I want to manage my own money!!

Posted: March 14, 2013 in 2013, I want to manage my own money!!, Raising Hearts



Anna reading to younger kids

I sure wanted that to happen. Having raised nine kids, you ultimately hope that they all can go out and manage their own lives and the lessons learned while growing up and managing allowances and early jobs, seem to prepare them to take on the responsibilities of managing a home, car, bills etc.

Not so with FASD! Not even close. We know this and have prepared for this. However these kids also want those “adult” rights. So every time I pay bills, I go over things with Desi about how much money is left for groceries and spending etc. and how much goes into her rent, phone, doctor bills etc.

She still doesn’t understand it all and it hurts her brain for me to explain it to her. She still thinks that this is all her money to spend how she wants to.

So one day things came to a big head. “I WANT TO MANAGE MY OWN MONEY!” Ok this stresses out the Land lord, Me. I am not going to fight with her.

MIke and I discuss how this can be handled. She gets paid every two weeks. I guess we can just take out the amount that goes for the bills and hand her the rest in cash, tell her she has to pay for her groceries out of that and make it for two weeks. Sound like a plan?

Wowie, we did that. Desi was happy. All is good. A few days later, I ask her if she would now like to go to the grocery store and get some groceries.

“Um, I don’t have any money.”.

“What? I gave you 120.00 a few days ago for your two week budget!” I am frantically passing through my head that my daughter is going to be very hungry in ten days.

What did she spend it on? She doesn’t know, nor remember. REMEMBER? They don’t do that. They have a brain injury and that part of their brain doesn’t function all too well.

OH yes and so also doesn’t the part that manages money! But she had to find that out for herself or she would have battled me forever. Now she is paying the consequences, as she seeks in the cupboard around the soup cans that she detests.

She won’t eat the type of food that we do. Meat and veggies are taboo and I live on beans and rice, not because we are not able to buy food, but I love that stuff.

We don’t have pizza and chicken nuggets in our grocery budget. We don’t purchase that type of stuff.

I cannot help feeling a tad bit happy that this happened so that maybe she will now let me help her, but at the same time sad to know that she did fail this test. It is always sad when you know that your kiddo with FASD truly CAN’T.

It is really hard to help them understand what they can’t do though. And what is even harder is for them to educate anyone else about what they can’t do. They are embarrassed, or they don’t remember. Memory is always a part of it. They cannot organize thoughts in their brain well enough to explain to someone that they can’t do this. It is kind of a vicious cycle. Someone has to be in the KNOW here. If no one is in the KNOW then this person is doomed.

How many people out there are living like this without the support of an exterior brain that is in the KNOW? LOTS! It is the rare kid that gets to have someone who can be their exterior brain and help them manage their lives.

They might not like it, but without that help, the streets it is. They cannot manage money.

I believe that they can be taught this process slowly and I put no limits on the future. Possibly both of my kids with FASD can eventually get this and take care of their own finances. I truly hope that is possible. I mean I didn’t sign up to be an accountant for life.

The problem with money is it requires math to organize it. This brain trauma has harmed the part of the brain that can do math. They can count change in a register when it tells them how much change to give them, but if you give a kid 120.00 that just seems like riches that will last for ever. So she started shopping for clothes, bought take out foods and before she knew it, it was gone.

Where did it go? She doesn’t remember?

Why isn’t there some grocery money left? She cannot plan, think ahead, nor did she realize how much she was even spending at the time.

She actually has to have a certain amount in her hands and to be told that this amount can be for anything.

Then I have to take her to the grocery store with the rest in my hands until she gets to the cash register and then I give it to her to pay for the groceries.

That is how broken down this has to be.

So here is what ended up happening. I had to go take Jon (son with FASD) grocery shopping. While we were on the way, I talked to Desi about her money management.

I asked her how she ended up spending her grocery money and her response was that she started buying stuff and all of a sudden it was just gone.

Ok so FASD robs the brain of planning. Impulse shopping and living in the moment takes away all future concerns. It didn’t occur to her that she might have to go hungry for a couple weeks. BUT she wanted to manage her own money. That was important to her.

So I asked her if maybe she thought she needed some help managing her money now, so that she would be sure to have food to eat? WOW she agreed! Baby steps here, but this one was quite a big step actually.

I suggested that if I gave her some money to get some groceries today, would she allow me to help her in the future with managing her money so that she would always have food to eat. She was SO relieved! Well I guess food to an empty stomach, which hers was at the moment, sounded awesome! So she would have probably agreed to anything.

But I am planning to write out a little contract and have her sign it. It will simply state that she understands her disability about managing her money totally on her own and she is willing to let me help her manage it.

Then the next time she wants to throw a tantrum over not having her money to manage  herself, I will bring it out.

Oh and also many, MANY times, I have gone over with Desi what FOOD means. Food means meals. It doesn’t mean candy, pop and chips. I guess pizza is allowed, lol.

So each time I have taken her shopping, I have told her if she wants candy, pop or chips, that has to come out of her extra money, not her food money.

So what did she bring to the counter today at checkout? A cart full of pizza, pop, chips and candy! SIGH! I pointed out that this is not acceptable food and she said, well the candy was only 78 cents, blah blah………I knew we had no time to argue this at the store. No time to go back and get better stuff, as she had to be at work and I wasn’t interested in showing Walmarts employees how my daughter can act when I use that dirty word “NO” as she is now an adult blah blah…….so I said nothing further and paid for her crime.

But that little contract that we are going to design tonight? Remember that? Well it is going to have some pictures of pop, chips and candy with X’s through them. I think I will need to show her this before shopping each time as kids with FASD need visuals. They learn better with visuals then hearing. We talk too much. We need to show them stuff more often. lol. I am learning here too. There isn’t an FASD manual out there for parents.

Oh and today Jon did his own shopping. Usually Nate shops for them. Nate is Jon’s external brain who Jon lives with. Nate is my youngest birth son and he is awesome with Jon. BUT today Nate thought it was time Jon did some shopping and learned how to do this.

I took one look at Jon’s cart and knew that Jon didn’t know what he was doing. It was all junk food and quite a bit of it. I made a comment that Nate might have wanted some real food and Jon just shrugged it off and said, “Well he will learn not to send me then, next time.” lol.

Some things can be comical with these kids. Some things need to be reality though.

They need help. They need help managing money and shopping for food. Try and tell that one to a counselor and they will probably think we are not allowing them to grow up. Hey, can’t anyone accept that these kids actually have brain trauma and it is a disability and they do need an external brain to help them manage money, plan, purchase good and right foods?? I can see it. I raised them. I am waiting for the rest of the professional world to understand.

In the mean time it is really nice that at least my kids are” getting” that they do need a little help and they are willing to accept it.

I had to let Desi fall a bit on purpose so that she could see the result. I had to allow her to find out for herself that she needs help. Other wise she would always resent my help.

The next scariest thing that I have to allow is that Jon wants to get his license and a car. YIKES! Gosh I hate to say that I am actually praying he can’t pass the permit test. He has such slow processing. I just don’t think he should be behind a wheel. Trusting you Lord, again. Take care of my kids.

Terry Quinn


  1. Denise says:

    we have very similiar difficulties with our 19 year old son who wants to be able to do things that kids his age do.. So very sad and for him because he too wants to get his license and be able to go places on his own, but just not possibilities. Also, have the same issues with money.

  2. Jackie says:

    ditto all you said, Terry. Thanks for writing this! 🙂

  3. margaret says:

    Very good Terry, and so applies to my daughter as well. good luck to us all with our kids with FASD

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