Jan 22, 2021

NGPF Podcast: NGPF Payback Challenge National Winners Alexandra Hovdestad and Andrew Tomlinson


Each fall, the NGPF Payback Challenge provides students across the country with the opportunity to earn college scholarships with $50,000 awarded. This week, you will hear from our two National Winners, Alexandra Hovdestad of Lenape High School (Medford, NJ) and Andrew Tomlinson of Mora High School. They will share what they learned from the NGPF Arcade game, Payback, and how it has influenced their college plans in the future. In our Current Events section, Yanely discusses a financing product, Buy Now, Pay Later and in Office Hours, Tim takes a question about no-fee index funds. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~0:25 Introduction
  • 0:25~8:38 Current Events with MissBeHelpful: Buy Now, Pay Later
  • 8:38~10:17 Introducing Today’s Guests: 2020 Payback Challenge National Winners 
  • 10:17~18:32 Alexandra Hovdestad
    • 10:17~11:27 Alexandra’s background and the school she attends
    • 11:27~12:14 Experience learning in the hybrid model
    • 12:14~15:10 On playing Payback
    • 15:10~15:52 Learning about credit during her personal finance class
    • 15:52~18:32 Writing a poem for her submission
  • 18:32~19:00 A word from NGPF
  • 19:00~25:36 Andrew Tomlinson
    • 19:00~20:44 Andrews’s background and the school he attends
    • 20:44~22:18 On playing Payback
    • 22:18~23:47 Experience taking a personal finance elective
    • 22:18~25:36 Planning and recording the video submission
  • 25:36~29:53 Office Hours: Is there a catch to no-fee index funds? 
  • 29:53~31:03 Conclusion

Notable Quotes:

  • “Definitely the dinner one [was most memorable], with going out with friends every Friday because I know I chose the once a month option. Sometimes what’s best for you financially isn’t the best for you socially and it’s weird trying to balance that.” -Alexandra

  •  “My first thought [playing Payback] was, I probably know what I’m doing. So I was clicking through options and I was thinking pretty thoroughly. But despite my thorough thinking the first time I played, halfway through the second year, my social life and happiness had gone to zero and so I was like, wow I don’t know what I’m doing” -Andrew



About the Authors

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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