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Financial Empowerment Podcasts

Financial Empowerment is a service of CalCPA Institute. Monthly podcasts help consumers make sense of today’s complex financial issues. All podcasts are about 15 minutes in length.

E-mail your questions to FinancialEmpowerment@calcpa.org.

December 2010:
How to Select a Tax Preparer

Although this is the holiday season, tax season is not too far away. Now is a good time to get your income tax files in order and to think about selecting a tax preparer. CPA and tax expert Gregg Wind explains what you should consider when choosing someone to do your taxes.

The News You Can Use segment discusses the factors that determine whether or not a donation to a charity can be deducted on income taxes.

Links discussed in the podcast:
California Board of Accountancy
American Institute of CPAs

Ten Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions
Tis the Season to Be Stupid
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November 2010:
Should You Refinance?

Mortgage interest rates are at historical lows, so some homeowners have refinanced or are considering refinancing to lower their monthly payments or to obtain funds for remodeling. We talked with CPA and personal financial specialist Rob Seltzer about the factors homeowners should consider before refinancing.

The News You Can Use segment points out that both the IRS and the Californian Franchise Tax Board are no longer mailing paper forms and instruction booklets to taxpayers, as most statements are filed electronically nowadays. But instructions still are available in paper form at libraries and post offices.

Links discussed in the podcast:

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October 2010:
Starting a Business

If you are unemployed and having difficulty finding work, you may be thinking of starting your own business. CPA Dan Morris, who has guided clients through the process of developing their own businesses, discusses what prospective entrepreneurs need to consider doing before printing their own business cards.

The News You Can Use segment provides information on how you can better protect your privacy while searching the Web.

Links discussed in the podcast:

Web privacy resources:
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September 2010:
Disability Insurance—Why You Need It

According to one study, one in three people will be out of work because of injury or illness for at least 90 days and one in seven will be unable to work for five years or more. Disability insurance provides income for people who can’t work because of an illness or an injury suffered off the job. But only five states, including California, require that employees have disability insurance. CPA and personal financial specialist Karen Goodfriend explains why most people should have disability insurance.

The News You Can Use segment discusses how you can find bargains in unusual places and gives tips on taking advantage of coupons.

Links discussed in the podcast: http://www.ssa.gov/disability
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August 2010: Bank or Credit Union: Which Is Best?

Unless you believe in keeping your money under your mattress or in a cookie jar, you probably will need both a checking account and a savings account. But should you deposit your money into a bank or credit union? CPA and personal financial specialist Mitch Freedman discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each financial institution.

The News You Can Use segment discusses expenses that people in retirement or nearing retirement should consider eliminating. A recent survey notes that almost half of Baby Boomers likely will not have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

Links discussed in the podcast: http://www.fdic.gov
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July 2010: Insure Your Life

If you have dependents or employees, you probably need a life insurance policy. But which type is right for you? Term or whole life? And how much insurance do you need? San Diego-based CPA and personal financial specialist Leonard Wright discusses why life insurance policies are a necessity for many people and how to determine what kind you should get.

The News You Can Use segment notes that what a person posts over social media could have unintended consequences. Much of that digitized information--including improprieties that could harm a person's employment prospects--will never go away, although programs are being developed to erase some of the data.

Links discussed in the podcast: http://www.insurance.ca.gov
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June 2010: Check Options for Retirement Planning

Retirement involves numerous financial decisions. One of the most important concerns living arrangements. You could continue living in your current home, move to a retirement community or even move in with an adult child. Michele Day, a Lafayette, Calif., CPA, discusses what factors retirees should consider before deciding where they should live.

The News You Can Use segment reviews options you have should your bank start charging for checking account services.

Link discussed in the podcast: http://askebsa.dol.gov.
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May 2010: Why a Business Needs a Succession Plan

Striving to ensure that a business succeeds often leaves little time for an owner to consider what will happen when he or she is no longer around. Yet all owners will some day be either too old, in poor health or just tired of running a business. They therefore owe their employees as well as their own families a plan for the eventual takeover of the operation. Ted Collins is a CPA who has helped numerous business owners figure out who will succeed them and how that will happen.

The News You Can Use segment reviews new rules that will soon require your bank to ask you if you want overdraft protection for purchases made with a debit or ATM card. Currently, most banks include overdraft protection on such cards. So if you lack sufficient funds in your account to purchase an item with a debit card, the bank automatically approves the purchase anyway and then charges you a fee on top of the purchase price.

Link discussed in the podcast: www.sba.gov, www.federalreserve.gov and www.score.org.
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April 2010: Detecting Fraud in Small Businesses

Ernie Cooper, CPA and former FBI agent, has seen a lot of fraud in his career. If the circumstances are right, even a valued and trusted employee surreptitiously can be stealing money from a small business. Cooper explains the telltale signs of fraud and what small businesses can do to recover their losses.

The News You Can Use segment reviews whether or not travel insurance is good idea. The Icelandic volcano eruption that caused cancellations of flights to and from Europe found many people stranded for days in airports. If they had travel insurance, their expenses may have been
covered. But, generally, if the trip is within the United States, travel insurance is not worth the cost.

Links discussed in the podcast: www.score.org, www.takechargeca.ca.gov, www.ustia.org, www.insuremytrip.com and www.squaremouth.com.

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March 2010: Don't Get Caught by a Ponzi Scheme

Many people are suckers for get-rich schemes. Who wouldn't want to have a large bank account and be able to afford whatever you want whenever you want? That essentially is the dream of people who put their money into financial offerings that turn out to be Ponzi schemes. These people believe their investments will result in huge returns. But persona financial specialist and CPA Karen Goodfriend of Los Altos, Calif., says investors in Ponzi schemes likely will eventually see their hopes dashed.

The News You Can Use segment discusses tax law affecting debt forgiveness. Essentially, if a creditor forgives a debt in excess of $600, you must declare that forgiven debt as income on your tax form. But under recent legislation, most forgiven mortgage debt related to a person's principal residence does not have to be declared.

Link discussed in the podcast: www.sec.gov and www.fbi.gov.

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February 2010: Home Business Deductions

If you work from your home, you should be aware of the tax deductions that are specific to home-based businesses. But CPA Johanna Sweaney Salt cautions that you need to keep good records of such things as travel mileage and that you should have a specific space set aside for your business office.

The News You Can Use segment reviews the new credit card regulations that require credit card issuers to use a consistent due date, provide clearer disclosures of account terms and costs, and prohibit a rate increase for one year after a user opens an account.

Link discussed in the podcast: www.federalreserve.gov/creditcard

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January 2010: The AMT Explained

More and more taxpayers are surprised that they are subject to thealternative minimum tax. Once a way to collect income tax from wealthyindividuals who found tax loopholes to avoid paying tax under theregular system, the AMT gradually has applied to more people thanks toinflation. Beverly Hills CPA Gloria Birnkrant explains the history ofthe AMT and what taxpayers can do to minimize the effect of the AMT ontheir wallets.

The News You Can Use segment discusses recent advances intechnologies that can help the elderly with short-term memory problemsand why computer software-development skills are now necessary for manycareers outside the computer industry itself.

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