I’m leaving the care system, how do I manage my money?

Illustration shows a young person shopping as money falls out of their bag behind them

The Mix would like to thank MyBnk for their help and expertise in producing this article. Click here, or below, to take our e-learning course, built in collaboration with MyBnk.


Keeley is a MyBnk staff member but also a young person who has experience of the care system – below is her personal account.

How to manage your money as a care leaver

As a care leaver, our relationship with money can often be a bittersweet one. Especially if you’re between the ages of 16-18 and you have no other option but to claim benefits. Because of this, care leavers are forced to face the harsh realities of what it really means to survive. But unfortunately, many find it difficult and are left living below their means.

For example, when I first moved into my property, I was expected to live off £57 a week. This included me having to pay my service charge, water, gas, electricity, food, toiletries and internet. As you can imagine, this was close to impossible and because of this I was always in my overdraft. My income just wasn’t enough to afford all of my essential items that I needed to survive.

Now, just like my experience, this is the situation for the majority of care leavers, before they are able to find themselves some stable employment. Being in the midst of a financially hard situation can also really take a toll on your mental health and because of this, I have listed some solutions that helped me to remain positive whilst going through some tough financial times.

Stay positive

I know this can be easier said than done, but please understand that your current situation is not your final destination and that things will get better. To help you practise this, you can begin to recite some positive affirmations to yourself daily such as “I will get through this” or “tough times don’t last forever.” If you do this daily, your mindset will soon start to change and the way you perceive situations will be a lot better.

If you need some support on leaving care and want to speak some experts who know what you’re going through, try contacting Become.

Be an opportunist

Often when going through a financially hard situation, things can be pretty tough, not to mention the lack of motivation that may come with it. However, I encourage you to be an opportunist! Search for interesting job opportunities and apply for them and picture yourself sitting at your new desk. There are also some amazing organisations that support care leavers to find employment.

Please have a look at The Ernest Young Foundation and Drive Forward Foundation to find out more about how you can get involved.

Look for other ways to make an income

The first way you can do this is simply by looking at what you’re good at. For example, if you’re great at doing hair or makeup you could open up your own business. If you have loads of clothes or other items you no longer wear or use, this could also be another way of making money where you could sell them online on platforms such as Ebay or Depop.

Take a look at this article to find more tips on how to make some extra cash.

Only accept the best

At times, being in financial hardship can really force you to accept anything, especially as you may currently feel as though you have nothing. But never let that allow you to accept something that is mediocre when you’re capable of something much greater. It’s important that you’re intentional about the opportunities that you accept and only accept the BEST.

I need some more support with money

If you’re still feeling worried about your finances, that’s ok and we’re here to help. Money can be a really stressful issue to navigate, especially while everything is so uncertain. But our support team are here to listen, offer reassurance and connect you to the right advice. Head here to speak to our team of experts and trained volunteers.

Additionally, you can find more information and tips on managing your finances on our money hub page.

Read our financial guide to deciding where to live.

Next Steps

  • The Money Helper offers free, unbiased and independent advice about all financial matters. 0800 138 7777
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 13-Aug-2020