How make the most of your paycheck and spend wisely

Did you hear about the electrician who got his first paycheck? He was shocked!

All jokes aside, receiving your first paycheck is exciting. It feels good to be rewarded for hard work! The first payday can be a milestone moment for transition students who are launching into the employment world. But once that hard-earned money is in the bank, the real challenge starts: making and following a plan to spend wisely

Without a saving plan, payday deposits can dwindle away. A five-dollar coffee drink here, an impulsive purchase there…it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture goals. Maybe that goal means saving for a new computer, or a bike, or a weekend vacation. Transition students who build good budgeting habits from the start will reach their goals more quickly, while still covering the basic bills.


Ready to get started? Here are five free tools to help take control of your finances and make the most of your paycheck.


Upload a budgeting app for phone or tablet

The Good Budget app helps users split their money into virtual envelopes, each with a different purpose. There might be one envelope for groceries, one for going out with friends, and one for household bills. The app tracks how much is spent from each envelope, so you don’t come up short at the end of the month. The app is free to use at a basic level.


Meet with a finance coach

Sometimes a face-to-face conversation is the best way to get started, especially for young adults saving for a larger goal, like the security deposit for an apartment of their own. NeighborImpact, a local non-profit organization, offers personal finance coaching sessions to help define a saving strategy. The normal fee for a coaching session is $16, but fee waivers may be available.


Learn money management as a family project

The Your Money, Your Goals toolkit offers a way for parents and their young adult children to work together, topic by topic. This resource guides families through conversations about money, how to use credit, repaying debts, and paying bills. Download the toolkit in English or Spanish.


Get financially savvy by watching videos

For visual learners who prefer watching a video to reading text, Udemy’s Personal Finance 101 offers a fun animated option. The videos are designed for beginners, without being intimidating or overwhelming. Each lasts about five minutes, and breaks down a basic topic into bite-size concepts. Since there’s no fee, the on-demand videos can be watched as often as needed to reinforce the ideas.


Low-tech worksheets teach money skills too

How about a financial tool for old fashioned pencil and paper planners? The National Disability Institute makes that easy, with worksheets to download and print off. These include spending and saving diaries, steps to choose a bank, menu planning and shopping lists, and financial fitness scores. Their mission is to equip people with disabilities with the tools to achieve financial wellness, and their downloads make it easy to get started.