Budgeting and Personal Finance Classes in Relationship Education

The Issue: How to deliver effective budgeting and personal finance classes within healthy relationship education.

Who: Deborah Gunn is the program manager for First Things First’s federally funded Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grant. First Things First is an award-winning not-for-profit dedicated to strengthening families in Hamilton County, Tennessee through relationship education, collaboration and mobilization.

First Things First relationship educationWhat: Through its HHS-ACF grant, First Things First collaborates with community organizations and businesses to implement workshops that encourage and support healthy relationships. These relationship classes are for married couples, teens, non-married expectant parents, engaged couples, and singles, as well as married couples in distress.

How:

  • First Things First offers a variety of marriage and relationship education programs. Classes are different lengths for different audiences. When including a module on budgeting or personal finance, they use Money Habitudes cards.
  • The Money Habitudes activity generally lasts an hour. Participants understand their own money personality an learn to talk about money.
  • In “Passionately Married,” an 8-hour course for married couples, there are four modules of two hours. Money Habitudes is used during the two-hour section on personal finance and financial literacy. Couples also do a joint budget.
  • Money Habitudes is used in the following relationship education classes:
    • Preparing for Marriage
    • Sex, Lies and Relationship Drama
    • Secrets to Lasting
    • How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk/Jerkette
  • Classes and teaching methodologies are drawn from a number of relationship curricula, including the Dibble Institute’s Connections: Dating and Emotions, PREP, Couple Communication, and Family Wellness. First Things First customizes much of its relationship education content from these programs. Money Habitudes is added to these marriage and relationship programs as a relationship-and-finances module.

Why:

  • “When I went through evaluations from our independent evaluator and looked at the progress of learning in the area of budgeting and finances, the teen classes were always about double the knowledge level of the adults. So I wondered what the difference was – and the difference was that the teens were using the Money Habitudes cards! From that, I made the decision that Money Habitudes would become the standard budgeting and finance piece we’d use in every class,” says Gunn. (The Ochs Research Center surveyed 3,000 high school student participants over a six-month time period. The teen program combined Money Habitudes and Dibble’s Connections. The study found that 89.6% of participants gained budgeting and financing skills and 95.0% said they gained communications skills.)
  • First Things First’s educators are not “financial gurus” says Gunn, and need a way to introduce finances in a fun, non-threatening way before helping couples with the actual numbers and budgeting process. “What I like about Money Habitudes is that even though we are teaching about budgeting and finances, it’s more about your attitude than just making a budget,” she says.

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