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Money Management


Students who have disabilities often have poor working memory, processing delays, anxiety, or motor difficulties, which can make money management difficult or handing cash an unattainable goal (Cappellino, 2014). When considering money management students with disabilities often struggle in two areas: computing change or determining how much money they need to give to pay for an item, and organization and budgeting of money.


Numeric Operations: The most common money management tool for individuals who struggle with numeric operations (e.g., giving and receiving cash) is a debit card. This allows individuals to efficiently pay for items without the stress of directly handling money (Cappellino, 2014). An alternative would be providing a calculator to assist with efficient calculations, but given the popularity of debit cards this is the preferred choice.


Organization: One of the major components of money management is organization and budgeting. There are a number of tools which can support individuals who struggle in these areas in addition to debit cards. One of the most easily available tools is mobile banking apps. Individuals can quickly and easily check their balance to ensure that they have enough money before making a purchase (Cappellino, 2014). Budgeting software (some of which can be set to automatically track purchases) may also be helpful for individuals with disabilities, though proper training on these programs is important.


Some authors have suggested that debit cards are a perfect replacement for cash (David, Abel & Patrick, 2016) and that they can be helpful for budgeting (Hernandez, Jonker, & Kosse, 2017) in the population of typical adults. Research has shown that students with developmental disabilities can be taught how to use debit cards to make purchases using multimedia programs (Mechling, Gast, & Barthold, 2003) and visual prompts (Rowe & Test, 2012), therefore it seems that most individuals are capable of using money management tools with the proper specialized training. In both studies training was intensive (e.g., instruction given two times per day, every day until participants were successful 100% of the time on the computer program (Mechling et al., 2003); therefore an important consideration when teaching individuals how to use debit cards is the frequency and duration of the training.


Research Rating: Due to the lack of experimental information cited in this description, no claims about the effectiveness of money management software can be made. It is possible that money management software is effective, but this has not been confirmed experimentally.



  • Can be differentiated to the individual’s needs or learning level

  • May decrease stress of money management for individuals with disabilities (Cappellino, 2014)

  • Allows for greater independence and autonomy with skills of daily living



  • Some individuals will need specialized, intensive training in order to use money management tools effectively


To Consider

  • Proper instruction is critical, but some individuals will still make mistakes when it comes to money management. It is important to help individuals learn from their mistakes and to monitor their use of money dependent on their skill level (Cappellino, 2014).

Special Consideration: Workflow

OS Compatibility
Internet Reliance
Optimized Use

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250



Cappellino, P. (2014). Developing money handling skills. The Exceptional Parent (Online), 44, 34-35.


Bounie, D., Francois, A., & Waelbroeck, P. (2016). Debit card and demand for cash. Journal of Banking and Finance, 73, 55-66.


Hernandez, L., Jonker, N., & Kosse, A. (2017). Cash versus debit card: The role of budget control. The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 51, 91-112.


Mechling, L. C., Gast, D. L. & Barthold S. (2003). Multimedia computer-based instruction to teach students with moderate intellectual disabilities to use a debit card to make purchases. Exceptionality, 11, 239–254.


Rowe, D. A., & Test, D. W. (2012). Effects of simulation to teach students with disabilities basic finance skills. Remedial and Special Education, 34, 237–248.


Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision May 2018

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