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Money Smart News Idea Exchange – Summer/ Fall 2014

Tips for Teaching Individuals in Transitional Housing

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In this edition of our Money Smart Idea Exchange (for practitioners to share useful tips with other Money Smart educators), we provide factors to keep in mind when providing financial education to residents of homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities. The tips come from an organization that works with one of our Money Smart Alliance members to teach financial education:

Be prepared for a wide range of reading abilities. Many residents may read ahead in the packets provided and understand the material. Others may appear hesitant if asked to read or answer a quiz question; they will most likely learn the most by listening to the information taught by the instructor

Be realistic when discussing budgets. Base your examples on salaries that they expect to make (or their last salary) or current benefits. Likewise, think in terms of what they paid in rent or utilities for their last house or apartment. Also, clients in these settings rarely relate to some commonly cited examples of expenses such as vacations or restaurant meals. Consider instead using examples that revolve around snack foods, movies or clothing. Also, feel free to ask the class for relevant examples to which the residents can relate.

Refer certain issues to the Case Manager. Each client has a Case Manager helping with setting and achieving personal goals. Consider suggesting that a question or problem that is beyond the scope of your lesson be brought to their Case Manager or other staff.

Don’t immediately assume that certain words or actions make no sense or are disrespectful. Many clients are on strong medications that may make it difficult for them to appear as focused as they would like to be, so consider approaches to bring them into the conversation, such as by asking questions. They also may choose unusual words to convey an experience or ask a question but often have a legitimate basis. Asking these clients clarifying questions can improve understanding and encourage participation by others in the audience. Remember—words or actions that you may feel are disrespectful are often not intended that way.

See more teaching tips from the Money Smart Idea Exchange (Read more).

Please share with us any techniques that helped you make your Money Smart educational program successful. Send them by e-mail to For help or information on how to use the Money Smart financial education curriculum, contact

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