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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, in many cases, 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.
 Registration by January 19 is encouraged 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 a 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 is often used as a crossover tool between financial literacy programs and those dealing with relationships and careers; this includes many marriage prep courses, for example.
  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 a number of other upcoming entrepreneurship, leadership and financial education classes on its web site. 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 afterwards, 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, 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 conversations tarter about money, Money Habitudes has broad appeal and is used across 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, the cards can be used like values flash cards; each statement card provides a starting point 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 and 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. And 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. Although the Money Habitudes cards are used in many ways by many different organizations and professionals, a great preponderance of our innovative financial education tools are used by non-profit community agencies. 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. Money Habitudes is used in both settings, as well as at home with individuals and couples, as a support group activity, as a staff training or team building activity, and as a giveaway to start dialogue.
    • 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, Becoming Leaders. While the center may not be actively using Money Habitudes in all of those areas, the cards are indeed used in classes and counseling for jobs and careers; entrepreneurship, microfinance and microlending; managing money, budgeting, credit counseling, homebuying, investing, etc.; leadership training, life skills and life coaching and personal development.
    • The center has a focus on women. One of the strengths of Money Habitudes is that it is really well received by men and women (the hands-on nature and card game format is especially well received by men who are often not as willing to share their feelings). While the cards are used by both genders, they are employed in a number of women’s programs and 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 a number of 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 are 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 both 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 community users of Money Habitudes are associated with universities, especially those with Cooperative Extension partnerships.
    • Here, the class and the use of the cards is supported in part by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, through a partnership with United Way Worldwide. 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. Also, many grants restrict training dollars, so the easy-to-learn and easy-to-teach activity is 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 trainings for staff and volunteers, notably community VITA volunteers.

Note that there is not a 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 doesn’t require special permission or training to use it in classes. However, additional in-depth training is available if you’re interested, especially as a train-the-trainer session.