This brief was intended to demystify financial education and marriage and relationship skills education for educators who may be more familiar with one area than another. A second objective was to highlight the common ground between financial and marriage educators in terms of increasing family stability for low-income families. Specific practices from each field that might be relevant for the other were also suggested, to encourage an understanding that could lead to cross-referral and a relationship between financial and marriage educators in the same communities. The common goal is improving opportunities for the next generation through efforts to stabilize their families.
Marriage and family strengthening programs have brought discussion of relationship skills like communication and conflict resolution to the broader community, and development of these skills can have implications for employability, financial planning and family stability. Marriage relationship skills education also focuses on building a long-term relationship and trust with the educator, which might be beneficial for financial educators. Finally, many community-based family strengthening initiatives reach deep into the low-income community which can provide an opening for earlier financial education, and perhaps a channel for asset-building programs for low-income couples.
Practitioners in financial education and asset building programs have access to specific tools and matching funds through various initiatives that help low-income families, including those referred by relationship skill-building programs. Resources and tools like EITC campaigns and tax preparation help, IDAs, credit repair strategies, and guidance on loans can help build family stability and are especially important for low-income families. It is important that these services be accessed through responsible, reputable organizations. Finally, the expertise of practitioners in these fields can be invaluable for low income families as they attempt to navigate a complex and sometimes predatory financial services market.
The potential for collaboration between these fields is great, and the potential for benefit in the form of increased family and financial stability among low-income populations is real. In the second brief in this series, we delve into more specific scenarios regarding the opportunities and challenges of long-term relationships with spouses and with finances. Potentially challenging areas that affect family and financial stability, like repairing credit, bankruptcy, child support, mortgage financing, and divorce will be discussed in greater detail.