Even if it isn’t the presenting issue, money is often intertwined with personal and interpersonal issues. Therapists know that if you talk about money, it often addresses other concerns like self worth, trust, independence, love, security, etc. And, money is the number one source of arguments for couples and those arguments are the best indicator of divorce. As a result, many therapists and counselors use Money Habitudes cards because they:

  • Are easy to learn and to use as a therapist or counselor — and the cards are simple enough that couples can do them on their own too.
  • Open up a constructive, healthy dialogue about the very difficult, emotional topic of money — and do so in a way that is hands-on and participatory for clients.
  • Are non-threatening and provide countless helpful conversation starters in a natural context, such as family of origin influences, financial fears and even money secrets.
  • Show couples come that they have legitimate differences in how they view and use money; couples come to see each other’s perspective.
  • Appeal to men and women because of their tactile, hands-on format and low-stress game-like feel; people associate cards with fun and being social.
  • Provide couples with a common, non-threatening language to talk about money issues rather than resorting to destructive name-calling.
  • Give couples a framework in which to share potential slights, miscommunications and money secrets in a constructive way.
  • Allow couples to improve their communication and understanding elsewhere in their relationship. Money touches on – and is often a proxy for – so many other important issues like power, love, control, freedom, status, generosity.
  • Are a way to get couples to talk about money and make joint financial decisions, leading them to manage money better. This may mean feeling comfortable to make a budget, share duties like paying the bills or meeting with a financial planner.
  • Build trust and understanding in relationships — as well as with therapists and counselors.
  • Work across the spectrum of age, income and education.
  • Complement other relationship skills programs (e.g., communication, conflict resolution, etc.) and can be used as an icebreaker, integrated module or standalone activity.

How it’s used

  • Icebreaker or conversation starter. The cards are easy-to understand and non-threatening so people feel comfortable discussing money. This can be in a counseling, classroom or small-group format. Couples can also do the activity on their own.
  • Support groups. Getting people to share their money stories with their peers in a therapeutic context can be difficult. Money Habitudes is used to start supportive small group discussions, especially around topics like divorce and domestic abuse and is also used in programs for foster children, young mothers and with servicemembers and their families.
  • Workshops or seminars. Therapists who teach marriage and relationship classes uses Money Habitudes cards because they are a fun, insightful but low-risk way to engage people around the difficult but crucial topic of money. While the class may be a standalone, it is often included within a series that touches on other relationship skills and topics.