Image of a hand adding coins into one of 4 vases in which a plant is growing. The more coins he puts, the bigger the plant.As you transition to the workplace, you may have questions about managing your money. Guest blogger Sherman Gifford shares a financial resource that may help you learn more about managing money as you work toward your financial goals.

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Money Mondays: Financial Empowerment

Jan 22, 2018

By Sherman Gifford, Vice-President of NENA, Vice President of The Choice Group

Image of a hand adding coins into one of 4 vases in which a plant is growing. The more coins he puts, the bigger the plant.Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program offers free employment supports for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI).

As someone who has worked within the Ticket program as a service provider, I've seen work goals evolve from getting a job, to entering a career path with a future and access to benefits, to learning to manage assets and grow financial stability.

One resource that may help as you transition to the workplace and start earning income is a toolkit, Your Money, Your Goals, recently released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Using this set of free tools from the CFPB may help your Ticket service provider help you plan your path to financial independence. Let's take a look at 3 topics from the CFPB toolkit.

Planning for large purchases and setting financial goals

Do you want to purchase or lease a car? Pay for education or training? Buy or rent a home? Start a family? Setting goals helps you plan for the expenses related to achieving them. Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

To get started, develop short-term and long-term SMART goals, create an action plan with specific steps, and set weekly targets. When you work with a Ticket program Employment Network (EN) or other service provider, you will develop an Individual Work Plan (IWP), which outlines your work goals and the steps that you may need to take to achieve them. Similarly, planning for your financial goals will help you stay on track to afford the things that you need and want.

Saving for emergencies, bills and goals

Once you set a goal, it's important to think about how you will save to achieve that goal. Planning for expenses, both expected and unexpected, is key to achieving both your work and financial goals.

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, consider your savings and resource limitations as you start earning income. A Benefits Counselor can help you understand how work affects your benefits and how to plan to save. Some tips on how to save money include making saving automatic (through direct deposit or tax refunds) and creating a savings plan that includes:

  • The reasons you're saving
  • Your total savings goal
  • Your strategies for saving
  • A safe place for your savings

Tracking cash flow through the month

Timing matters, so using a spending tracker can help you align your income with the time that you pay your bills each month. This can help you keep track of your spending and make progress toward your goal. Your Money, Your Goals offers a Cash Flow Budget Worksheet to get started, as well as a checklist with tips for improving your cash flow. 

Ready to learn more?

The Your Money, Your Goals toolkit, also provides information on:

  • Tracking your monthly income and benefits
  • Paying bills and other expenses
  • Understanding credit reports and scores
  • Managing debt
  • Financial services, including accounts, credit cards and loans
  • Protecting your money

As you learn more about managing your money, a Benefits Counselor may review these resources with you and explain how Work Incentives may help you on the path to financial independence. Keep in mind that Benefits Counselors may not be experienced financial planners, but paired with the information that Your Money, Your Goals offers, their insight on work, benefits and Work Incentives, may help you find the path to financial independence!

Additional Resources

About the Blogger

Sherman Gifford is Vice President of The Choice Group, a vendor to Vocational Rehabilitation agencies in Virginia since 1998 and an Employment Network since 2009. He directs the company's Work Incentives Specialist Advocate (WISA) program and Ticket to Work Services, and serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the National Employment Network Association (NENA).

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

You can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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