Marriage Education, Financial Literacy, and Asset Development Roundtable Meeting Summary. Feedback

07/30/2008

Comments on this brief centered on several themes: social networks for individuals and couples; financial advice; the focus on credit; institutional support for relationships and finances, and most generally, the goal of the brief.

The large group discussion of the focus on credit highlighted differences in the perspectives of participants. Some believed that credit was too narrow a view and that the full spectrum of financial literacy issues including employment and child care decisions should be mentioned. Specifically, some participants wanted the brief to touch on financial and income decisions in the home and how to deal with issues relating to paychecks and small family financial decisions. Others stated that credit can be viewed as a key asset because building and maintaining credit is crucial to financial development. These participants supported using credit as the framework from which to move toward accumulation of assets and stated that it reflected a reasonable and common pathway to mobility and well-being.

Many of the attendees wondered what the goal of the briefs was and suggested that the objectives and audience be clear. It was explained that the briefs were primarily intended to raise consciousness, not necessarily to cover every issue in all three fields. Some participants wanted to know more specifically about how to incorporate information from other fields in their programming. A resource guide was brought up again in the discussion of this brief; however, a practitioner made the point that it is important not to drown in resources.

One participant voiced concern about the complexity of legal issues like debt, bankruptcy, and child support, which vary from state to state, and suggested that the brief advise readers to contact an attorney for assistance. Others agreed that community educators and other practitioners should take care not to accidentally spread misinformation by offering advice outside of their expertise. A key learning from early marriage education programming was the importance of recognizing the role of instructors’ personal histories and attitudes, particularly related to gender. For example, some instructors, if they had experienced difficult relationships and grappled with issues of gender mistrust, tended to convey their distrust to those in their classes.

Other suggestions included adding more information on the importance of insurance and a warning against becoming over insured. The roundtable participants were not in agreement about what basic guidance could be offered to practitioners regarding the appropriate level of insurance for individual low-income families. Other participants recommended that more information on how to involve children in financial matters be added to the briefs.

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