Personal Finance teacher Susan Lidholm held the first informational meeting for the Personal Finance Challenge on Feb. 12. The state final is April 19 at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. The first place team represents Missouri at the National finals, which are at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska. There is still time to join the team, and there can be more than just one four-member team that can be active in the Challenge. For any further questions and information, Lidholm asked students to drop by her classroom.
Lidholm helps the RBHS teams win at a national level. The competition, described by the official website, is “an opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge of personal finance by competing with other students across the state.” Lidholm started entering students into the competition years ago when her son showed interest.
Senior Luke Harper was a member of last year’s team. He also plans on being a part of the team this year. The teams that go to state are only groups of four. With such small teams, each member holds an integral role in helping the team.
“We divided different sectors of personal finance between the four of us so we could have broader knowledge as a team. I specialized in investment and vehicles for investing,” Harper said. “I studied things such as Roth IRA’s, government and non-government bonds, and common stock.”
The team was very successful last year, placing second at nationals. Harper said the narrow brush from first place only makes him want to try even harder this year.
“After the end of each test they announced which teams were in the lead and we had the lead the whole time. The last part of the competition is the team in first vs the team in second in a 20 question buzzer session,” Harper said. “Unfortunately the team in second was very fast at hitting the buzzer and getting the questions right.”
A machine cannot work without all of its parts in place. Pranavkumar Patel was another member of the finalist team, self-describing himself as the “vocab-guy” on the team because of his natural memorization skills.
“For last year’s competition I was responsible for knowing a lot of insurance vocab.” Patel said. “And yeah, I’m pretty much responsible for insuring that we do well on the testing aspect.”
Before committing to the team, both Harper and Patel did not realize how much learning that is accomplished through the challenge. Both went in expecting not to learn more than what was learned in a regular personal finance class and were surprised by the depth of information that was ahead of them.
“For the team I read [a] short 100 page book about investing and learned a lot more about the minutia that goes into finance,” Harper said. “I was also able to learn from my teammates who all had their own unique knowledge of personal finance.”
Although Patel said there was a lot of studying, he said the overall experience was really fun and exciting.
“[My] favorite part would definitely be the actual competition because it feels good to use the information you have learned and actually apply it,” Patel said. “Also, our team dynamic was pretty good because we each had defined roles that made the competitive aspect fun.”