Money Management

Managing money can be very confusing for people with FASD. Money is an abstract concept. That means while you can touch money and hold it in your
hand, what money can buy or what money can do are ideas. How much is something really worth? Money and the value of money are hard to understand. $20.00 for a chocolate bar and $20.00 for a pair of new shoes may both seem like good prices to the adult with FASD. What happens if you don’t pay your phone bill and your phone gets cut off? Why should we try to save money? How do you get out of debt?

Lack of money can lead to poor health, isolation, and dangerous situations for adults with FASD.

Some Tips to Help with Money Management

  1. Find a trustee. It’s better if the trustee is not a family member or friend. A trustee can help to manage money before it becomes a problem. The trustee will give the person with FASD small amounts of money and supervise bill paying. There are agencies that act as trustees, call community organizations for ideas or referral to organizations that provide this service. You can also look under lawyers in the phone book for this service. 
  2. If the adult is having trouble spending money wisely, you can help her out in many ways. Do not lend her money. If you do, do not expect to get your money back. You can buy food, a bus pass, or gift certificates for a food store, a haircut, or entertainment services that are in her neighborhood. Never give her cash
  3. Do not give expensive gifts. These are often pawned for small amounts of cash and never bought back. 
  4. If she is receiving social assistance it can help is she is designated as a person with a disability. A doctor needs to fill out a form that states that this person has a disability that makes it hard for her to find and keep a job, and that the disability will last for longer than one year. There may also be rental supplements available also.  
  5. Avoid debit cards and personal checks. It is harder to spend money if he has to go to the bank when it is open. If a debit card it used, set up a daily withdrawal limit with the bank. Make a rule that credit cards are not a good choice.
  6. Teach that gambling does not make you rich, it makes you poorer. Gambling makes the government, casinos and bingo parlors rich. Make a rule that gambling is not a good choice. 
  7. Avoid big phone bills. Set up account restrictions with the phone company, including no long distance calling out and no additional features like caller ID, call waiting, etc. 
  8. Teach an adult with FASD to use a notebook to write down which bills need to be paid and when they need to be paid. This will become his budget book. Teach that bills are paid first. Have him write down everything else that he spends his money on like food,  entertainment, clothes, and medicine. Teach him to staple an envelope to the back of the book and keep all receipts. Help him to keep track of where he his spending money. 
  9. Teach him to keep his budget book in the same place all the time. Have a trusted family member, friend or support person check that the bills are getting paid and help with purchasing items.

Useful Links

How You can help Teens with FASD Manage Money
Money Management Video from Whitecrow Village