How jody got started in daily money management

Asbury Park Press

A CPA Who Now Works With Elderly
by Robert Hordt

October 11, 1998 Asbury Park Sunday Press


Several years ago when my mother was still alive, I remember driving an hour to her home in Bergen County every few weeks to collect her medical bills and insurance forms.


My mother, who was in her 70s at the time, had the unfortunate luck to have been in the hospital three times over the course of just a few months. The amount of paperwork created by these hospital stays was astounding. It seemed almost everyone who saw my mother, from the emergency room doctor to the x-ray technician, was an independent contractor and sent separate bills for their services.

At first it seemed overwhelming, but I eventually figured out a system of keeping track of each bill as it wended its way through the health care system.


Unfortunately, many elderly people do not have family close by who can help out. They can easily get frustrated, not just by medical bills, but by all kinds of financial matters both large and small.


Jody Rorick Varvaloucas realized the same thing a few years ago when her parents moved into her Middletown home. Her father had always taken care of the finances in his family, but as he got older he developed cataracts, which made it difficult for him to read his mail and pay his bills.


At about the same time, Varvaloucas saw a story in a magazine about people who specialize in helping the elderly take care of their financial affairs. Called daily money managers, these financial housekeepers visit their clients once or twice a month and provide as much - or as little - help as needed.


For Varvaloucas, 47, the timing was impeccable. A certified public accountant, she had worked for a Big Eight accounting firm and a bank in New York before leaving the workforce to start a family. She was ready to return to work - but not to the daily commute to Manhattan.


Two years ago, she took the plunge and started her own daily money management service. “If I had to describe an average client,” Varvaloucas explained, “it’s a widow who has had nothing to do with finances. . . whose kids are living out of state and who has enough money to have someone do this for them.”


One of Varvaloucas’ clients - we’ll call her Mrs. M. - is 85, blind and bed-ridden. She lives in a Red Bank retirement home. Varvaloucas was hired by her daughter, who lives in Pennsylvania. Twice a month, Varvaloucas visits Mrs. M. and sorts her mail, pays her bills, balances her checkbook, makes bank deposits, organizes her tax records - she even figures out the payroll taxes and pays Mrs. M.’s private duty nurse.


Varvaloucas, who is bonded, charges $60 an hour, which she said is about average for the industry.


While she could handle more clients - she currently sees about 12 people regularly - Varvaloucas is pleased with her career choice. She credits her father with giving her encouragement. “Right before he died, he told me what I was thinking of doing was a good idea,” she said.


Robert Hordt is the business editor of the Asbury Park Press. His column appears Sundays. If you have an idea for this column, send it to him at 3601 Highway 66, Neptune, NJ 07754.

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