The Maiden and Managing Money

The Maiden became an adult in the world when she turned 18 in August. And with that comes a whole new set of challenges, difficulties and exciting new possibilities. However it also comes with new learning curves for both of us. Understanding money and math can be a challenge for many people, including those with FASD.

She has difficulty understanding money, as has been the case for as long as she has had an allowance. I’ve tried to give her the freedom to spend it on what she wants. She needs to learn that when it is gone, it is gone. She has little self-control and is not able to save. No matter a dollar, ten dollars or a $100 – if she has it she will spend it. And not always wisely.

She has been approved for ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). Every month she receives financial assistance. We agreed that she will pay room and board. During the application process I sat down with her and listed all the fixed costs involved in keeping our house. She has $250 left each month for herself.

She could earn money as she is allowed to work. I have encouraged her to find a part-time job – even a few hours a week. Based on her ability to remain committed to anything, and the amount of support and supervision she still requires to complete tasks, it might take some time to find an understanding, patient, tolerant and flexible employer.

We set up a joint bank account. We didn’t set a daily limit at this point as I wanted to give her a chance to try out her new found financial independence. We spoke about different ways she could manage her money – such as taking out the cash and putting it into jars for weekly spending or budgeting, versus her only being allowed the debit card supervised, versus unrestricted use of the card.

Yesterday she took her debit card to school because she needed to buy fish food. She asked if she could buy her lunch as well. She came home with 3 bags and filled with excitement at her purchases. I asked her how much she spent – she said she didn’t know, but she still had “lots left” in her bank. I asked her how did she know?

I let her show me what she bought. At least she bought the fish food – for that I was grateful. It cost almost $18 for two items – but at least her fish won’t go hungry. I did tell her next time we will plan ahead and go somewhere the items are less expensive.

She proudly told me she bought our dinner and dessert. The cost of the Bagel Bites wasn’t too much to swallow – but $7.99 for the cheesecake!

image food.jpeg
Bless her for wanting to buy dinner, but this generosity also gets her into trouble. I did send her off with explicit instructions not to spend it on classmates- and I have told her before not to spend her money on me. She just can’t help herself.

Next out of the bag?


Halloween plates and coasters for us and some candy and bags to make up and give to her classmates before Halloween. Not sure what else she bought because that purchase was almost $30 – her entire weekly allotment this month!

I checked her account balance. In 45 minutes over her lunch period she spent $73.51. I don’t know all of what she bought, but once again, she has shown me she is not ready to go out unsupervised with her debit card.

Spending Spree Breakdown:

  • $2.00 at school cafeteria
  • $17.49 at Pet store
  • $28.25 at Dollar Store
  • $8.38 at a convenience store close to her school
  • $14.00 at the convenience store close to our house
  • $3.39 at the bakery in our town.

At least there is $37 left  – but that means she will have two weeks without any money. I know a daily limit can be added on her account but with the amount she has weekly it will not work. I don’t want her to spend it all in one day and I don’t want to limit it to such a small amount in case she does need to purchase a higher priced item than her amount allows. We may have to go with the jar idea and take it all out at once and each week she is given an amount.

It is so difficult to know what to do. It is a fine balance between letting her make her own mistakes and ensure she learns to balance her money. She has no impulse control over her spending. She never has. I hope she will someday.  I won’t always be around.

There are organizations that will act as trustees for adults to ensure rent and bills are paid. It is just another sad realization of the vulnerability she has because of her challenges. I wish it was different. I am scared and worried about her future. I can put measures in place to help her and hope that as she gets older her skills and abilities will improve. We all had to learn how to manage money and some people never learn – even those without extra challenges. However it is still a sad reality for me of her transition into adulthood and the continuing complex challenges still ahead.

If you need assistance in teaching money management there are many resources online. Click here for a 36 page Power Point  Presentation (which contains pointers, tips and samples of worksheets) on Financial Literacy for Individuals with FASD created by the Alberta government.

You can teach and remind and review over and over again and still sometimes nothing will work because that is the nature of the disability. But I have also seen the changes and growth that can occur. The maiden has just begun her voyage into adulthood so there are opportunities along the way for her to grow and change and mature.


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