Foundations for Strong Families 101. Shared Goals of Financial Education and Marriage Education

01/09/2009

Financial and marriage educators share the following goals for their participants in their work with couples and families, but have different tools at their disposal for attaining these goals (see Figure 5).

Figure 5
Shared Goals of Financial Education and Marriage Education
 
  • Plan for the long-term.
  • Set realistic and attainable goals together.
  • Learn to manage conflict and to weather crises.
  • Resolve potential sources of friction related to money.
  • Monitor progress on one’s plan or on a joint plan if working with a couple.
  • Better understanding of personal values and expectations about financial and relationship matters.
  • Be aware of partners’ family’s patterns of spending (i.e., those of his or her parents) to understand what habits and attitudes may have been reinforced
  • Explore and discuss common money issues, such as spending, budgeting, and the use of credit, and savings.
  • Learn the importance of a financial buffer or savings for unexpected situations.
  • Consider the financial implications of having children.
  • Recognize and resolve deeper issues related to money management.

As we have outlined above, educational curricula in financial literacy and relationship education cover many of the same topics, such as how to plan, how to communicate, how to resolve differences, and how to set attainable goals as a family. These skills are placed in the context of learning to improve our lives as families. Although the common ground shared by these programs may seem obvious now, in fact many financial education programs do not address family and relationship issues with their participants, who are usually individuals, not couples. Without working out couple and family goals in financial education programs, other family members could undermine even the best taught financial lessons. Relationship education programs typically do include some discussion of financial issues, but practitioners in these programs may not have the experience and subject-area expertise of financial educators. Similarly, without a common set of financial goals, a couple will have difficulty negotiating their relationship in marriage education classes. As the common goal of both fields is to improve the lives of low-income families, collaboration is a clear next step. Through collaboration, both fields can be strengthened and their work made more effective, leading to greater stability for low-income families.

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