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Daily money managers for the average Jill or Joe

Nobody likes paying bills, reconciling his checkbook or scrutinizing credit card statements for identity theft and fraud.

Now there's an alternative: the daily money manager, or DMM.

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Daily money managers began cropping up across the country in the past decade to take on the tedious monthly bills and paperwork for busy baby boomers, their aging parents and people with disabilities. For an hourly fee, they will pay your bills, make bank deposits, balance your checkbook, organize your tax information, negotiate with your creditors, and provide referrals to accountants, lawyers and financial planners.

Sally Hurme, attorney for consumer protection at AARP in Washington, D.C., says the relatively new industry is a reflection of the ongoing historic intergenerational transfer of wealth between the World War II generation and the boomers.

"There's no question that boomers have a lot of money and they're going to want to manage it wisely and they're going to need help in making sure that their money lasts. We just want to make sure that we get good help instead of help from vultures," says Hurme.

Pat Manalio, a DMM and representative for the American Association of Daily Money Managers, says the nonprofit organization now has about 500 members and is growing at a rate of five new members per week. The AADMM, based in Woodbridge, Va., was founded in 1995 by a group of daily money managers who saw the need to promote best practices and a code of ethics within their unregulated industry.

Most daily money managers acquire new clients through referrals from accountants, lawyers, financial planners and health-care professionals, hence their relatively low public profile.

"We're not trying to be the world's best-kept secret, but would you respond to an ad in the paper from somebody saying, 'I'll handle your money for you?'" Manalio asks. "I wouldn't waste my money advertising that way."

Here's a look at the little-seen world of daily money managers and how to find one, if and when you need one.

Help for the elderly
Older Americans struggle on several fronts with money management. For some, physical conditions such as arthritis make such rudimentary tasks as writing checks and opening the mail difficult, while others have cognitive challenges, including dementia, that cloud thinking. Confusion and disorganization can quickly follow.

Today, many, if not most, elderly also are drowning in official-looking solicitations for credit cards, insurance, fraud protection and financial assistance from every institution in which they have an account. What once was a prudent move, opening accounts in several banks, has turned into the junk-mail nightmare on Golden Pond.

"All the junk mail looks so official these days," says Anita Matson, a DMM in Kent, Wash. "I try to simplify things and get things on automatic payment to make it as simple for my clients as possible."

 
 
Next: A more holistic approach may be called for.
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