Personal Finance (PBL)

Category: Objective Test
Type: Individual


60-minute test administered during the NLC.

Objective Test Competencies: Personal Financial Planning Process; Time Value of Money Principles and Calculations (Present Value, Future Value); Personal Financial Statements (Balance Sheet, Budgets, Income & Expense Statement); Individual Income Tax Principles, Calculation, and Filing; Financial Services and Saving Options; Housing and Automobile Purchase Decisions; Credit Concepts; Insurance Concepts (Life, Health, Property, Disability); Basic Investment Planning (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds); Retirement and Estate Planning

Skills: Knowledge of personal finance is an essential life skill. This event recognizes PBL members who understand basic financial planning principles and demonstrate knowledge in practical financial planning problem solving.


Objective Test

Objective Test Guidelines

  • No materials may be brought to the testing site.
  • Electronic devices must be turned off and out of sight.
  • Financial calculators may be used for accounting, finance, and analysis & decision making events; calculators will be provided for all other events.

The general event guidelines below are applicable to all national competitive events. Please review and follow these guidelines when competing at the national level. When competing at the state level, check the state guidelines since they may differ.


  • Dues: Competitors must have paid PBL national and state dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 15 of the current school year.
  • NLC Registration: Participants must be registered for the NLC and pay the national conference registration fee in order to participate in competitive events.
  • Deadlines: The state chair, or designee, must register each state competitor on the official online entry forms by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • Each state may submit three (3) individuals in all events requiring only objective tests and two (2) individuals or teams for all events that require a pre-judged or performance component.
  • Each competitor can compete in two (2) events.
  • Each competitor must compete in all parts of an event for award eligibility.
  • A team shall consist of two or three members. Exceptions are Parliamentary Procedure which must be a team of four or five members, and LifeSmarts which must be a team of two members.

Repeat Competitors

Competitors are not permitted to compete in an event more than once at the national level unless one of the following circumstances applies:

  • Modified Events: A competitor may compete in the same event when the event is modified. Note, if the only modification is a name change, competitors may not compete in the renamed event.
  • Team Events: One (1) competitor of the team may have competed in the same event at one (1) previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice in the event at the national level.
  • Chapter Events: Competitors may compete in a chapter event more than once (Community Service Project).
  • Individual Entry: A competitor who competed as an individual entry in a team event at the national level may compete in the same event a second time as part of a team, but not a second time as an individual.
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Two (2) competitors of the team may have competed in this event at a previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice at the national level.
  • Pilot Event: Competition in a pilot event does not disqualify a competitor from competing in the same event if it becomes an official competitive event. The participant may compete in another event as well as a pilot event.

Breaking Ties

  • Objective Tests: Ties are broken by comparing the correct number of answers to the last 10 questions on the exam. If a tie remains, the competitor who completed the test in a shorter amount of time will place higher. If this does not break the tie, answers to the last 20 questions will be reviewed and determine the winner.
  • Objective and Production Tests: The production test scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Objective Tests and Performances: The objective test score will be used to break a tie based on the tie-breaking criteria of objective tests.
  • Reports/Projects and Performances: The report/project scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Performances: Judges must break ties and all judges’ decisions are final.

National Deadlines

  • State chair/adviser must register all competitors for NLC competitive events online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All prejudged components (report PDFs, resume/letter of application PDFs, and project URLs) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All URLs and PDFs for prejudged projects and reports will be submitted by the state adviser via the competitive events registration form.
  • All production tests must be received at FBLA-PBL by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.
  • All production tests must be uploaded online.
  • State chair/adviser may make name changes only (no additional entries) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the first Friday in June. Competitor drops are the only changes allowed after this date and onsite.

National Awards

The number of competitors will determine the number of winners. The maximum number of winners for each competitive event is 10. Only one (1) award is given to the schools competing in chapter events (Community Service Project and Local Chapter Annual Business Report).

Additional Materials

  • Financial calculators may be brought to objective testing and used for any accounting, finance, or analysis & decision making events.
  • Certain events may allow the use of additional materials. Please refer to event guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

FBLA‑PBL meets the criteria specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act for all participants who submit a special needs form.

Recording of Presentations

No unauthorized audio or video recording devices will be allowed in any competitive event. Participants in the performance events should be aware the national association reserves the right to record any performance for use in study or training materials.

Graduate Students

Graduate students may compete in all PBL events.


General Competitive Events Tips
Event Tips
Format Guide

Website Resources
Personal Financial Planning Process
1. Define and discuss the relationship between “Standard of Living” and “Quality of Life”.
2. Define average propensity to consume, wealth, Financial Assets, Tangible Assets.
3. Define money, utility, opportunity cost.
4. Determining your long-term, intermediate and short-term financial goals.
5. Relate the different stages of the adult life cycle to your financial planning process.
6. Discuss the environmental factors that affect the personal financial planning process (government, business, and consumers).
7. Identify and discuss the economic cycles and how it affects the personal financial planning process (expansion, peak, contraction, trough, inflation, rule of 72, Consumer Price Index, purchasing power.)
8. Discuss how personal financial planning affects your career planning.
Time Value of Money Principles and Calculations (Present Value, Future Value)
1. Explain the concept of time value of money.
2. Calculate interest rates and interest earned over a period of time.
3. Calculate interest rates and interest earned over a period of time.
4. Define annuity, compounding, and discounting.
5. Apply the Rule of 72 to determine how long it takes to double an investment’s value.
6. Explain amortized loans and be able to calculate payment amounts.
Personal Financial Statements (Balance Sheet, Budgets, Income & Expense Statement)
1. Explain the steps to preparing personal financial statements and what is included on each, including a cash budget, a cash flow statement, a balance sheet, and an income and expense statement.
2. Define and list liabilities (current and long term), assets (fixed, liquid), net worth, income, expenses (fixed and variable), sunk costs.
3. Compute ratios including: debt ratio, current ratio and liquidity ratio.
4. Define take-home pay, discretionary income, insolvency, budget, deficit, surplus and sunk costs.
Individual Income Tax Principles, Calculation, and Filing
1. Identify and discuss the different types of taxes, including: excise tax, property taxes (personal property and real estate), estate tax, social security tax, income tax, gift tax, inheritance tax and sales tax.
2. Identify and discuss the different types of income: earned income, investment income, passive income, taxable income.
3. Define and identify exclusions, deductions, the standard deduction, itemized deductions, exemptions, tax credits and capital gain or loss.
4. Identify the different tax forms and filing statuses. (1040EZ, 1040, 1040A and single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household. Etc.)
5. Discuss the differences in tax avoidance and tax evasion.
6. Identify sources of assistance with filing taxes.
Financial Services and Saving Options
1. Identify and define types of financial services. (Savings accounts, payment services, borrowing alternatives, etc.)
2. Identify services provided by financial institutions. (Direct deposit, automatic payments, ATM, debit card, etc.)
3. Discuss the differences among commercial banks, saving and loan associations, mutual savings banks, credit unions, insurance companies, investment companies, finance companies and mortgage companies.
4. Compare saving plans. (Regular saving accounts, CDs, interest-earning checking, money markets, U.S. savings bonds, etc.)
5. Define and calculate rate of return, compounding and annual percentage yield.
6. Define and explain the FDIC.
7. Be able to do a bank reconciliation.
Housing and Automobile Purchase Decisions
1. Identify wise buying techniques. (Compare brands, compare sources, read and evaluate label information, etc.)
2. Compare leasing or renting versus buying.
3. Determine the actual cost of ownership – purchase price, financing, insurance, license, registration, taxes, closing costs and depreciation.
4. Discuss the process of determining what you can afford.
5. Discuss the different housing options. (Apartments, condominiums, cooperative, single-family, multifamily and manufactured homes.
6. Discuss factors related to financing a home mortgage. (Interest rates, points, term, appraisals, title insurance, etc.)
Credit Concepts
1. Identify and discuss uses and misuses of credit and the advantages and disadvantages of using credit
2. Compare open-end versus closed-end credit.
3. Identify and discuss sources of consumer credit. (Commercial banks, consumer finance companies, credit unions, life insurance companies, federal savings banks, etc.)
4. Identify and discuss the different types of loans and credit cards
5. Explain the “Five Cs of credit.” (Character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions).
6. Name the three major credit reporting agencies. (Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax)
7. Understand the cost of credit. (annual percentage rates, interest)
8. Discuss the implications of identity on credit and how do you protect yourself.
9. Identify the different types of bankruptcies.
Insurance Concepts (Life, Health, Property, Disability)
1. Discuss why people need and purchase insurance.
2. Define, insurer, policy, policy-holder, premium, coverage, insured, risk, peril, hazard and negligence.
3. Discuss risk management. (Risk avoidance, risk reduction, risk assumption, risk shifting).
4. Discuss how to determine your insurance coverage needs and factors that affect rates.
5. Discuss liability issues as they relate to insurance claims. (Who pays for what in case of an accident or claim).
6. Determine the different types of insurance. (HMO, PPO, vision, dental, COBRA, long-term care, home owners, etc.)
Basic Investment Planning (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds)
1. Identify basic investment alternatives.
2. Understand the nature of securities, markets, distinguishing between organized exchanges and the over-the-counter market.
3. Identify legislation that protects investors.
4. Identify various sources of investment information.
5. Describe how safety, risk, income, growth, and liquidity affect your investment portfolio.
6. Identify factors that can reduce investment risk.
7. Evaluate and compare bonds and other debt investment options. Calculate a bond’s current yield, yield to maturity, and present value
8. Identify and compare the features of common and preferred stock. Identify basic shareholder rights and the means by which corporations make distributions to shareholders.
9. Describe how stocks are bought and sold.
10. Discuss the importance of diversification and how it reduces investment risk.
11. Identify and evaluate the characteristics of mutual fund investments..
Retirement and Estate Planning
1. Analyze current assets and liabilities for retirement and estimate retirement living costs.
2. Determined planned retirement income and develop a balanced budget based on that income.
3. Identify the personal and legal aspects of estate planning.
4. Compare various types of wills and trusts.
5. Identify and discuss what (if any) Social Security benefits will be available at retirement.


PBL Program of Study
Accounting & Finance


States may submit up to 3 entries.
Competitors must be registered for NLC and pay registration fee.
Competitors must pay dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 15.


Test: 1 hour