Learn About What You Can Buy With TANF Benefits With Our Help

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The TANF benefits you collect each month allow you to purchase a variety of items that are essential to living. However, there are restrictions on what you can purchase. For example, you cannot buy a firearm with the assistance you collect from TANF.

Additionally, there are certain locations where you are unable to use the assistance the government provides you with. Using your TANF money at certain locations or buying specific items will mean you face penalties. Learn about the items you can and cannot purchase as well as the locations you can’t use your TANF benefits.

What can I buy with TANF benefits?

“What can I buy with TANF benefits?” is a question you may have because it is your first time receiving financial assistance. Luckily, the program allows you to purchase a variety of items and services with your TANF benefits after you apply to the program and are considered TANF eligible. That is because the purpose of you receiving TANF benefits is so you can purchase essentials your family needs to live comfortably.


Your family needs to eat, which is why you can purchase food with your TANF benefits. You can visit your local grocery store and buy products, such as cereal, bread and eggs. If you are a part of other government assistance programs like SNAP, then you may use your food assistance benefits for groceries and save your TANF benefits for other needed products.

Supplies for Your Home

Having supplies in your home, such as garbage bags and toilet paper are essential. They allow you to live comfortably, and you use home supplies on a daily basis. Also, you can buy or repair home furniture with the TANF benefits you receive.


The program allows you to purchase clothing with your TANF financial assistance, such as shirts and jeans, for you and your household. In addition, the program allows you to buy laundry detergent to wash your clothes. You can also purchase or repair your washer and dryer with your TANF money.

For more information on what items you can purchase with the financial assistance you receive, download our informative guide.

What can I not buy with TANF benefits?

There are laws in place that do not allow you to purchase certain items and services with the TANF financial assistance you get each month. Purchasing illegal items will force you to face penalties.

Alcohol and Tobacco

It is illegal to use TANF benefits purchase alcohol, such as beer, wine and liquor. Also, you cannot buy cigarettes or any tobacco products. It does not matter what the tobacco and alcohol are for or your age. Every state prohibits you from using TANF benefits to purchase those products.


You cannot use your TANF benefits for gambling. Sports betting, slot machines and bingo is prohibited. Also, you are unable to use your financial assistance on lottery tickets. However, if you have employment or non-government money, then you can purchase any of the items mentioned above. The government cannot prevent you from buying those products if you are using your own money.

Furthermore, to discover more products that are illegal for you to purchase with TANF money, download our free guide.

Where can I not use my TANF benefits?

The TANF program in your state has a variety of locations where you can use the money assistance you receive, such as your local grocery store, to purchase the goods you need. However, there are certain locations where it is illegal for you to make purchases.

Tattoo Shop

You cannot use your TANF funds at any tattoo shop. Getting a new tattoo on your body is not essential that will help your family live comfortably. Also, you cannot get a piercing with the money assistance you collect each month.

Online Gambling Websites

You are unable to use your TANF money to play bingo or purchase lottery tickets. Also, you cannot use your funds online to do any form of gambling.

What if I am purchasing an item TANF allows me to purchase?

You are prohibited from using TANF funds for purchasing a product or service at any location TANF does not allow for you to make transactions, regardless of what the product is. For example, if you are at your local tattoo shop and purchase water with your electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, then you can still face serious consequences.

Furthermore, if you attempt to buy one of the items listed above, then your card may not block the transaction. For instance, if you are at your local gas station and decide to buy lottery tickets, then the transaction may go through. However, once your local TANF facility discovers that you used the TANF money to buy lottery tickets, you will face consequences. This makes it essential to make two separate transactions when purchasing TANF eligible products and forbidden items. It will ensure that the cashier does not make a mistake on your transaction or you accidentally use your TANF card instead of your debit card.

Consequences for Purchasing Forbidden Items

If you purchase any product or service that is prohibited for you to buy financial assistance, then you will have a hearing. The hearing determines if you violated TANF’s rules and regulations. The program will send details about your hearing.

If you are found guilty at the hearing for using TANF benefits inappropriately, then the program will require you to pay them back for whatever it is that you bought. Also, you will lose your TANF benefits for a certain amount of time.

Can I use my TANF money if I am in another state?

If you are in another state, then you can still use your TANF benefits to purchase clothing or eligible supplies you may need during your trip. You must only purchase products that the program allows you to buy. Also, you need to make sure that it is legal for you to complete a transaction at that store. Ask an employee or manager at the location you are at if you are uncertain.

Learn About What You Can Buy With TANF Benefits With Our Help

Learn How To Apply For TANF Assistance With Our Guide