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iOme winners from left to right: Jonathan Sessions, Kayla McMurry, Jessica TenBroeck, Ken Baker, Chelsea Padgham, Thea Aub, and Davis Fry. Team member Margaret Ross is not pictured.A plan developed by UT students that would help remove barriers and create incentives for the millennial generation to save more money has won a national financial literacy challenge.

The UT Economics Club won the 2012-2013 iOme Challenge, which includes a $12,000 cash prize and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to present their entry to members of Congress and other policy makers at the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) conference this April.

This is the first time that UT has participated in the four-year-old event. Ken Baker, a senior lecturer in the UT Department of Economics, was the team’s faculty advisor and will receive a $2,000 cash prize.

To view UT’s winning essay and video, visit the iOme website.

The iOme Challenge is an effort to address the nation’s financial crisis and also inspire college students to save for retirement. iOme (I-Owe-Me) is a financial literacy organization founded in 2009 by a group of academics, business professionals, and volunteers.

For the contest, participants were asked to imagine they were members of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and develop a policy proposal to be introduced in Congress this year that would create incentives and remove barriers, such as high student loans, to financial savings for the millennial generation.

Teams were required to submit an essay and a short video that would help sell their plan to their peers, the public, and the members of Congress. The plan also had to be well researched and politically and economically feasible. The judges included economists, a political scientist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and a former White House director of events.

UT’s winning entry consisted of a three-step strategy—Think, Plan, Save. The Think strategy encouraged millennials to think more about their financial future and how to reach their goals. Much like the “Got Milk” ad campaign, it involved celebrity endorsers encouraging millennials to begin that thought process.

The Plan strategy involved an increase in government spending in education, particularly toward personal finance courses, at both the high school and collegiate levels.

The Save strategy involved the creation of a government website, The website would explain, in simple terms, financial and retirement terms and concepts. It also would combine all of an individual’s retirement accounts into one easy-to-access place, including personal retirement accounts, public retirement plans, and Social Security. This would provide a more accurate picture of an individual’s retirement. The site would then perform simple calculations that would help the user determine monthly retirement income by generating different savings scenarios.

The UT team members were team leader Jessica TenBroeck of Ellenboro, North Carolina.; Davis Fry of Chattanooga; Kayla McMurry of Knoxville; Jonathan Sessions of Memphis; Chelsea Padgham of Spruce Pine, North Carolina; Thea Aub of Madison, Connecticut; and Margaret Ross of Hendersonville, Tennessee.


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