Learn how to manage before you get into trouble

Money. You may have heard it said that it is the root of all evil. Well, it's very hard to manage without, there never seems to be enough, and it certainly does cause trouble and a lot of worry as well as give you the means to get things you like, want or need.

If you are in your early teens you might think none of this page applies to you, especially if you are given pocket money and that's it to spend as you like. But if you are less fortunate you may get little or no pocket money, usually because your household really doesn't have enough income. Once you start to work part time or full time, you might think that's the end of your problems with money, but it will almost always never seem enough when you are impatient to be out there spending. Even more so once you have to start thinking about paying bills and the cost of where you live. So you need to learn how to manage whatever you've got coming in.

You also need to know what you can and can't do with it. Citizens' Advice have facts about young people and money which tell you about bank accounts, credit cards, debts and all sorts of things to do with your rights and what you are responsible for at which age.

Young people give top tips for managing money - a film from Citizens' Advice

It can be quite a shock once you start paying for things yourself. It's great having your own money and being able to decide what to spend it on - until there doesn't seem to be enough. The earlier you learn how to budget the better you will manage when you are completely on your own financially. If you have parents or other adults you can learn from who do seem to manage, try to learn how they do it and remember any money saving tips they pass on. Shop around for the best value for whatever you want, and try to leave enough for treats now and again. If you leave home this is even more important.

But with the best of intentions, you might still get into debt. If you overdraw, use credit cards or take out loans, you don't just owe what you borrowed but "interest" is added on meaning that you owe more than you borrowed. You can't run away from the consequences and you need to know what to do if you've spent more than you should, missed payments or generally got into a mess.

Don't ignore the red reminders - it can cost you! Scooby found out just how much.


Your bank balance or credit card are not the source of endless amounts of money. Shop til you drop can get out of hand all too easily when you choose to forget it needs paying back.

Whatever your circumstances you need to balance what you have coming in against what is going out, and this is extremely important if you are thinking of moving in with mates or into your own place. Don't kid yourself about how much things cost and don't forget to include the bills like council tax, electricity and water as well as the rent. Get advice before you make major purchases like cars which might not be as good as they look, and think about how much insurance will be - not much use having a car and not being able to use it.

You probably heard about "loan sharks" and people who lend money unofficially but soon send the lads round if you can't pay up on time. This is illegal and dangerous to get mixed up in. If you really have to borrow, ask family, your bank if you are old enough, or if you are at work they may have a payday loan scheme where you can borrow some of your wages in advance. If you bank with a credit union you can usually borrow small amounts without interest. But don't forget with all of these YOU HAVE TO PAY IT BACK, usually with interest,  and it isn't extra money. Sooner or later everything you have coming in can be already owed to somebody else and that is no good to anybody except the person you owe!

If you are looking for work, or an apprenticeship, make sure you understand how much you are going to be paid and how often, cash or into the bank, and if you think it is not right, go to Citizen's Advice or Connexions for information and advice on rates of minimum pay and conditions.

If you are at work, living away from home, you may be able to get some help if your income is very low. Check out benefits entitlements with Citizens Advice, Government information on NIDirect.

If you are still in education or education through work, see what may be available on NIdirect. If you plan to go on to further education including university, find out in advance about student loans and how you would manage financially.

Remember that rules and laws are changing all the time and you should check whether any information you are going to rely on is still current. This is especially true of benefits and arrangements for student loans.


The page was last updated on 09 March 2018 by pcouch.

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