Thursday, May 6, 2010

Missouri Personal Finance Challenge

Yesterday at the Reynolds alumni center at the University of Missouri eight teams from high schools across Missouri got together to compete in the State Personal Finance Challenge.  Our department was invited to participate in this event as judges and scorekeepers, and we were so impressed with these bright high school students that we decided to dedicate this entire Financial Tip to them.

First – some background on the Personal Finance Challenge.  Missouri’s Personal Finance Challenge is sponsored by the Missouri Council on Economic Education (  On their website we read:

You can't read the news without seeing why a fundamental understanding of economics and finance is so important to the future of our youth and our country.

The admonishment of Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, that “the American economy is the eighth wonder of the world; the ninth is the economic ignorance of the American people,” is true.

Lou Harris and Associates recently polled and documented the extent of economic illiteracy among high school students and adults. The poll revealed that:

·         Fewer than half the students surveyed can define a budget deficit

·         Fewer than half of the adults and 1/3 of students understand what it means to say that the Gross Domestic Product has increased

·         Most adults thought that economists would recommend increasing regulations to reduce pollution rather than increasing the costs to those who pollute

·         Sixty-percent of high school students did not know that if rent controls are placed on apartments that eventually there will be fewer apartments to rent


The Missouri Council on Economic Education is dedicated to improving the quality of education received in the high schools across the state and to change statistics like you see above.  Mike English, along with his very talented team, put together this year’s challenge.

All high school students were invited to first participate in an online challenge.  Up to three teams from each school went on to participate in a regional competition, and the top two teams from each region were invited to come to yesterday’s state competition.

Here are the high Schools that were represented at the state competition:

·         Parkway Central

·         Liberty

·         Savannah

·         Humansville

·         Hannibal

·         Ozark

·         Rock Bridge Team A

·         Rock Bridge Team B

The teams competed in individual and team tests consisting of questions about credit, saving/investing and income/money management.  The two highest scoring teams faced off in a quiz bowl.  In the end, Rock Bridge Team A won (in a very close game) and, along with their teacher Susan Lidholm, are headed to Kansas City on May 20 to compete in the national competition!

Despite all the negative data we usually hear about high school student’s knowledge of economics and personal finance, all of the students that competed today showed that personal finance initiatives across the state are not just working, but working well.  We have no doubt that these students will go on to be industry leaders who will help change the economic future of their families and communities.

Congratulations again, Team A from Rock Bridge High School!  We look forward to seeing you and cheering you on in Kansas City!

Ryan H. Law, MS, AFC
Department of Personal Financial Planning


Office for Financial Success Director

University of Missouri Center on Economic Education Director


239 Stanley Hall
Columbia, MO 65211-7700

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