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Community financial education classes using Money Habitudes cards

This is a common example of how community organizations use Money Habitudes cards in their financial education classes. Although we often hear about such financial education classes, many times, they are never posted online, and we’re not aware of them. There’s probably someone running a financial capability class every day somewhere using Money Habitudes. The local news listing for this recent event in Maine is as follows:

Improve Your Relationship with Money

Women, Work, and Community will offer a free workshop, “Improve Your Relationship with Money,” on Saturday, January 21 from 11 – 1:30 at the Belfast Free Library. The class is open to adults of all ages and backgrounds.
Managing your money is more than just numbers. Becoming comfortable with your money management skills includes your habits and attitudes–your “Money Habitudes.” Some of those Habitudes work well for you and others perhaps interfere with a positive relationship with money.
We’ll use the “Money Habitudes” cards as a starting point for thinking about our money and how we can become more comfortable with managing it.
Encouraging registration by January 19 is recommended as this class is filling up. On Saturday, January 28 from 11:00 to 1:30, the workshop, “Finding Your Money Power Payment” will be offered. This workshop will focus on tips for finding more money in your budget to save for your goals and reduce debt.

Additional information at the Women, Work, and Community notes:

Resolutions are frequently not enough to help us improve our money management behaviors. Sometimes, our money habits and attitudes — our “Habitudes” — get in the way. During this fun and enlightening workshop we will use Money Habitudes cards developed by Syble Solomon to help you understand your money behaviors and develop some new ways of thinking and managing your money. We will create a safe and non-threatening workshop environment.

How is this workshop emblematic of other community financial education classes that use Money Habitudes cards?

  1. Importance of relationships. As the announcement notes, “Managing your money is more than just numbers. Becoming comfortable with your money management skills includes your habits and attitudes … We’ll use the “Money Habitudes” cards as a starting point for thinking about our money and how we can become more comfortable with managing it.” This is in line with a wider recognition within the financial education world that explains the popularity of behavioral economics and integration of money psychology: when working with one’s finances, there is a strong emotional component and as with any behavior change, it greatly helps people to understand why they do what they do with money in addition to just inputting receipts and doing a budget for example. Money Habitudes often serves as a crossover tool between financial literacy programs and those addressing relationships and careers, including many marriage preparation courses.
  2. Non-threatening activity, ice breaker. A hallmark of Money Habitudes classes and counseling sessions is that they are non-threatening and non-judgmental. As a result, Money Habitudes is often used as a financial ice-breaker activity at the beginning of a class to put people at ease, or a standalone class with the cards is the first in a series of classes that build on understanding one’s money personality. Later classes in a series might be on budgeting, buying a house, couples communication skills, etc. The announcement declares the class to be fun, non-threatening, and safe; all typical words and goals for teachers using Money Habitudes, be it with adults, young adults, or teens.
  3. Part of a series. Here, the “Improve Your Relationship with Money” class does not appear to be explicitly part of a series of other classes (like a four-week series with one class a week). However, there is a pitch at the end that notes that there is a financial course the following  week on “Finding Your Money Power Payment” that will focus on “tips for finding more money in your budget to save for your goals and reduce debt.” The center also lists several other upcoming entrepreneurship, leadership, and financial education classes on its website. Because it’s fun and non-threatening, Money Habitudes can make a longer series of personal finance or relationship classes more approachable, getting people in the door in a way that offering a “budgeting class” does not. However, many participants will then seek out other classes afterward, because they found the material interesting and helpful and because it showed them areas where they would benefit from help such as budgeting, investing, foreclosure prevention, creating a savings plan, going from unbanked or underbanked to banked, etc. To this end, Money Habitudes is often used as a fun self-awareness introduction to budgeting classes and credit repair classes; this includes Dave Ramsey’s budgeting classes (Financial Peace University).
  4. Used in classes that span age, income, and education. The listing says it is “open to adults of all ages and backgrounds.” While this may be more like legalese in this context, the reality is that many community programs serve a diverse population. As a financial personality test and conversation starter about money, Money Habitudes appeals broadly and spans the age, income,, and education spectrum (although note that there are different versions for different ages: adult, young adult, teen, and a Spanish version too). This financial education bankruptcy class case study is a good example of how a diverse audience can use the teaching tool and find value in it – while also making for a more enjoyable class to teach.
  5. Class time. This foundational financial education class in Maine is 2.5 hours. This is a bit longer than the majority of financial courses using Money Habitudes cards, but certainly within a normal time frame. Most financial literacy classes are probably 1-2 hours and use of the cards typically varies between 5 minutes and 2 hours. (It takes about 15 minutes as a minimum to do the basic Money Habitudes Solitaire card sort activity.) On the very short side of just having a few minutes, facilitators can use the cards as values flashcards; each statement card provides a starting point for people to talk about their money attitudes and habits. Classes with more time allow students to dive more into their money personality results and understand and apply the money-type messages they reveal about themselves. It also affords more time for group work, group discussion individual goal setting, and the like. (The Guide for Professionals provides more suggestions and information for those teaching and facilitating classes using Money Habitudes cards; facilitators may also glean ideas from the financial education case studies we’ve posted. If you have a good example to share with others in financial education, therapy, marriage counseling, financial planning, career counseling, etc., let us know.)
  6. Community agency. Many non-profit community agencies predominantly use our innovative financial education tools, including the Money Habitudes cards, in various ways and settings. Many of these are asset-building organizations, even if they don’t brand themselves as an “asset-building” agency.
    • In this case, the community organization is the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community. Its mission is very similar to many other financial education organizations that use Money Habitudes: We help Maine women succeed in their workplace, business, and community. We are committed to improving the economic lives of Maine women and their families. We meet women “where they are” and provide them with support, guidance, and the tools they need to take the next steps toward a more promising future. We support women in their efforts to secure a more promising future through access to education, jobs that pay a living wage, self-employment, money management, and civic leadership.
    • Like many other nonprofits that use Money Habitudes as a teaching tool, the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community provides both classes and one-on-one counseling.
    • Also like other asset-building or financial education organizations, the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community has a multi-faceted offering. This includes individual assistance and classes in Building Careers, Starting Businesses, Managing Money, and Becoming Leaders. The center actively employs Money Habitudes cards in classes and counseling for jobs and careers, entrepreneurship, microfinance, microlending, managing money, budgeting, credit counseling, homebuying, investing, etc., as well as in leadership training, life skills, and life coaching for personal development.
    • The center has a focus on women. Money Habitudes actively engages both men and women, with its hands-on nature and card game format proving especially appealing, particularly for men who may be less inclined to share their feelings. The cards actively contribute to various women’s programs and find use in domestic abuse and violence shelters. Syble Solomon, the creator of Money Habitudes produces the Inspired Savings series of motivational money messages, specifically for women and she has spoken for several women’s groups.
    • The center offers a Family Development Account program. Many organizations that use Money Habitudes offer similar programs, as part of the asset-building ladder. Many of these programs operate as matched savings Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. Some are local, independent microloans or micro-enterprise grants. Many asset-building organizations (such as the Maryland CASH Campaign) use Money Habitudes in concert with free EITC tax preparation programs and cash coaching. Other agencies work to improve clients’ finances with classes and counseling while also checking for benefits like TANF, SSI, SNAP, WIC, etc.
    • The Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community is part of the University of Maine at Augusta. Many universities, particularly those with Cooperative Extension partnerships, actively use Money Habitudes among their community users.
    • Here, a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, in partnership with United Way Worldwide, supports the class and the use of the cards. Many organizations write in Money Habitudes to grants for modules on money management and financial education, knowing that they can reuse the durable money cards over and over – and use them in a variety of different programs and classes. Additionally, many grants restrict training dollars, making the easy-to-learn and easy-to-teach activity well suited to such grants. Outside of straight financial education, many organizations have purchased Money Habitudes through the national Healthy Marriage grant program as well as the Responsible Fatherhood initiative, both offered through the Administration for Children and Families. Outside of this grant, local United Way offices use the Money Habitudes materials in money coaching settings, classes, and for staff development, especially with sensitivity training and financial self-awareness training for staff and volunteers, notably community VITA volunteers.

Note that there is no license fee to use Money Habitudes or to offer classes using Money Habitudes. The tool is meant to be used like a game, and unlike other inventories, it doesn’t require special permission or training to be used in classes. However, additional in-depth training is available if you’re interested, especially as a train-the-trainer session.