Learn to manage your money

Getting advice in the NYC Consumer Affairs office

Budgeting is a method for managing your money. Even if a parent or guardian supports you or you’re still in school, keeping track of what you earn and spend will help you feel more in control of your own financial future. Plus, you’ll avoid a lot of stress now—and later.

Creating a Budget

To create a budget, all you need is a sheet of paper and a pen! Write down your earnings and expenses, then compare them regularly (once a month or more). Earnings include all the money you make in a set period of time. Expenses are all the things you spend money on.

  • Calculating expenses
    Expenses break down into two main categories: things you need to spend money on and things you want to buy. The first category includes necessities like rent, food, and transportation. Add these up first.The second category includes everything extra you spend money on by choice, such as entertainment or clothes. Only spend money on these things once you’ve paid for your necessities.
  • Calculating a budget
    To figure out your budget you’ll have to do some simple math. First, write down what you expect to earn in a month. Then, subtract all your necessary expenses from that. If you have any money left over, add some to your savings account.

Open a savings account

You can open an NYC SafeStart Account, a savings account for all New Yorkers, at participating bank and credit union branches throughout NYC. Features include:

  • NO overdraft fees
  • NO monthly fees, provided minimum balances are met
  • LOW minimum balance requirements ($25 or less)
  • ATM card
Learn more about NYC SafeStart accounts

Living Within your Budget

Following a budget means “living within your means”—in other words, spending less than you make. It’s also a good idea to put some money aside for unexpected expenses like a medical bill or an apartment security deposit.

Once you create a budget, use it to guide your spending decisions each month. For example, if your budget is tight, maybe you’ll choose to spend less on going out for pizza. On the other hand, working an extra shift can help you buy something you really want!

Applying for an IDNYC card makes room in your budget, too. It’s not just an ID open to all New Yorkers 10 and older—it gives you discounts all around the City.

Increase your budget

Two steps you can take to boost your current and future budget are getting a job and increasing your “earnings potential”―what you can make in the future. So if you’re looking for a summer job, trying to decide what to do after high school, or just looking to expand your opportunities, the City has programs for you.

  • Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP)
    Youth ages 14 – 24 can find many different types of summer jobs through SYEP. Learn how to apply.
  • Learn & Earn (formerly the In-School Youth Employment Program)
    High school juniors and seniors in Learn & Earn get support with career planning, college prep, and staying in school. Find out if you’re eligible.
  • Jobs Plus
    Youth in public housing or cluster developments can get help with job searches and training, community support, and other services. Find out more.
Learn more about jobs and internships

Financial Counseling

Understanding how to manage your money can be confusing. Many people find it helpful to talk to an expert to learn more. In New York, you can always get help for free.

Get free financial help

NYC Financial Empowerment Centers offer free, one-on-one financial counseling in all five boroughs. You can get help in many areas, such as:

  • creating a budget
  • opening a bank account
  • improving your credit
  • saving for your future

Schedule an appointment by booking online or calling 311.

Schedule an appointment online

Budgeting in College

Managing your money while you’re in college can be challenging. Whether you’re getting support from loans, grants, scholarships, or parents or guardians, you probably don’t have a lot to spare.


Studying should be your main focus while you’re in school, but getting a job can help ease your financial burden. At some colleges, you can find an on-campus or off-campus part-time job through the federal Work-Study program. Check with your school’s financial aid office for more info.

Learn more about Work-Study