The Issue: How to cover finances in relationship education classes. In addition, how to attract new people and increase attendance in relationship classes.
Who: Kylee Miller is a project manager at Marriage Matters Jackson, in Jackson, Michigan. The relationship education organization is housed at the United Way and was originally supported by a federal Healthy Marriages grant. It aims to strengthen marriages and families and decrease divorce.
What: Marriage Matters Jackson runs a variety of relationship education programs. Among these is a lunch class on Money Habitudes.
- The core of what Marriage Matters Jackson does is multi-week relationship classes. Their short, stand-alone sampler classes, serve to introduce people to the organization and get them involved in a fun, low-risk atmosphere.
- “The financial workshops we run are still geared to helping your relationship and the Money Habitudes cards are just wonderful for relationships,” says Miller.
- The hour-long midday relationship class is held at a downtown library. This is close to businesses, allowing people to attend on their lunch break.
- Marriage Matters Jackson promotes its classes via its Facebook page, direct mail postcards and through email blasts to its mailing list. The organization relies a lot on positive word of mouth advertising from people who have previously participated in its programs.
- When promoting the relationship class, they use this verbiage:
- Start great conversations about money and finances. Money is one of the most difficult subjects for people to discuss. As a fun and engaging conversation starter, Money Habitudes makes talking about money easy and approachable.
- The financial personality quiz aspect of the tool provides important insights about money issues.
- Couples can use the cards to understand where they complement and conflict with each others’ habits and attitudes, which gives them a strong foundation to talk about important financial issues
- Both individuals and couples (married, dating and engaged) attend the relationship class. Individuals who attend may be single or part of a couple.
- Although the grant requires that the class be free, Marriage Matters Jackson offers the option for people to buy lunch. (Attendees can also bring their own lunch.) “In our history, we have learned that if there isn’t a financial commitment, people aren’t as invested. So we charge if they want us to provide lunch for them,” says Miller. Lunches cost $7-10.
- Setting up, handing out lunch orders and getting people settled mean that the actual teaching time in the relationship class is more like 45 minutes than an hour.
- The lunch class starts with a short introduction and then an explanation about how to use the money management games. Attendees get about 15 minutes to sort their Money Habitudes cards. They then have a chance to use the interpretation cards to better understand their own money personality. The remainder of the class covers how one’s money personality manifests itself in one’s life, finances and relationship.
- Attendees get to keep their deck of Money Habitudes cards. They can go home and use the cards on their own or with a friend, spouse or partner. This helps people talk about money, spending habits, investing, etc. at home.
- The midday seminar serves as a feeder to Marriage Matters Jackson’s other relationship classes.
- “After that hour, we hope we’ve moved the bar in terms of their understanding of their financial lives. That’s the major goal, but we also want to keep them involved in what we’re doing and bring people back to another workshop and hope they tell their friends that they had a good time. That word-of-mouth marketing is so important. If someone has a good time doing the Money Habitudes workshop, they’ll tell their friends and they’ll spread the word about what we’re doing,” says Miller.