You’ve got to make a living in this world. That means making money. Money is a major factor in many things that are important in life, including: happiness, safety, and opportunity. The more money you have, they more opportunities you can explore, and the better you will be able to ride out the rough spots that are part of life. So, if you handle your money wisely, it will go farther and help you reach all of the dreams in your life.

Managing your money takes practice. I think most of us are continually trying to stay on top of our money. As we go through our lives, the things we need money for may change, so adjusting one’s budget should be a lifelong process. It can be hard to balance spending your money on what you truly need vs. what you want. It takes most people a fair amount of practice to find a comfortable balance between the two. Being able to determine “wants vs. needs” is probably the area that trips up most people, often leading them to major debt and a very complicated life.

The earlier you learn to manage your money, the sooner you’ll be able to start living the good life. A budget is the best place to start. Basically a budget is a plan for how to manage your money and expenses. If you’re spending more money than you make, then that is obviously a problem. Click here for a budget worksheet.

Part of any sound money management plan should be a savings plan. Numerous studies have proven that if you start saving at an early age, even if it is only a small amount each paycheck, before you know it you will be on your way to the easy life and sitting on a pile of money. Click here for a savings calculator based on how much you would like to have when you retire.

In order to save, many people find it useful to open a savings account with a bank or credit union. One benefit of having been in the social services system is that you are eligible to participate in the Bridging the Gap program. It is a wonderful program that helps you learn more about finances in general, and gives you cash rewards for completing many of the things that you do already. For more information, contact your caseworker, Chafee worker, or click here to get more info about Bridging the Gap. Click here for some basic advice on choosing a bank. Click here for info on safe internet banking.

You’ve probably heard about credit and credit scores. Click here to find out about Credit Reports for Youth in Foster Care. Click here to find out about credit scores in general.