Why Money Management Can Be Hard for People With Autism

Credit cards and cash.
Credit cards and cash.

When everyone gets older, including people with autism, we need and want things. And no matter where you go in life, you’re going to need one very important thing: money. Needs cost money, like food, water and shelter. And wants cost money, like cars and entertainment. In my experience, money management can be difficult for many people in the autism community.

When people with autism become teenagers and adults, we tend to want a lot of stuff. This may include movies, video games, or anything else we love to collect that may look like junk to other people. We may also want to eat out at restaurants and go other places. But it becomes a problem when we buy too much and don’t have money for the important things. People will say to us, “stop buying that stuff, you don’t need it” and “go out less.” When we hear advice like that, we’re not trying to ignore you, but money management is so hard for many of us.

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To help an individual with autism learn to manage money better, work with them on being more independent. If you feel they have the capability to move out and live on their own, help them accomplish that. In my experience, my money management got a little better when I started living alone, as I learned that my bills came before everything else.

Be careful if you or somebody you love with autism wants a credit card. Their money management skills will get worse if they go into too much debt. It’s hard for many neurotypical people, let alone someone with autism, to understand interests and payments and how fast you can end up in debt.

Make sure you pay your rent, food and other necessities before any things that aren’t as important. If you drive a car to get to work every day, make sure your needs for that like car payment, car repairs and gas are priorities. Money management is very important as you get older. You will need those skills to save up for housing, retirement, kids’ needs including college, and much more as your life continues. It’s best to start developing these skills now as it will be much harder later.

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Try saving $20 or more a paycheck, and you’ll be surprised how much that can add up when the year is over. Try putting all your tax returns away. Try opening an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). Open special accounts for your kids’ college, vacations if you want them, and more. Put money in those and never touch them until you absolutely need it. All of this will help you to have the money you need for life. It’ll be hard, but I believe you can do it.

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