Essential Money Management for Homeless

Read more about Online Budgeting Tools

Regardless of your income, money management is a useful skill. These resources offer info on budgeting, assistance programs, and more, for unhoused peoples.

While each person's needs are different, general financial literacy can be a useful lifeline in building self-sufficiency.

The following resources provide helpful information on managing money, locating assistance programs, and building skills for those currently experiencing homelessness.

Addressing homelessness is not "one-size-fits-all"
An increase in homelessness across the U.S. means that the needs of unhoused people are extremely varied, complex, and consequently, not applicable across the board. We hope that this information can be helpful, but please keep in mind that each link may not apply to everyone currently experiencing homelessness.

Assistance: Food, Housing and More

Securing food, housing and other benefits can be a crucial lifeline while working toward financial security.

Take a look through the below resources to find organizations and programs that can connect you with different kinds of assistance.

General Financial Assistance and Benefits

Food Assistance

Housing Assistance and Shelter Programs

Building Financial Literacy

"Financial literacy" is the general ability to understand finance and effectively use financial skills to manage your own money.

Financial literacy, like any skill, takes time to develop. Take steps to build your financial skills with the articles, videos, and games below.

Articles, Podcasts, and Videos

Games and Online Tools

  • SPENT: A decision-making game that stimulates living paycheck-to-paycheck and how to adapt for financial stability.
  • Financial Football: A free interactive 3D game that utilizes football to teach finance skills to the player.
  • Hit the Road: A simulation game that challenges players to budget money to reach the destination.
  • Payoff: An experimental game that involves using fake mobile bank accounts and challenges players to make the correct financial decisions.
  • Your Money, Your Goals Toolkit: A toolkit focused on teaching money management, credit and debit, and choosing necessary financial products for teens.
  • CashCourse: A tool provides financial lessons through instructor assignments or self-study.

Tips for Carrying Cash and Preventing Fraud
Part of financial literacy includes learning how to prevent fraud and how to safely carry cash. Read up on those topics below.

Budgeting Tips and Tools

Budgeting might not seem like a priority, but it can be an important tool in working toward financial independence.

These resources help break down the process of budgeting into bite-size pieces and give you easy ways to keep tabs on where your money goes.

Budgeting Basics and How-Tos

Online Tools and Apps

  • Ohana: A simulation bank mobile app that helps prepare teens for banking with incentive programs.
  • Money Lover: Finance app that can be used to track money and set-up budget plans including debt management features.
  • Toshl Finance: An app used to manage finances, track expenses, and set-up a monthly budget plan.
  • Mint: A multi-platform app that provides access to all finances, a budgeting tool, and free credit score reports.
  • Wally: A finance app that helps monitor spending and expenses with a budgeting tool to help increase savings.
  • YNAB: A budgeting app that helps track expenses and spending of teens with a monthly report to monitor progress.
  • Budgeting 101: Videos, articles, and quizzes that help teens learn budgeting skills.
  • SAM Budget Wizard: An online tool of SAM for creating a budget plan to help in managing finances.
  • BudgetTracker: Budget management tool that keeps track of expenses, spending, and notifications of due dates of bills.

Building Skills and Earning Money

Hoping to build up your skills or join a work program? Be sure to check out the following resources to free skills training, job search assistance, library resources, and more.

Plus, if you're looking for little ways to earn extra money, consider checking out the bottom of this section for ideas.

Skills, Training and Education

Job Search Resources

  • American Job Center: American Job Centers provide services such as free job assistance, training opportunities, and public rooms full of resources.
  • VA Employment Programs for Homeless Veterans: Veterans Affairs offers programs that provide job assistance, skill development, and employment opportunities for homeless veterans.
  • Find a Job Now: An online search tool that helps in finding available jobs throughout the US.

Ideas and Tips for Earning Money

Everything to Know About Banking

Banking presents a particular challenge to unhoused people for several reasons.

In many cases, requiring a state-issued ID or permanent address makes opening an account out of reach. For others, owing a bank money or having a poor record with a bank is a significant obstacle.

While we can't recommend any workarounds for the proof-of-address issue, we have gathered some resources that may be helpful for getting a state-issued ID or getting an account if you have a troubled history with a bank. Find these resources, plus info on the basics of banking, below.

Banking Basics

Banking Without an ID

ChexSystems and "Second-Chance" Bank Accounts
If you've had a less-than-ideal experience with banks in the past (for example, your account was closed or you owe money), that info is reflected on your ChexSystems report.

ChexSystems is a reporting agency that keeps track of your past problems with banking. If you're trying to open an account with a new bank, that bank can deny you if your ChexSystems report is poor.

Some banks offer "second-chance" accounts. This means the bank either does not check your ChexSystems report or is willing to overlook your previous mistakes.

Second-chance accounts aren't a viable option for everyone, but if you've had an account in the past, take time to research the options below.

If You Have Past Banking Mistakes

How to Cash a Check without a Bank Account

Building and Repairing Credit

Maybe your future goals include renting an apartment or saving up for a car.

If so, these credit basics can break down what steps to take to build healthy credit, repair poor credit, and improve overall financial health.

The cost of having no credit
Building your credit may not be at the top of your to-do list at this exact moment. And that's completely okay.

However, taking some time to learn about credit and the easier ways to build it up can be worth it in the long-run.

According to Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, nearly one in five Americans have no credit file, which poses a big risk if they face an emergency medical expense or crucial car repairs. In situations like this, having access to affordable, non-predatory credit can be vital.

Credit Cards for Those with Poor Credit
Everyone's financial situation is different, and credit cards aren't an ideal option for everyone. But if you're in a position to apply for credit card, consider the following cards for rebuilding your credit.

Paying Off Debt

If you have outstanding debt, there are plenty of resources at your disposal to pay it off and help regain control of your financial well-being.

Start with these tips and tools to break down debt piece-by-piece.

What to Do When You Owe People Money

Saving Money

It's completely okay if saving money is not on your radar right now. But if you're hoping to start setting aside some money soon or later in the future, these articles can help you build a simple, sustainable strategy to do just that.

Remember: saving a little bit (even sporadically) can add up over time and help with unexpected costs.

Bottom Line

Whether you're seeking affordable housing or working toward self-sufficiency, there is plenty of info out there to help you get ahead and build stability.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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