At the heart of my work is my tool kit: an ever-developing collection of methods, techniques, resources and ideas that I can draw upon to help people improve their relationship with money. Some of the tools are my own creations, others I have discovered elsewhere. I enjoy adapting different tools to suit a client’s particular needs or selecting a combination to suit a specific situation.
I was researching ideas for group workshops with adults when I came across Money Habitudes, a card game to help people talk about money. Right away I was intrigued - it looked like a fun and interactive tool that I could use with individuals as well as groups.
The cards were developed in the US by Sybil Solomon. She wanted to create an easy way to get people thinking honestly and openly about money and so used an activity with positive social connotations: playing cards. I felt an immediate resonance with my own work and so I got in touch with Sybil and discussed ways of bringing the cards into the UK as they were previously only available via the US.
The game consists of 54 cards representing specific attitudes or behaviour to do with money, such as ‘ I feel I should pay the bill when I eat out with others’ or ‘When I go shopping I have to buy something’. You work though the pack, sorting the cards into three piles: ‘that’s me’; ‘that’s not me’; and ‘sometimes’. You then take the ‘that’s me’ pile and turn over the cards to divide them into six categories: Planning, Carefree Security, Spontaneous, Status and Giving.
Everyone is a combination of different Habitudes but there is normally a majority in one or two categories in your ‘that’s me’ pile, so you can see at a glance where your dominant Habitudes lie – for example, if most of the cards are in ‘Status’ then that’s what’s most important, or if there’s nothing in ‘Security’ but plenty in ‘Carefree’, or vice versa.
There’s no right or wrong and that’s the beauty of it – it’s not about any judgment. There are advantages and challenges to all Habitudes and the game is really about getting a good balance that’s right for you and your goals. There’s a card to help you interpret each dominant Habitude, suggesting how you may see yourself and how others may see you, as well as actions you could take to create more balance if you identify with some of the challenges. It uses the ‘that’s me’ pile as way of gaining greater awareness, and then offers ideas to help you do something different to change behaviour if it is not serving you.
I played the cards with one client who had mostly ‘carefree’ and ‘giving’ cards and was very low on ‘planning’ and ‘security’. She was very uncomfortable with the financial side of her business and found it really difficult to quote fees for her work. When she did, she went out of her way to make sure she gave good value, which often meant she was out of pocket and wasn’t earning what she needed. We used the cards to help her see how unbalanced this was and to generate a discussion about where these automatic responses come from. She became aware of her self-limiting beliefs and we worked through some strategies to experiment with different behaviour. She’s now got some clear financial goals and is monitoring her spending regularly and has found a voluntary project which enables her to give but without confusing this with her commercial work.
It’s also a fantastic tool to use with couples, to help them align their goals and open a channel of communication regarding money. Our relationship with money can be so tangled up in shame or other negative emotions, using a game helps couples find a way to talk about money in an emotionally neutral way.
When I’m working with couples and one has most cards in ‘security’ and the other in ‘spontaneous’, it’s easy to see why there may be disagreements or tension between them and it gives each an awareness of the other’s perspective. It’s a powerful experience to enable people to look at their situation anew and to understand each other better.
The cards retail at £12.99 plus postage and packaging. Please get in touch if you’re interested in buying a pack(s).