Monday, December 13, 2010

Looking Forward into 2011

As another year nears its close and Everyday Money Matters celebrates the culmination of its second full year of existence, I look ahead to 2011 and wonder what this New Year will bring.

Part of contemplating the New Year is reviewing the present year of 2010. Do I consider this year a success? Were the services that I offered useful to my clients? Were there changes in my services as defined by the clients that I worked for? Was I successful in rearranging my originally offered services for the personal fit requested by my clients?

Based on the increase of the number of clients that I have now compared to the number if clients that I started 2010 with, I have to say that yes, the work that I’m doing for my clients has satisfied both them and me throughout this year.

Originally, the services that I offered revolved around bill pay and financial (document) organization. As I worked with individual clients, the services expanded to phone calls made to hospitals and doctor’s offices to question bills; phones calls made to various professionals (lawyers, banks and other various appointments) as well as making trips to the clients banks with deposits and other bank related errands.

I’ve been hired by Financial Advisors working with their own clients on projects that required major research and document searching on the client’s part. I take that burden of uncertainty and time consuming searching away from the client by working closely with the financial advisor and the client to get the job done as painlessly as possible.

I’ve been hired by Trust companies needing a liaison closer to where the client lives to help them work on financial matters.

I've also been working with residents of Independent Living Facilities whose adult children are happy to let a professional who they know and trust take care of their parent’s billing and organizational needs. Some of these clients are living independent lives in beautiful cottages provided by these facilities while others demand more extensive care due to illness as well as the onset of Alzheimer’s. To read an article related to the onset of Alzheimer’s in those that we care about, click on the following link.

For clients such as the latter, I work with the entire group of professionals that are involved with the client. I develop relationships with their bankers; their lawyers; their trust officers as well as family members. This way, the client’s entire financial “picture” is streamlined and understandable to all involved.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keeping Aging Parents' Finances on Track:

Strategies to get you organized

Come join us at the Partridge House located at 777 Lafayette Rd., Hampton,  NH on October 19th from 6-7pm

This presentation will provide tips and strategies about:
  • How to organize and maintain personal and financial records, files and correspondence
  • How to best track and pay bills
  • How to prepare and make bank deposits on behalf of someone else
  • How to reconcile bank statements
  • Tips to complete confusing medical forms
Please RSVP by October 10th by calling 603-929-3032 or by email at

Wine, soft drinks, and hors d'oeuvres will be served

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do you know someone overwhelmed with paperwork?

Why did I choose a career that involves the organizing of paperwork – both financial and personal? I get this question regularly from my clients and friends as well as other entrepreneurs that I network with. I must be CRAZY, they laugh!  To my questioning clients/friends and others, I shrug my shoulders, smile and answer “I don’t exactly KNOW why. I just enjoy it!”

I have to give my mother the credit. (Hi Mom!).  Growing up, it was part of our, (my siblings and I) personal responsibility to find ways to neaten up our rooms, table tops, kitchen counters, etc. each week as part of our Saturday chores.

If our efforts were haphazard, we were shown how to perform these duties to our Mom’s expectations. Maybe at the time I was grumpy about these corrections, but today, as an adult, I find myself feeling a sense of accomplishment when I can find “a place for everything and everything in its place!” (Does anyone else remember this saying?)

Anyway, here’s a link to an article that shows us how to handle that overwhelming (daily) pile of paperwork – (mail and whatever!) that we find covering our counters and tables! Maybe you see these piles and head to the TV to watch America’s Funniest Videos instead of tackling the piles!

Oh, and by the way – if the article itself overwhelms you - give me a call!

Remember? I enjoy these tasks!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Memory Loss and Aging

Causes, Treatment, and Help for Memory Problems

Keeping Memory

For most people, memory lapses are a normal part of aging, not a warning of serious impairment. There are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills and keep memory loss from disrupting your daily life.

In This Article:

* How aging normally affects memory
* Degrees of memory loss
* When to see a doctor
* Compensating for memory impairment
* Preventing memory loss

Many of us, when we reach a certain age, get a little nervous when we misplace our keys or forget a phone number we’ve dialed a hundred times. But lapses in memory and slowing of mental responses are a normal part of the aging process for many people, not an ominous sign of mental deterioration.

Let’s start with good news:

* Not all forgetfulness, even dementia, is caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
* Not all memory impairment among seniors reaches the severity of dementia.
* What looks like significant memory loss can be caused by treatable, even reversible conditions.
* Significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging.
* The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age.
* Brain training and new learning can occur at any age.
* To a large extent, maintaining healthy memory is under your control.

How aging normally affects memory

Memory isn’t a single cognitive process, and it isn’t stored in a single area of the brain. It’s classified by time (short-term vs. long-term) and by type (information you have to recall, like the 13 original colonies or a party you attended, and information that becomes part of you, such as how to drive a car or get dressed). Because different areas of the brain govern different activities and sensory functions, the nature of the information you want to remember determines what part of your brain takes it in and stores it. There are three stages in the process of memory formation and maintenance:

For more information, see the section What is memory? in Helpguide’s Improving Your Memory: Tips and Techniques for Memory Enhancement.


New information enters your brain along pathways between neurons (nerve cells) in the appropriate area of the brain. Unless you focus on the information intently, its residence in your brain is fleeting — the old “in one ear, out the other” phenomenon.


- If you’ve paid attention well enough to encode new information in your brain, the relevant neuronal pathways get a signal from the hippocampus,a primitive structure deep inside the brain, to store the information as long-term memory. This happens more easily if it’s related to something you already know, or if it stimulates an emotional response.


When you need to recall information, your brain has to activate the same pattern of nerve cells it used to store it. The more frequently you need the information, the easier it is to retrieve it along healthy nerve cell connections.

Several factors cause aging brains to experience changes in the ability to retain and retrieve memories:

* The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to age-related deterioration, and that can affect how well you retain information.
* There’s a relative loss of neurons with age, which can affect the activity of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and their receptors.
* An older person often experiences decreased blood flow to the brain and processes nutrients that enhance brain activity less efficiently than a younger person.

These physiological changes can cause glitches in brain functions you’ve always taken for granted. You might have trouble remembering details of a movie you saw recently or directions to a new restaurant. It might take you longer to recall names, faces, and locations, even if you’ve seen them before. You might get flustered if you have to pay attention to more than one thing at a time.

Keep in mind, though, that much of what seems like forgetfulness is more of a slowing in the ability to absorb, store, and retrieve new information, not a loss. You can make and recall new long-term memories; the process just takes a little longer.

And many brain functions are largely unaffected by normal aging, such as:

* How to do the things you’ve always done and do often
* The wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired from life experience
* Your innate common sense
* The ability to form reasonable arguments and judgments
* The ability to learn new skills and make then routine (though it might take longer)

Degrees of memory loss as part of aging
Normal forgetfulness

The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:

* forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys
* forgetting names of acquaintances or figures in the news
* occasionally forgetting an appointment
* having trouble remembering what you just read
* walking into a room and forgetting why you entered
* forgetting the details of conversations
* becoming easily distracted
* not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue”
* blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name

Although most people start to experience memory lapses like these by age 60, they have little impact on daily performance. Later, we’ll look at some ways of improving memory and compensating for memory loss.
Mild cognitive impairment

When the information you forget is no longer trivial and your forgetfulness begins to have consequences — you miss your weekly card game or blank on your daughter’s birthday — your memory loss is beyond that of “normal” memory loss due to aging and may be diagnosed as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The hallmarks of MCI are being unable to remember details of something you saw or read just a few minutes ago and trouble pulling up information you’ve known for a long time.

The memory lapses are similar to those of someone in the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s, and some experts see it as a precursor to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. People with MCI do develop Alzheimer’s at higher rates than the general population of older adults. But MCI is not the same as Alzheimer’s, nor does everyone with MCI develop Alzheimer’s. Its symptoms stop well short of dementia, and people with MCI manage to accomplish their routine tasks independently, though they may struggle to do so.
Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia

When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.
Helpguide’s article Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: Understanding the Differences, along with other pages in its series on Alzheimer’s and dementia, explains the different forms of dementia, what causes them, and how they are diagnosed.
Conditions and lifestyle factors that can cause memory loss

The conditions below might cause memory loss or produce dementia-like symptoms, but they are treatable. Be aware of ways that your environment and lifestyle might be contributing to your memory loss.

Factors which might cause memory loss or dementia-like symptoms:

Exposure to environmental toxins

Substances you come in contact with in your home and workplace can cause memory loss or inability to concentrate. They include:

* lead in drinking water or paint in older homes
* mercury in paints, dyes and inks
* carbon monoxide leaking from home heaters
* chemicals in pesticides and hobby materials


Many prescribed and over-the-counter drugs or a combination of drugs can interfere with neurotransmitters essential to memory or simply make you drowsy.

Alcohol and drug abuse

Excessive alcohol intake is toxic to brain cells, and illicit drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine block the function of neurotransmitters needed for memory.


Especially in the elderly, persistent depression may actually cause a loss of neurons in brain areas responsible for memory, making depressed people less able to concentrate and process information.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

B12 protects neurons, and some older persons develop an inability to absorb it effectively.

Thyroid problems

The thyroid gland controls metabolism: if your metabolism is too fast, you may feel confused, and if it’s too slow, you can feel sluggish and depressed.

Hearing loss

If you can’t hear what people are saying, you can’t remember it!
When to see a doctor

It’s time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. If you get to that point, make an appointment to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination. The doctor will ask you a lot of question about your memory, including

* how long you or others have noticed a problem with your memory
* what kinds of things have been difficult to remember
* whether the difficulty came on gradually or suddenly
* if you’re having trouble doing ordinary things.

The doctor also will want to know what medications you’re taking, how you’ve been eating and sleeping, whether you’ve been depressed or stressed lately, and other questions about what’s been happening in your life. Chances are the doctor will ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months.

If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist, who will have you take some pencil-and-paper tests that gauge different aspects of mental ability. If those tests show abnormal results, the doctor will try to rule out causes of cognitive dysfunction based on conditions such as vascular disease, psychological problems, eating and drinking habits, and environmental factors.

A problematic showing on mental ability tests means you’ll probably go in for imaging studies of the brain, such as a CT or MRI scan, which can detect anything putting pressure on your brain, and, if that’s normal, a SPECT or PET scan, which track blood flow and metabolic activity in the brain, respectively, and are the most sensitive tools at present for revealing brain abnormalities.

If you are diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease, you may benefit from one of the medications which work by protecting acetylcholine, a brain chemical that facilitates memory and learning.
Compensating for memory loss

Even if you are experiencing a troublesome level of memory loss, there are many things you can do to learn new information and retain it.

Keeping track of dates, schedules, tasks, phone numbers

Write it down!

* Leave yourself notes or make checklists.
* Put appointments and important dates on calendars and in a day planner or electronic organizer.
* Ditto for phone numbers and other contact information.
* If you have trouble remembering how to do something, write down the steps.

Remembering where you put things

* Put the things you use regularly (keys, glasses, purse, watch) in the same spot when you’re not using them.
* If you have to put something down in a different place, look at the place when you put down the object and say the location out loud.
* If necessary, write down where things are.

Staying on top of times and places

* Set an alarm clock or timer to remind you when to leave for an appointment or do something in your home.
* Use a map to help you get from one place to another.
* Enlist friends and relatives to remind you of where you need to be and things you’re supposed to do.

Learning new information

Work on your ability to focus your attention and screen out distractions:

* Listen closely when someone talks to you.
* Repeat back the information.
* Try to talk with people in quiet places.
* Focus on one thing at a time.

Preventing memory loss

The same practices that contribute to healthy aging also contribute to healthy memory.

Regular exercise

* It gets more oxygen to your brain.
* It reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
* It may enhance the effects of helpful brain chemicals and protect brain cells.

Healthy diet featuring fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and “healthy” fats

* Antioxidants literally keep your brain cells from “rusting.”
* B vitamins protect neurons and help reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases.
* Avoiding saturated fats and trans fats helps cholesterol levels and reduces risk of stroke.

Managing stress

* Cortisol, the stress hormone, can damage the hippocampus if stress is unrelieved.
* Stress makes it difficult to concentrate.

Good sleep and enough of it

* Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation.
* Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea leave you tired and unable to concentrate during the day.

Not smoking

* Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain.

In addition, two other lifestyle factors are crucial for maintaining healthy memory throughout life:
Lifelong learning and exercise of the brain

When it comes to memory, it’s “use it or lose it.” Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower the risk of mental decline. Here are some ideas for brain exercise, from light workouts to heavy lifting:

* Play games that involve strategy, like chess or bridge, and word games like Scrabble.
* Work crossword and other word puzzles, or number puzzles such as Sudoku.
* Read newspapers, magazines, and books that challenge you.
* Get in the habit of learning new things: games, recipes, driving routes.
* Take a course in an unfamiliar subject.
* Take on a project that involves design and planning: a new garden, a quilt, a koi pond.

Developing and maintaining social relationships

People who don’t have social contact with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Social interaction helps brain function in several ways: it often involves activity that challenges the mind, and it helps ward off stress and depression. So join a book club, reconnect with old friends, visit the local senior center. Being with other people will help keep you sharp!

For more information on strategies for preventing memory loss, see Helpguide’s Improving Your Memory: Tips and Techniques for Memory Enhancement.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Precious excerpt from the Making Points News

Precious Times

June 1, 2010 – Dover, NH - Dianne McMillen enjoys spending her time with senior citizens—there's just no other way to say it. For her they represent lessons to be learned, great anecdotes, and making history come alive. Her warm memories of the more mature men and women of her childhood, their stories of sitting in front of the only TV in the house together and of the beginning of Rock 'n Roll, resound her personal joy of being an Everyday Money Manager we can count on for our mothers and fathers in the Seacoast.

Baby boomers can rest assured that if they can't, McMillen can make sure their parents are getting help with fiances and bills. What's more, their pleasant hour with her may just be a little less lonely. As the owner of Everyday Money Matters, McMillen in fact helps people of all ages and situations enjoy their everyday lives without the hassles of keeping up with confusing bills and ever-mounting paperwork. Her services are great for seniors and/or caregivers, working professionals who travel or have a full schedule, individuals with disabilities and small businesses needing bookkeeping services.

Caring for others, and learning from those who aren't often the attention-getters of life, is a common thread in McMillen's life. As a girl, before earning a degree in social work, her mother used to send her out into the neighborhood to help seniors living nearby by putting their trash out, mailing their letters or doing other small tasks that didn't come easy for an older person. What began as a grudging chore for her mother turned into precious times of learning about the lives of people who had been around much longer. She learned of unfamiliar scenarios like running out to the woods to use the outhouse in the winter, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II and the Potato Famine in Ireland.

According to the website of the American Association of Daily Money Managers, (AADMM), the services of a DMM "meet a continuum of needs, from organizing and keeping track of financial and medical insurance papers, to assisting with check writing and maintaining bank accounts." While their services do not take the place of accountants, investors or social workers, etc., the site continues, DMMs can compliment and even prepare their clients for the services of these other professionals. In fact, McMillen's many years within the health insurance industry is be a great asset to folks with their health records and paperwork.

McMillen's work area spans the Greater Seacoast of New Hampshire as well as the Southern York County, Maine. She participates in many networking groups and loves gaining clients through personal referrals. Perhaps someone you know has worked with McMillen. You may contact her for a free consultation by calling 603-801-5210 or by visiting her website. McMillen is a member of the AADMM.

The entire Making Points News may be found on the website of To The Point Marketing System. Please click here to be redirected.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How do you choose a bookkeeper?

Ok so you’re either thinking about starting your own business or have already got it up and running and have managed for a while to get by managing your own books by yourself and are now finding all too much to keep on top of the paperwork.

It is an all too familiar position; most people have found that they keep telling themselves that they do it tomorrow or later or at the end of the week, and before you know it your deadline is upon you and your all stressed out to get it in on time, It’s time to get help!

Affordable professional help

Being a small and/or at home business owner are you tired of the lack of affordable professional help available? So you need to find professional help whom are able to offer such things such as:

· Free and up to date accounting advice

· Realistic solutions to card payments and cash flow issues,

· A good supply of Bookkeeping/Accounting forms for the small business readily available

· Advice with managing online card merchant accounts.

· What sort of Accounting software is suitable to your type of business

· Tools & Resources helpful to your Business, those that are current and up to date, to know today, what others will find out tomorrow.

· Where you can access free spreadsheet bookkeeping templates

· Who run forums where Like Minded people, like you, can discuss online business issues that are not just financial issues?

· That have links to other useful sites

· Where you can also advertise your own business.

· The ability to Use the latest of modern technology to effectively manage your accounts from the other side of the country without massive Technical costs to your or themselves.

Read More

Monday, May 17, 2010

My chosen profession

I’d like to tell you what drew me to this choice of profession. I believe that the more you know about me, the easier it may be for you to pick up the phone and call me someday.  From the time I was young, my mother sent me out into the neighborhood to help seniors living nearby by putting the trash out, mailing letters or any other small chores that weren’t as easy for an older person to accomplish. I found that these visits that began as a chore to please my mother, turned into a few moments of getting to know neighbors who had been around for many years before I was even born, who had gone through school and then lived many decades after that raising their families, sharing their home with other family members, running out back into the woods to use the outhouse in the winter cold… They shared stories of living through certain social events that I had only heard of during Civics classes at school - The Great depression; World Wars I & II; the Potato Famine in Ireland…I learned about families that sat in front of the radio together every night and heard the first announcements about World War II; the advent of television: the beginning of Rock ’n Roll…When I enter the home of a senior client, this is the experience that I enjoy again and again.

What is a typical visit like for me as a daily money manager?

I visit my clients at a time that is most convenient for them, therefore my visits range from mid morning to early evening. Depending on the client, the mail may have already been opened and reviewed before my visit. When I sit with the client, I review each piece with them separating the junk mail from the important bills. Together, we determine what plan of action will be required for each. Examples of the most common items that I help my clients with are: utility bills; putting the doctor’s appointments on the calendar; reading over medical insurance forms; personal letters and the like. For my clients that require a little extra help, I will even write out the checks for them to sign.  Once the outgoing mail is in order, I file the bill stubs into the client’s filing system. Creating neat, easy-to-use filing systems are another service that I provide for those who want it. I set up small carrying case files, either in black plastic or fabric covered. My clients like having these file boxes close by, where documents can be found easily when needed, whether it’s a medical form or a paid bill that’s being questioned.

Who are my typical clients?

My typical client lives in the Greater Seacoast Area of NH or in Southern York County Maine. Their living situations vary; some may have lost a spouse that was the primary bookkeeper in the family… A few may live in Independent Living Facilities where many of the day-to-day challenges are handled for them, however they still enjoy keeping up to date with their finances.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Sandwich Excerpt from Making Points News

April 1, 2010-Dover, NH-Boomers have a new moniker to wear “the sandwich generation”, people caring for aging parents while simultaneous raising children. According to AARP 22 million Americans are caring for aging parents. Our society has become more mobile than ever so that often translates into trying to care for a parent across long distances.

Helping a parent manage money and monthly bills is a difficult transition in the parent/child relationship. Making this transition across long distances due to work or military service obligations can be frustrating and difficult for you and your parent.

Dianne McMillen understands how sensitive this time is for everyone and how difficult it can be. Simple tasks like getting the cable bill paid on time, making sure prescription medication billing forms have accurate and up to date information and having correspondence organized can all be overwhelming. Ms. McMillen bridges that gap. She makes prearranged home visits to her clients and helps keep them on top of their financial obligations and responsibilities with financial acumen, complete confidentiality and good humor.

Penny found herself struggling to help her elderly father continue to live independently from her own home so far away from him. She brought in Ms. McMillen to help bridge the gap. “My father looks forward to her visit each week. Dianne keeps Dad’s financial matters organized, among other things. This takes a huge load off my mind, knowing that things are being taken care of in a secure manner. She also notices little things on her visits and she will actually go out and pick up small items my father might need. She also keeps me informed, by letting me know things Dad has said to her that he might not mention to me when I talk to him on the phone. For instance, he told Dianne he would love a roast beef dinner, I am bringing one this weekend! She is wonderful!”

Ms. McMillen’s personalized bookkeeping services are helping Seacoast Seniors maintain their independent living status. The moment you realize the people who helped guide you into adulthood now need your help is a sobering one. Everyday Money Matters treats your loved one with care and professionalism.

Everyday Money Matters’ Dianne McMillen can be contacted at (603) 801-5210 and you can find more information about her on both the American Association of Daily Money Managers web site or by signing up for her monthly newsletter in the sidebar

Friday, April 2, 2010

What does a Daily Money manager do?

I work with clients to help them catch up on current money matters. I offer personalized, confidential, on-site money management; helping to organize and maintain your personal and financial records, files and correspondence. Can I make you a personal filing system that will help you find your financial documents in an instant?
Keep track of and pay your bills on time. I can create an easy bill pay schedule to help you avoid those late fees due to losing bills in the piles of mail piled on the counter… I also will write the checks for you, you sign each one and I get them mailed out on time!

Reconcile your bank statement. Have you been reconciling your bank statement monthly? Does an unreconciled bank statement make paying bills the following month rather confusing?

Does a Daily Money manager only handle money related matters?

No. a daily money manager’s services extend beyond the paying of bills or making bank deposits for you.

For some of my clients, organizing and creating a simple file box to hold important financial documents is what they need for peace of mind. I create a place where they can easily retrieve medical records, receipts, wills and tax related documents (especially as tax season approaches!).

I can help you schedule appointments, fill out complicated medical forms, talk with your physician office about your prescriptions.

When organizing of files is desired I can make clients feel more put together. I create order out of piles of weekly mail that mess up our homes, making us feel confused and disorganized.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who needs the help of a DMM?

There are many factors which contribute to the need for a DMM. DMMs work with senior citizens, people whose careers make it difficult for them to find time for their own paperwork, and with people whose medical issues simply make it difficult to keep up with their finances, among others.

Within the senior client base, most have a need for DMM services due to a physical change precipitated by the aging process, such as limited vision, arthritis or other conditions which limit the ability to write, dementia, or a simple loss of ability to follow through on tasks. Some others are so active in their retirement that travel and social activities make it difficult to keep up with paperwork, and they prefer to simply let someone else handle things for them.

It is not uncommon for the adult child of an older person to seek the assistance of a DMM if the child does not feel they have the time or ability to maintain their parents’ affairs.