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Better Understanding Yourself And Your Clients Regarding Money

Contact: Alan Frank is a financial educator and planner, serving as Financial Services Lead Instructor at Bow Valley College in Calgary, Canada
Situation: Teaching college students who are studying to become financial planners and clients who attend the classes and workshops he offers.
Who: College students, adults attending financial education or planning classes and private clients.

  • Prepare college students (who are studying financial planning) to understand how they personally see money and how that may influence the advice they offer.
  • Prepare college students to understand how and why people look at money differently.
  • To make it easier for individuals and couples to open up and talk about money.


  • One to two hour seminars/workshops using Money Habitudes cards to help people focus on how they see money and how they use it.
  • A typical seminars/workshops has 30 people, although he prefers the intimacy of smaller groups.
  • Often students/attendees keep their decks of Money Habitudes cards so they can share this very meaningful exercise with a partner.
  • Working with private clients.


  • The cards create a fun environment and provide a very engaging, relevant format so people open up without being threatened by talking about money.
  • Provide a non-judgmental way to find out clients’ attitudes about money.
  • Enable couples to see the others’ point of view about money and more easily discuss any differences they may have.
  • After gaining such newfound clarity about their finances and relationships in classes some attendees later ask him to work with them on an individualized coaching basis.
  • People seek small incremental changes about how they view and handle money after going through the Money Habitudes card process.
  • I’ve had people come up to me after class and say, ‘You know I really need to go home now and have a discussion with a spouse or a partner because this says a lot! This can be why we’re not talking or why there’s this divergence between what I think and what they think.
  • Realizing that individuals are not going to radically change how they view and handle money, I use the action tips form the Money Habitudes cards to help them make small, incremental changes. It may help savers loosen up their grip on money a bit and go out for a dinner or it may help spenders pass up a sale…

Observations and Comments:

  • This activity “an epiphany” for many.
  • Probably the strongest personal growth part of me doing those cards myself was to understand that I can’t transfer my thoughts, ideas and beliefs as a financial planner over to my clients. Just because I am geared and wired this way and believe this is important does not necessarily mean that my clients are wrong in the way they approach things. It was a great learning experience for me in a fun sort of way.
  • With couples, I really think you have to start the discussion by talking about what’s important to one another and to understand where each person is coming from. If you don’t do that, a budget’s not going to work.
  • We really use the cards to get people to open up. It is a fun environment so they’re very open in the classroom, probably more open than you would sometimes expect.
  • After doing the cards myself, I don’t find that I judge as much as I used to. I really just understand where the client is coming from.