FAQ/Helpful Hints

What does a Daily Money Manager do?

Daily Money Managers (DMMs) provide personal business assistance to clients who are too busy or have difficulty in managing their personal monetary affairs. We provide a wide range of services from assisting with check writing and maintaining bank accounts to organizing and keeping track of financial and medical insurance papers.  Our goal is to help the senior client stay independent and safe in whatever environment they are in or transitioning to.

What do you charge and how often do you bill?

We can bill services on either a per-hour basis, on a monthly retainer fee based on anticipated hours of service, or a project basis. Hourly or monthly fees are based on the complexity of the situation and the required level of support. Our rates are competitive and typically lower than your other financial partners. We invoice monthly and include the details of the charge such as correspondence preparation; coordination with accounting, legal and health professionals; transportation or any other client-directed activity. We also charge for materials the client has asked us to provide such as postage or office supplies. Please contact us directly for a discussion of rates.

How much time do we need?

Normally more work is needed at the start of the relationship. Our goal is always to develop a system and routine with our clients to minimize the cost. Following a no-cost initial consultation and an agreement of services, we should be able to give you an estimate of expected monthly hours and costs. Each client and situation is unique and we endeavor to be as flexible as possible.

Do you charge for transportation?

We do not charge for regularly scheduled weekly appointments that are less than one-hour round-trip. We will charge a reduced rate for trips one hour or more or if the trip is related to client requests/service such as doctors’ appointments or visits to local social service agencies.

Do Daily Money Managers Replace Accountants, Attorneys, or Investment Advisors?

No. As Daily Money Managers, we work with your accountant, attorney, or investment advisors to make sure that all of your day-to-day and personal business is handled with care. We do not provide tax, legal or investment advice, but our efforts complement those of these other professionals. For example, we can help organize information for tax time. Throughout the year, we will keep accurate records and files so that your tax preparer has ready, easy access to the information needed to process your return. For attorneys, we can help clients develop a list of assets to be included in estate planning. With investment advisors, we can work with you to develop an accurate picture of your income and spending needs that your financial planners can use to create a sound investment plan.

How do I start?

Our services begin with a no-cost initial consultation generally at your residence. We review your situation together and then we provide a general assessment of your service needs. After agreement is attained, we will sign a formal scope of work agreement. We work with our clients to determine an acceptable mode of service delivery (weekly, bi-weekly).

How soon can services be provided?

Services can normally begin within a week.

What if I need additional services beyond your listed service offerings?

We can provide services within our expertise and will be happy to refer you to other professional service providers. Our network of trusted professionals includes public accountants, elder law attorneys, estate planners, home health care organizations, and transportation service providers.

How do I encourage my parents that they could benefit from your service?

Every family situation is unique. Our advice is to start slowly and be specific as to the area in which you want their agreement. It is very hard for seniors to acknowledge they need help with tasks they have been very capable of performing. Show them how they could benefit from the service without taking away their control of the situation. Consider choosing something that is not too threatening or intrusive at first. You may also encourage them to hire someone to help with something you can no longer maintain due to your commitments at work or with your own children’s schedules. The idea is to get them used to trusting outside resources. If this initial experience is good, they may be more willing to allow additional outside services.

What is a Certified Senior Advisor©?

The Society of Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA) is a national organization that educates professionals to work more effectively with their senior clients. Founded in 1997, SCSA teaches an integrated approach to the health, financial, and social aspects of aging. Professionals who obtain the designation as Certified Senior Advisors (CSAs) are able to integrate this knowledge into their professional practices. They’ve learned how incredibly gratifying it is to help seniors achieve their goals, and the seniors they’ve worked with have learned how important it is to work with someone who truly understands their age-related circumstances.

Will I be giving up my independence if I hire a DMM?

On the contrary, the assistance of a DMM is often the piece of life’s puzzle that allows many seniors to avoid complete loss of independence or guardianship. If you find that you are late in paying bills or do not understand certain financial forms that come in the mail, your family might pressure you to move out of your home or turn over your affairs to a legal representative. Oftentimes, a twice-monthly visit from a DMM will allow you to keep your finances under your own control, with the DMM helping you to keep on track and to avoid errors that may have raised the concern of loved ones.

Do you sell any investment or insurance products?

No, we only provide daily money management services. We will never offer to sell you any kind of investment or insurance product.

How long have you been doing this and do you provide references?

Valerie created Smart Money Management in 2013 after a lengthy period of research into providing daily money management services. She has had over 30 years experience in managing personal finances and financial services within the industry. Yes, we can provide references upon request and with prior notification/permission from the client.

Do you work in retirement/assisted living communities?

Yes, we work in individual homes and retirement communities.  We have a good client base in one particular community, Greenspring (an Erickson property), in Springfield, VA, which allows us to serve several clients in one location.  Seniors living independently in communities that are Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) can be good candidates for assistance as they move through the aging process.

What areas do you serve?

We like to service our clients within a reasonable driving range. We can serve the northern counties of Virginia and the District of Columbia. If we cannot serve you due to distance or some other reason, we can refer you to one of our other colleagues who cover clients in other geographic locations or specialties.

Are you insured?

We are fully insured for errors and omissions. Our Certificate of Insurance can be reviewed upon request.

Are you a member of any professional organizations?

Yes, Valerie is a member of the American Association of Daily Money Managers and a Certified Senior Advisor in the Society of Certified Senior Advisors.  She is also a member of Planning for Senior Life, www.planningforseniorlife.com, a Northern Virginia network of individual businesses which focuses on planning for the transition to retirement years and seniors in immediate need of assistance.

What training have you received?

Valerie studied finance and business in her undergrad studies. She has also taken numerous classes throughout her career to enhance her financial skills. She has attended the AADMM workshop and training conferences in 2012-2016.   She also passed the CSA exam in January 2014 and continues to find webinars, presentations and other methods of expanding her knowledge of seniors and how to assist them in meeting their needs.

Do you charge for initial visits?

No. There is no charge for an initial consultation.

Is there a minimum contract period for service?

There is no minimum contract period.  We sign an Agreement for Services, not a contract.  There is a minimum of two hours per month.  Experience has shown that it is important to visit with clients at least twice a month to ensure bills are paid, mail is reviewed, etc.