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How a Daily Money Manager Can Help Your Parents With Money Issues

Here's what this pro does and how to determine if your parents need a daily money manager.

by Julie Anne Russell | June 21, 2021
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A daily money manager can help your parents manage their finances.

The Squeeze

  • Daily money managers handle personal household finances for individuals, couples and families. They create budgets, manage cash flow, pay bills, prepare tax data, and more.
  • Older adults might benefit from daily money management services if they're experiencing cognitive decline or are overwhelmed by budgeting and money management. 
  • A daily money manager also serves as a second set of eyes, protecting your parents from elder fraud.

Imagine an 85-year-old father with grown children living on his own. Recently, his house has been dirtier than usual; he's allowing mail to pile up, unopened, and clutter to accumulate. If this was your dad or loved one, you might think to hire him a housekeeper or visit him more often to help out. But would you consider hiring a daily money manager to handle his finances?

That elderly father is, in fact, showing signs that he's no longer able to manage his affairs, from the red flags of the untidy house to the loneliness that makes him vulnerable to elder fraud scams, says Alison Salisbury, president of the American Association of Daily Money Managers and founder of Fiscally Fit, a daily money management firm in Los Altos, CA.

A parent who is having trouble handling details — whether they're financially related or not — may be on a slippery slope, she says. "If they're losing attention to detail in one area, they're very likely losing awareness in other areas of their life," Salisbury explains.

But like all aspects of aging, suggesting to your parent that he needs help can bring up complex psychological and interpersonal issues, from offending an adult's sense of personal independence to the awkwardness of flipping the parent-child power dynamic. Here's how to know if your parent needs a daily money manager, how these professionals can help protect your parent's finances, and how to suggest hiring a daily money manager to your parents.

What is a daily money manager? 

A daily money manager handles personal household finances for an individual, couple, or family. "We pay bills, organize tax data and work with tax professionals, help clients create and maintain budgets, manage cash flow, reconcile accounts, and more," explains Salisbury. 

Daily money managers typically charge between $75-$150 per hour and usually set up weekly or monthly meetings to work with clients, depending on the complexity of their finances and the level of involvement needed. Consultations might be in-person visits, phone calls, Zoom meetings, or just email contact. "We tailor our work to the needs of the client," says Salisbury.

Why should you hire a daily money manager? 

Salisbury recommends hiring a daily money manager to anyone who doesn't have the time, capacity, or desire to handle their household finances themselves. Your parents, for example, might be able to live independently and manage household chores and personal care but not have the ability to manage their finances. Maybe they never handled money because a spouse who is now deceased took care of household finances. Perhaps they have some cognitive decline, but they're not quite ready for a concerned child to come in and take over. In any of these situations, a daily money manager could help.

Salisbury points out a daily money manager can also help an older person who is overwhelmed by dealing with all the hassles of bills and budgets or lacks the technical skills required to access and manage their accounts. "They're not slipping. They're still sharp, but they just get overwhelmed," says Salisbury. "Everything today is technology-driven and going digital, and it terrifies some older people. They need help managing these things."

On the other hand, age and mental capacity could have nothing to do with hiring a daily money manager. Salisbury, for example, works with many young Silicon Valley families who outsource their day-to-day money management to her firm as well as with older people who are mentally fit but don't want to deal with the bother of bills and household finances. 

"We have plenty of older clients who have us providing services because they want to travel, they want to visit their grandchildren—they've got stuff to do," says Salisbury. For an adult child trying to broach the idea of hiring a daily money manager to their parents, the very fact that many busy, younger people use them could help make the idea more palatable. In that way, it's less about losing independence or mental decline and more about creating time for other, more enjoyable pursuits.

Should you handle your parents' finances? 

Some adult children are willing to step in and take over their parents' money management. That can be a great solution, in some cases, but for many families, there are compelling reasons to hire an outsider.

Foremost of which just might be keeping the peace. "Hiring a daily money manager can help reduce conflict in the family," says Jennifer L. Fitzpatrick, author of Cruising Through Caregiving and founder of Jenerations Health Education. "In some families, there might be resentment if one sibling takes over the money." There might also be untrustworthy siblings — or spouses and children — whom you don't necessarily want handling Mom or Dad's money. A daily money manager acts as a second set of eyes, protecting your parents' finances from elder fraud, inside or outside the family.

The fact remains that it is still Mom or Dad's money. Even if a parent is experiencing noticeable mental decline, they still have the right to handle their affairs and reject their kids' offers of help. 

Indeed, many older people don't want their kids involved in their finances. "A lot of seniors are not comfortable sharing financials with their children," says Salisbury. "They were raised that it's not polite to talk about money, regardless of with whom." For those people, sharing financial details with a professional might be more comfortable. "A lot of older adults like the privacy of the individual relationship with their daily money manager," she says.

Such a relationship can also grow over time. "A lot of people say they don't need us that often, and then within six months, they're requesting weekly meetings," Salisbury says. "It's like a housecleaner: more often than not, daily money managers demonstrate their value pretty early on."

To find a daily money manager for a parent, a loved one, or yourself, visit the American Association of Daily Money Managers website.

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About the Author

Julie Anne Russell is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work has appeared in Marie Claire, Fast Company Works, Visit California, My Ford Magazine, and numerous publications devoted to personal finance and business.

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