Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"You mean that happy child?"

Anyone who has watch the original Toy Story movie more than once (as most parents can claim) will get the title reference, but in case you live in a bubble, have girls or have just gone several years without seeing the fabulous, first Disney-Pixar collaboration, I will explain.

There is a scene where Sid, the horrible middle school boy next door, is plotting to blow up one of his toys and he is laughing maniacally at the destruction he is about to inflict.  The toys are trying to explain to newcomer Buzz Lightyear that Sid is basically the scourge of the neighborhood and Buzz sees him laughing through binoculars and asks, "You mean that happy child?"

Alan has the world's cutest giggle and frequently laughs to himself for no apparent reason.  That said, some times it takes on a bit of a maniacal quality that makes DH or I turn to the other and say, "You mean that happy child?"

I don't know if it is the fact that we recently put up the Christmas tree and Alan is excited about the holidays or if he is just outgrowing his meds or if it is because it has been too cold lately for him to go outside without shoes, but Alan has been incredibly moody lately.  One minute he is laughing maniacally and the next he is screaming and hitting and trying to climb on the fireplace mantle.  This past weekend I captured this period of giggles and an hour later he was in time out.  Sigh.
This kid will be the death of me!  I think it is time for me to go play with my minis.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaching finances to a HFA

Trying to teach Joe finances continues to be a challenge. Since he drives (and therefore has to put gas in his car) we set him up to have a debit card. I was NOT going to let any child loose with my credit card!

To give credit where it is due, Joe is fantastic about balancing his checkbook. He always records his gas purchases or bank withdrawals perfectly and the only time his checkbook didn't balance it was because he typed the numbers in the calculator wrong.

For car repairs, we usually split the cost. He does work a weekend or two a month and has some income so I don't think having him pay for oil changes or half the price of a new battery is outrageous for the free use of a car!

However, in a continuing effort to help him understand cash flow (as well as financial transactions) I frequently send him out to the store for little things.

We are getting low on Alan's lactose-free milk.
Mom: "Joe, can you run up to the grocery store and pick up some of Alan's milk?"
Joe: "Sure. That is what I'm here for." (I kid you not, that is what he says!)

Joe forgets to tell me we ran out of his favorite mouthwash.
Mom: "You can stop and pick up a few bottles after work tomorrow." (Work = his volunteer positions)
And it is done.

He is remarkably helpful that way.  Most of the time he pays in cash and I reimburse him. Sometimes this means I have to make a special trip to the bank to make sure I have enough cash on hand but DH and I figure that as more money travels through Joe's hands he will get a better understanding of how finances work.

This isn't always the most frugal option for us however. One time he bought a name brand where I would buy the generic and his answer was "but I could afford it!" Sigh. He didn't understand that even though he was giving the cashier money, ultimately we were paying for it.

Sometimes it is a pricier errand and he puts it on his debit card. He gives me the receipt and I transfer the money from our account to his. He really doesn't understand how or why this works but I feel better because I don't feel like I am trying to cheat him out of the money he has earned or been given.

Yesterday he went out to pick up a few things and the total came to about $25 so he decided to use his debit card. Fine. Then he figured that since he was low on money, he would get $40 cash back. I was trying to make him understand that either he needed to subtract $40 from his account and I would transfer $25 or he could subtract $65 and I would give him $25 in cash. Yikes. That got confusing even to me!

Then I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I would explain fiances to him in terms of colored Legos. I told him my account was the red Legos and his was the blue. He gave 5 blue Legos to the store and I gave him 5 red Legos to pay him back and he was still even because the color of the money (Legos) didn't matter.

That actually seemed to make sense to him. But I couldn't figure out how to explain the $40 cash back. Sigh. Really it was easier teaching him the rules of the road for driving using Matchbox cars.