The Budget Challenge® Difference

Why is Budget Challenge the most effective financial education tool available? Its patented program is unique in its ability to simulate for students the process managing all the finances of an independent young adult, including paying bills, saving for retirement, accomplishing key goals like paying down debt and setting up an emergency fund, and dealing with unexpected events. 

There is a big difference between 'Teaching for Understanding' and 'Teaching for Capability.'  Budget Challenge is the only financial literacy program that does both and examples of this difference can be found inside and outside the classroom. See Below:

What does 'Teaching for Capability' look like?

Other financial literacy programs 
 (Teaching for Understanding)
Budget Challenge
(Teaching for Capability & Understanding)
Students read about the importance of paying bills on time. Students receive bills from vendors they've selected with due dates.  Failure to pay in full and on-time results in late fees and penalty points assessed.
Students complete a worksheet about checking accounts and fees. Students select a checking account, manage the account, and pay fees and receive penalty points for overdrawing the account.
Students read a story about what happened to a family that lacked an emergency fund. Students earn points and a trophy if they can actually transfer $500 to set up an emergency fund in the first eleven days of the simulation.
Students read about how important it is to save for retirement. Students make 401(k) selections and decide how much of their paycheck to invest in their retirement account.
Students watch a video about the dangers of credit cards. Students are required to manage credit card utilization and pay off the entire balance in order to earn a trophy.
Students complete a reading and worksheet on insurance vocabulary terms. Students choose renter's insurance and auto insurance policies with different deductibles and deal with unexpected insured events.

Learning by doing is learning that lasts®. Have you ever heard of someone forgetting how to drive, add numbers or ride a bike? Budget Challenge not only teaches financial knowledge, it teaches essential financial skills, and develops and reinforces desirable behaviors such as checking account balances, paying bills on time and establishing long-term financial goals.

Sign Up for a Webinar

Times are in Eastern Standard time (EST)

Earn Trophies for Achieving Adult-Level Skills

Most financial literacy programs claim to meet state standards for financial literacy knowledge, but is that really enough? Or are you worried that tomorrow’s young adults might take on too much debt, develop poor credit, or fail to prepare for financial emergencies? Will a program that meets basic knowledge standards prepare them to manage their credit cards and save for retirement? Budget Challenge doesn’t think so, which is why we created six trophies within the simulation that students can earn for demonstrating adult level capability in areas essential for financial success. These happen to be the same areas that adults struggle the most with.

Retirement Savings: 1/3 of American adults have nothing saved for retirement.
Emergency Fund: Nearly half of Americans lack available funds to cover a $400 emergency.
Credit Card Management: 38% of households have credit card debt. Average balance: $16,048.
Credit Health: 68 million Americans have “Bad” or “Poor” credit scores.
Debt Reduction: Average student loan borrower graduated with $29,900 of debt.
Perfect Pay: A single reported late fee can cause a 780 FICO score to drop 90 to 110 points.

Teacher Feedback

  • Over 90% of teachers found Budget Challenge® to be an effective way to teach personal finance.
  • Over 85% of teachers plan to continue using Budget Challenge®.
  • Over 85% of teachers would recommend Budget Challenge® to a colleague.
  • 97% of teachers stated their students’ knowledge of personal finance improved by participating in Budget Challenge®.


Teachers have used Budget Challenge®

Student Feedback

  • 92% said they were more likely to check their account balance before writing a check.
  • 89% said they were more confident.
  • 91% said they were more aware of money pitfalls and mistakes.
  • 87% said they were better able to avoid bank and credit card fees.
  • 84% said they were better able to understand fine print and 79% said they were better able to compare financial products.

Students have played Budget Challenge®

Featured Posts — Teacher Spotlight

  • Teacher Spotlight — Hilary Ruttenberg
    Posted 4 months ago
    Hilary Ruttenberg is an economics teacher at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hilary took the time to share her recent experience implementing Budget Challenge in a blended classroom setting ...
  • DonorsChoose Funding Teacher Spotlight — Carrie Rugenstein
    Posted 5 months ago
    We love sharing creative ways that teachers secure funding for Budget Challenge. Teachers who have earned the appropriate number of points with DonorsChoose can request a Special Project. Carrie Rugenstein, ...
  • Teacher Spotlight — Mariellen Rechtin
    Posted 5 months ago
    Mariellen Rechtin who teaches in two Cincinnati homeschool high school co-ops, Divine Mercy Homeschool Coop and All Saints Studies Group, shared her expertise in implementing Budget Challenge in a ...
Read More »