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Teaching Your Special Needs Child About Money & Personal Finance Basics

Teaching Your Special Needs Child About Money & Personal Finance Basics


Increasing the independence of your special needs child is a top priority for all parents and caregivers.


One very important way to equip your child for this is to teach them about money and personal finance basics.


In this article, we provide several pieces of advice for any parent hoping to teach their special needs child more about money, personal finance basics, and other financial concepts.

Give Grace, Be Patient, & Have Awareness Around Their Challenges

From the day that your child is born and throughout their life, most typical things are not going to be easy. However, with supportive parents, caregivers, and a community behind them, special needs children can overcome many obstacles thrown their way.


Knowing that children with special needs may have a tough time understanding abstract concepts, mastering money and personal finance basics may be a challenge.


As a parent teaching them about these important concepts, we recommend the following tips:

  • Give yourself grace: There are going to be times when you get frustrated or something does not click for your child. Expect that to happen and do not be too hard on yourself. Make sure to always take a step back and ensure that you are managing the responsibility of being a caregiver in a healthy, balanced way.

  • Be patient: Because your child may struggle with more complex concepts, everything that you teach them may take longer for them to grasp. Think long-term and count every small win along the way.

  • Have awareness around their challenges: Depending on where on the spectrum of developmental differences your child sits, the more aware you are (as the parent) of their challenges, (1) the easier it is for you to manage your expectations, and (2) the more insight you will have on effective ways to teach them.

Start Talking Money When They Are Young

The earlier you expose them to anything related to money, the better.


While there will be many pressing challenges as soon as your child is born, it is important to keep in mind the value of learning about money, personal finance, and other financial concepts. This is true for a child that does not have special needs and is still very true for a child with special needs. As a parent, you want your special needs child to be as self-sufficient as possible and a part of the community. Helping them learn about money early is an important step.


Make it a point to explain (and even narrate) actions related to money. This could be when you are with your child at the grocery store or simply sending a check in the mail (to cover a bill). Doing this early and often will start planting (money) seeds in their head that should stick with them as they get older.

Let Them Handle Real Money (Coins & Dollar Bills)

Because special needs children may have a hard time with abstract concepts, it is important to teach them about money in a way that gets as “real” as possible.


One way to do this and strip away any layers of complexity is to actually let them handle physical coins and dollar bills. While younger, this could be just teaching them about pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. However, as they are older, you can shadow them at a grocery store making a purchase with actual money.

Emphasize The Concepts Of Cards & Online Purchases

One important tip is to make sure to teach your special needs child (teen or adult) about the real transactions associated with credit (and debit) cards and online purchases (whether on a computer or smartphone).


Because this is all done electronically and not with physical coins or dollar bills, there becomes another layer of complexity for your child to understand.


A good way to grasp the idea of credit cards is to actually use the card for a purchase and later on, show them the physical statement that shows the line item of that purchase.


Depending on if your special needs teen or adult uses a smartphone or tablet, explaining how a simple tap of a button (via in-app purchases) is connected to a real transaction is critical.

We’re Here to Help

At ABW Wealth Advisors, we believe that wise stewardship of money leads to a better quality of life for your family. We want to improve your life by managing your finances related to your families’ goals and needs. We help special needs families and the wider disability community prosper.


If you’d like to know more about our services and how we can help you and your family deal with the challenges of having a disability, schedule a “Break the Ice Introductory Call”.


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