To be independent, you need to manage your money successfully. Learn how to get money, create a budget, open a bank account and get ID in Alberta.
Learning how to support yourself is both exciting and scary. The resources on this page can help you out if you’re unsure about how to get started.
Figure out how to earn money
The first thing to figure out about being independent is how to get money.
If you’re going to school, you may qualify for living expenses through student loans and bursaries or through training support. Find out more at Pay for Your Education.
If you’re getting support from Children’s Services, have status, or are in care, you may be able to get financial help to make the transition to independence. You and your caseworker will put together a transition plan.
If you’re having trouble getting a job or paying for food and a place to live, you may qualify for Income Support. To find out if you qualify, call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free in Alberta at 1-877-644-9992 or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.
Learn how to budget your money
Once you’ve figured out where your money will come from, the next step is to create a budget. Your budget is a month-by-month plan for how you’ll manage your money. Having a budget puts you in charge and helps you make the most of your money.
A budget starts with some basic questions:
- How much are your monthly living costs, like rent, food, transportation, and school costs?
- How much money do you earn each month?
- Do you spend more money than you earn, or is there some left over at the end of the month?
- If you have money left over, what will you do with it? For example, will you pay off a debt or save for a holiday?
- If there’s no money left at the end of the month, what could you do to make your money go further?
Find resources to help you budget and manage your money
These websites and publications will give you tips for managing your money:
- You and Your Money—Find information about budgeting, spending, saving, emergency funds and more, including an interactive budgeting worksheet.
- Stretch Your Dollars—Learn how to budget, cut your expenses, boost your income and find useful information, services and programs.
- Consumer Tips—Learn about bill collection, debt repayment, payday loans and more.
- Money Mentors—Discover money managing resources, tips and links to free financial fitness classes.
Find resources to help you spend less
These websites and publications will help you stick to your budget:
- Alberta Youth Consumer Champions—Check out this Service Alberta Facebook page for help in becoming an informed consumer.
- Shopping for Satisfaction—Find consumer tips for young adults living on their own for the first time.
- Spending Plan for Students—Follow these suggestions to create your own spending plan.
Understand how to get identification
To be independent and to manage the money you earn, you'll need identification (ID). That’s because you need ID to cash a cheque or open a bank account. Of course, you also need ID for health care and other purposes.
The first place to start is government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s licence. This is key because you usually need it to get other kinds of ID.
If you aren’t planning to drive, you may still be able to get other kinds of photo ID, like an Alberta identification card. You’ll need a permanent address to do this.
- If you don’t have a permanent address, you may still be able to get an address to use and money to cover the fee for the ID. A variety of agencies can help you. Contact one near you for advice.
- If you’re getting support from Children’s Services, or have received it in the past, your caseworker can help you get photo ID.
To get health care, you’ll need an Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) card. Find out how to apply.
You can also get yourself an Alberta birth certificate if you don’t already have one, or have lost it. You’ll need other photo ID first.
Know how to open a bank account
Your employer or support program, such as Student Aid or Alberta Community and Social Services, will need a way to get money to you. You’ll need a bank account, whether you deposit cheques yourself or have payments directly deposited into your account.
Try these resources for help in choosing the best kind of account for you:
- Visit the Government of Canada's Bank Accounts page to find out about different kinds of accounts.
- Use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's Account Comparison Tool to help you compare different accounts.
- Visit several banks to find the best deal for the type of account you want. Service charges can make a difference to your balance at the end of each month. Some banks offer reduced or no fees for students.
- Check out virtual banks—the kind that you can only find online—as they often don’t have any service charges and offer free debit transactions and cheques.
- Avoid cheque cashing and payday loan companies. It costs a lot of money to use these services. Check out the Payday Lending tipsheet to learn more.