On My Own: A Financial Management Success Tool for Students

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What is it?

On My Own is a financial simulation developed by the University of Tennessee Extension family economics specialists for middle school, high school, and college students. Participants are assigned a hypothetical career, income, and family situation. They are then challenged, as the primary income earner for their hypothetical household, to make purchases for an entire month (University of Tennessee Extension, 2022).

This past fall semester, undergraduate students in Agricultural and Extension Education (AEE) 325 participated in the On My Own Program. The utilization of this program in the course was highly successful. Course instructors plan to continue using the program in future semesters and hope to see this financial simulation used as an educational resource in other classes as well. Students valued the On My Own experience for its near-to-instruction experiential learning that bolstered their personal financial acumen. The program also served as an effective means for providing a unique and impactful learning experience to other similarly situated college students.


Students reported an increase in financial knowledge and behaviors, such as payroll deductions, reducing debt, communicating with parents/partners about finances, understanding concerns about money in adulthood, and paying more attention to their financial future overall. Additionally, many students reported they would use simulations for educational programs in their future professional careers.

I learned that it is important to take care of things in a certain order and to have priorities.”

Two research posters were developed evaluating the effectiveness of the On My Own Program. The first, A Financial Management Simulation for College of Agriculture Undergraduates, won first place in the “Distinguished Innovative Poster” category at the AAAE Southern Region Conference in February! The second poster, Using Financial Management Simulation to Promote Healthy Financial Futures, was presented at the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education Symposium.

Photos below show student interactions with program volunteers at their representative stations. Students enjoyed the in-person interactions and real-life simulations provided by volunteers!

Two women talk over a display table.Two people look at a display.


Bird, C. & Donaldson, J.L. (Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2023). Using Financial Management Simulation to Promote Healthy Financial Futures. [Poster presentation]. Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education Symposium, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Donaldson, J. L., Bird, C. L., Blosser, E. G., & Rahman, S. (2024, Feb. 4-6). A Financial Management Simulation for College of Agriculture Undergraduates. [Poster presentation]. American Association for Agricultural Education Southern Region Conference, Atlanta, GA, United States. [AAAE Southern Region Distinguished Innovative Poster Award]

University of Tennessee Extension (2022). Money website, family and consumer sciences