Three Ways to Get Smart About Money

When it comes to finances, many of us are happy to just have a job. You may take on a summer job, internship, or part-time job to earn income and gain those valuable skills needed to get and keep a long-term job. This makes sense. After all, knowing how to get and keep a job is an important survival skill. Without jobs, most of us have no way to earn the money we need to take care of our needs, like shelter and food.

But, to achieve your life goals it’s important to have some financial knowledge and skills beyond having and keeping a job. Not all of us have these basic financial knowledge and skills1 — that’s where YE4C can help! Our team reviewed hundreds of resources on money management skills. Below, you will see our top three favorite ways to help get smart about money, featuring free resources that you can use now. Check them out below, and when you’re done, drop us an email or head over to our Facebook page and share your favorite money management tips and resources with us. We would love to hear what works for you!

1. ASSESS COSTS AND RISKS

It can be easy to make bad financial decisions, especially when you’re under pressure or when you may not be getting the best deal. But the smart thing to do is judge the costs and risks before buying anything.

In "SAVED: Five Steps for Making Financial Decisions," you’ll learn five steps that can help you make smarter decisions about when to spend and when to keep your money in your bank account:

  1. STOP for a mental break before making a decision.
  2. ASK questions about costs and risks.
  3. VERIFY and check what you’re told.
  4. ESTIMATE your costs and comparison shop to get the best deal.
  5. DECIDE whether the costs and value are worthwhile for you.

2. LEARN PERSONAL FINANCE BASICS

Believe it or not, schools don’t always teach the basics of personal finance. Fortunately, there are still ways to learn without having to make a lot of mistakes first!

The Money Smart self-paced computer based instruction program teaches basic personal financial management skills to youth and young adults 13 years of age and older. It’s free and available in English and Spanish.

Find out how to:

  • Use bank services.
  • Choose and keep a checking account.
  • Keep track of your money.
  • Save, save, save.
  • Use credit responsibly.
  • Make a credit card work for you.
  • Use installment loans to pay for college and cars.
  • Decide whether homeownership or renting is right for you.

While you are at it, you should learn how to protect yourself from the unbelievable number of scams out there. The Federal Trade Commission’s Scam Alert service can be a good place to start. Visit the site and get the latest information on scams along with practical tips to avoid them. You can even sign up to get scam alerts delivered to your email inbox!

3. ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS

Thinking about going to college or to graduate or trade school? You’re not alone in paying for this education. The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) program is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation!2 And the program is on a mission to make it easier for you to get money for higher education.

FSA's website covers everything you need to know about applying for and getting financial aid — including answering a bunch of questions that most of us wouldn’t think to ask:

  • Which type of school is right for me?
  • How do I prepare for school?
  • What types of aid can I get?
  • Do I qualify for aid?
  • How do I apply for aid?
  • How do I manage my loans?

It’s more important than ever for students and former students to make smart decisions about financing their college education. Whether you’re attending college soon, are a current student, or already have student loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has put together some tools and resources to help you make the best decisions for you.

If you think trade school may be right for you, take a look at the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for choosing a vocational school, which includes recommendations to help you choose and finance a reputable and trustworthy program that will help you achieve dreams.

Find Related Resources on YE4C

Looking for more resources to help you boost your financial knowledge and skills? Access a wealth of quality resources on our Finances page. You can also find additional blogs, job opportunities, helpful websites, and tools and resources on our Education and Employment pages.

1 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2013). Transforming the financial lives of a generation of young Americans: Policy recommendations for advancing K-12 education. Retrieved from http://www.consumerfinance.gov/reports/transforming-the-financial-lives-of-a-generation-of-young-americans/
2 Office of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about