Tips – Raising Financially Responsible Children & Estate Planning

Within the last week, the Sonoma Valley Mother’s Club hosted two amazing events – Family Fun Night and an Educational Seminar.  In general, the Sonoma Valley Mother’s Club is a community  dedicated to all aspects of mothering.  From playgroups to mom’s night out, members of the club are always up to something.   In fact, during the last week there were two amazing events that showcase the club’s mission.   The first event was of an educational nature.  It was a seminar about raising financially responsible children and estate planning.   The second event was Family Fun Night, a party celebrating the members of the club.

Raising Financially Responsible Children

Michael J. Flynn Jr, Flynn Financial and Insurance Services, Inc. gave numerous tips and suggestions about making children conscience of money (and also on saving money).  His presentation was based upon a booklet titled It’s Common Cent$ by Neale S Godfrey.

In Flynn’s opinion, children as young as 2 can start to learn the importance of consequences which when they are older can translate into spending habits.  So, for example, you can reward kids with something like stickers when they do something good like picking up a toy or brush their teeth.  As kids get older, Flynn suggests rewarding children with an allowance based upon chores.

His suggested allowance works like this.  The allowance starts at a base amount per week based on the child’s age.  So, when they’re 3, 3$ a week (or what your budget can afford).  Kids will receive an allowance when they complete their standard chores.  Then, they can get a bonus for things they do on top of the standard chores.

So, the question becomes how much time should kids spend doing chores?  Flynn recommended about 15 minutes a day, which is long enough to accomplish a few things like picking up toys, helping with dishes, etc.

Then, you institute a payday.  Flynn encourages parents to honor that payday each and every week otherwise parents run the danger of counteracting what they are trying to do.

Then the pay is put into a budget.  Flynn recommends a 4 Jar Budget System.  The first jar gets 10% of the allowance.  This goes to charity.  The second jar is for quick cash gets 30% of the allowance.  quick cash can be used for those impulsive purchases that kids want to make like candy at the grocery store, etc.  The third jar goes towards medium term savings and gets 30%.  Medium term savings can be used for those larger purchases that kids are working towards like a bicycle.  Then lastly the fourth jar goes towards long term savings and gets 30%.  Long term savings is for something like college.

Estate Planning

A more somber topic was also addressed – estate planning.  Local attorney, Anthony Valluzzo, explained the basics of an estate plan.  Estate plans mostly include will(s), trust(s), health care directive(s) and powers of attorney.   He also explained the reason for planning in advance – namely to avoid a lengthy and expensive court process called Probate.   By careful planning, families are able to ensure more money gets into the hands of their heirs/children rather than paying for the probate process.

Another subject of interest was that of guardians and trustees.  Questions came up about the pros and cons of naming the same individual as guardian and trustee.  But of course there are situations where one may want to have different people serving such roles.  For example, if there is someone that you want to take care of your kids as guardian, but that individual may not be the best with money.  In such a situation it may be preferable to name a separate trustee.

As a practical matter, Valluzzo reminded parents to check the beneficiaries on their other accounts, like 401Ks and IRAs to make sure the beneficiaries are up to date.

Family Fun Night

Families enjoyed the annual Family Fun Night where kids were able to let loose while picking out a Halloween costume at the annual costume exchange.   After picking costumes, families were exposed to a truckload of furry and scaly friends.  Tracy, the animal show guy and a kindergarten teacher by trade, brought his animal show, Fur, Tails & Scales to Family Fun Night.  His show captivated even the most active toddlers!   Of course before heading home for bed, kiddos were invited to decorate cupcakes which were generously provided by Christina Danner of Occasional Cakes.

With these types of events, the Sonoma Valley Mother’s Club is an organization to follow (and join)!  For more information, check out its’ website or email me –

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