CREATING HEALTHY FINANCIAL FUTURES FOR 4-H YOUTH
B. Alfonso, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, 250 West County Home Road, Sanford, FL 32773
Situation: For many adolescent youth, the concept of paying bills, supporting a family and acquiring services for living independently is a mystery. Unless youth are enrolled in specialized or extracurricular activities emphasizing financial management, they are often left at a deficit when it comes to navigating financially in the real world. The Living on My Own curriculum was developed by UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Program, to provide an opportunity for 6th-8th grade youth to understand the skills needed to make wise financial decisions. As a result of the program 1) 70% of youth will demonstrate knowledge of the costs of independent living, 2) 70% of youth will report thinking more about their purchases before spending money. Methods: A total of 4 lessons (30-45 minutes each) were presented in the classroom to 24 youth. Lessons included managing a checking account, using credit and debit and understanding paychecks and deductions. The capstone experience is the 10 station simulation (2 hours+) which prompts youth to make the following decisions related to: housing, transportation, banking, groceries, utilities, entertainment, insurance, child care, clothing, and charitable contributions. In partnership with Seminole County Public Schools Volunteer Program, local businesses including housing, utilities, entertainment and government housing assistance provided volunteers who hosted the stations and interacted with students. Results: 70% (17/24) of youth indicated that they improved their knowledge about the cost of living on their own. 66% (16/24) of youth stated that they are very likely to think more about their purchases before spending money. Conclusion: As a result of the program, youth are better prepared to make financial decisions pertaining to independent living and have increased likelihood to be contributing members to the local economy.