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Department of Defense: Financial education to make the military “mission ready”

Madeleine Greene, Military Family Life Counselor-personal finance at Zeiders Enterprises and contractor for the Department of Defense, often found it challenging to motivate and inspire participants in her financial management workshops to talk freely about money. Attendees of the workshops, which are tailored toward service members and spouses between 19-30 years old in the different branches of the military, are typically required to attend by a commanding officer due to financial difficulties or are motivated to be better educated about money. To engage her audience and create an open, trusting atmosphere, Greene began incorporating Money Habitudes into the curriculum so that participants could ask questions freely and openly share their experiences without embarrassment or shame.


Using Money Habitudes as part of the Department of Defense financial management workshops helps:

  • Capture people’s attention and get individuals to “work it out for themselves. They figure out the real reason they are using money the way they do,” says Greene.
  • Promotes active learning. By using Money Habitudes cards, participants are involved, reflective and more likely to apply what they’ve learned.
  • Participants understand and process additional information shared within the context of this class. “Understanding one’s Habitudes then frames other aspects of financial well-being regarding spending or saving smarter, investing, going into debt, giving to charity and the like,” says Greene. “This is especially important with an audience that often lacks financial life experience and good financial role models.”

How They Use Money Habitudes

  • This comprehensive class usually has two dozen students and covers why it is important to focus on and understand money, basic budgeting, military benefits, savings and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), credit use and evaluation, getting out of debt, major purchases, insurance, record-keeping and retirement.
  • The Money Habitude cards serve as an introduction to what will follow and capture the audience, even those who are not there of their own choosing, by getting them involved and interested in the subject.
  • After the class sorts their Money Habitudes cards, Greene tallies where people share their different dominant Habitudes. This low-risk exercise to share something personal and financial underscores that people are different and that they come from unique places when it comes to money.