Virginia Tech®home

Travis Mountain

Assistant Professor
206B Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061


  • Financial and Economic Well-being


Ph.D., Family Resource Management, The Ohio State University, 2015

M.S., Consumer Behavior and Family Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008

B.S., Consumer Science with a concentration in Personal Finance, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004


My area of concentration as an Extension specialist is the financial and economic well-being of the households and communities of Virginia. Current research interests include life insurance adequacy, food security, and debt behavior including mortgage selection and student loans.  I am also a member of the NC 2172 multistate research team focusing on “behavioral economics and financial decision-making and information management across the lifespan.”  The team is now working on a post-secondary education financing project and has future plans to examine Social Security and retirement.

Current Initiatives

Master Financial Education Volunteer Program (MFEV):  Educating volunteers to educate Virginia households on issues regarding financial planning. I am currently working with several extension agents to update the curriculum which consists of 24 topics related to personal finance. Examples of curriculum topics include financial planning, getting out of debt, and preparing for retirement. 

Agriculture and Enterprise Management: I incorporate household financial topics into Extension material that is traditionally farm-oriented. I help to combat issues farmers face, or could face, by 1) encouraging them to pay attention to their household financials in addition to their business financials, and 2) helping farmers  through farm transitions by providing resources to help them understand the steps necessary to sell or to pass down to a younger generation.

Poverty Simulation: A series of simulations hosted by VCE and Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) that educated participants on the context those living in poverty and the decisions they face. Survey results showed increased empathy for those living beneath the poverty line and an altered view of the impact social services, and other resources, have for those living in poverty.

Kids Market Place: A program offered through VCE to educate elementary school children on the financials of adult life. Kids role-play by choosing careers and making budgeting decisions,  as well as receiving "paychecks" and other information relevant to household financials, such as marital status and parenthood. Results revealed that students increased their knowledge of money, how to make it, and how to make informed monetary decisions.

Research Goal

My research goal is to increase understanding of how consumers make financial decisions. Increased understanding creates a foundation for which to develop, implement, and evaluate educational initiatives at the school, organizational, and household levels. 

Current Research Objectives

  • Determine the effectiveness of high school financial and/or economic education
  • Examine the differences in food security between graduates and dropouts of a nationwide asset-building program
  • Explore the extent to which life insurance is being underinsured and identify characteristics of people likely to be underinsured
  • Discover the relationship between housing, student loans, and family formation decisions
  • Identify whether or not behavioral economics can assist in influencing the amount of student debt individuals believe to be rational
  • Evaluate the utilization of long-term car insurance and create a model to examine characteristics of those over and underinsured
  • Discern the role that paid sick leave has on the decision to get a flu vaccine


The Ohio State University

Consumer Decision Making

The Consumer Perspective


University of Florida

Family Financial Management

Family Insurance Planning

Family Tax Planning

Financial Management for Dental Students

Principles of Family, Youth and Community Sciences


University of Wisconsin-Madison

Independent Study for Personal Finance Students



  • Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 2015 - Present
  • Research and Teaching Associate, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2011 - 2015
  • Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2008 - 2011
  • Interim Financial Management State Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Extension, 2007
  • Project Assistant, Department of Consumer Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004 - 2007

Honors and Awards

Robert O. Hermann Outstanding Dissertation Award (2016). American Council on Consumer Interests.

AARP Public Policy Institute's Financial Services and the Older Consumer Award (2016). American Council on Consumer Interests.

Hayes Forum Research Competition 3rd place Winner (2014).  The Ohio State University.