Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg visited West Point-Beemer High School today to recognize students who took part in the regional finals of the Personal Finance Challenge, to congratulate the West Point-Beemer team that took second place in the state, and to urge all students to learn all they can about personal finances in order to become financially responsible adults.
Regional finals of the Personal Finance Challenge, sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, took place April 20 in Omaha, Lincoln, and North Platte. Members of the teams that took first-, second-, and third-place statewide will receive college savings plan scholarships from the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST). Treasurer Stenberg is the NEST Trustee.
“One of the lessons of this year’s Personal Finance Challenge is that you don’t have to attend a large school in a big city to be academically successful. All three statewide winning teams were from relatively small communities. Johnson-Brock placed first in the state, your West Point-Beemer team placed second, and Burwell placed third,” Treasurer Stenberg told the high school business students. “The larger lessons in the Personal Finance Challenge are threefold: Follow your dreams, work hard, and don’t give up.”
Treasurer Stenberg made the remarks to students in Steve Swett’s business class at West Point-Beemer High School. Other students in the school joined in the audience. Members of the West Point-Beemer team that placed second in the statewide competition are Tyler English, Cody Ernesti, Chandler Huston, and Alex Ambriz. Each of them will receive a $1,000 NEST college savings plan scholarship.
Members of the other West Point-Beemer team that also competed in the regional finals, but did not place statewide, are Cole Schmidt, Cody Kuester, and Kristy Hansen.
“Whatever your dream,” Treasurer Stenberg told the students, “the key to making that dream a reality is to work hard and don’t give up. Continue to work hard especially when the going gets tough.” As the chief financial officer of the state, Stenberg also urged students to follow one more important piece of advice concerning personal finances. “Don’t spend more than you earn,” he said.
Stenberg will visit Johnson-Brock High School on May 9 and Burwell High School on May 10 to congratulate Personal Finance Challenge winners in those two schools and to speak to students about personal financial responsibility.
The Personal Finance Challenge competition, now in its seventh year, is sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, a non-profit organization that organizes education programs, courses, and educator workshops to improve students’ economic and financial literacy. It is housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has centers at UNL, UNO, UNK, Wayne State College, and Chadron State College.
The competition is a three-part process, starting with preliminary online testing that assesses students’ knowledge of money management, credit, spending, saving, and investing. Next, the top four scoring teams in each of the state’s three regions move on to face-to-face competition at the regional level. There, each team is given a hypothetical scenario and asked to prepare an oral presentation before judges. After the winning team in each region is selected, the online scores of the three teams are compared to determine the three statewide winning teams.
“My congratulations go to the winning teams on their excellent presentations in this year’s Personal Finance Challenge, and my thanks go to the more than 1,000 Nebraska high school students, guided by 60 teachers, who participated in preliminary events,” said Stenberg, one of three judges at the Omaha competition.
“The students impressed me with the quality of their presentations, as well as their depth of understanding of family finances and their poise and strong public speaking skills. They demonstrated a thorough understanding of complicated family financial matters and were able to bring resolution to issues that potentially could have led to family discord,” Stenberg said.
The NEST scholarships are part of a broader financial literacy initiative being undertaken by Treasurer Stenberg.
“As the chief financial officer for the State of Nebraska and as a parent and grandparent, I firmly believe that we must emphasize and promote financial literacy for young Nebraskans,” Stenberg said. “That education will help you and your parents dream for your future and save for your dreams. As you come to understand basic economic and personal finance principles, you will be better able to plan for your own financial future and to lead Nebraska to a bright future,” Stenberg told the students.
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 261,000 accounts, including 84,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.