On My Own


As the COVID-19 Pandemic wears on, unemployment rates have finally dropped from 6.9% in October 2020 to 4.2% by October 2021. This recovery is encouraging; however, we continue to experience other financial side effects of an ongoing pandemic. Supply chain issues, worker disruptions due to illness, and inflation have driven food prices up approximately 6% from November 2020 according to a USDA report. Inflation is currently outpacing increases in household income. Some analysts have predicted another 5% rise in food costs in the early part of 2022. With this increase in expenses, Tennesseans must rely on their financial management skills more than ever before. Families are struggling to keep up in this turbulent economic landscape. Youth are not immune to the struggle and are greatly impacted by their family’s financial decisions whether good or poor. The On My Own program and UT Extension’s youth financial education initiatives help youth understand how financial decisions are made and how to access resources and information that will allow them to make sound financial decisions in the future.


The On My Own program addresses issues of financial literacy and financial capability within a dynamic and rich simulated environment. Now more than ever, the program’s ability to educate youth to identify and quantify assets and resources provides a strong understanding of what it takes to get by in a lean financial environment. Educating youth about all resources available to them and practicing money management skills allows participants in our programs to make smart choices and handily manage a less than optimal income. 2020 saw the development of a virtual simulation meant to serve youth in pandemic times when we could not meet face-to-face. In 2021, that technology has continued to be useful as most situations may not yet take place in-person. Many agents are using a hybrid approach and through this method are reaching populations they have not reached in the past. The revision of the 2014 materials has continued and partnerships have been made to extend the reach of the program. The new materials are expected mid 2022. The reach of the program will be amplified by the distribution of the new materials. 2021 also brought with it many new initiatives building on what we learned from the virtual On My Own platform and needs expressed by county agents.

Response-Other Youth Initiatives

County agents and other partners expressed the need for a variety of youth materials from elementary ages through high school. Consequently, elementary youth became a focus of 2021. The development and delivery of a pilot program, entitled Money Week, with Dr. Chris Sneed and Dr. Ann Berry brought forward an opportunity for an extended pilot with funding from the TN treasurer’s office. Through this effort, we were able to add lessons to and bolster our elementary curriculum, Money is Elementary, sharing components of ME with the Jack and Jill Foundation for use in their activities. Interest in youth lessons of all ages has led to the development of a dedicated youth space on the FCS resources page which will house FCS youth lessons and youth program materials to allow accessible materials and resources for all FCS and 4-H agents in Tennessee. Thanks to the help of Karen Sergent, Cris Miramontes, and Joel Clark, this should soon become a functioning resource repository. The emphasis on youth led to a partnership with 4-H specialists to create an FCS youth ambassador program designed to educate older youth in FCS content and establish mentoring relationships with younger 4-Hers. Additionally, 2021 saw the completion and publication of the ICARE project with Dr. Katie Conrad which addressed the social and emotional learning needs of youth. The reach of our youth consumer education content and efforts working with other knowledge areas to produce youth content has been expanded through these initiatives impacting a broader youth audience.


Results based on reporting in SUPER for On My Own and other related initiatives:

·      89% of participants gained an understanding that continuing education/training is important.

·      91% of participants gained an understanding that occupation choice and education affect lifestyle.

·      87% of participants decide to plan for future lifestyle.

·      89% of participants gain an understanding of how much money it takes to get by.

·      86% of participants learned how having a family can affect their lifestyle.

·      81% of participants better understood their parents’ concerns about money.

·      96% of participants learned the difference between wants and needs.

·       87% of participants increased their financial management skills.

·       71% participants learned how to keep a transaction register

·       87% participants learned how occupation and income will affect their lifestyle.

·       100% of participants better understand the relationship between education, occupation, and family situations regarding income and lifestyle goals.

·       83% of participants learned how important their career choice is to their financial future.

·       82% of participants increased their understanding of the impact education can have on future earnings.

Additionally, long-term goals were assessed based on Extension educator and participant evaluations of the digital delivery:

·      96% of participants have the tools to better explore career choices.

·      99% of participants say they are more likely to save.

·      96% of participants say they are more likely to be banked.

·      98% of participants report they are more likely to pursue education or training after high school.

·      98% of participants are more likely to discuss financial issues with parents.

·      100% of participants report they have a better understanding of how to plan their spending.

·      100% of participants believe they will be better equipped to make financial decisions in the future.

Public Value Statement

On My Own had 2,182 contacts in 2021 with an estimated 10,910 hours of agent and volunteer time.

The economic value of volunteers’ time given to financial education programming totals $53,748. Overall, the total economic impact of Consumer Economics programming is estimated to be $120,320,945.

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