UT Extension Financial Education Programs…Real. Life. Solutions. for Tennessee Families
by Laura Stephenson, Assistant Dean, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences

Everyday financial decisions can be momentous for Tennesseans when faced with multiple money challenges. Medical bills, credit card debt, or other expenses can quickly overwhelm individuals or families with low wage jobs or small fixed income retirements.

UT Extension financial education programs are designed to help Tennessee families make wise financial decisions. Our agents and specialists work across the state to help families make spending plans, emerge from bankruptcy with the skills to manage money successfully, find the resources to purchase their first home, or avoid being the victim of financial fraud. UT Family and Consumer Sciences financial management specialists, Dr. Ann Berry and Dr. Dena Wise, provide statewide leadership for program content and evaluation.

In 2014, through participation in these financial education programs, Tennesseans estimated saving a total of $19,049,516 and reducing debt by a total of $7,155,021. UT Extension educators reported 134,567 individual contacts with youth and adults to teach financial responsibility and the importance of saving money. Our educators logged 20,808 hours in financial education programming with 10,332 additional hours contributed by volunteers.

For adults participating in UT Extension programs,
  • 94 percent (n=2,740) reported setting new savings or investment goals.
  • 84 percent (n=899) became more aware of the importance of starting to save and invest early in life.
  • 85 percent (n=575) better understood credit reporting and scoring.
  • 93 percent (n=883) identified ways to avoid being victimized by predatory practices or fraud.
For youth programs,
  • 90 percent (n=2,550) of Tennessee Saves youth and 85 percent (n=8,327) of On My Own participants learned how education will affect the kind of job they can get.
  • 93 percent (n=4,242) learned the difference between wants and needs. 89 percent (n=7,053) learned how much money it takes to get by.
  • 87 percent (n=9,121) learned how having a family can affect their lifestyle.
  • 83 percent (n=8,808) planned to get more education after high school after participating in the On My Own simulation.
  • 89 percent (n=2,810) became more aware of the importance of starting to save and invest early in life.

UT Extension’s financial education programs include…

Tennessee Saves, a partnership with local financial institutions to teach basic financial skills and encourage young and older Tennesseans to save and build wealth.

Managing in Tough Times, finding ways to get by for families who work but continue to struggle financially.

Personal Finance Training for Teachers, encouraging classroom teachers to integrate financial education into elementary and middle school curricula and preparing them to teach the high school personal finance course required for graduation.

Homebuyer Education, programs to help first-time homebuyers successfully manage home purchase and home ownership.

Bankruptcy Counseling, assisting prospective filers to find alternatives to bankruptcy, and Debtor Education to make sure filers exit bankruptcy with the skills they need to remain financially stable.

Love Your Money, a free online course developed by UT Extension and assigned by colleges and universities nationwide to help their students learn basic financial education principles.

On My Own©, an engaging financial education simulation that lets middle and high school students imagine that they are adults budgeting their take home pay to provide for the needs of their household.

LifeSmarts™, an online competition that teaches high school students consumer skills, and LifeSkills, an interactive consumer competition for elementary and middle school students.