Managing your finances

What’s Happening

If you feel like your finances are out of control, you are not alone! Many families worry about money. While common, a daily struggle to pay bills creates stress that can harm your family life and your child’s well-being. 

What You Might Be Seeing

Your family is said to have “financial stability” if you have:

  • The ability to pay bills on time
  • A manageable amount of debt
  • A 3–6 month emergency fund to protect you against loss of income

Remember: It is possible to achieve financial stability, even after a setback. The steps you take today will help create a brighter future for your family! 

What You Can Do

No matter what your situation, you can take steps to move your family toward greater financial stability. Here are some things you can do to help alleviate some of the financial pressure. 

  • Know where your money goes. Track your family’s spending for a month, and balance your checkbook regularly. These steps will help you feel more in control and will help you create a realistic budget.
  • Get organized. Make sure you know how much each person in your household gets paid and when. Know which bills need to be paid out of each paycheck. Keep all bills in one place so they don’t get lost, and review your finances often.
  • Spend only what you make. Put away credit cards and use cash instead. This will help ensure that you buy only what you really need and want.
  • Get help to stretch your budget. State and Federal programs include the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps or WIC, TANF, low-cost childcare or housing, Head Start, and others.
  • Get a bank account. Check-cashing services and payday loans charge high fees. One program that helps people access free or low-cost checking accounts is Bank On:
  • Start saving. Individual development accounts (IDAs) match your savings to help you reach a goal such as buying a home, training for a new job, or starting a small business. Find an IDA program near you:
  • Seek new employment opportunities. Work readiness, vocational training, job placement, and career counseling programs can help you find and qualify for new opportunities that may pay better and move you toward greater security.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway,

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