Personal Finance

10 tips for choosing a financial planner

You may be considering help from a financial planner for a number of reasons, whether it’s deciding to buy a new home, planning for retirement or your children’s education, or simply not having the time or expertise to get your finances in order. Whatever your needs, working with a financial planner can be a helpful step in securing your financial future.According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., you should interview and evaluate several financial planners to find the one that’s right for you.

Madoff victims may recover some losses

Investors who have lost large sums of money in Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion fraud may be able to recover some of their losses by taking steps including making claims through the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), taking advantage of the theft-loss deduction, or ultimately filing suit against whatever assets Madoff still has.

Advising clients in the wake of Madoff revelations

CPAs who are being bombarded with questions about the impact of the Bernard Madoff scandal are trying to reassure clients.Consider comments made to MarketWatch columnist Chuck Jaffe: "I've worked with my adviser for years," said Ted L., a 60-something executive in Short Hills, N.J. "He came highly recommended and has always seemed to do a good job – so good that I've maybe taken his success for granted. He's been pretty good even when everyone else is doing so bad, so now I am worried that maybe he's doing something wrong or that this is all fake.

Nine financial resolutions for 2009

After a month of indulging on eggnog, holiday cookies, and other seasonal goodies, many Americans mark the New Year by making resolutions, often dealing with losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. With the current economy, financial fitness is more likely to be your priority for 2009. As with any exercise program, getting started and sticking to it are the hardest parts. The Illinois CPA Society recommends these nine resolutions to bolster your financial standing and keep it healthy.
Tax

Humbug! IRS tells senior citizens to end year with retirement withdrawal

The Internal Revenue Service has adopted a Scrooge-like attitude for the holiday season, deciding not to give a break to retirees who must withdraw funds from tax-deferred accounts. No relief will be granted to Americans ages 70 1/2 and older who are required to make minimum withdrawals from their retirement plans. The IRS said administrative changes for 2008 would be confusing and complicated for both individual taxpayers and retirement plan sponsors, Forbes.com reported.

Harvesting capital losses in mutual funds and stocks

Some shareholders in mutual funds will be surprised by a capital gains distribution in the next few days, in a year when for the most part they have experienced record losses in their accounts. But when investors redeemed billions of dollars in shares from mutual funds this fall, some of these funds recorded long-term gains. Mutual funds are required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to distribute substantially all of their income to their shareholders, who must then report the distributions as income.

Request your free 2009 Financial Literacy Calendar

The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants' (VSCPA) award-winning Financial Fitness Calendar is now available for the 2009 calendar year. Developed in partnership with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the 12-month wall calendar is a free consumer resource as part of the VSCPA's financial literacy initiative to improve the financial health of Virginians.

Municipal bond investors will have access to more investment information

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it has unanimously approved measures that will shine more light than ever before on the municipal securities market by tapping the power of the Internet. For the first time, investors will have a free, one-stop way to find municipal bond information online to help them make investment decisions.The SEC has worked with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) to correct a glaring deficiency in the $2.6 trillion municipal market, in which two-thirds of the securities are owned by individual investors.

AICPA offers financial planning advice for holiday shopping

With disposable income especially tight this holiday season, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers consumers the following tips to help them manage their finances during the next few weeks of shopping. These practices will benefit them year round.1: Develop a BudgetPlan a budget that is appropriate for your financial situation. You will need to identify your current monthly income and expenses, which will guide your spending for the holiday season. It is important that once you create a budget you stick with it.
Education & Careers

MarketWatch makes buying stocks fun and games

Maybe MarketWatch is onto something. Investing may only be safe if you do it their way: in a free, online simulation trading game.It's not for real, but the lessons are. It's called virtualstockexchange.com, and there's no risk involved. You can set up your portfolios to include stocks and funds traded on the NYSE, Nasdaq, and AMEX exchanges.
Tax

Don't rush on mandatory withdrawals from retirement accounts

Some relief might be on the way for senior citizens required to take minimum withdrawals from their individual retirement accounts at a time when the stock market has blown a hole in their financial portfolios.The Wall Street Journal is reporting that government officials are considering possible changes to the rules that require millions of Americans to start minimum withdrawals at age 70 1/2. Possible options include delaying the withdrawals or reducing the amount of the withdrawals.

CPAs offer tips for shopping smart and saving this holiday season

Nobody wants the magic of the season to turn into a nightmare when the bills arrive. Yet even with the current poor economy, you can still capture the holiday spirit if you plan ahead and shop smart. The Illinois CPA Society offers these tips for saving money on your holiday spending: Establish a budget and stick to it.
A&A

Intuit offers financial health tips for women

Female entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms, and women graduates across the country share a common thread – dreams. And with the country facing economic uncertainty, women are also united in their determination to achieve their dreams and thrive in any economy.To help women manage the critical, yet complex tasks of personal and small business finances, Intuit Inc., maker of QuickBooks, Quicken, and TurboTax software, offers a series of timeless tips designed to help them achieve their goals.
Education & Careers

Dollar Wi$e Week focuses on saving for kids and families

Approximately 43 percent of American households spend more than they earn each year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the United States has the lowest personal savings rate of any major industrialized nation. This week, mayors throughout the country will be celebrating Dollar Wi$e Week as part of the Mayor's National Dollar Wi$e Campaign: Financial Education for America. This year's theme is Saving for Kids and Families."Savings are an important building block of the foundation for the American dream," Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela told The Saipan Tribune.
A&A

Individuals and home businesses: A survival plan for important documents

When storms ravage the country, we often concentrate on how lucky we are if we're not in the path of the storm, but fail to consider the possibility that the next storm might just be a direct hit. Before you find yourself bailing out the basement, try re-examining your own readiness to react, should catastrophe strike your home.Most of us know what to grab should we need to evacuate on short notice and many of us have these items in an easily accessible location, ready to be loaded into the car in five minutes’ time.

Financial planners suggest that investors remain calm during financial crisis

CPA financial planners associated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants advise a calm approach to American investors concerned about the safety of their savings and investments amid the present financial crisis.With some money market funds reporting losses, CPA financial planners across the country are counseling their clients this week in the wake of Wall Street's turbulence on the necessary steps to protect their assets.
Education & Careers

Credit union launches contest to increase students' financial know-how

A Texas credit union is enticing students to learn more about money management by dangling the prospect of $10,000 before their eyes.But there’s a catch. Half the money must go to college expenses, 40 percent goes to pay down debt, and the remaining 10 percent can be spent any way the winner wants.The so-called Savings Challenge is sponsored for the third year by the Greater El Paso Credit Union (GECU), which aims to teach students Money Management 101.
Tax

AICPA issues warning about charitable automobile donations

High gas prices are causing many Americans to think about buying a more fuel efficient vehicle, but if you think you can donate your old car to charity and then take a hefty tax deduction, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants advises you to brush up on the rules because they may be different than you remember."Taxpayers usually can't write off the full market value of a vehicle they donate to charity, but many taxpayers don't realize that the federal rules changed in 2005," Tom Ochsenschlager, vice president of taxation for the AICPA, said."Taxpayers have to meet strict

CPAs offer financial tips for newlyweds

With wedding season in full swing, it’s important for couples to discuss their post-nuptial financial lives before anyone says, “I do.” According to a recent Money magazine survey, 84% of couples say money causes arguments in their marriages.“Many couples find it difficult to discuss money,” Janice Zajac, CPA, owner of Financial Responsibility Analysis Systems, said. “The best way to overcome financial obstacles as a couple is to jointly review bills and establish a spending and savings plan you both agree with.

AICPA and Texas Tech announce new pathway to PFS credential

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Texas Tech University's Division of Personal Financial Planning have announced a joint agreement to develop a new educational program that will lead to the AICPA's Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential. The program will officially begin in June 2009, but the AICPA and Texas Tech have announced that they will conduct a PFS Pathway beta program or test program at AICPA offices in Dallas November 10 through 14th.

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