We are taught the meaning of money at a very young age. In school, we learn how to add and subtract money, and how to count with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. As we grow older we learn the value of money through earning and spending it. But what we often aren’t taught is how to save our money and make the most out of what we have.

When we are young, it is natural to want to spend any money we have. As we get older we start to realize the importance of saving our money, and the power saved money has.


You just got your first paycheck for working at your uncle’s mechanic shop and cleaning cars. Your paycheck for the two weeks’ worth of work is $200

Your friends call you and tell you about a concert going on downtown that they are going to tonight. Front row tickets are $59.99 online, and when you go to buy one, after tax and fees your total is $74.99

You and your friends all go to dinner before the concert, and your bill comes back $18.50 before tip. You pay and tip and then head to the concert where you have to pay $10 for parking. 

You go through your night not worried about what you are spending, after all, you just got your first paycheck! There is nothing wrong with celebrating and having fun with your friends, but how much did you end up spending after the night was done? 

Sunday rolls around and it is time to get ready for work on Monday. you start by filling up your car with gas. You have $40 in cash that you took out for the concert on Friday night, and you decide you want to use your cash to pay for gas. Your total is $37.88. You pay, take your change and leave. 

Next, you need groceries for the week. You stick to your planned weekly grocery budget of $40 a week for groceries and head home.

How much money do you have left?

This is why money management is important. None of the purchases you made in this scenario were bad purchases, however, they may not have been the right purchase at the time. 

For instance, going to a concert with friends isn’t wrong. It is important to be social and go out with people! However, you could have saved money by choosing not to sit in the front row. The $10 parking fee could have been split between people if you had carpooled to the concert, and you would have ended up saving on gas money too. 

Money management skills aren’t about not spending your money at all, but instead about making smart choices that allow your money to last. 

Wants vs. Needs


These are the things that you enjoy but don’t really need. These are things like extra clothes, shoes, and accessories, video games, tickets to sporting events and concerts, as well as small purchases like the soda from the vending machine during the break between classes, and a candy bar with lunch.


These are the things you need daily, and cannot live without. These are things like gas for your car to get to work/school, groceries for the week, and money to pay rent and utility bills.

Knowing the difference between wants and needs is important because no matter how badly you may want something, the things you need should always be your first priority. Spending $150 on a pair of shoes is a bad money decision when you need that money to pay for the water and electric bill for your apartment. Setting aside $25 each paycheck to save for the shoes you want is a good money decision

Setting up a Bank Account

Choosing the right bank account is an important step in money management. All banks offer different rewards and incentives to join, however, not all banks are going to be the best fit for you. As a teenager, your banking options are limited until you turn 18.

Teen Checking Accounts 

Most banks have programs where teenagers and their parents can open a banking account at age 13. These accounts are often called Teen Checking Accounts, and they require a parent to be a joint owner on the account until age 18. As a joint owner, the parent has access to the account, meaning that your parent can not only see all baking statements but also has control to deposit and withdrawal money from the account. 

Depending on your age and your case, you may already have a bank account that you opened with your GAL or your case manager. If this is the case, then the hard part of selecting a bank and choosing which account is best for you is already done, however, continue through so that you know how to open accounts on your own when the time comes.

Watch the following video to learn some basic terms and principals of banking.

Opening a bank account after you turn 18

Take your time choosing your bank and your account plan that you decided to open. Websites like Nerd Wallet are great resources to help you compare different banking options, and even filter your search to help make the process less stressful. 

When you choose your bank and account type, the next step is to open the account. While almost all banks have online banking options, you are going to have to go into the actual bank office to open the account. When you go, you will need to take two forms of identification; 1. your license and 2. a passport, birth certificate or social security card. Check online to see what your bank requires before you go to ensure that you have the correct forms of identification. 

You will fill out an application, and provide your contact and personal information to help get the account set up. This is a lot of the same information you provide on a job application, such as name, social security number, address, email, and phone number.

The final step is to fund your account. When the account is set up, you will have to fund it and put money into the account. The amount of money you have to put in is determined by the bank and type of account. 

When you set up a new account, you will get the option to set up a mobile account, or online baking account as well. The mobile banking account is an application or online account that allows you instant access to your bank account, without having to go to the actual office. Online baking accounts also offer perks like virtual check deposits and text notifications for low balance and suspicious activity with your account. 

Debit vs. Credit

When you open a bank account, you will have the option to open a checking and/or a savings account. A checking account is used as a transaction account and is linked to a debit card. Your debit card is what you will use to access the money in your checking account, and it will only let you use the amount of money in your account. So if you try to buy a $50 pair of shoes, and there is only $49 in your checking account, your debit card will be declined when you try to buy those shoes. 

credit card is not linked to a checking or a savings account, and often people will have credit cards that are not from their bank at all. For instance, you may choose Bank Of America as for your checking and savings account but apply for the Wells Fargo College Card to get a credit card. The reason this is possible is that credit cards do not use the money you already have in a bank account, instead, they are borrowed money that you get to use and then have to payback. 

This sounds great in theory, but credit cards can be very dangerous if not used properly. When you get a credit card and make a purchase, say those $50 shoes you wanted earlier but couldn’t afford, you only have a certain amount of time to pay back the $50 before you start being charged interest. Interest means that while you paid $50 for the shoes, because you used your credit card to do it, and your credit card is borrowed money that you haven’t paid back by the due date, the bank adds an extra 7% charge to your purchase. So instead of $50, you have to pay $53.50. 

That extra $3.50 doesn’t seem like much, but those $50 purchases add up, and if credit cards are not used cautiously, suddenly you have a $500 credit card bill that is being charged 7% interest. 

Watch the following video to help you understand the difference between debit and credit. 

Withdrawals and Deposits 

When using a debit card, anything you buy with the card is called withdrawal. Withdrawl means that you have taken money out of your account. Withdrawals don’t only happen when you make a purchase. A withdrawal can be when you move money to your savings account, or when you take out cash from an ATM. 

A deposit is when you add money into your bank account. Deposits are things like a paycheck or a tax return. In these cases, money is going into your account and increasing the balance. Deposits can be into your checking or savings account, depending on how you set them up. 

In Entry-Level Job Skills, you learned that there is an option called a direct deposit, where the money is transferred directly from your employer into your bank account. But deposits can also be put in manually through a check or cash. When depositing money into your account can be done in person at your banking office, or, if you are depositing a check, it can be done through your mobile banking app.

If you don’t already have a bank account set up, use the link below to search through banking options and find one that would be good for you! Make sure that you know where the nearest bank office is located, so that you know if you can go into the office in person and create an account if needed.

If you already have a bank account, take a moment to check what type of account you have, if you have a mobile baking account set up, and make sure you know where your bank is located!

Reading Statements and Recording Transactions

Reading Bank Statements 

When looking at your bank statement, it is important to note the deposits and withdrawals. Each time you make a purchase, or money comes out of your account, there will be a descriptor with that withdrawal. The descriptor tells you where that money went and most often is the name of the company or store you purchased at. It is important to check your bank statements and make sure the withdrawals from your account match the purchases you made! If you check your bank statement and notice that you hade a $20 charge to People Magazine, but you’ve never bought or read it, contact your bank’s customer support program and file a complaint about suspicious activity on your account. The quicker you notice someone else taking your money, the less money you will lose and the sooner the bank can help you get that money back. 


Recording Banking Transactions

A big perk of your mobile banking account is that you have the power to keep track of transactions as you go. Through using the app you can check your balance daily, or even before you make a purchase. Being up to date on your account balance is the best way to ensure that you have the money you need. 

Knowing your current balance is important, however, it is still important to keep track of your transactions. 

All About Budgets

The best way to know what you are spending is to create a monthly budget and stick to it! In earlier modules, you’ve practiced budgeting for monthly groceries, and you learned about the importance of a budget for managing rent and utilities. Now it is time to put it all together.

Start by practicing with the worksheet below.

Money Managment Worksheets

Print Here

Creating your own budget

Use the following template to create a monthly budget that works for you!

Budgeting 101

Print Here


Taxes are confusing, even to many adults. The videos below are a crash course in taxes- what they are, why they are important, and how taxes work.

You do not need to be an expert in taxes in order to file, but you do need to know some key things. 

  1. If you have, or had, a paying job, you are going to have to file a tax return. The deadline to file each year is April 15th and you are filing for the previous years’ income. So if you worked over the summer of 2019, you are responsible for filing taxes for that summer job by April 15, 2020.
  2. There are websites will help you file your taxes for free, such as TurboTax. These websites walk you through each step of the process, and as long as you answer the questions honestly, are basically foolproof. 
  3. You only need one form to file taxes, and that is your W2 form. Your employer will provide your W2 form for you, either in the mail or handed to you in person at work. The W2 form tells you how much money you made over the year, as well as how much money was withheld from your paycheck for taxes. Free tax filing websites will tell you exactly what numbers you need and where to find them on the W2 as you go through the process of filing. 
  4. If you don’t file taxes, there are some serious consequences. If you fail to file your taxes you risk not receiving your refund money, and/or you could have to pay civil fines of up to 25% of your owed taxes.

Please take a moment to review the site and content materials so that we can better tailor them to you!