Saturday's weather was perfect for outdoor fun, but 250 Tucson teens thought the day was better spent inside talking about debt-to-income ratios, FICO scores, mortgages and retirement planning.

The 16 teams tested their knowledge of personal finance in the annual Financial Face-Off competition organized by the University of Arizona's Take Charge America Institute. The competition is the culmination to its yearly financial curriculum outreach program for middle and high school students.

Students participated in knowledge-based games including Financial Feud, Financially Savvy Millionaire and Budget Ball. Top-scoring teams from the morning rounds moved on to a housing competition, in which each team was given the same family scenario and they had to develop and present a financial plan.

Eva Nagore, 14, attends Alice Vail Middle School and has taken her school's economics class for two years.

Being knowledgeable about personal finances "helps you become a better person," Nagore said. "It teaches you how to be a more responsible individual with spending and credit."

Shaakira Edwards, 15, competed with Upward Bound team, a federally funded college prep program at Pima Community College. Through the Take Charge program, "we learn about the housing market, credit, how to use credit cards and how not to, how to make a spending plan."

The financially savvy Upward Bound teammates had trouble with only one decision Saturday: how to spend their prize money.

Winners of the annual Financial Face-Off competition

UA's Take Charge America Institute

• First place ($850 winner) - Holy Family Home Educators

• Second place ($650 winner) - Arizona College Prep Academy Griffins

• Third place ($500 winner) - San Miguel High School

• Housing finalists ($300 winners) - Upward Bound Pima Community College downtown campus team, Alice Vail Middle School, the San Miguel High Vipers and a second Arizona College Prep Academy team.

• Financial Jeopardy League ($200 winner) - Marana High School

• The remaining eight teams each earned $100 for participating. Prize money was donated by Hughes Federal Credit Union.

The institute provides research-based educational outreach programs to improve financial literacy and help consumers to make informed financial choices.

A major gift to the University of Arizona in 2003 from credit counseling agency Take Charge America established the institute. Located in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the institute has focused its efforts on educating young people how to manage their finances as they move into adult life.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at or at 573-4191.