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Hard work and long-term planning pay off when taking the H&R Block Budget Challenge. Don’t believe us? Just ask Matt Tetreau from St. Clair High School in Michigan who won a $20,000 scholarship. We spoke with him to learn more about how he was so successful!
Growing up, did you see a need for financial literacy and education among your classmates?
I really think that it’s valuable information, especially since next year many of us will have student loans. Many kids my age don’t really know too much about student loans or living on their own. That’s what inspired me to take Mrs. Volz’s class where we took the Budget Challenge.
Where did your previous financial education come from? Did you take any classes prior to Mrs. Volz’s?
No I didn’t. I didn’t ever really talk to my parents about money either. I’m not much of a spender. During the simulation, I learned almost everything I know though through the class or on my own.
Do you think that the simulation taught you the real world money skills that you need to be successful?
Absolutely. I feel like I can budget on my own now, whereas before I don’t know if I would have been able to manage.
What do you think was the recipe to your success that helped you win the scholarship?
I checked the Budget Challenge every day and made sure that my budget was balanced. I tried a bunch of different strategies and tried to find the strategy that would save me the most money on my budget.
How often did you tweak your budget throughout the simulation?
In the beginning, I planned it all out by how I thought it’d work out — but that didn’t work because unexpected things came up in the Budget Challenge where I had to make refinements. We had one unexpected event to deal with, and our credit card expenses were pretty unpredictable at times. We didn’t know how much we’d get charged for the event, so we had to account for that as well.
Did you work together with your classmates through the simulation?
I actually did work with some. It was really valuable working together and bouncing ideas off each other. Some of my classmates proposed strategies that I didn’t initially think of — and I came up with ways to play that helped others. I think that sharing of ideas among a few of my classmates was part of my success.
What did your parents think when you told them you were taking the H&R Block Budget Challenge?
I told them about the simulation, and they were pretty into it as well. They were asking me what was going on and how I was doing.
How has winning this scholarship changed your post-graduation plans?
I always planned on going to college, but I didn’t plan how I would pay for it. So the scholarship definitely helps.
Where do you plan on going to college and using your scholarship?
I plan on going to Michigan or Grand Valley State and studying computer science. I want to probably be a computer programmer or similar type of job.
Would you recommend this simulation to other students? Why?
Going into this, I didn’t know much at all about budgeting. I learned so much information that will help me throughout my life. I honestly think that every high school student should participate in something like that or at least take a class related to it.
Learning financial literacy is fun with the H&R Block Budget Challenge. To find out more about how your teenagers or students can learn real-world money management skills without the real-world consequences, encourage teachers to register here for the next H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation.