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Mathematical skills decline first so it is no wonder that we may need a little help making sure that the bills are paid on time – and only paid once.

We can start by putting utilities, insurance and other regular payments on automatic withdrawal. But medical and credit card bills deserve close examination. Completing insurance and tax forms can be a headache, not to mention keeping up with the filing.

As getting out and about gets harder, we may also need someone to manage the mail, making sure that the junk mail and scam offers are thrown out and that something important doesn’t inadvertently slip into the weekly supermarket flyer.

A member of the American Association of Daily Money Managers or, in Austin, a Family Eldercare money manager may help. Since there are no comprehensive ethical standards and accreditation requirements, it may be a good idea to have a friend or relative look over their shoulder, granting them “view only” status to a checking account.

Whether we are interviewing for ourselves or for a friend or relative, there are a dozen basic questions we should ask.

  1. What types of services do you provide?
  2. How long have you been working as a daily money manager?
  3. What professional insurance do you have?
  4. Are you bonded? Do you have liability insurance? May I see a copy of the bond and insurance policy?
  5. Are there industry standards and codes and ethics which you follow? May I see them? Who enforces them? How?
  6. Are you willing to work with my financial advisor, accountant or attorney? Can I have your business card to give to them?
  7. How much do you charge? When? What is the payment method? Do you charge for travel? If so, how much
  8. Based on what I have told you needs to be done, how often would you visit? For about how long?
  9. Can you show me a sample contract? What is the minimum length? What are the minimum hours? Fees?
  10. How do you assure confidentiality?
  11. Can you provide a reference list of past and current clients?
  12. Will you give me your Social Security number so that I can order a credit, employment, address history and criminal background check?

Don’t hesitate to ask for this last. You may pay $20 or $30. But the person you hire will be coming into your home, opening your mail and handling your money. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

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