Cultural Orientation for Refugees

Money Management

Money Management in the U.S.

  • Read - Money Management in the U.S. Fact Sheet
  • Listen - Money Management in the U.S. Podcast

The cost of living in the United States varies greatly from one location to another, but in many places it can be high. This is why finding a job as soon as possible is very important for all adults who can work. You will need to be careful with your money, so that you do not spend more than you can afford.

Managing Personal Finances

You are responsible for managing your own personal finances. One way to keep from spending too much is to create a budget. Learning how to budget is an important skill. In order to create a budget, it is important for you to know your monthly income and expenses, such as rent, utilities, and groceries. For budgeting purposes, it will be important to identify what your family wants versus what your family needs. Some of the wanted items may be expensive and unnecessary, and could take away from the needs of your family. The staff at your resettlement agency will help you make a budget.

Banking System

The safest places to keep money in the United States are banks which are federally regulated and insured. There are different types of banks. The resettlement agency will be able to help you find the bank that is best for you. If you have cultural or religious beliefs about money (for example, if you believe it is wrong to pay or collect interest), you may be able to find a bank in your area that practices your beliefs.

You should understand how to deposit money into a bank account, and how to withdraw it by using an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), or by writing a check. At a bank, you can put your money in a checking account or a savings account or both. Checking accounts are good for when you expect to deposit and withdraw money regularly using checks and ATM cards. Savings accounts are used to save money that you will not need for a while. At first, you will probably only need a checking account. Later, when you are able to start saving money, you may want to have both a checking account and a savings account.

When you use a credit plan or credit card, you are borrowing money and will be charged interest on the amount you owe. To have a good credit history, make your payments on time every month. Making monthly payments on your travel loan is your first chance to build a good credit history in the United States.

Direct Deposit

Many employers offer or require direct deposit into employee bank accounts. With direct deposit, your pay is sent directly to your bank account instead of given to you in the form of a check. There are several benefits to direct deposit. Your check cannot be lost, and no one can steal it and try to cash it with a forged signature. Also, you will receive your pay even if you are not at work on payday, and you do not need to make a trip to the bank to deposit your check. Finally, with direct deposit, your money is in your account and available to you right away. If you deposit a check yourself, it may take a day or two for the money to become available in your account.

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