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Why are Teaching Money Management Skills so Important for Teens with Autism?

Personally, I think money management skills are vital to learn if you want to help your teen become more independent as they grow up. I do want to say though, that there is no magic timeline as to when your teen or an adult with autism may learn all of these money management skills. It will come over time and each person is unique to when they may learn various skills. I just want to make sure to point out the importance of learning these skills to help increase their independence. I am not an expert on money management skills, but I am doing the best I can to learn more about these skills in order to help my brother increase his independence. I have put together resources and tips that I have learned while reseraching this topic.

A recent study, “Financial Capabilities Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” was conducted through the University of Missouri and was intended to shed light on exactly this issue. “When teenagers and young adults with autism enter adulthood and age out of many of the services designed to help them, they often are anxious about how to handle new adult responsibilities such as paying bills and filing taxes. These findings highlight the importance of incorporating financial management into early education to empower young adults with autism.” (Cheak-Zamora, et al., 2017).

How to Help Teens with Autism with Money Management Skills

So now that we know that these skills are important to learn, how do we help them learn money management skills? First of all, let’s figure out what skills are needed to learn in order to have a better understanding of money management skills. There are a ton of skills encompassing money management as a whole.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to money management skills. I have created a list of skills that your teen will need to learn to become more independent with money management skills.

Tips for Teaching Money Management to Teens with Autism

MONEY MANAGEMENT SKILLS

  1. Manage spending
  2. Create a budget
  3. How to manage a checking account
  4. How to manage a savings account
  5. How to use an ATM
  6. How to write a check
  7. How to pay with dollar bills
  8. How to pay with debit/credit card
  9. Understanding how credit works
  10. How to save money
  11. How to pay bills
  12. Understand how taxes work
  13. Borrowing money-credit
  14. Using a credit card
  15. Controlling Debt
  16. Earning Money through a paycheck
  17. Investing Money
  18. Financial Services
  19. Understanding Insurance
  20. How to use Banking Services
  21. Taking out a loan
  22. Managing money in Employment
  23. Understanding Benefits
  24. Making Smart Money Decisions
  25. Shopping Wisely
  26. How to use coupons when shopping to save money
  27. Understanding how to live on your own and take care of money
  28. Understanding Cars and Loans
  29. How to protect your money
  30. Understanding rent payments or taking out a mortgage loan

Grab our FREE download below to have easy access to all of these money management skills in one place! 

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FREE TRAINING AND RESOURCES

While searching and learning more about money management skills, I came across some free training and resources that I wanted to share with you. Feel free to check out these free online trainings to see if they can help you teach some of the money management skills listed above!

  • The National Autistic Society has created a Free Online Training Module!  The module was created to assist learners to recognize their strengths as well as the challenges they may experience with managing their money. It shares real-life experiences of autistic people about the sorts of difficulties they encounter, and how they successfully manage their money.
  • Practical Money Skills has tons of free resources and lesson plans for all ages and for special needs. Check out the FREE Lesson Plans here! 
  • NEFE’s High School Financial Planning Program® (HSFPP) is a turnkey financial literacy program specifically focused on basic personal finance skills that are relevant to the lives of teens.
  • Hands on Banking offers Free Online Course for Elementary, Middle school, and high school grades. You can check out the free courses here.
  • FamilyEducation.com has some short and easy to read articles on a range of money management topics for teens. You can check them out here.
  • If your teen is having a hard time with understanding the cost of things or how to spend their money you could try using Jump Start Reality Check. This is an online quiz they can take to help them understand a ballpartk relationship between their expenses and the income they will need to support their lifestyle.

 

Tips for Success with Money Management 

These are tips I have learned through personal experiences with my family or with clients and then additional strategies I have found through researching money management skills. 

Tips to help with money management through daily activities:

  1. Have them pay for items at the store
  2. Give them an allowance and save up for items to buy at the store
  3. Have them go to the bank with you and discuss how the bank works
  4. Help them open up a savings or a checking account
  5. Use workbooks to help teach about money skills
  6. Try using apps and online resources like the ones listed above to help teach money skills.
  7. Have them list out their wants and needs
  8. Look up the prices of their wants and needs to figure out if they have enough money or what they will need to earn.
  9. Talk about money habits such as helping them set up a budget.
  10. When you make a grocery list of items you need, have them go to the store with you to help you find them in the aisles and then show them the different prices of the same item. Help them learn which items are the best deals or bring along coupons and have them find the items they need to use the coupons.
  11. If they have a job where they are earning income talk to them about their paycheck. Help them understand their benefits and taxes.
  12. If you are working on understanding and paying bills, go through some common monthly bills such as housing, food, utilities so they can get an understanding of how much those items cost. Talk to them about ways you can pay those bills either online or by check in the mail.
  13. Help them organize their monthly income and expenses either on paper or on the computer.
  14. Practice paying with cash
  15. Save your receipts and practice reviewing the purchases. Practice adding up the totals of your receipts, especially if you pay with cash so that you can keep track of your spending.
  16. Use newspaper ads and grocery ads to work on finding coupons and finding specials on products that you need to purchase.

I hope you find some of these tips and strategies helpful along your journey to teaching money managmenet skills. Please feel free to add some additional tips or strategies you have found helpful in the comments below.

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 Final Thoughts on Teaching Money Management Skills

There are a lot of little skills to learn when teaching money management skills as a whole. It can feel overwhelming when thinking of the big picture, but my advice would be to start with one small skill and build from there. Try to go with your teens’ interests and try to build on the skills from there. For example, if they have a big interest in a specific item such as a video game or some candy they really enjoy eating start by working on having them save up money to purchase those items. Find some simple chores around the house that they could help you with to start to earn some money and see if they can help pay for those items at the store. If they are further along with their skills, have them go to the bank with you so they can try to learn and experience what you need to do at the bank.

Each individual is unique and is at different learning stages when it comes to money management skills. Take a look at our list of skills to learn and try to figure out what specific skill you can try to teach.

I also wanted to share another resource that I came across when teaching life skills. Autism Speaks has designed a Community-Based Skills Assessment.  This assessment was developed for Autism Speaks through a contract with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.

The Community-Based Skills Assessment helps parents and professionals assess the current skill levels and abilities of students with autism beginning at age 12. The results will help you develop a unique and comprehensive plan.

The tool is divided into three levels based on age. Eight areas of functional life skills will be assessed:

  • Career path and employment
  • Self-determination/advocacy
  • Health and safety
  • Peer relationships, socialization and social communication
  • Community participation and personal finance
  • Transportation
  • Leisure/recreation
  • Home living skills

The assessment uses both observation and interviews to measure the individual’s knowledge, skills and behaviors.

You can learn more about the Community-Based Skills Assessment Here. 

Additional Money Management Resources

The Autism Awareness Centre has an excellent blog post with some more tips on how to teach money management for independent living with autism. 

Here is the link to the research article mentioned above called Financial Capabilities Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder if you would like to look into it further.

Friendship Circle has an article with 5 ways to Teach Money Management to Older Children with Special Needs you could check out.

Other Blog Posts you may find helpful

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

How to Help Teens with Autism with Organization Skills

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Individuals with Autism

How to Teach Kitchen Safety Skills for Teens with Autism

Where to Start when Teaching Life Skills to Teens with Autism

References:

Nancy C. Cheak-Zamora, Michelle Teti, Clark Peters, Anna Maurer-Batjer. Financial Capabilities Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2017; 26 (5): 1310 DOI: 10.1007/s10826-017-0669-9

University of Missouri-Columbia. (2017, April 17). Money a barrier to independence for young adults with autism: Researchers suggest parents, caregivers and financial institutions can play a role in helping young adults with autism improve financial literacy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170417155019.htm

Tips for Teaching Money Management to Teens with Autism