July 14, 2024 Donate

Chelsea, Chelsea Education

Chelsea High School’s Personal Finance team again takes home the State Championship

This year’s Personal Finance State Champs: Austin McCaherty, Caroline Knight, Allie Browning-Perry, Thomas Olaveson. photo courtesy of Chelsea High School

For the seventh straight year, Chelsea High School has won the Michigan Personal Finance Challenge State Championship.

The CHS team made up of Austin McCaherty, Caroline Knight, Allie Browning-Perry and Thomas Olaveson were recently named State Champions in the challenge where students demonstrate their knowledge of Personal Finance by competing with other students across the state.

The event is organized and sponsored by the Michigan Council on Economic Education, Michigan Credit Union Foundation, Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and LMCU. Hearing the exciting news, the Sun Times News (STN) reached out to CHS teacher Matt Pedlow, who is the coach/advisor, to ask him about the team and their success.

“The students from Chelsea were successful because they spent quite a bit of time and effort to prepare for the state competition by practicing case studies after class,” Pedlow said.

He said these case studies are based on fictional families and students need to prepare a financial plan that revolves around retirement, debt, taxes, and savings, and then the students attempt to fix the mistakes that the family is making and prepare a financial plan that will increase their overall well being.

“The four CHS students did a masterful job at dissecting the case study to find the flaws and then coming up with a plan that made sense for the family,” Pedlow said of the state challenge.

One of the tricky components of this family, Pedlow said, was whether or not to take the pension that the employer was offering the wife. He said “Caroline Knight came up with a brilliant idea to calculate the total pension amount compared to a 401k investment.”

“The judges were also very impressed with how Austin attacked the mortgage to reduce the total interest paid,” Pedlow said. “All four of the students presented like professionals and I heard from multiple judges how impressed they were with all four of the kids.”

In any competition, once a team wins two or three championships, typically in a row or in short span of time, then they can be called a dynasty. CHS has won seven, so it truly is one. STN asked Pedlow about this.

“I think the reason that CHS has been successful is due to the hard work that the students put into preparing for the state finals,” he said. “This is the seventh straight year that Chelsea has won the state title, so I know that the other schools are very anxious to see us lose. But this year the students put a tremendous amount of effort into this competition.”

He said they all got together numerous times to work on other case studies, and part of the competition revolved around a quiz bowl, so they had to learn all of the relevant terminology and current economic indicators.

A sample question was “As of 2023, what percent of workers in the United States earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour?” (Answer- around 1.5 percent)

“This is a lot of work, but even though some of the students are involved in extracurriculars they really put in the effort needed to win the state title,” he said.

The team from CHS now moves on to the Personal Finance Challenge National Finals in Cleveland in May against over 40 of the top teams from around the U.S.