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The Collaborative: Teaching financial literacy to parents and kids

“Learn To Earn: The Youth Financial Empowerment Initiative” is an innovative financial literacy program that brings together parents and kids to develop financial skills over the course of a school year. The program aims to get parents and kids to feel comfortable discussing financial topics in a long-term financial literacy program – and better relate to each other around the difficult topic of money. Tarin L. Washington is the program associate at The Collaborative, the lead agency for North Carolina Saves. She works to implement and promote strategies to build family economic security and individual financial capability. They started implementing Money Habitudes to helps participants relax and better understand how and why they spend and save.


Since using Money Habitudes, participants in the “Learn To Earn” program have:

  • Been encouraged to open a savings account early in the program and add to it with incentive money for attendance and homework completion. “Research shows that youth with bank accounts in their own name are more likely to attend college,” says Washington. “We want them to be successful in all areas of their lives and to develop early savings habits and positive money management skills and behaviors.”
  • Become North Carolina Savers by signing up at
  • Think more independently about how they spend money. “There used to be a lot of class discussion around, ‘I do this because it’s what my friends do’ or ‘I want to have what my friends have’ and I don’t hear so much of that anymore,” says Washington. “It’s more like, ‘This is what I’m thinking about’ or ‘This is what makes sense for me as opposed to what’s cool or what someone else has.’ I think Money Habitudes helps with that.

How They Use Money Habitudes

  • The “Learn To Earn: The Youth Financial Empowerment Initiative” program includes youth, 14-18, with their parents in regular financial literacy classes.
  • As opposed to beginning with a budget lesson (or a similar concrete financial skill), the program starts with two classes on financial attitudes. The Money Habitudes activity occupies most of the second class.
  • Parents use the Adult version while kids use the Teen version of Money Habitudes cards. They sort their own decks and get their money personality results at the same time.
  • Parents and their children sit together to create more discussion and so that parents can help answer any questions their kids may not understand.
  • Washington asks the younger participants to share some of their results and then asks the parents what they think of their child’s money personality results. Parents then share their results and the teens are asked to comment. “We want this to become a normal conversation in households,” says Washington.
  • Although the next class goes on to other financial skills, Washington says the cards (and the financial habits and attitudes insights from them) continue to be brought up in successive classes.