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A financial Super Bowl

By Jason Alderman

As it does every year, Super Bowl mania is sweeping the nation. In a recent survey of Visa Inc. cardholders, more than 60 percent said they would be inviting family and friends over to watch the game, spending an average of about $170 on refreshments. How do your plans and budget stack up?

Once all of the chips have been eaten and the stadium lights have gone out in Tampa Bay on February 1, you don't necessarily have to banish football from your mind until next fall: You can keep the football spirit alive year round and at the same time teach your kids some valuable lessons about managing their personal finances by playing a game called Financial Football.

Jointly developed by the National Football League and Visa, Financial Football is a lively interactive game that teaches personal financial management skills to young adults. It can be played for free on the Web or downloaded to your cell phone and played at any time.

Financial Football combines the structure and rules of the NFL with financial education questions of varying difficulty. You can play it with your kids one-on-one or by forming teams. Racing against the clock, teams gain yards and score points for answering questions correctly, and lose yardage for wrong answers.

Players pick home and visitor teams from among the 32 AFC and NFC teams, then choose the game length and level of question difficulty to make the game either more or less challenging. There is a standard edition for teenagers and a more advanced version for college-age young adults.

Since first being introduced a few seasons ago, Financial Football has really caught on. The online version has been downloaded more than 200,000 times and 19 state governments have distributed the game to all their high schools, making it a component of their financial education curricula.

Here are a few of the many questions Financial Football players are asked:

  1. Before entering your credit card number online, first make sure: (a) The website is secure; (b) You understand the site's privacy statement; (c) You trust the company you're buying from; (d) All of the above.
  2. Who is NOT allowed to access your credit report? (a) A potential landlord; (b) Your employer; (c) your relatives; (d) financial institutions.
  3. Which of the following is true about bankruptcy: (a) Bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years; (b) Bankruptcy gets rid of all debts; (c) Bankruptcy allows me to protect my property by hiding it or giving it away; (d) All taxes are dischargeable when you file for bankruptcy.
  4. Which of the following is NOT important in determining your credit-worthiness? (a) Your current debt; (b) Your current salary; (c) Your past credit payment history; (d) Your parents' income.

How many did you get right? If you answered four correct, you scored a touchdown. Getting three right is a field goal. Only two is a punt. And one or fewer is a fumble. The correct answers are: 1(d); 2(c); 3(a); and 4(d).

To learn more about Financial Football, play the game or download a free copy, go to Visa's free personal financial management site, Practical Money Skills for Life (

Regardless of how much you plan to spend for your Super Bowl gathering, if anything will make learning about money management fun and get your kids engaged in this vital subject, it's Financial Football.

Jason Alderman directs Visa's financial education programs. Sign up for his free monthly e-Newsletter at

This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how tax laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

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