Guide to Money Management Services for Seniors
Between paying bills, filing taxes, maintaining good credit and avoiding scams, seniors who live independently have a lot to remember when it comes to finances.
Due to the fact that money plays a major role in many of our life decisions, it’s crucial for seniors to stay on top of their finances. More families are considering money management programs and financial assistant services for their senior loved ones. These finance professionals ensure all the seniors’ bills are paid on time, their credit is in check, taxes are filed, and much more. Additionally, they help seniors avoid scams and identity theft by monitoring their accounts for signs of fraud or financial abuse.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about financial assistance and what daily money management services are available for seniors.
What’s a Daily Money Manager?
Daily Money Managers (DMMs) have been used for centuries in the U.S. They used to be used primarily by royalty, or the extremely wealthy population. However, daily money managers and senior groups such as AARP picked up on the need seniors experience as they age in keeping their accounts in good standing.
Today, certified DMMs can be found through the American Association of Daily Money Managers anywhere across the U.S. and in British Columbia. Also known as the AADMM, these are professional recognized in the industry as trustworthy sources of information for people who are looking for financial advice.
It’s important to keep in mind that Daily Money Managers are different from bookkeepers and accountants. They manage a very broad range of services for their clients. From bill paying, account reconciliation, to health insurance claims. Everything that comes in your mail monthly that relates to personal finance, a DMM will handle for you.
What Do Daily Money Managers Do?
From managing your monthly bills, reviewing account statements for any errors, balancing checkbooks, to making bank deposits for their clients, Daily Money Managers handle it all. They can also organize your records in preparation for tax season, deal with insurance claims and creditors to sort out any remaining bills, and keep track of your health or medical insurance paperwork. As the client of a Daily Money Manager, you’ll still have total and complete access to your accounts, but your DMM will handle the day-to-day details for you.
If you have any household employees, such as caregivers or privately hired health aides, your DMM can handle the notary services, such as payroll for you. DMMs don’t replace lawyers or senior financial planners, but they can certainly recommend a reputable individual to help you if you need those services. Your DMM will also be able to assist you with accessing programs you qualify for, such as Meals on Wheels.
Who Needs the Help of a Daily Money Manager?
If you’re thinking of hiring a Daily Money Manager for yourself or a senior loved one, there are several factors you’ll need to consider. DMMs often work with senior citizens, as well as people who work a lot and don’t feel they have the time for their own paperwork. Individuals who struggle with medical issues and simply find it too difficult to keep up with their own finances also hire the help of a Daily Money Manager.
For seniors, those who experience a physical change by the aging process, such as limited vision or arthritis, often hire Money Managers to help with their finances. Conditions that affect the brain, like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, also benefit from the services a DMM provides.
Here are some additional signs that you, or a loved one, could use the help of a Daily Money Manager:
- Disorganization has grown to be a problem.
- Mail is left around the house – unopened.
- Signs of late notices, late fee charges, or utility shut-off warnings (unpaid bills).
Types of Services Daily Money Managers Provide:
DMMs cover a broad range of tasks, but the actual scope of work they do for you will depend on your needs. Here are some of the general tasks a Daily Money Manager performs:
- Paying bills – including making the appropriate calls regarding incorrect billing and preparation of checks for clients to sign
- Negotiating with creditors
- Organizing medical insurance papers, including verifying proper order of claims
- Balancing checkbooks and maintaining proper organization of bank records
- Preparing tax documents and other paperwork
- Offering referrals to legal and investment professionals when needed
- Notary services
- Providing transportation to and from appointments
- Maintenance of all home payroll records and payroll tax reports
- Any assistance you may need with arrangements for moving
- Acting as the power-of-attorney or representative payee for Medicare services
- Payroll checks for in-home employees or caregivers, including calculation of Federal and state withholding and FICA taxes
Why Consider Working with a Daily Money Manager?
Fact: As we age, our cognitive ability to handle our finances properly begins to fade.
Seniors may accidentally forget to pay a bill, or struggle grasping financial concepts. Additionally, filling out paperwork associated with managing finances and accounts can get tedious and straining. These issues can also lead a senior to become victim to scammers.
Sometimes a spouse passes away; who used to deal with the finances, and the survivor may struggle while trying to take over their money management tasks. If a child is unable to help their aging parent with managing money, a Daily Money Manager should be considered.
Occasionally, seniors will feel hesitant towards the idea of hiring an outside source for money management services. Assure them that, by getting help with their daily financial tasks, they won’t be losing any control over their money. These services are intended to give a senior more freedom to enjoy life, by taking on the task of daily finances for them. In fact, many seniors are able to live independently for longer with help from a DMM.
What’s more – seniors can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing someone else is keeping an eye on their accounts to ensure they are all accurate, and dealing with situations where things aren’t accurate. They also help you maintain organization of important documents.
Here are some additional benefits of hiring a Daily Money Manager:
- Maintain Independence – A recent study concluded that DMM services can help seniors remain in their homes for longer, prolonging the need to pay for costly nursing home care. DMMs are thorough, and always ensure the senior’s bills are paid on time, all checks are properly deposited, and taxes are filed. In return, the senior never risks eviction, utility shutoffs, foreclosures and other debt related problems.
- Relieve Caregivers Burden – Usually when a senior needs assistance with money management, their caregiver must step in and take over. That said, caregivers are often too busy with tasks such as housekeeping and other activities of daily living (ADLs). By using a Daily Money Manager, this burden is lifted from the caregivers shoulders and placed on the shoulders of a financial professional.
- Prevent Scams – Daily Money Managers play an essential role in protecting their elderly clients from financial abuse or falling victim to scams, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. Your DMM will regularly review bank and credit card statements to see if there are any signs of abuse or fraud. Some red flags of financial fraud include large and unexplained withdrawal of money, checks worth large sums of money that are written to charities or other groups the senior may or may not be affiliated with, and other irregular or suspicious activity.
Where Can I Find Daily Money Management in my Area?
There are several ways to find a trusted Money Manager in your area.
The best option would be to ask for a referral from someone you trust, such as a friend, relative, lawyer, doctor, accountant, social worker, or residential community director. Many of these professionals will be able to provide you with the name of a good DMM.
If you’re unable to receive a referral, you can find a Daily Money Manager through your local Area Agency on Aging, AARP, senior resource center, church, or government social service agency.
What Questions Should I Ask Before Hiring a DMM?
The AADMM created a comprehensive list of important questions to ask a prospective Daily Money Manager prior to hiring them. Here are the top questions:
- What services do you offer?
- How long have you been practicing as a Daily Money Manager?
- How much of your work is with Senior clients?
- What are your certifications, professional affiliations, and code of ethics?
- Do you carry liability insurance?
- What are your rates and billing methods?
What Does Daily Money Management Cost?
According to the AADMM’s 2012 report on DMMs for seniors, the price ranges anywhere from $46 – $150 per hour, plus added expenses like postage and travel time to and from the client’s home. That said, you should only need the Daily Money Manager for about 1 hour per week, and there are programs for low-income seniors. You can browse the list of DMM programs for low-income seniors here.
How to Obtain DMM Services
There are a number of ways a senior can obtain DMM services:
You’ll come to find that many DMM services are offered through larger organizations, like government agencies or private nonprofit elder assistance organizations. These types of organizations often put volunteers to work in order to provide basic Daily Money Management services to the elderly, such as monthly bill paying. You can find a Daily Money Manager at your local elder assistance agency by contacting your Area Agency on Aging (AAA) center. If you’re unsure where to look, you can visit the federal government’s Eldercare Locator at www.eldercare.gov.
Professional For-Profit Daily Money Managers
The number of individuals and private companies that offer Daily Money Management services for a fee has increased significantly over the past decade. This is likely due to an increase in the senior population, and the fact that DMMs are growing more popular and accessible these days.
The costs associated with these services vary by region, and is generally paid out on an hourly basis. According to a recent study, the majority of clients required approximately four hours of DMM services per month, making the service a bit more affordable (due to the fact that, in most cases, not very many hours are required). Of course, this entirely depends on the specific seniors financial situation and money management needs.
As we get older, insurance claims, medical bills, utilities and our mortgage payments can start to accumulate quickly, and managing money becomes much more stressful. On that same note, as seniors start to struggle with handling daily finances, they become more susceptible to financial fraud and other scams. Managing all of our assets and property, keeping track of medical bills and coverages, monthly bills and managing day-to-day financial obligations is all together an overwhelming task. By hiring a Daily Money Manager, a serious load will be taken off your shoulders – allowing you to enjoy life with one less tedious task to remember.