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Financial education program for bogus check writers

The Issue: How to help people understand their financial attitudes and spending habits in a fun way in a financial education program.
Who: Susan Routh is an Extension Educator in Family and Consumer Sciences in Grady County, Oklahoma. She also serves on the executive board of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS).
What: Routh teaches the Making Sense of Money Management program. The financial education program serves a four-county area (Grady, Caddo, Stephens, and Jefferson County) for bogus check offenders and the public, aiming to help families and individuals better manage household finances. Routh uses Money Habitudes as part of the financial education program.

  • financial educaiton toolkitThe financial education program is offered monthly. The financial classes usually have 10-20 participants. Students come from a diverse range of ages.
  • The 4-hour financial class is usually held during a weekday afternoon. Participants pay a nominal fee of $15 for the class, which covers materials they take home.
  • The public can attend the money management classes, but most of the students come from a partnership with the district attorney’s office which refers to people who have gone to court for writing bad checks.
  • Students’ compulsory attendance and financial struggles (partly causing the writing of bad checks) necessitate a facilitator to overcome a sense of defensiveness.
  • As a result, Routh says the approach structures the class non-punitively, avoiding the message of “You’re bad and did something illegal.” Instead, Routh takes the approach “that you did this because you needed money and how can we help you so your finances are in better shape?”
  • “We don’t want to lecture to people. We want the class to be hands-on. We want people to be able to practice and use what we’re teaching. That’s where the Money Habitudes cards come in,” says Routh.
  • The Making Sense of Money Management class starts with an introduction to financial management. The financial education program then covers:
    • what is a check register and what is a bank statement; what does it mean to use a checking account?
    • credit reports and how to manage credit well.
    • debt management
    • the importance of savings and emergency savings
    • attitudes about spending and goal-setting
    • financial goal setting
    • making a spending plan; what’s coming and going out
  • Participants use Money Habitudes cards in the spending habits section, sorting them within 20-25 minutes.
  • After doing the sorting activity, participants find their money personality type and go through the interpretation cards. This may be followed by group discussion on spending habits, social influences on spending, etc.
  • Hand-in-hand with understanding one’s current behavior around money, students also create a SMART financial goal about where they want to be in 30 days. These goals are then mailed to participants later in the month.
  • Because of the time limitations of the financial education program, Routh and a few colleagues developed a financial education toolkit for students to take home. It includes resources to help people manage their finances on their own.
  • “At the end, people always want to take the cards home and share them with people they share their finances with so they can understand where other people are coming from,” says Routh.


  • “When people use the cards, there’s often a moment of truth,” says Routh.
  • “Reading about the different personality types opens the door to people giving themselves a chance to switch lanes.”
  • “We’ve seen remarkable changes in the people who’ve gone through the class,” says Routh. There have been about 250 participants since the program started in 2008.