1. Money

Money and how to manage it are one of the things that most worries young people leaving care. Your PA can help you to sort out your money and how to budget it.

Budgeting is really important as it means you can make sure you have enough money to pay your bills, with enough to buy your food and clothes. If you don’t budget you could end up overspending and owing money. You should always avoid spending more than you have.

Some of things you will need to spend money on include:

  • Rent
  • Water, electricity and gas bills
  • Council tax
  • Mobile phone bill (either monthly payments or Pay As You Go)
  • Landline/broadband
  • TV licence
  • Food/toiletries
  • Clothes
  • Car insurance, road tax and fuel if you own a car
  • Public transport – bus and train fares

Some things you could spend money on include:

  • Books/DVDs
  • Netflix/Amazon Prime or a similar streaming service
  • Going out – restaurant, cinema, etc.
  • Holidays
  • Christmas/birthdays
  • Hobbies – gym membership, swimming, cycling, etc.

It's a good idea to work out how much you will spend each month, so you know how much you can spend. You can find online budget calculators to make this easier.

2. How can I get money?

1. Work

The best way to earn money is to get a job. Even if you are studying at university most students find they can manage a part-time job or they work during holidays. Making sure you are in work is also good for your CV, so future employers can see that you are keen to work and are reliable. Take a look at the Employment section for more information

2. Personal Allowances

If you are aged 16 or 17 and are living independently, you will be able to claim a weekly personal allowance.

Your social worker will help you to set up a bank account – there are lots of bank accounts designed specifically for young people, that can help make banking easy and stop you getting into debt. It’s easiest to get your personal allowance paid into your account by BACS, which is a bank transfer. This usually goes in at the end of the week.

3. Independent Living Grant

This is a budget for young people leaving care who want to live independently, with up to a total of £2000 being available. Your social worker or PA will help you to decide what to buy with it, as it is important that you have all the essential things you need, such as a fridge, a bed and a washing machine.

4. Benefits

This comes from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) and is for people either looking for work or on a low income. Examples of the different types of benefit you could receive include:

  • Universal Credit – a monthly payment to help you get into paid work.
  • Job Seekers Allowance – also to encourage you to find paid work.
  • Income Support – you can claim this if you are in full-time non-advanced education (Level 3 or below) up to the age of 21.
  • ESA – for people who have a health condition that prevents them from being available for work.
  • Housing Benefit – if you are looking for work, at college or on a low income, you can get help with paying your rent. Your PA can explain how this works.

3. Keeping your money safe

There are some simple steps you can take to make sure your money stays safe:

  • Never give your bank cards or PIN number to anyone
  • Make sure you shred any letters containing your details before you throw it away
  • If you receive an email or phone call from an individual or company asking for money, do not give out any of your details. Sometimes fraudsters will even pretend to be from your bank. If you are unsure whether the call was genuine, go to your bank and let them know what happened
  • Make sure you have suitable antivirus protection on your computer
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi when doing your online banking as this is not always secure
  • When logging on to your online account or before paying for anything online, check for a 'https' and a padlock symbol in the browser bar
  • Make sure you have a strong password and PIN for your online banking and don't share these with anyone
  • Check your bank statements to make sure there are no unusual transactions. If there is anything you don't recognise, report it to your bank immediately.

4. Debt

Getting into debt means that you owe money to people, companies or banks. The best thing you can do is to manage your money and not get into debt, but if you do owe money do not ignore it. Ignoring debt is the worst thing you can do and often leads to more debt.

Make sure you pay off any debt as soon as you can. If you can't pay off all of it, you can often come to agreement to pay it off bit by bit, either weekly or monthly.

If you have run up a debt and don't know what to do, just be honest with your PA and they will be able to help you work things out. The Citizens' Advice Bureau also offers free advice on debt problems.

Top tip: If you are short of money do not be tempted by a 'pay day loan'. They are expensive and you can end up owing a lot of money in a matter of weeks.