Introducing Person-Centered Financial Education©

Person-Centered Financial Education (PCFE) is an educational approach that views personal finances and economics as an integral part of the whole person.

PCFE as an approach

At FHI, our goal is to create and deliver effective, safe and fun financial education for people experiencing economic stress. We know this requires a special approach to financial education for us to successfully reach people who are confronting significant challenges in their daily lives. The standard way of delivering financial education won’t be good enough.

From our experience over the past 15+ years, we have developed what we call Person-Centered Financial Education (PCFE), which is an educational approach that views personal finances and economics as an integral part of the whole person. PCFE incorporates the tools of basic finance and economics into an understanding of a person’s psychological, emotional and cultural relationship with money.

What does it mean to be “person-centered?” In Human Services, a person-centered approach sees the participant as a whole person, with unique challenges, motivations, needs and interests, thereby supporting them to be an active collaborator in services while they take ownership of their own unique life and situation. Rather than seeing the case manager as the expert, we understand the participant to be the undisputed expert on themselves. 

Traditional financial literacy programs are usually based in neo-classical economics with a strong bias toward middle and upper middle-class values. The content tends to be built on standardized assumptions about the individual’s current financial position and financial goals, thereby not meeting them where they are. As a result, participants can feel that those classes are not relevant or applicable to their current situation.

PCFE encourages participants to own their situation and supports them to be an active collaborator in the learning process about their personal finances and economics.

Taking a step further, at FHI we are committed to helping providers of human services (and related fields) learn how to work collaboratively with their participants when talking with them about money topics. As a result, a PCFE approach prepares service providers with the ability to discuss the technical and behavioral aspects of financial and economic concepts more confidently and in a way that does not traumatize or re-traumatize their participants. This approach recognizes that people are the experts on their own lives and is therefore more applicable, useful and meaningful to them.