Money Minute

Financial Education in the Time of COVID-19 – 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a money crunch for many Tennessee families. Reduced work hours, furloughs, and unemployment threaten financial livelihoods forcing families to reevaluate normal habits of earning, spending, and saving. The financially fragile state of many Tennessee families before the pandemic has been exasperated by the current economic climate. When COVID-19 hit, over 800,000 Tennessee households were already one emergency away from a financial crisis (United Way of Tennessee, 2020). As the pandemic has continued, some Tennessee families face challenges in meeting their basic household needs. Navigating child care needs, obtaining adequate food resources, and paying for housing costs are top barriers currently facing both rural and urban Tennessee families (United Way of Tennessee, 2020). In Tennessee, unemployment claims remain high on historical levels. As of December 2020, Tennessee had seen 936,214 initial unemployment claims in the last 38 weeks. While claims decreased substantially after the initial government imposed lockdowns in the Spring, claims began to slightly increase toward the end of 2020 (Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 2020). Though the economic outlook for Tennessee looks positive, Tennessee families can expect recovery from the pandemic to be sporadic marked by periods of growth and stagnation (Economic Report to the Governor, 2021).


In response to new realities created by the pandemic, the UT Extension Consumer Economics Leadership Team, composed of four county Extension educators and Consumer Economics State Specialists, developed a series of money management videos for use on a variety of Extension social media channels. The primary goal of the videos was to provide research-based financial information during this time of financial hardship. Each Money Minute video offered a small piece of research-based information, additional resources, and a call to action motivating individuals to adopt a specific money management practice. The videos covered nine consumer economics topics including credit (3 videos), budgeting, insurance (2 videos), children and money, emergency preparedness, and frauds and scams. The video topics were identified by Extension educators on the Consumer Economics Leadership Team as topics relevant to adults in their local communities during COVID-19. The videos were designed to have broad appeal for a variety of adult audiences across the state.


UT Extension’s Money Minute video series proved to be an effective way to reach and engage Extension clientele through various social media channels during a global pandemic and financial crisis. The Money Minute videos have been viewed 469 times on the UT Extension FCS YouTube channel, driving total reach to 2,300 with a total watch time of 65.4 hours and 30 new subscribers. The videos have seen a combined reach of 5,591 people on Facebook including 650 engagements and 155 shares. Finally, they have been viewed 140 times on the UT Extension FCS Pinterest page and have received an average of 835 impressions each on Twitter. In addition to the Money Minute videos, Extension agents across the state were engaged in offering financial education with agents logging a total of 15,591 hours in financial education programming with 32,156 additional hours logged by volunteers. Over 52,000 total direct educational contacts were made by agents and volunteers through group meetings, programs, and other direct methods. An additional 5,865,853 Tennesseans were reached with the message of the importance of savings and financial responsibility through agent and volunteer media and exhibits. Highlighted learning and behavioral outcomes for adults were: 87% (n=2,387) increased their financial management skills. 97% (n=1,252) learned who to pay first if they can’t pay all their debts. 95% (n=1,557) identified ways to reduce spending. 93% (n=5,259) used strategies to manage their food budgets. 98% (n=1,283) identified ways to avoid being victimized by predatory practices or fraud.

Public Value Statement

The percentage of Extension clientele reporting saving rose to 80% in 2020 from 78% in 2019. As a result of UT Extension’s Consumer Economics programming, the estimated economic impact of clienteles’ savings for six months totals $2,897,183. The economic value of volunteer’s time given to financial education programming totals $728,965.

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