruct my teens in financial literacy. The program is designed to teach kids foundational skills in personal budgeting, business and economics.
I was provided with an administrative account for the program. Following a tutorial video, I registered my two high school boys as students. I was able to assign them games and lessons. From an instructor dashboard, I could monitor their progress through the assignments.
The Budget Game
This game puts students in the role of managing a weekly income while balancing bills and expenses. The tasks allow the player to manage finances in order to build quality of life points, improve credit score, and meet a saving goal.
I chose the default scenario when setting up the boys’ assignment for the game. They began as if they were college students working part-time.
When beginning, students are presented with lifestyle choices to determine their expenses. For example, they could choose their housing options to live alone or have roommates. The choice prompts consideration of the financial benefits of sharing expenses. Other choices include the level of cell service and the quality of grocery options. Choosing to eat inexpensively may save financially, but affects the quality of life points.
Students receive a weekly paycheck from their job to deposit into their bank account. They can make a bank transfer to meet saving goals while also paying bills and expenses. When making a payment there is a choice to pay with debit or credit. Using credit helps build the credit score, but also results in a credit card bill.
Unexpected expenses occur that students must decide how to manage. Some events like a car repair or medical bill would require payment. Other situations require a decision from the student. For example, if they want to spend money going out with friends, or if they want to pay for an outing with credit or debit. The choices can affect account balances, quality of life, and credit scores.
Popup questions occur in the game about twice a month and strengthen financial awareness. A short lesson can be read to help find the answer. A fact as simple as knowing when a credit card payment is due is important. Correct answers result in a financial reward. Questions progress to topics related to medical insurance, student loans, and more.
My boys really enjoyed this game. They had a basic knowledge of creating a budget and paying bills, but they became more aware of the number of expenses to living independently and how their decisions affect their finances. My younger son initially incurred late payments for failing to pay monthly utility bills. We had a good laugh when he shared that he thought they just paid automatically. It made sense given he’s heard my husband and I talk about payments we’ve scheduled for automatic payments.
Fortunately, my son was given a second chance to start over because I made a mistake setting up the account. Initially, I set up one assignment for two students. I wanted my older son to do more, but I could not figure out how to personalize just his student account. I used the site’s online help and was walked through setting up two separate assignments for each student account. The customer service was prompt and amazing. I’m not super tech-minded, and I really appreciated their patience and assistance.
Despite the boys not having the same assignments, they did not hesitate in comparing their individual progress. They really enjoyed the different expense scenarios and the challenge of building savings while maintaining expenses. They even tried to keep it realistic and made some expense choices based on what they would want to do over what they needed.
Stock Market Game
Students can purchase and sell stock in this realistic game. They can research companies to help make their choices. Over the course of the game, students can build a portfolio of stocks, bonds, ETF’s, and mutual funds at real-time prices.
In all honesty, this was out of my comfort zone, so I set it up using the suggested default settings. My son is interested in information regarding the stock market but has never taken the time to research and understand how it works. I set up his assignment for the game, but he felt he needed to learn more about how to successfully trade before beginning. He’s more success-driven when learning, so we agreed he would work on curriculum assignments first.
In the meantime, I watched the tutorial on how the game was played and gave it a try. I was surprised how realistic the game is. It was fun to research familiar companies. I only made a few trades with minimal risk. Trades did not show up until the following day, so it was important to check back. In the student role, I felt I would benefit from the stock market curriculum assignments to better play.
The program includes videos and lessons to help students better understand personal finance, economics, accounting, management, and career development. I focused on personal finance and stock-related topics for my older son.
The financial lessons took about 10-15 minutes reading an article and answering questions to measure understanding. Although my son has basic budgeting knowledge, he found the information interesting. His retention was higher as the budgeting game provided him with an outlet to apply what he was learning.
My most challenging aspect of the program was setting up the account and registering my boys. Even with a video tutorial I initially did it incorrectly. I was really impressed with the customer service help to get us correctly set up.
I felt the administrative account resources would be more useful for a classroom instructor. For our homeschool setting, I honestly did not use the administrative dashboard very much. Once the boys had access to their assignments I could easily monitor their progress from their feedback. In a large classroom or coop class, an instructor would be able to assign tasks and easily monitor the progress of multiple students.
The course itself is wonderful. The boys really enjoyed the lessons offered in a “game” format. They had a lot of fun comparing scores and enjoyed some good-natured ribbing over individual expense decisions within the budgeting game. They have learned a lot about budgeting and finances, and the curriculum lessons have encouraged an interest in the stock market and trading.
Click on the image below to see how other members of the Review Crew have used this course from Personal Finance Lab.