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10 Signs That Mom and Dad Need a Daily Money Manager

You stop in for a visit with your parents. “They are advancing in years,” you think to yourself, “but they look reasonably healthy and happy. That’s a relief!”

As you continue your visit, however, you notice some things that seem out of the ordinary. Your parents’ house was always pretty organized, but now there are stacks of papers in several rooms. You look through one of the piles and find a grocery store ad, an unopened bill from a doctor, a letter from the IRS, and a used napkin, among other things. Later during your visit, the person who mows their lawn rings the doorbell and asks to be paid. It takes your mother 15 minutes to find her checkbook. You glance over her shoulder and notice that her checkbook isn’t balanced, and several checks that are missing from her checkbook weren’t recorded in the register. Suddenly you don’t feel quite so relieved…

There are a number of reasons why people do not take care of their basic household financial tasks, including memory loss, physical disabilities, cognitive problems, depression – and just being too busy doing more enjoyable things. Whatever the reason for the neglect, however, the consequences are the same: accruing finance charges, tax penalties, a poor credit rating, and lack of awareness of their financial picture. Without proper oversight, even more ominous events can occur. Identity theft and loss of assets can go unnoticed until severe financial – and emotional - damage has been done.

Here are 10 warning signs that your parents might need some help managing their routine financial tasks:

  1. Unopened mail (or mail not acted upon in a reasonable time period)
  2. Turn-off notices from utility companies
  3. Late payment fees on credit card bills
  4. An excessive number of checking account overdrafts
  5. Non-reconciled checking account
  6. Payments to unknown people or companies
  7. An unusually large number of charitable donations
  8. Large numbers of sweepstakes entries
  9. Excessive withdrawals of cash and inability to account for it
  10. Income tax returns have not been filed in more than 1 year

Fortunately, there are people who can help your parents. A personal bookkeeper, also known as a daily money manager, can help your parents organize their paperwork, pay their bills, reconcile their bank statements, and assemble documents for their tax preparer. She or he can also help your parents create and manage a budget and keep watch for unusual transactions. The American Association of Daily Money Managers requires that all of its members sign and adhere to a strict code of ethics. You can find a daily money manager in your area by visiting their website,

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide