2009 Financial Empowerment Podcasts

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

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


December 2009

Traditional or Roth IRA: What's the Difference?

Tax expert Mary Kay Foss, CPA, discusses the requirements for and the differences between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. One critical difference is that withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed, whereas withdrawals from Roth IRAs usually are not. That's because taxes on contributions to traditional IRAs are deferred, but contributions to Roth IRAs are taxed. Foss also explains the rules for converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.

The News You Can Use segment points out that Americans are getting back into the coupon-clipping habit to save money. But just because someone uses coupons does not necessarily mean that he or she really is saving money. Several tips on how to use coupons wisely are provided.

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Links discussed in this podcast:

Internal Revenue Service

The Dollar Stretcher


November 2009

Financial Gifts for the Holidays

Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and 529 education plans make for good holiday gifts--especially if you want to start your children down the path to a secure financial future. CPA Johanna Sweaney Salt discusses reasons to consider such gifts. She also talks about the benefits of giving to charities.

The News You Can Use segment notes that some taxpayers whose paycheck withholding is lower because of "Making Work Pay Credit" program may end up owing more tax than anticipated come April 15.

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Links discussed in this podcast:

BBB Wise Giving Alliance

Charity Navigator

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

October 2009

Preparing for End of Life

Like it or not, each of us will die someday. And we need to prepare. CPA Mike Allmon has advised several clients on what they should do to make sure their estates are disposed of as they would wish. He covers wills, living trusts, letters of instructions and powers of attorney in this podcast.

The News You Can Use segment discusses whether or not prepaid cards are a good choice for consumers who cannot get a credit card and notes that beginning in February 2010, credit card companies may require applicants to prove they are financially independent.

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Links discussed in the podcast:

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

California Franchise Tax Board


September 2009

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

When is the right time to start withdrawing your Social Security benefits? There is no one correct answer that applies to everyone. Variables such as health, investments and marital status affect the decision. Mitch Freedman, a CPA and personal financial specialist,discusses how you can decide what is best for you.

The News You Can Use segment notes the three-year anniversary of Financial Empowerment podcasts and the topics covered in previous podcasts.

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Links discussed in this podcast:

Social Security Administration

Analyze Now!



August 2009

Take Care When Lending to Family and Friends

Lending to a close relative or a friend can strain relationships. But if it must be done, Rob Seltzer, CPA/PFS, advises making the loan arrangement as businesslike as possible. That includes charging a fair rate of interest and putting the terms in writing.

The News You Can Use segment reviews the new law that changes how credit card companies bill customers.

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Link discussed in this podcast:



July 2009

Property Titles: Which Is Best?

When you buy a house, you need a property title, the type of which you select when you sign the final purchase papers. There are several titles to choose from, including tenancy in common, joint tenancy and sole ownership. CPA Gloria Birnkrant explains what a title is and how to determine which type of title is right for you.

The News You Can Use segment discusses the importance of leaving information about important online accounts and passwords to a trusted person in the event of your death or incapacitation.

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Links discussed in the podcast:

California Land Title Assn.



June 2009

Who Pays the Gift Tax?

Planning to make a large cash or property gift to someone? Then you should be aware of the tax consequences, if at all, and how gifts given over a lifetime can affect estate taxes upon your death. Having advised numerous clients on the subject, CPA Mary Kay Foss shares her expertise regarding gift tax rules.

The News You Can Use segment reviews how recent changes in California's state income tax have affected employee withholdings.

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Links discussed in this podcast:

Internal Revenue Service  

California Franchise Tax Board



May 2009

Don't Wait Until Wedding to Talk Finances

Couples in love often overlook the need to review how they approach budgeting and financial obligations prior to their wedding day. CPA Leslie Dawson advises couples to review their financial expectations as early as possible. She discusses community property, prenuptial agreements and whether or not separate bank accounts are appropriate.

The News You Can Use segment offers tips on how you can improve your credit score.

Don't Wait Until Wedding to Talk Finances (Mp3, 5.4Mb)

Links discussed in the podcast:




April 2009

Retire Without Going Broke

What can you do if the funds in your retirement plan have taken a nosedive? Jerry Nightingale, a CPA and personal financial specialist,advises taking such actions as trimming your budget, reallocating your assets and taking on additional work to shore up the funds you may be depending on in your "golden years."

The News You Can Use segment warns that unscrupulous individuals are promoting pyramid, or Ponzi, schemes with videos posted on YouTube.

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March 2009

Should You Get a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage can supply cash to homeowners who are at least 62 or older. But even in these tough economic times, is getting a reverse mortgage a good idea? It depends, says San Jose CPA Dan Morris, who explains the pros and cons of reverse mortgages.

The News You Can Use segment focuses on debt collectors who hound the relatives of individuals who died with unpaid loans.

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Links discussed in the podcast:

Dept. of Housing and Urban Development



February 2009

Unemployed Still Must File Taxes

Although you might be out of work, Uncle Sam expects taxes to be filed and paid on time. But there are some deductions you can take to ease your tax burden. Rob Seltzer, a CPA and personal financial specialist,explains what unemployed people can do to lower their tax bill.

The News You Can Use segment discusses tax benefits in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the economic stimulus bill.

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January 2009

Take Charge of Your Credit Cards

With credit card interest rates going up and credit card debt increasing, consumers should think twice before offering plastic for purchases. CPA and personal financial coach Michele Day of Dublin, California, explains how to use credit cards wisely.

The News You Can Use segment discusses recent changes in tax law that affect taxpayers in 2009.

Download the podcast (Mp3, 4.8Mb)