A few months ago my oldest, typically-sighted son, Cash, called to say that he and his girlfriend were out hiking and found a beautiful log bridge over a stream. As they were crossing the log bridge, they decided to sit down and relax a bit. After getting comfortable they found themselves free-falling into the water below. The log broke! After air-drying in the sun he realized that his wallet was no longer in his pocket. (I later found out that he’d also lost his passport! But that’s a different story.)
Knowing that he was away from home without a wallet stressed me out and I immediately spun into full-blown-problem-solving-mom-mode. But in the midst of lecturing him and outlining all the steps that would be required to replace his items, I realized that this is his problem to solve and he can handle it. I relaxed, took a deep breath and offered suggestions while feeling a wee bit of satisfaction knowing he was about to embark on a total pain-in-the-butt journey and learn a lot of valuable lessons along the way.
So when my husband found our missing credit card laying on the floor in the van, I’m sure he felt a twinkle of justice knowing that I had been feeling the stress of my disorganized money management methods. Typically, I pay for my purchase then drop my payment method or change into my cavernous disorganized pocketbook. And, sometimes, when I hit the brakes just right the disorganized contents spill out of my unzipped purse onto the floor of the van.
When the hubs pays for something, no matter how long the line is behind him, he painstakingly places his change, payment method, and receipt into the proper spot in his wallet. It. Drives. Me. Nuts.
Now that my youngest, legally blind son, Kai, is spending money away from home without parental supervision, I catch myself wondering: Will he pay too much? Will he get proper change? Will unauthorized charges be placed on his bill? Will he drop his money?
When I describe my fears to Kai, he laughs and says with teenage assurance, “Mom, it’s fine! My bills are folded and my wallet is well organized. No worries! If I get into a bind I can use Seeing AI.” And I have to remind myself that we all manage our money transactions differently. Kai goes on to say that the worst part of paying for items is dealing with cashiers who refuse to look at him long enough to notice his white cane and who continue to answer his questions with responses like “Look there” or “it’s right in front of you” or “go over to that line.”
On a typical evening, when Kai leaves the house with his friends, I ask, “Do you have your wallet?” and he responds, “Phone, Wallet, Keys …and cane.” (If you’ve not heard the phone, wallet, keys comedy skit by Adam Sandler I’ll include a link below but be warned it is explicit.)
Both of my boys are independent and confident and capable young men but we all learn as we go. As parents, Chris and I feel it’s our job to prepare our children with appropriate life skills. When it comes to issues related to blindness, we learn from experts in the field, our own trial and error, or by reaching out to our support networks for suggestions. Kai’s doing great, but I still felt the need for a little extra reassurance about money and accessibility, so I reached out to Joe Strechay. Joe is a blindness consultant in the entertainment industry, and he’s our go-to-guy. He’s smart and funny and is a wonderful mentor to Kai. Joe kindly responded to my concerns with an entertaining and informative 5-minute video. Get ready to laugh at his George Costanza-sized wallet. (If you are not familiar with George’s wallet I’ll include that link below as well.) Who says money management can’t be entertaining? Click here to launch Joe’s YouTube video and enjoy!
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Referenced Video Links:
Joe Strechay: Managing Your Money; Organizing Your Wallet, and Utilizing Banking Apps as a person who is Blind
George Costanza’s wallet skit excerpts from Seinfeld
Adam Sandler’s Phone, Wallet, Keys skit (warning: explicit content)
SeeingAI: Free app for people who are blind or low vision. It is available for both Android and Apple devices.
IBill: If you are old school and not fond of apps, take a look at IBill. It’s a free talking banknote identifier.