As a teen, you start taking more responsibility for handling money and choosing how you want to save or use it. Here are a few ideas to help make your decisions easier…and better:
Consider a part-time or summer job. A job can provide you with additional money as well as new skills, and connections to people who may be helpful after you graduate.
Open a savings account and put money in it for specific goals. Get in the habit of putting at least 10 percent of any gifts or earnings in a savings account right away. Saving a certain percentage of your income before you’re tempted to spend it is what financial advisors call “paying yourself first.”
If you’re ready for a checking account, choose one carefully. Many banks offer accounts geared to teens or other students that require less money to open and charge lower fees than their other accounts.
Once you have a bank account, keep a close eye on it. Watch your balance the best way you can. For example, keep receipts and record expenses so you don’t spend more money than you have in your account and run the risk of overdraft costs.
Understand that borrowing money comes with costs and responsibilities. When you borrow money, you generally will repay the money monthly and pay interest. Always compare offers to borrow money based on the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). The lower the APR, the less you will pay in interest.
Get more tips on managing getting started with money management from the FDIC.
WATCH: Where does your money go each month? A simple budget might help you understand:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five people are affected by disabilities. Some of those disabilities happen at birth, while others are the result of injury, illness, or aging.
Despite the limitations these conditions may cause, there are government programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities.
Social Security benefits
The Social Security Administration offers two programs to help people with disabilities and, often, the benefits can last for over a year. The programs are:
To apply for these benefits, contact the Social Security offices at 1-800-772-1213 or at 1-800-325-0778 (TTY for the hearing impaired).
Help for military personnel
There is also help for veterans who become disabled or injured while performing military service. Some of these benefits include:
- Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay. This benefit is for retired veterans who are 50 to 90 percent disabled. The amount of payment is determined by the person’s degree of disability. Veterans who are completely disabled receive the full benefit.
- Combat-Related Special Compensation. Retired veterans who were injured during military combat receive tax-free monthly payments.
Disabled military personnel and veterans can also receive financial help to buy a car that accommodates their needs, get dental care, a clothing allowance, and more. You can read more about benefits for disabled veterans (PDF).
You can apply for these programs by calling 1-800-827-1000 or by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
It’s worth noting that some veterans may also receive disability benefits from Social Security.
Help for special education
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides free education services to children with special needs, to help them develop, learn, and succeed in school.
Those who meet the requirements receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a plan that contains individualized learning goals as well as the services the child needs.
If your child has a disability, talk to the school staff to find out how to receive these special education benefits.
Image description: Mom and baby sea turtle sleeping on the beach on the Big Island in Hawaii.
Photo from NOAA.
While Financial Capability Month reminds us all that we could do a little bit more to be in charge of our finances, it is also a good time to talk to your kids about how they too can begin to understand finances and how it affects your family.
Kids.gov has smart money sections for kids of all ages, and tips for parents and teachers on how to teach kids about understanding money.
Useful tips include:
Get your kids to write down where they spend their money or allowance so they can see how it adds up
Talk to your kids about “used” versus “new” and how borrowing a book from the library, or a game from a friend, is smarter than buying something new every time
Teach your kids to take good care of their games, books, DVDs and other purchases because it costs money to replace these items
Kids.gov also has a series of comic strips to teach younger and older children about how they can help their parents save money. Children can follow along in a fun and engaging way to learn simple tips such as turning off lights or helping clip coupons to help save money in the long run.
Do your kids prefer learning with games? Have them play money games online to learn more about money. Games such as the U.S. Mint’s Dollar Dive, where kids have to go diving for coins to add more sails to their ship in order to escape a sea monster, help kids understand more about money.
Find more money games.