Money Matters: Help with finances? Hire a daily money manager

Anna Infurna, The Daily Record Newswire

Need to get a handle on your day-to-day finances? Has your life gotten so busy and hectic that you can’t keep up with your financial affairs? Are your bills piling up and you wish that they would just go away?

If, you answered yes to any of the above, help is on the way. You simply need to hire a daily money manager (DMM).

A daily money manager is someone who can assist you throughout the year with bill paying, maintaining bank accounts, organizing and keeping track of financial papers, as well as maintaining tax records for the accountant.

According to the American Association of Daily Money Managers, or AADMM, there are more than 400 members in the organization in 42 states and Ontario, Canada.

Initially, the profession, which began in the early 1990s, concentrated on helping senior citizens with their finances. Many were facing health problems, disabilities and other issues that kept them from staying on top of their finances.

Now, the clients of DMMs extend beyond the elderly. They include the adult children of the elderly, disabled adults, people going through life transitions, and people who simply don’t have time to manage or don’t want to bother with day-to-day finances and paperwork. Senior citizens, however, remain a large percentage of clients.

Within the senior client base, most have a need for DMM services due to a physical change precipitated by the aging process, such as limited vision, arthritis or other conditions which limit the ability to write, or a simple loss in the ability to follow through on tasks. Others are so active in their retirement that travel and social activities make it difficult to keep up with paperwork, and they prefer to simply let someone else handle things for them.

What allows DMMs to be so versatile and able to reach a wide range of clients is the fact that no two DMMs are alike.

This profession is often a second or third career for those getting into the field. Their backgrounds are as varied as the services they provide. Some are experienced accountants, bankers, insurance agents or legal assistants.

If you are thinking about retaining a DMM for yourself or a family member, the first step is to sit down with the DMM and discuss the various options. Be sure to spell out what is expected of the DMM, for example, are the bills going to go directly to the DMM or is the DMM responsible for coming to your premises to write the checks and pay the bills?

At first, you may just want the DMM to check your checking account against the bank statement by simply performing monthly bank reconciliation. This may help you to feel more comfortable at the beginning. You may be as involved in the process as you want.

You may ask where can I find a daily money manager? A referral from your tax advisor or accountant is always a good place to start. You may also visit the AADMM website, where you can find a list of money managers by state, at www.aadmm.com. The website also suggests several questions to ask a prospective DMM.

Many do offer a free consultation. Potential clients will not only get a feel for whom they want to hire, but it also gives DMM’s a chance to see if they can meet that particular client’s needs. Be sure to ask if the DMM you are considering is insured, and if he or she is willing to work with your lawyer or accountant on your behalf. Ask for references from individuals who have used these services before, and check the references.

Fees for a DMM typically are in the range of $35 to $100 per hour, and they largely depend on geographic location, experience and services provided.

It is important to keep in mind that DMM’s do not take the place of professionals in the accounting or investment fields; rather they help to maintain day-to-day tasks and records, which makes the compilation of information for the preparation of tax returns more manageable. A DMM is there to make sure that the correct documents are signed and the appropriate checks are attached.

The service of a DMM offers peace of mind — not only to senior citizens who want to remain independent, but also to family members who may live in a different state or country.

You may think that the involvement of an outsider in your personal financial affairs may be something that you would never consider, but most clients of DMMs find that once a relationship has been established that they don’t know how they ever survived without one.

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Anna Infurna is a small business specialist with Mengel, Metzger, Barr & Co. LLP. She may be reached at Ainfurna@mmb-co.com.

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