How does your family manage paying for small things, like pizzas, movie tickets, or another gallon of milk?
Petty Cash Jars
I’m a big fan of the petty cash jar (or in our case, a zippered pencil case /envelope in the kitchen drawer). I keep about $20 in the envelope– usually in $1s and $5s, so that it’s easy for anyone (child or Au Pair) to get money for a forgotten lunch or whatever. I’m pretty good about remembering to refill the envelope too.
Early on, I asked our Au Pair to leave a receipt after she took out money, but then I let go of that because none of our Au Pairs ever took advantage of the petty cash. (My 8 year old? A different story.)
AlwaysHopeful Host Mom does something similar:
I know some APs pay for small things for their HKs from time to time. I keep a petty cash jar for that type of thing (among other things). I prefer the au pair use that money or reimburse him/herself from it that use his or her own money. That’s also not nickel and diming to me. For one thing, it is then easier to track how much extra “junk” my son is getting, but also, I recognize the AP doesn’t have a lot of money.
It’s my job, not our Au Pair’s job, to pay for my son’s entertainment and treats.
The alternative to a petty cash stash is the ‘slush fund’, a looser budget category that gets tossed into the Au Pair’s weekly pocket money. This is one easy way to manage gas expenses. And I noticed in comments on the Rounding Up post that some Host Parents use this strategy to cover incidental expenses in advance.
Host Parents, how have you decided which method to use for incidental household expenses?
Au Pairs, do you have a preference either way?