Once out of prison, one of your first priorities will be to find a job. But then what? How about learning to manage your money?
How do you manage the money you earn? How will you handle your expenses as well as possible? You may have to come up with rent for a place to live, money for a car or transportation and possibly deal with child support payments or have debts to pay off.
If you’ve been in prison for a while, your finance handling skills may be a bit rusty and in need of an upgrade. But don’t worry. There’s an excellent money management course – the best basic one we found online – offered free of charge by the Goodwill Community Foundation. Yes, it’s the same Goodwill that operates thrift stores. But this program, GCFLearnFree.org, is produced in coordination with Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina.
The tutorial, as the organization calls its online classes, is called Money Basics, and the lessons are broken down into four areas:
- Money management
- Banking and retirement
- Money in the marketplace
The lessons are very basic and explain everything in an easily understandable way. They also include links to online resources that provide even more information.
If you take the tutorial, you will begin by looking at how you manage money and if you need to make any changes in the way you do it. There’s a quiz to determine how much you know about basic finances and eight steps to take to better manage your money.
Some of the lessons and what you might learn in them
Creating a budget explains what a budget is and how to create one. It includes a budget worksheet listing all the things you might need to pay for and a math tutorial for those weak in the numbers department. There are tips for things that can help you stay within your budget, like making sure the price of an item is the best you can find, shopping at thrift stores and not eating out as much.
Credit goes into detail about loans and credit cards, how to chose a credit card and what you need to know about credit reports. It also includes a calculator to estimate the actual cost of a loan at various interest rates.
Staying out of debt defines debt and helps you decide whether you have too much. It explains credit counseling and bankruptcy and gives tips on how to stay solvent.
Other lessons cover such crucial information as banks and credit unions, exactly what you need to do to open a checking account and how to deal with ATMs, and learning to put money away in a savings account.
Four lessons deal with things that are purchased or rented
Shopping teaches how to comparison shop and get the best deals.
Buying a car will help you establish a budget, research the type of vehicle you’d like to buy, learn how to negotiate and determine what the car will really cost after everything is added together.
Finding a place to rent teaches those looking for a place to live how to explore the options and includes a list of questions to ask a potential landlord.
Buying a house covers whether you can afford to and, if so, how to find one, make an offer and get a loan.
This Money Basics tutorial can be completed at your own pace, so it’s not clear how long it will take you. But spend the time, and you will be more knowledgeable about money-related matters and better able to get your financial life back in gear.
To learn even more about money management, click here.