Money Management

RLN helps individuals learn and maintain the importance of money management.



A subject like budgeting has many nuances. For the individual who has a learning disability, it’s potentially far more complicated.  We need to be careful of our assumptions. It’s important that we don’t assume that the individual with a disability isn’t capable of managing their budget and finances successfully. At the same time, we don’t want to “throw them into the deep end” and give them a task that is beyond their skill set.

The complexity of how we teach a skill like budgeting will depend, in large part, on the level of functioning the learner is capable of, as well as the age of the learner. Older individuals may require a more in-depth understanding of the topic than a younger learner.

Here are some things to consider when discussing or teaching budgeting to a person with a learning disability:

  • First, discuss the importance of a budget. You needn’t jump into a formal lesson quickly. Define what a budget it, establish some financial goals and take time to discuss why these things are important to the learner. If these items are properly addressed, it is likely that the learner will be excited to move forward with the process.
  • Don’t make it complicated. Tailor your expectations to the learning level of the individual and avoid intricate detail. Focus on the most important parts of the budgeting process (tracking income and expenses) first.
  • Avoid technologically complicated tracking processes. Sometimes a paper and pencil is your best tool! There are excellent resources available that can provide a basic budget work sheet geared towards a lower learning level. I like how this template is basic, customizable, colorful/appealing and easy to understand
  • Make the numbers apply to the learner’s real life. Keep goal discussions going so they know what they are working toward. Emphasize keeping pay stubs and receipts.
  • Have regular check in sessions where you can keep tabs on the process and offer feedback. Help correct errors if they happen.
  • Offer plenty of encouragement. Keep the learner on track and build their confidence by praising progress!

What are Your Money Values?


Your values are those ideas and beliefs that really matter to you. Your values will determine what you will do with your money. Asking yourself, “How do I use my money now?” will tell you a lot about your money values. People use money two ways:

1) They buy things they need or want now.

2) They save for things they may need or want later. It’s not about how much money you have, but how you use your money. It is all about the choices you make.

The Difference Between Needs and Wants? Here’s a good rule about money: It is very important to make your needs come fi rst. That’s why it is important to know the difference between your needs and your wants. Before you start planning how to use your money, let’s be clear about the difference between needs and wants.

  • A need is something you must have to survive, like a place to live and enough food to eat.
  • A want is something you might like to have, but you don’t have to have it right away. You can save to have it later.

Spending Less Than Your Income

Spending less than your income is good! This is called a surplus. It means you have money left over. You’re in good shape.

When you plan a budget at the beginning of the month, plan to spend less than your expected income. At the end of the month, compare your Total Spending for needs and wants to your actual Total Monthly Income.