Monday, April 21, 2014

Change and Children with Disabilities

It's been said that the only constant is change. One of the fastest areas to change is in the area of commerce. When I was a child, there was one way for youngsters to make a purchase--with cash. As a teen, I learned how to handle a checking account, learning that having blank checks wasn't the same as having money in my account.

My mother taught me to count change and how to balance my accounts. She initially did this so that I would be financially savvy enough to not be cheated. I still remember the day when my brother, a gas station attendant at the time, was short-changed by a fast-talking customer, a practice still in use today, as another relative had a similar experience about six months ago.

Children with disabilities are especially vulnerable to financial fraud. Many are so trusting that they would hand over their wallets, cash, and debit cards to anyone who asked. Many children I work with can't identify the different values of coins, including pennies. Here are a few ways to keep your child from becoming a victim:

  • Teach her to count money accurately, including how change is counted back. 
  • Keep up this practice regularly by dumping out your wallet for her to count. 
  • Explain how checking accounts and debit cards work, including how to check balances. 
  • Tell about fees charged by banks. 
  • Describe how credit costs money, how to maintain good credit, and the high interest rates associated with a poor credit rating. 
  • Keep a watch in purchases made over the Internet. 
  • Check your child's accounts with her on a regular basis.