How to Get Your Finances Back on Track After Incarceration
Any length of incarceration can set you back financially. Whether you have a history of debt or you are now dealing with lawyer fees and owed restitution, a few simple steps can help you get back on track. Below are resources that support second chances and a strong financial foundation.
Know where you stand
Before you do anything, it’s important that you understand your current financial position. A great resource to access free credit reports is Credit Karma®. This site not only pulls your reports, but also connects you to government support and personalized debt relief options. Once you have a firm grasp on where you stand, make a list of the creditors and debt collectors you owe, and include these in your budget plan. To avoid being overwhelmed, start with the smallest amount first, and knock the debts off one at a time.
Find a bank, and open an account
Opening a bank account is a crucial step in managing your money. A checking account with a debit card is essential in today’s times. Most banks require a social security card, driver’s license or government ID, and a permanent address. If you need help obtaining the documents, visit our Get Started page for assistance. Do some research and speak with multiple banks before you make your decision, as there are different fees and terms associated with each bank. If a low credit score is preventing you from opening a checking account, start with banks and credit unions like the ones listed below that offer second chance accounts.
Learning how to develop and maintain a budget is an important skill to keep you in control of your finances. Start with your total monthly income which may include paychecks, allowances, and/or government assistance. Next, list your monthly expenses in the order of importance. These may include rent, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, fines, restitution, etc. To get your balance, subtract your total monthly expenses from your total monthly income. If you have a positive balance, you have more money coming in than you are spending. If your balance is negative, review your expenses and cut back on the ones that are not essential.
Figuring out your finances may be initially stressful, but many resources exist to help you. Once you build a foundation, stay consistent with an efficient way to accurately track your income and expenses. Click here to receive a copy of our budget worksheet. Download our free budget guide to help get you started.