Q: “How do I manage cash when my helper buys groceries or takes the bus while working? Right now I’m giving her money on an ad-hoc basis and I can’t seem to keep track of how much we are spending.”
If your helper is regularly buying groceries and the like, you should make her responsible for petty cash. This is simpler than giving her cash every time she has to go shopping. A small purse and a lined notebook will do. Your helper should keep receipts, and write down all transactions with the new resultant total in the notebook. In our home, we fill up the petty cash at the start of each week. At the same time we also check through the transaction log and enter the new deposit. Being responsible for not only purchasing, but also to some extent the amount spent can help if you want your helper to stay within a certain budget, and you will have a record of spending. Note that it may take a few weeks to figure out what amount is needed each week, and if you’re going to have a big party, etc., the petty cash may need an extra cash infusion.
Q: “Also, how can I help my helper to buy an app for her iPhone? She has no credit card.”
The easiest way to handle this is to buy her an iTunes gift card and have her reimburse you in cash. Gift cards are sold at 7/11 and other shops, as well as online here. Your helper can then redeem the card and apply the credit to her iTunes account. The same method works for Android phones and Google Play, with online gift cards available here.
Another popular purchasing site is Amazon.com, which contrary to popular belief allows you to set up an account without a credit card. To do so, when entering the default “1-click address”, simply do not associate a credit card with that address. Your helper can now use the account to get free books for Kindle (or the Kindle App on iOS and Android). As with iTunes and Google Play, you can also buy her Amazon gift cards here.
Read more from Andreas by picking up a copy of his indispensible guide, Hiring and Managing Domestic Help right here!