Created by AFCPE’s former Educator of the Year, Money Habitudes is a simple toolkit designed as a familiar deck of cards. It is used throughout the military in financial education classes, relationship education workshops and counseling. This includes Army Community Service, Airman & Family Readiness, Fleet & Family Support, Marine Corps Community Services and military chaplains.
- Communication: The cards effectively break down walls to make it easy to talk about money with individuals, couples or groups and classes.
- Financial Literacy: They make individual sessions or classes related to the sensitive topic of money less threatening and more enjoyable, an especially important feature when people are compelled to attend classes and may feel resentful or embarrassed.
- Relationship Counseling/Enrichment: Provides a non-judgmental activity to freely discuss money issues and easily communicate about this emotionally charged topic.
- Career/life transition counseling and classes: Quickly gets beyond budgets to begin important conversations about the interaction between lifestyle, values and money.
- Interactive, hands-on: A welcome break from PowerPoint presentations, lectures and workbooks that makes for a more invested audience.
- Flexible: Works as a quick 10-30 minute icebreaker or introductory exercise, a stand-alone program of 45 minutes to 4 hours or an activity to complement skills-based programs.
- Fun, non-threatening: The familiar playing card format is associated with a friendly social activity so people relax, let down their guard and enjoy themselves.
- Snowball effect: Topics raised makes it easier to attract attendance at more specialized classes such as those on budgeting, saving and TSP, investing, buying a car or house and debt reduction.
- Affordable: These durable cards are designed to be reused many times, bringing the cost to a dollar or less per use which is more cost effective than single-use materials like workbooks. Also, additional handouts and activities can be copied from the Professional’s Guide or downloaded at no cost.
How are Money Habitudes cards being used in the military?
- Introductory activity: Leading with this activity makes the orientation to a base’s financial resources and readiness programs more approachable and interesting. It also offers a natural transition to skills-based programs like budgeting and debt reduction; this includes programs like the Air Force’s FTAC.
- Spouse events: Provides a fun, interactive activity that is informative and practical for coffees and informal learning events.
- Mobilization and deployment readiness: Helps military members and their spouses get a handle on their finances before being separated. When used as a joint activity, it helps couples talk openly about money to make important decisions without fighting.
- Couples counseling: Helps service members and spouses understand and respect each other when discussing the very difficult issue of money – while also helping people talk about issues closely related to money such as status, control, power, responsibility, love, freedom, independence, etc.
- Marriage enrichment classes: Serves as an excellent communication tool or as a key part of the financial section.
- Stand-alone financial class: Helps attendees discover the underlying issues when facing financial challenges, whether they are mandated to attend the class or seek help voluntarily.
- Transitions (career and retirement) counseling and classes: Helps individuals and couples think through how they will approach their new financial realities, demands and lifestyle.
- Giveaways: Provide service members with sets at home. This gives them more time to read the cards at their own speed and to share them with their spouse to get more mileage from them. By attaching a sticker to the deck with contact information, it serves as a reminder to contact a counselor and use available resources when they have questions or issues.
Money Habitudes II is the version most used by the military because it was designed for young adults, ages 18-25. There are other versions for teens and for adults. All of the editions are similarly formatted and used in the same way, only the graphics and wording are different to be more appropriate and relevant to the different age groups. (However, they are flexible enough that Money Habitudes II can be used with adults and the adult version can be used with younger adults.) The adult version is available in Spanish.