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Financial Literacy Month: It’s Not Just Money, It’s Your Life

Imagine your spouse of 30 years dies suddenly of a heart attack, and amid your fog of grief, you don’t realize you haven’t paid your power bill for three months. The power company is threatening to shut your lights off, and you don’t have the money because you drained your savings account to pay for funeral expenses.

Situations like this are all-too-common for clients of Barbara Boustead, founder of Mary’s Daughter, LLC and Daily Money Manager (DMM). Boustead specializes in working with veterans and older adults who need assistance managing their budgets and paying their bills.

Boustead said the death of a spouse often comes with an unexpected loss of income in addition to new financial responsibilities. If the deceased managed the household finances, widows and widowers are especially susceptible to making financial mistakes, which can lead to being taken advantage of by scammers.

However, this isn’t just a problem for the elderly. One-third of women who become widows are under age 65, according to data from the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to women’s financial education and advocacy.

 

Why Financial Literacy Matters

No matter what your age, gender, socioeconomic level or marital status, it’s important for everyone to have a basic understanding of personal finances.

As we commemorate Financial Literacy Month in April, Boustead recommends taking time to review your personal finances.

“It’s important to know how money works because it’s going to be a part of your life on a daily basis,” Boustead said. “Money affects every aspect of your life, from where you live to what you’re able to purchase to your education and transportation to what you eat each day. It affects your health and how you live.”

Boustead grew up with very little money. Her mom was a single parent with five children and worked at a variety of jobs to make ends meet. “I was always pretty frugal, but I didn’t really understand how money worked.”

During her mid 40s, Boustead decided it was time to take her money matters into her own hands. “I realized that I could not leave it up to someone else,” she said.“[Financial literacy] is one of the basic skills to become independent.”

So how did Boustead learn about money? “Lots of mistakes,” she said. In addition, she was grateful to stumble upon the wisdom of Suze Orman, personal finance guru and TV personality. She spent many nights learning from her and others like Oprah and Jean Chatzky and poring over personal finance books and magazines such as Kiplinger’s and Money.

“I read everything I could get my hands on,” she said.

Years later, while Boustead was deep into her social work career, she began helping her mother pay bills and manage her finances. Realizing that her organizational skills and social work experience was a great combination in this capacity, Barbara began helping others with their money management.

In 2011, she launched Mary’s Daughter LLC and became a Daily Money Manager (DMM).

What is a Daily Money Manager?

A DMM is a professional who helps people with their personal household finances. Boustead is a member and newly elected Board member of AADMM, the American Association of Daily Money Managers.  AADMM is a national membership organization representing individuals and businesses in the field of daily money management. Its mission is to provide information and education to members and the public about daily money management services and to develop a network of dedicated and ethical professionals.

Boustead helps older retirees who may forget to pay bills, have difficulty grasping financial concepts or become overwhelmed by the paperwork or technology associated with managing their accounts. Any of these issues can make them vulnerable to scammers who target seniors. Very often family members may not be in a position to help because they are too busy or simply live too far away.

Daily Money Managers may charge by the hour or have a monthly retainer. They often work in person with their clients in their home, literally helping them open their mail, balance the checkbook and access their accounts online.

DMMs often actually save their clients money when they step in to help with their financial matters. For example, Boustead helped someone find a $3,000 check they inadvertently threw in the trash. She has discovered costly bank errors and oversights on taxes. She prevented one client’s caregiver from milking her position for hundreds of dollars a month in restaurant meals. She even reports saving one client $9,000 just in the first year they worked together after discovering that large health care deductions were missing from past tax returns.

These are just a few examples of how Daily Money Managers assist people. But besides these issues, there are many other problems faced by a person who lacks financial literacy. They are more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck and often pay more for the things they want to buy. These individuals often spend money on late fees and high interest rates. They may not have the same opportunities for jobs, education, housing or food.

During Financial Literacy Month, Boustead recommends that everyone perform a checkup of their finances. She suggests reviewing your estate documents (your trust and will including the beneficiaries); your budget or spending plan; and your investments. She also recommends participating in some of the free activities and events offered by local banks, credit unions, schools, financial institutions, nonprofits and government programs during Money Smart Week, a national campaign to increase the financial literacy for individuals and families.

Taking time to improve your financial situation is important. After all, it’s not just your money. It’s your life.


Mary’s Daughter Recommended Resource List for Financial Literacy

Britney Castro, Financial Advisor and Coachhttps://www.financiallywisewomen.com/blog

Lynn Twist video clip “If you want a clear picture of your priorities, look in your checkbook” – https://youtu.be/y9pwr6tn37w

Forbes article “How Your Childhood Money Memories Could Be Helping – Or Hurting – Your Finances” – https://goo.gl/u71zfz

LearnVest article “What Your Personality Type Means for Your Money” – https://goo.gl/EoqGyg

Money article “The Veterans’ Guide to Financial Success – https://goo.gl/dhn1eZ

Book by Ray Linder “What Will I Do With My Money?” – https://goo.gl/8F4mmp

Websites and Blogs

Kara Stevens – The Frugal Feminista thefrugalfeminista.com

Lynette Khalfani-Cox – The Money Coach askthemoneycoach.com

Pamela Plick – The Money Mentor for Women pamelaplick.com

Jean Chatzky – HerMoney podcast jeanchatzky.com/podcast

Mellody Hobsonarielinvestments.com/financial-tips

Beth Koblingerbethkobliner.com (great resource for kids)

Kelly Gushue facebook.com/FinanceWarrior

Additional Financial Resources and Tools

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) consumerfinance.gov

Money Smart Week moneysmartweek.org (4/21- 4/28)

mymoney.gov – The Earn principle mymoney.gov/earn/Pages/earn.aspx

America Savesamericasavesweek.org/about-america-saves-week

Mintmint.com

YNAB (You Need A Budget)youneedabudget.com

Wisconsin Resources

UW Extension Financial Education Center https://fyi.uwex.edu/danecountyfinancialeducationcenter/

WWBIC – Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative (for men and women) wwbic.com

Greenpath Financial Wellness greenpath.com (800) 550-1961