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Managing money

Photo: Budgeting and accessing benefits can help your teen manage their finances.

As your child gets older, they may need to take more control over their finances. Deaf young people can be entitled to financial support to help them with everyday life, including in education and work. Because of this, your teen might need to plan their spending more than their hearing friends.

Dad Phil tells us how he helps his daughter Jodie (20), who was born profoundly deaf, manage her finances.

“Any young person leaving home or learning to manage their finances for the first time may encounter difficulties and being deaf or lacking in confidence when communicating can magnify any issues. In our experience planning can really help.”

Think ahead and plan

Involving your teen in the shopping or paying bills before they leave home can help them understand the costs of everyday items or services. Phil and his daughter found thinking ahead and doing practice runs useful.

“Try to make lists of all the new areas your child will have to manage themselves and plan and rehearse each as much as possible with a little moral support before they go it alone.”

Research bank accounts

There are lots of banks and different accounts offer different things, so your teen needs to find the one that’s right for them. Phil suggests getting your teen’s bank account sorted in advance.

“Set up bank accounts before leaving home. It’s easiest to do this online but if a visit to a branch is needed, consider a chaperone to support and help with any communication issues. For younger people, some age-specific accounts are restrictive, check what your account and card will and won’t do.”

Before choosing a bank, you may want to find out if they have deaf-friendly features. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) video relay or next generation text. It’s also helpful to think about what your teen would need in an emergency, for example, if they lost their bank card or can’t pay their bills. Phil recommends online features too.

“Use mobile apps, online banking and cheque scanning apps. Most things can be done online, and this cuts out any difficult communication. Live chats for banks and other organisations are worth considering. It puts your conversation into written form which can make it easier to manage and explain. It’s often quicker to get an answer too.”

You can learn more about different types of bank accounts on the Money Advice Service website or MoneySavingExpert.

Find funding for equipment and support

Phil got in touch with the local authority to find out what support Jodie could get when paying for equipment and technology.

“Local authorities in the area where your child is staying can sometimes help with support or equipment. We found this to be a bit of a lottery and it involved lots of ringing around but it’s worth it if it helps you. You can search ‘council name’ and ‘disability’ support as a start.

The Department for Work and Pensions can help in some circumstances too. When contacting them it’s important to be persistent and tell them how they can be deaf aware in order to help you.”

Emily (19), who is profoundly deaf, explains what she considered when moving out.

“Technology helped us a lot. We have a smoke alarm that wakes us up through vibration if there’s a fire, vibrating alarm clocks and a flashing doorbell. It was a main priority for us when we moved in, we got in touch with Deaf Services and they installed them.”

If your teen goes to university or college, they can also receive support and funding for equipment, such as radio aids and microphones, from their welfare department.

Phil adds:

“The welfare department should be in touch well before your child arrives, however, make sure you contact them and build up a good relationship. Make sure you know how to contact them quickly if things go wrong.”

Check out benefits and financial support

Your teen needs to find out what financial support they can get. They might be able to get extra money to help with independent living, travel, studying and support in the workplace.

This includes:

  • Access to Work: This helps with costs at work, like interpreters and palantypists.
  • Universal Credit: Your teen may be eligible if they’re on a low income or unemployed. They can sometimes get paid extra because of a disability or deafness. 
  • Bursaries or grants: Your teen needs to be a student to be eligible. Turn2us have a grants finder for extra help with things like paying for a piece of technology or to help with studies.

You can speak to a benefits advisor or contact our helpline for help applying for financial support. You can also use online benefits calculators to check what they’re entitled to, like those on the Turn2us and Entitledto websites. Find more information about studying and benefits here.

To receive Universal Credit and other benefits, you’ll need a bank or building society current account, or an account with an alternative provider like a credit union. The account must allow you to both make and receive automated payments.

Talk about budgeting and bills 

The best way for your teen to stay in charge of their money is to budget. If they’re receiving different benefits or financial support, they’ll need to keep track of this. Phil helped his daughter learn how to budget in a simple way.

“We worked out the basics, income versus outgoings, and then split that into essential areas. By the end of this exercise we had a rough idea of how much could be spent on various area such as:

  • Food
  • Socialising 
  • Clothing
  • Travel and fuel
  • Bills: phone, electric, gas etc. 

Where possible, consider setting up direct debits for payments so they don’t forget to pay a bill.” 

You may also want to talk your teen through a household bill before they receive their own.

Emily, who uses British Sign Language (BSL), explains how she felt when she first came across her own bills.

“The main challenges were sorting out letters about Council Tax or bills. I found the English jargon was hard for me to understand because I mainly use BSL now. I had to look up what words meant and ask other people’s advice on what to do.”

There are lots of tools to help with budgeting, including apps you can use on your phone, some are even linked directly to your bank account. Banking apps sometimes allow you to set ‘saving goals’ for specific items. This can help your teen work towards something and keep track of their savings. Many banks, such as Barclays, Nationwide and Lloyds, offer money and financial education things for free through their websites too.

If your teen get into problems with money, the Money Advice Service will be able to help and give advice. They can also contact charities like Stepchange for free help. Both have useful tools for budgeting and information about debts and what to do if you find yourself in that situation.