Saving money may not be the most glamorous of activities, but as stated by famed investor Warren Buffet in an article with Inc. Magazine, “The biggest mistake is not learning the habit of saving properly.” Unfortunately, most students don’t have the opportunity to learn about how to save money until well after their K-12 education. Parents often struggle to find the time to teach their kids about money and many schools have little to no curriculum to help students learn practical ways to earn, manage and save their money either.

Without a strong understanding of finances it can be daunting for parents and educators to help students understand the best practices in this important life skill. However, there are resources available. One great opportunity we recently learned about is the “Lights, Camera, Save!” contest for teenagers from 13 to 18 years old. This student video contest managed by the American Bankers Association teams up local banks with community partners to present personal finance lessons to teens and help them get creative making their own video about saving! Student videos from the Lights, Camera, Save contest have been shown at local film festivals and even been written about in the New York Times.

Teens submit a video up to 90 seconds long about saving, using money wisely, or paying for college. The contest awards three national prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 to the top videos each year. In addition to this, students learn best practices in saving money while getting creative and doing something fun! The contest promotes smart money skills and provides a creative outlet for students to internalize the importance of getting started saving early.

Check out if a bank in your area is supporting the contest and get involved today to help your students understand more about saving! Video submissions are open until December 3rd, 2019.

Check out past winners and learn more about Lights, Camera, Save! on their website.

Whether you think money is the root of all evil, or that it's the pathway to happiness, one thing is for certain, a strong knowledge of economics will help you gain and retain your money. Unfortunately, our education system doesn't have a strong national economics program, and most students won't be introduce to much economics until they go to college. But one program is changing that. Each year, The Council for Economic Education hosts the National Economics Challenge (NEC). This high school economics competition is where America's students go to show off their knowledge of how our world turns. 

Year in and year out over 10,000 of the nation’s brightest young minds test their knowledge of economic principles and how well they can apply them to real-world scenarios. NEC Participants are split into two divisions, the Adam Smith Division and the David Ricardo Division. The Adam Smith Division is for advanced placement, international baccalaureate, and honors students. The David Ricardo Division is for ‘semester general economics students’ taking part in the contest for the first time.

If you’re interested in getting involved, you’re going to be up against some stiff competition. So you better bring your "A" game! Here’s a look at the overall Adam Smith division winners – the Varsity division for the NEC.


Over the years, a few high schools have built economics programs that regularly put them in the top placements of the NEC. This is a testament to the long-term commitment from these schools. But each year there are also underdog schools who make it into the top 4 placements – schools that have not placed before, or are not regulars on the podium. Belmont High School in 2012, Richard Montgomery High School in 2013, Grissom High School 2014, Lexington High School 2015, Choate Rosemary Hall in 2016, and both Thomas Jefferson and Chattahoochee High Schools in 2017. All of these schools have shown up on the podium just once (with the exception of Choate Rosemary Hall making it in twice). This shows that there is a great opportunity for young teams in the NEC to step up and take on the tops!

For a look at some of the upcoming younger teams that might be moving up the ranks in future years, we turn to the David Ricardo Division – effectively the JV of the NEC. Here are the placements for the David Ricardo Division over the last 6 years:


Again we see some regulars making it into the top placements of the David Ricardo division, just like with the Adam Smith varsity division. Some schools seem to have worked out an excellent system of engaging young students in economics materials. These schools – like Carmel High School that has placed a team in the top 4 for five out of the last 6 years – continue to turn their younger students into strong economics masters.

So, what does this mean for you? Who should participants in the 2018 edition of the competition be on the lookout for? The easy answer would be to say the teams that won last year, but nothing in economics is that easy. To understand a little more about who the top of the tops are in each division, let’s look at the ICS Badge points for each school over the past 6 years (If you need a refresher on the way Badge Points are structured check out the Award Points rubric here). A first place award provides 1000 points, 2nd place 750, 3rd place 500, and 4th place 250. Runner ups and 5th or higher placements provide 100 points each, but we don’t have those for the NEC.

Here’s where things stand in the Adam Smith Division:


And the ICS Badge Points standings for the David Ricardo Division:


So, all in all, here are ICS’s top three teams to beat in 2018:

  • Carmel High School (Carmel, Indiana): After three years of having a team place inside the top four at Nationals, Carmel did not have one place at nationals last year. But where the strength of their program seems to lie is in recruiting new students. In five of the last six years, they have had teams place inside the top four of the David Ricardo Division. Last year, they had someone place seventh. But it’s clear they put some time and effort into the competition so don’t be shocked if Carmel has someone inside the top four of the Adam Smith division in 2018.
  • Mounds View High School (Arden Hills, Minnesota): With a team in the top two the last three years, and winning 1st place twice, the school could have a group of seniors looking to go out on top. Or those students could have graduated and move on to college. Considering their track record, if someone from Mounds View is in the competition, you better be on your top game because they’ve been on a run the last three years!
  • Bellaire High School (Bellaire, Texas): Could they be the San Francisco Giants of the National Economic Challenge? They have had the No. 1 team on even-numbered years (2014 and ’16). Like the Giants, they were nowhere to be seen during odd-numbered. Could the pattern continue in 2018? Who knows, but the possibility is something worth being aware of. Bellaire High School is definitely a team to watch for the 2018 season.


These three school appear to be the most serious contenders based on historical performance, but participants in the Adam Smith Division would be wise to keep an eye on the top four teams from the David Ricardo Division from 2017. If there is anything the top teams in a lower division like to do other than win, it is move up a division and win again. Don’t be shocked to see them make some noise in 2018.

Two other teams worth mentioning are The Harker School from San Jose, California, and the Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Harker School has had a team in the top four in three of the last six years. So while they may not always place high, they clearly have an established program.

The Iolani School took first in 2013 and third the year after, but hasn’t appeared in the top four since. However, they have placed inside the top ten. So, there is an established program with capable individuals. Overlook them at your own risk.

If you haven’t already done so, check out more about the National Economics Competition, and follow along with all the ICS news and updates on over 500 academic competitions by setting up your free account!