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Helping financial caregivers in every state


Helping financial caregivers in every state

Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a family member or friend who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions. We’ve heard from these financial caregivers about how tough it can be.

Kristin in Virginia had to take over financial management for her 35-year-old brother when he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a devastating car wreck. “Taking over financial caregiving for my brother was especially challenging when coupled with the physical and emotional trauma of his accident. Even though I’m a financially savvy individual, I had no idea where to get help…. Unfortunately, there was no guide, no checklist, or a book of best practices to refer to.”

In Florida, Hector stepped in to help his elderly mother after a niece stole nearly $100,000 from her. Despite his own severe disability, he works every day to make sure her nursing home bills are paid and her accounts are in order. “When you have to take care of someone else’s finances, you feel more responsible for their affairs than you do for your own. It’s overwhelming.”

Managing Someone Else’s Money

We listened to consumers about the need for easy-to-understand tools to help manage a loved one’s money. Two years ago we released the Managing Someone Else’s Money guides for financial caregivers all over the country, and we’ve distributed over 600,000 printed copies so far. The guides are for:

  • Agents under a power of attorney
  • Court-appointed guardians of property and conservators
  • Trustees
  • Government-benefit fiduciaries (Social Security representative payees and VA fiduciaries).

The guides help financial caregivers in three ways: they walk them through their duties, they tell them about protecting their loved ones from financial exploitation and scams, and they tell them where to go for help.

But, because people’s powers and duties overseeing another person’s finances vary from state to state, we’ve learned that people need more than a one-size-fits-all guide. That’s why we are releasing specially adapted guides for six states. We’ve already launched guides for Florida and Virginia, and soon will release guides to help financial caregivers in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois and Oregon.

But, what about the other 44 states and the territories?

Today we are releasing new tools to help experts in other states adapt the CFPB’s guides. These tips and templates are meant for key state professionals to develop guides for states that don’t have them. (If you are wondering who a key state professional is, check out tip 2, in the tips document.) Our tips and templates will make it easy for experts to create state guides with specific information that financial caregivers need to know. The tips tool explains how to adapt the guides in ten easy steps. The templates highlight the parts of our guides where experts can add information about your state’s laws, practices and resources.

The tips and templates are available for download on . If you would like free print copies of the tips document, you can order single copies or place bulk orders .

Let’s work together to meet the needs of people like Kristin and Hector in your community.

The teenage years are for practicing money decisions in a safe space



Previously, in our series about how children develop the skills and habits that support financial well-being in adulthood, we shared a few stories from parents. We illustrated how childhood is the time to acquire skills like self-control and planning ahead, and the preteen years are about getting familiar with the financial world around us. In this last part in the series, we’re going to explore how teenagers practice the financial skills that drive their choices in adulthood.

Teenagers can learn about personal finance through classroom courses and through real-world experiences. According to research we commissioned, well-designed classes or programs support the financial decisions teens face in their lives: how to identify facts they need, decide what information sources are reliable, and compare alternatives. Additionally, lessons can have staying power when the teenagers already use the products they’re learning about—like bank accounts.

At home, when teenagers make their own money decisions, these experiences can help make lessons learned stick. We want to share two stories we heard about teens’ experiences.

The teen who saved money by making his own lunch

As teens start to work, and earn and spend their own money, they experience firsthand the costs and value of things they buy. The idea of making tradeoffs takes a concrete shape.

When my son Kyle was 16, he had a summer job. The first week, he bought fast food every day for lunch. Then he did the math – the $7 he spent on lunch the first week added up to $35! Kyle asked me to buy him some groceries so he could bring his own lunch. He made his lunch almost every day for the rest of the summer and he was happy he could save $35 a week.

Kyle’s parent noticed how Kyle started out with one plan for his lunch and then changed his mind, after seeing how much he was spending. When Kyle asked for support, the parent helped him stick to his plan so he could see the savings add up.

You can also look for opportunities to empower your teenager to meet his or her own needs, as the following parent did.

The teen who earned her extra clothes

My daughter Maria and I were planning to visit the college where she would study the following fall.
I told her I would buy her only one sweatshirt—and I knew she would want to buy several. Two weeks before our visit, a friend asked me if I knew of a good dog sitter for a week and I said my daughter could do it. Maria earned $130, so when we went to the college, she was able to buy what she wanted. I was really proud of the way she took responsibility for the dog and didn’t complain about the work. I think it empowered her to know that she can work to earn money for the extra things she wants.

Maria’s parent helped her gain an opportunity to earn money for something she really wanted and to exercise her ability to make her own, independent spending decisions.

Experience helps teens develop financial confidence

Hands-on experiences with managing finances help to promote teens’ self-confidence and belief in their own ability to succeed. This is one of the key drivers for financial well-being in adulthood.

An important part of teenagers’ development is taking the time to process and reflect on their money decisions—so they can learn from successful choices as well as mistakes. Whether a teen is learning from a class or afterschool program, a first job, or a decision he or she has made, parents and caregivers can act as sounding boards. As they do for younger children, parents and caregivers continue to play an important role in facilitating behaviors in teens that lead to their financial well-being in adulthood.

For more ideas on teaching your kids about money, check out our resources for parents.

How do you help your teenagers practice making money decisions and reflect on the outcomes?

The names in this blog have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Read part 1 of this series: When your child learns self-control, it helps their financial future too
Read part 2 of this series: The right shoes and common sense can help your preteen gain financial ground

Here’s how coaching can help you meet your financial goals


Here’s how coaching can help you meet your financial goals graphic

We talked to people across the country about financial well-being and what it means to them. Many people told us that financial well-being means:

  • Feeling in control of day-to-day finances.
  • Having a safety net to help stop a financial shock from turning into a long-lasting setback, and
  • Staying on track to meet financial goals while also having the freedom to enjoy life, which means different things to different people. For some that means taking a vacation, for others it’s about going out to eat, and for others it could mean working less to spend more time with family.

At the CFPB, we believe all consumers have the right to achieve greater financial wellbeing for themselves and their families. That’s why we’ve studied a promising approach to financial education: financial coaching.

How financial coaching helps consumers

Earlier this week, the Urban Institute released a study we commissioned, which found that financial coaching can help increase financial well-being.

The study analyzed two different coaching programs serving low and moderate-income consumers – Branches, a faith-based social services organization in Miami and The Financial Clinic, a New York-based nonprofit helping build the financial security of working-poor Americans. Financial coaching is customized to meet each person’s goals, and the study found that coaches can help people achieve financial outcomes that are most relevant to their own situation. The study showed that on average, people offered access to financial coaching:

  • Increased savings by almost $1,200 in New York City
  • Reduced debt by over $10,000 in Miami
  • Increased credit scores by 21 points in New York City
  • Were more likely to pay bills on time
  • Reported an increased sense of confidence in their finances and reduced feelings of financial stress

Check out the study here to learn more about these financial coaching programs and how they serve consumers.

So, what does a financial coach do?

Financial coaches can help you address concerns by assisting you in defining your own personal financial goals as well as the steps you need to take to meet your goals. Financial coaches usually meet with clients one-on-one, and can help you:

  • Determine and define your financial goals
  • Develop concrete plans to meet those goals
  • Provide support over time as you work toward your goals

Our financial coaching initiative

The CFPB has a financial coaching initiative that provides guidance to recently-transitioned veterans and vulnerable families in places where they’re already going for assistance. We’ve joined forces with the Department of Labor (DOL) and more than two dozen non-profit social-services providers to place certified coaches in DOL American Job Centers and community-centered non-profits across the country.

Updated on October 15, 2015.

Adjusting to a new country’s financial system takes time



Wei Jiang, the author, as a young adult in China.

I had a worry-free life before I came to the United States. I lived with my parents and grandparents. I had a job and was paid in cash. I divided my pay into three equal portions. One-third went to Grandma as my contribution to household expenses. One-third went to my mother, who saved the money for me. The last one-third? I spent every penny of it.

When I came to the United States, I went directly to a university for a master’s program. The university provided boarding and a scholarship. I had a sheltered life during the two years in the program. My finances were simple and the university had guidance counselors who were willing to help. All I had to do was to open a checking account at the bank branch on campus and all my financial needs were met.

Two years passed quickly, and I was very fortunate to land a job after graduation. That’s when my finances became complicated, and I started to realize how little I knew about the U.S. financial services system and products. Renting an apartment, paying bills, managing savings, and sending money abroad were all new to me. I made a lot of bad choices, which resulted in a lot of small and unnecessary financial losses. I asked my friends for help, but many times, their advice turned out to be wrong and misleading.

Meanwhile, my financial needs seemed to evolve every day. My purchases became bigger and I needed to use credit cards, my savings got bigger and I wanted to invest, and eventually I decided to buy an apartment and needed a mortgage. In most cases, I walked into the bank where I opened the checking account when I arrived in the United States and took the first product they recommended. Looking back, I wish I had had more unbiased sources of information so I could have made smarter choices.

Are you an immigrant like me? If so, check out the Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money, and learn how to pay bills, receive money, open a bank account, and compare financial products. The information is extremely useful to new immigrants. I have been living in the United States for more than 25 years, and I still find some of the information helpful.

Newly arrived and in need of help navigating our financial system

Dubis Correal as a child in Colombia.

Dubis Correal, the author, as a child in Bogotá, Colombia.

When I came to United States from Colombia in September 1992, I didn’t speak any English. I can still remember the face of the airport employee who kept telling me where my luggage was, but I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. He saw confusion on my face, and with his hands – a little bit irritated – showed me four fingers to indicate that my baggage was at claim number FOUR.

Fortunately, my sister was here and she was very supportive. Even though she wasn’t financially sophisticated, she had a savings account at an institution close to her apartment in Queens, New York. She was paid weekly and went every Friday to deposit her paycheck.

I enrolled in college right away and worked as a waitress on the weekends. One day my sister took me to the bank where she had an account, so I could open my own savings account. Even though she didn’t know much about financial decisions, she knew one important thing: the value of saving, even little by little. My motivation was to be able to go back to Colombia every summer and I did it many times with my own money. Her guidance was the best thing I could have.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a sister like mine.

To help, we developed the Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money, an unbiased resource for recent immigrants. Take a look and see ways to pay bills, receive money, open a bank account, and compare financial products.

The newcomer’s guides to managing money



Beneficiary. Collateral. Debit. Fair market value. These terms might look familiar, but what do they really mean? Now imagine how confusing financial language might sound if you didn’t grow up speaking English. According to recent studies, people with limited English proficiency may be more likely to fall prey to frauds and schemes, and it can be harder to manage money on a day-to-day basis. That’s why we’ve developed the Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money to provide recent immigrants with straightforward information about basic money decisions.

Each guide features short tips to help new immigrants, and people who may be new to the U.S. banking system, avoid financial pitfalls. The guides also include information on how to submit a complaint if you’re having a problem with a financial product or service.

You can download, post, and share the Web-ready versions of the guides in English and Spanish (more languages coming) or order printed copies.

Ways to receive your money

Have you received a paycheck but aren’t sure whether to cash it or put it into a bank account? This guide provides information about receiving wages or payments. You can use this guide to compare the benefits and risks of getting paid in cash, with a check, by direct deposit, or on a card. [English | Español]

Checklist for opening an account

If you’re interested in opening a bank or credit union account, you can use this guide and checklist to make sure you have the required paperwork before opening your account. [English | Español]

Ways to pay your bills

Are you trying to decide whether to pay your rent by check or credit card? Take a look at this guide to compare the benefits and risks of paying regular and one-time bills by check or money order, by direct debit, online, or in cash. [English | Español]

Selecting financial products and services

If you’re trying to decide which financial services are right for you, this guide provides information about common transactions, including ATM cash withdrawals and debit card purchases.
[English | Español]

These guides are part of our commitment to provide people who may be new to the U.S. banking system, including people with limited English proficiency, the information they need to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.

We’re also connecting with consumers who use a language other than English by explaining consumer protections and introducing them to our complaint system. Check out more materials available in other languages as well as our website in Spanish.