Money Management For Adults With Learning Disabilities

Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Editorial Team

Dealing with money is an important requirement of adult life. But, it is not an easy affair for people who suffer from learning disorders. They might find it difficult to manage day-to-day financial affairs. That is why many dyscalculics confided having entrusted the money matters to their close ones or trustable friends. Let’s learn through this post the reasons for difficulty in money management and strategies to intervene to overcome those.

Why money management is difficult for people with a learning disability?

Here is what researchers say on reasons why dyscalculia and developmental language disorder may cause money management difficulties:

1. Impact of dyscalculia

Some studies[1] propose that dyscalculia may show three types of impacts – procedural, visuospatial, and semantic memory in individuals. It is a well-established fact that dyscalculia interferes with the working memory of the person. Hence, they may not be comfortable with the idea of finding what they should be left with after paying a certain amount to buy a thing.

Further, since the semantic memory is compromised, the dyscalculic may not be cool with doing calculations or remembering how to assign money to different expenses of recurring nature. They may require someone to keep the books for them.

Also, the inability to differentiate between various denominations correctly may lead to paying less or more each time they are out to buy the things of need.

Geary and Hoard (2001) in their paper,[2] “Numerical and arithmetic deficits in learning-disabled children,” mentioned that children with dyscalculia don’t keep up with counting rules. Since it is one of the basic requirements for dealing with money correctly, the learning difficulties make money management a bit more challenging.

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2. Developmental language disorder’s impact

Only dyscalculia is not the cause of difficulty in money management. Developmental language disorder also has an impact.

In an article,[3] ‘Financial capability and functional financial literacy in young adults with developmental language disorder’, written by Maxine Winstanley and others, it was stated that young adults need family support to manage financial affairs. Their capacity to do so was measured using nonverbal cues, language, and numeracy measures. They could not exhibit satisfactory behavior on all these grounds.

As a result, they seek family assistance for dealing with money matters. It does lead to lots of issues due to dependence on others for managing finances.

Let’s take a look at common mistakes dyslexics or dyscalculics may make.

Common mistakes to expect

Learning difficulties cause problems in calculating ability. Apart from it, limited working memory and poor semantics lead to a variety of money management mistakes, that comprises:

  • The buyer ends up paying more than the purchase deserves: It is due to a pronounced inability to understand the correct value of the item.
  • Incorrect understanding of loan costs: Since the data in figures prove almost impossible to get, the adults may not choose the correct loan term and cost structure.
  • Bad estimate of the money required for groceries: Adults with learning difficulties cannot estimate prices correctly; so they may keep on adding items to the basket over exceeding the budget. Thus, they will require to take things out or may face flak from others in the queue for wasting their time at billing.
  • Taking incorrect amounts of money from the bank: Adults with learning disorders tend to take out incorrect amounts from banks; sometimes, even have no idea about how much money to withdraw for any particular reason.
  • Incorrect budget planning: Since the adults have no idea about the correct assignment of money to things and services, they fail in budget planning mostly.

Hence, they depend a lot on family members or close friends, or managers to take care of money affairs.

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Strategies for managing the money the proper way

Experts say early intervention[4] (Chapter 7, Page no. 242) can be one of the effective strategies to help young children grow into confident money managers. Parents and teachers can assess the learning difficulty at quite an early phase these days. Thus, issues lingering on till the adult age have mellowed down considerably. However, the adults, too, who missed such radars cannot be left out.

They can be assisted by:

  • Providing ample repetitions: Help adult chalk out expenses and maintain journals. A little working up the brain with the help of memory recall activities can allow adults to have ample practice.
  • Teach-making budget: A journal will have both fixed and variable expenses. So, help the learner identify those and prepare a budget. Here also, the focus should be on practice. With continual putting up questions regarding weekly, fortnightly, and monthly expenses, the learners can be made to learn design budgets and stick to them.
  • Employ money manipulatives: Money manipulatives can familiarize young adults with currency bills. Give ample practice with manipulatives so that they can smoothly do operations and have correct values in hand.

In addition to the above, the use of applications should also be promoted. There are several applications like Wally, Smartynote, etc. which can help complement learning deficits and make learners self-sufficient in budgeting, shopping, and other financial matters.

Summing Up,

Money matters handling requires expertise with numbers, number sense, and related operations. With the help of correct strategies and tools, people suffering from learning difficulties can be taught to manage money with confidence. Get the learning disorder evaluated correctly and then have a suitable intervention strategy to meet the money management needs of the adults in question.


  1. Geary DC. Mathematical disabilities: cognitive, neuropsychological, and genetic components. Psychol Bull. 1993 Sep;114(2):345-62. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.114.2.345. PMID: 8416036.
  2. Geary, D. C., & Hoard, M. K. (2001). Numerical and arithmetical deficits in learning-disabled children: Relation to dyscalculia and dyslexia. LEARNING DISABILITY AND ARITHMETIC, 15(7), 635–647.
  3. Winstanley, Maxine & Durkin, Kevin & Webb, Roger & Conti-Ramsden, Gina. (2018). Financial capability and functional financial literacy in young adults with a developmental language disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments. 3. 239694151879450. 10.1177/2396941518794500.
  4. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Education, D. O. B. A. S. S. A., Children, B. Y. O., Children, C. O. S. T. P. O. Y., Breiner, H., Ford, M., & Gadsden, V. L. (2016, December 21). Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8 (1st ed.). National Academies Press.

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