Budget and Cash Flow Spreadsheet (125 points)

In our budget challenge game, an excel spreadsheet has been provided for us to utilize to maintain our expenditures and receipts. Using an Excel sheet isn’t exactly the easiest process in the world, but if you can somewhat master it, the help it can provide in organization is undeniable. The task here is two-fold: first you have to download the Excel sheet to your iPad to use it there, then you have to actually use it. The sheet is already set with formulas, and the description of those formulas is on the Excel page itself, so learning what it can do for you can be more attainable than it would seem on the surface.

This is a screen shot of the Excel sheet provided by H&R Block

This is a screen shot of the Excel sheet provided by H&R Block

 To complete:

1. After ensuring you’re enrolled in the challenge itself, open the Excel sheet on your iPad and make it usable through either Numbers or Sheets (I’m pretty sure either will work, so whatever floats your boat).

2. Start using the spreadsheet to maintain your finances in the challenge effectively (make sure to ask me questions if need be), paying careful attention to the categories of each column and the dates (that you’ll need to change first thing).

3. Prove to me you are indeed utilizing the Excel sheet both in the first week of us playing in this challenge and again by Thanksgiving break

Create an App (425 points)

This is a massive endeavor, nearly 1/4th of the overall points you need to get an ‘A’, and it would require a laptop beyond our iPads, as app creation, ironically, hasn’t reached these devices we have. However, if you do indeed want to spend a serious amount of time creating something that can someday be used in the classroom during our financial lessons, then here you go! You’ll need some app creating software, a lot of which is free nowadays (I would recommend looking at “GameSalad” to start). This task will require some coordination with me, as we have to ensure the game’s purpose is financial in its nature, not just a programming feat alone.

Game Salad image

To complete:

1. Determine what you’d be interested in as far as a type of game/app. Bring that idea to me to discuss the potential.

2. Download the app-developing program to your laptop (if you haven’t already) and learn to use it (this may take a while- youtube videos tend to help in such things).

3. Create the app.

4. Deliver the app in a zip file to me via email for me to verify. If the game is publishable, then we should work to do that to make it possible to use in the classroom at some point.

Budget Challenge Quizzes (points are earned- 276 total)

As we go through the budget challenge game this semester, there are 11 quizzes ‘assigned’ periodically that are part of your evaluation. For the most part, they are worth 24 points (the first quiz and the second to last are worth 30 each), so there are a lot of points to earn here towards your grade. This fits under the ‘evaluated’ category in IC (i.e., you need to do these), but the value is higher than just points, as a great deal of success on these could go a long way to possibly winning the contest. I’ll notify y’all when one in newly available in class (for example, the pre-quiz is available right now!), so we should be able to stay on top of this fairly well. Completion of these quizzes will be pretty obvious for you as per your points, and I have access to your point performance.



Vendor Selection (75 points)

Let the Budget Challenge begin! Now that we’ve all registered, we need to make our vendor selections before the actual challenge starts for us, which is October 3rd. No time to lose! This task has a clear end date, and there’s no reason to even get near that, so let’s do this right away. Log in to the budget challenge site, sift through the vendors, and ask some questions. Let’s make this happen!

Here is the contest Objective as stated by H&R Block:

By participating in the H&R Block Budget Challenge, you will learn and practice many real-world money management skills: Paying bills, managing expenses, saving money, investing in retirement and more 


We consider three skill areas to be the most important and those determine your individual leaderboard score.


1)   Balancing your current and future cash needs: Maximizing your tax-deferred savings while maintaining enough money in a checking account to pay for bills. Your skill at balancing the present while building for the future is evaluated by the amount of money saved into your 401(k) savings account.

2)   Paying bills on time and on budget: Managing your cash flow on a tight budget.  This skill is evaluated by fee avoidance, with a special emphasis on timeliness of bill payments.

3)   Resourcefulness, understanding and practical application of financial concepts: This means being proactive in searching for information and applying it to your benefit on a quiz, or in communicating with vendor customer service to resolve any unexpected issues that may arise. This skill is evaluated by quiz points and any point rewards from negotiation with customer service.


You may have heard the expression: “Timing is everything.”  In this game, like in real life, timing is at the heart of putting all of these skills together in real time to balance your budget and save for the future.


How to Play

During registration, you will need to read the information packet to make informed choices for each budget category and vendor selection.  Take the time to familiarize yourself with the key terminology for each type of contract with a vendor.


While you cannot know everything that may happen during the simulation, there is a lot of information you can (and should) use to plan ahead.


Once the simulation starts, you will receive courtesy bill notifications and other scenario information via email. 


Your responsibilities include:

1)  Reviewing and paying bills on time

2)  Saving money into the 401(k) via direct paycheck contribution

3)  Answering quizzes/surveys

4)  Contacting customer service via email for any issue resolution


Every participant is managing the same overall scenario.  Your individual leaderboard score will be made available to you nightly.  The initial choices for each budget category allow for some flexibility.  However, the greatest score differentiator will be your performance in the four areas of responsibility listed above.


Metrics, Scores, and How to Win

There are several performance metrics tracked during the game:

·         Individual leaderboard score

·         Engagement score

·         Real-World Ready score

These metrics will be used to evaluate your individual performance. It will also be combined with your classmates’ scores to evaluate class average performance.


Leaderboard Score (Used to determine $20,000 Student Scholarship winners)

Score = Savings – (Fees & late penalties) + (Quizzes & Surveys)

·         You will earn a point per dollar saved in the 401(k) account or earned in interest. (Includes 401(k) employer match and monthly interest earned on 401(k) or checking account.)

·         You will lose a point per dollar in fees incurred.   There is an extra 150 point penalty on your score for every late fee incurred.

·         Quizzes can be taken weekly to earn extra points. To get the points for each question, your answers must be correct.

Surveys are provided throughout the game to gather your feedback.  To get the points, make sure to answer all of the questions, even the open-ended questions.


Engagement Score

We want all students to actively participate in the game because we believe in “learning-by-doing.”  Even if you lose some points due to mistakes, it is important to keep trying and, in the process, keep learning. There is a huge correlation between “sticking with it” and getting better as time goes on during the game.  That is why we developed the engagement score. 

Student Engagement = Logging in regularly x Paying bills on time x Taking weekly quizzes

·         Logging in regularly = Logging in within the last 5 days

·         Paying bills on time = No late fees incurred within the last 3 days

·         Quizzes = Taking all available quizzes before they close

Each of these three dimensions are measured as a 1 = yes and 0 = no for each day.  All three dimensions need to be equal to 1 to get an engagement score of 1 for that specific day.  If any of the dimensions are 0, then you are considered not fully engaged for that day. 

Class engagement = total # of engaged students that day / total # of students in the class.

Daily engagement vs. Average Engagement: The system calculates engagement for each student and class daily.  It also calculates the cumulative average engagement for each student and class over the course of the simulation.


Real-World Ready (Used to determine $100,000 Grand Prize Scholarship winner)

To compare scores across simulations (no two of which are alike), we have developed the Real-World Ready score that measures Behavior, Knowledge and Skill as a percentage of target scores.

Real-World Ready score = Behavior score + Knowledge score + Skill score

Behavior is equal to your cumulative engagement score for the simulation.  Target = 100%


In layman’s terms: As long you log in at least once every 5 days, pay bills on time and attempt all the available quizzes, the target is achievable.

Knowledge is equal to your percentage of correct answers on quizzes.  Target = 100%


In layman’s terms: Sum of all points for correct answers on quizzes / Total quiz points available.

Skill is equal to the leaderboard score as a percent of the target score.  Target = 50% of the maximum potential score for that simulation.  The target is less than the actual max score because you do not have the benefit of perfect information going into the game.  The simulation has unexpected events (as does real life) and it is unrealistic to expect anyone to obtain a perfect score with that uncertainty built into the scenario.   Please note that since the target is 50% of the potential score, it is possible to achieve a Skill score of up to 200%

In layman’s terms: Leaderboard score / Half of max score

 Maximum Real-World Ready score  = 100% Behavior + 100% Knowledge + 200% Skill = 400%


Polling (85 points)

Maybe you’ve noticed the ‘poll’ on the right side of this blog, asking questions about school improvement plans. Maybe you answered it (someone did). Regardless, it’s there, and it needs to be updated. Interested in creating a poll? A little voluntary response poll? Here ya go. Consider some related questions, come up with options as responses, run it by me, and I’ll temporarily give you admin privileges on this blog to insert that poll. You’ll then need to attempt to ‘market’ it yourself (i.e., get some students to vote), tally the results, and conclude by creating a guest blog entry where you both detail and graphically show the results. Sounds deep and involved, but actually not too bad, and it can be offered to many students for completion, as the window of time the poll stays active will be set to 2 weeks.


'I think your son shows aptitude for becoming a pollster. After each Math answer he writes 'plus or minus 10%.''To complete:

1. Consider a poll question that is both appropriate and interesting that can be asked of students in this particular venue, followed by considering possible answers to the poll question (options). The questions cannot be yes/no, there has to be some variability to what is being answered.

2. Show me the questions/responses you’ve created, and we’ll hammer out the best path forward to get it approved (by me) and placed on the blog.

3. I’ll make you a temporary admin on this blog page, and you’ll input the poll in the correct spot in lieu of what is currently there.

4. Two weeks will go by, in which time you should gently push your classmates to answer the poll.

5. At the end of the two weeks, you’ll collect the data and create a new blog post (like the one you’re reading) showing the results and detailing your processes.

p.s. The results are tabulated on the blog, including charts and graphs.


Minecraft! (100 points)

Sweet! Minecraft! Yup. The task here is no small one, though. It’s not 5 minutes of messin’ around, you have to build a small town that functions both logistically and ‘financially’. Things to consider in a functioning town:

banks, police, fire fighting crews, hospital, government, schools, residences, roads, recreation, grocery, convenient stores, restaurants, lodging, import/export routes, and whatever else you may deem necessary. Obviously, there’s no ‘in-game’ measurement of a successful town built as there would be in a Sims game, but there will be judgement passed on potential and viability of your established town. If it is lacking, you will be informed and allowed to improve. If it is adequate/tip-top, then full points. The final resulting ‘towns’ will be judged by a panel of Minecraft ‘experts’ with the winning land receiving bonus 50 points.

Minecraft isn’t for everybody. You may find this ‘game’ exceedingly annoying. Then no need, plenty of other methods to get points. May be worth it for some of you, though, that find this an interesting endeavor. Good luck!

Economic Ed Lowdown (40 points and 25 points)

Another app on the iPad is called “Econ-ed lowdown” and is yet another app that challenges you to understand terminology in finances and, most importantly for us, living smartly within a budget. Upon launching the app, you’ll find 4 choices of topics you can study: Inflation, Cost of Credit, Budgeting, and Personal Finance Flashcards. While all 4 entries are interesting and worthy, this task is focused on the “Budgeting” part. Within that, there are 2 options I’d like you to investigate: “Experiment” and “Challenge”.

In “Experiment”, your task is to defeat the expert. You are given choices to make, and if you can wisely choose the correct option each time, then you’ll beat the expert! It’s not so simple! Some of the choices are very thought-provoking, and you’ll need to carefully consider what is in front of you. If you do manage to beat the expert, capture the evidence in a screenshot and post it in a new blog entitled, “Econ Lowdown”. 40 points your way!

Further, if you can ace the challenge questions (also fairly challenging), then post the screenshot of that as well in the same blog, for 25 MORE points. 65 riding on the successful completion of this one.



To complete:

1) Launch the “Econ-ed lowdown” app on your iPad.

2) Open the “Budgeting” option, then proceed to complete the “experiment” and/or the “challenge” tasks within. Each is separate. Take as many tries at it as you need.

3) Screen shot the success page(s)

4) Email me the screenshot(s) with the subject line being “your name-edconed lowdown challenge” and/or “you name-econed lowdown experiment”

Wise Money! (20 points)

This task is simple. An app on your iPad is entitled “Wisemoney”. It walks you through some basic personal finance questions. In order to progress through the game, you need to answer the questions correctly. You will not advance if you do not!


To complete:

1) Launch the app.

2) Begin playing the game. Carefully answer the questions.

3) When you’ve completed the game successfully, your screen will indicate that by claiming “Winner!”

4) Take a screenshot of that

5) Email the screenshot to me with the subject line being “your name-wise money”.



Financial Football (10-25 points)

One of the apps on the iPad is called “Financial Football” (I’ve seen many of you messing around with it from time to time), presented by Visa. It asks a variety of financial questions ranging from fairly simple, to challenging and not so obvious. There are 3 levels the game can be played at: Rookie, Pro, and Hall-of-Fame. In each, the game’s objective is drive the ball down the field and score, while stopping the other team from doing the same, all by answering questions correctly. All questions are personal finance based. Your task is this: score twice in the 10-minute version of the hall-of-fame level. Not the easiest thing to do. Incorrect answers definitely get in the way of success. If you can manage this feat, 25 points are yours. If you find that task too difficult to achieve, then for 15 points you can score just one touchdown in a half (10 minutes) on the hall-of-fame level, or for 10 points you can score at all in any level. You can only record one score into your grade with this task, but you can try as many times as you’d like! Once, however, you’ve decided to enter a score, it’s over, that’s what you’ll get, no improving it.

To complete:

1)Launch Financial Football app

2) Play game, choose teams (irrelevant to success, although I will look closely at who you’ve chosen to play as and against), and choose a 10-minute half.

3) Play the game by answering questions. Don’t dilly-dally, the clock keeps ticking and time is of the essence (it helps to win the toss; I wouldn’t blame you if you ensured that happened before you embarked playing).

4) Get your satisfactory score and send the screenshot of the score in an email to me with the subject line being “your name-financial football.”

Football Stats (185 points)

Big game coming up in a few weeks, where our powerful, beloved senior ladies are accepting the challenge of the young, inexperienced junior ladies in the Powderpuff extravaganza. A lot of you are playing, a lot of you are participating in other ways (attending it and rooting on your team, cheerleading, etc…), but if per chance you are not, here is an excellent opportunity for a solid cache of points: stats keeper. Whenever a football game is played at a high level in America, many stats are collected to be analyzed by the teams and their competitors (not to mention Fantasy Football players across America). It’s high time we started collecting and distributing those stats for this P2P event! Here is an exact exemplar of what you would need to collect in order to receive the points for this project:

Broncos vs Chiefs

Each and every statistic gathered here on this sheet is what would be expected of you if take this task on. All of them. If there is a learning curve for you in regards to what exactly all these measurements are, then I suggest a crash course or have a partner with you that DOES know what each and everything on the stat sheet given is. Yes! You read that right, this is a project that requires 2 individuals to work on it in order to collect the data and put together the stat sheet. It is a monumental task, one that would require an incredible amount of concentration through a football game, but looking for detail, not as a fan of the game. Interested?? You should definitely talk to me several days before the game if you’re looking to do this one, lots to think about, must be done satisfactorily.

Powderpuff 2011

Powderpuff 2011

To complete:

1. Determine who you would like to do this with and come to me to tell me you’re in, at which point we’ll discuss the procedure and protocols.

2. Gather the necessary materials to position yourself to collect the data during the game.

3. Actually show up to the game (early, to ensure you get to be on the field in the right spot to do this), with materials in hand (and partner) ready to gather data.

4. Gather the data.

5. Organize the data digitally on the exact fashion shown in the ESPN exemplar above.

6. Send the results to robert.letter@bvsd.org