Claudia Buck

West Sacramento event offers free financial advice

Kerry Spaulding and her husband came to speak with an estate planning attorney about wills and trusts. Retiree Daniel Rabovsky was looking to find out about tax-saving strategies.

They were among nearly 300 individuals who turned out last year at the annual Greater Sacramento Financial Planning Day, a free event for anyone to get walk-in help on taxes, retirement, debt, investing and a host of other financial topics. This year, it’s scheduled for Oct. 25.

“We had been thinking of doing a trust but didn’t have a lawyer,” said Spaulding, a retired teacher in Roseville. At the event, they got to sit down with a planner who laid out the options. “It was very upfront, honest advice.”

Inspired by the session, she and her husband, retired school Superintendent Jeff Holland, followed up with the same attorney and created an irrevocable trust with durable power-of-attorney documents that assign someone to make health care decisions should they become incapacitated.

“We wanted to make it easier for our (adult) son,” Spaulding said. Now that everything is completed and their binder of documents is in hand, she said, “Your mind is at peace.”

Now in its fourth year in West Sacramento, the annual financial-help day is part of a nationwide series of events held each fall in cities from Seattle to Virginia Beach. In California, financial planning days are also scheduled this month in Oakland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Huntington Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego.

At the West Sacramento event, about 40 CFPs and estate planning attorneys from throughout the Sacramento region are volunteering their time, both for one-on-one sessions and the hourly workshops.

The day’s events are strictly informational; the financial professionals are not allowed to give out business cards, take down names or sell any financial products.

“We have a wide variety of topics that will appeal to anybody at any stage,” said Debbie Grose, a CFP and one of the event’s co-founders. She said attendees range from young millennials wanting advice on paying down student debt or buying a first house to retirees needing a tune-up on their investment funds.

“A lot of people are capable of doing (financial planning) on their own but just want a second opinion. Then there are people who aren’t quite sure what financial advice is about. They’re used to being sold something,” said Grose, a CFP with Lighthouse Financial Planning in Folsom. “It’s a great introduction to the financial-planning process, as opposed to the sales environment.”

This year, it coincides with California’s first-ever Manage Your Money Week, Oct. 18-25, sponsored by the state Controller’s Office. On its website,, the Controller’s Office has coordinated a list of more than 80 financial-literacy events up and down California, ranging from military family finance classes to homebuying workshops to kids-and-money programs.

The intent is to raise awareness that “there are a lot of resources out there for consumers to manage their finances,” said Louise A. Walker, CEO of Dixon-based First Northern Bank and a member of the controller’s Financial Literacy Advisory Committee. She said there are events – and year-round resources – available to individuals, students, families and small-business owners.

For retired state legislative analyst Rabovsky, last year’s Greater Sacramento Financial Planning Day was a way to gather new ideas on managing some of his retirement assets. “I’ve got a pretty good portfolio of retirement funds, but I wanted to see if anyone had any strategies to reduce taxes. I was curious.”

His goal, he said, was to find ways to maximize the amount he’ll be able to pass on to his adult children. Specifically, he wanted to look at tax strategies for when he begins taking the required minimum distributions from his retirement accounts.

During his sit-down session with a CFP, the 67-year-old Sacramentan said he learned something new: a “look-through” trust that could hold his retirement account with his adult children as beneficiaries, with withdrawals taxed at their rate, not his own, higher tax rate. “If you’re looking to pass assets to your children, this is a tool you can use. It’s identifying another option.”

While the concept has pluses and minuses he wants to consider, Rabovsky said the overall process of sitting down with a planner “gives you options and ideas. It’s definitely worthwhile.”

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Greater Sacramento Financial Planning Day

What: Free advice from certified financial planners and other professionals on such topics as retirement planning, managing debt, college savings, estate planning, insurance, investments and tax strategies. Individuals can get one-on-on advice, as well as attend hourly workshops. Now in its fourth year, the West Sacramento event is one in a series of free financial planning days held in October and November in more than 20 cities nationwide.

When: Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: West Sacramento City Hall, 1110 W. Capitol Ave.

Cost: None

Hosted by: Four nonprofits: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., Financial Planning Association, Foundation for Financial Planning and the U.S. Conference of Mayors

What to Bring: Any documents related to topics (mortgage, retirement accounts, etc.) you want to discuss with a financial planner.

To sign up: Walk-ins permitted, but those who pre-register get first priority. Go to

Money Management Week, Oct. 18-25

What: More than 80 events statewide, coordinated by the state Controller’s Office to promote financial literacy. For complete list:

Local: “Money & Millennials,” a panel discussion on financial challenges facing 20-somethings and the technologies they’re using to solve them. Topics include “financial-savvy” apps and retirement planning done “the millennial way.”

When/Where: Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bank of the West, 500 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200, Sacramento

Sponsored by: Bank of the West, Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Metro EDGE, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, and the state Board of Equalization

Tickets: Go to