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Real$ense: Creating an Engaging Personal Finance Class for Workplaces and the Community At-Large

As part of its asset building program, Real$ense, the United Way of Northeast Florida offers community financial education classes, free tax prep and matched-savings Individual Development Accounts. The organization was seeking an engaging personal finance class for the community and workplaces — particularly non-profit workplaces — to help attendees understand their underlying financial habits and attitudes.
The United Way has focused its workplace financial education classes on non-profits for two reasons. First, non-profit organizations are often overlooked as employers of many low-wage workers. Second, educating non-profit workers can have a magnifying effect, getting financial information to those with whom they interact with while working for the non-profit organization.


In a pre and post-program survey for the classes, the United Way found statistically significant improvement on 8 measures, including:

  • The percentage of respondents that paid all of their bills on time increased from 22% to 32%.
  • Those who had a written budget increased from 27% to 56%.
  • Those with a checking account increased from 45% to 69%.

How They Use Money Habitudes

  • The United Way offers two types of personal finance education classes: a series of free community workshops and a series of workplace financial education classes, held on-site at employer locations. They use the FDIC’s “Money Smart” financial curriculum for its community classes and the “Financially Fit” curriculum for workplace classes, developed by the University of Florida IFAS Extension office.
  • Money Habitudes serves as an introductory first class in each series to get attendees feeling more comfortable talking about money. This paves the way for later financial lessons, including classes on budgeting, banking, credit and investing.
  • After sorting their cards, attendees are asked to share their top Money Habitudes and to set financial goals.