Personal Finance: Ask the Experts

Get advice on money matters from The Bee's Claudia Buck and a panel of local experts

August 28, 2013
Where should I house my IRAs?

Q: I was told that one should not park their IRAs (both traditional and Roth) at a bank and should have the accounts at a brokerage/mutual fund. Is this true? If so, why?

Sacramento, CA

July 16, 2013
Is my IRA properly insured?

Q: If one is rolling over a 401(k) into an IRA and the amount of money is over $500,000, should the money be divided up between institutions to be sure it's covered by insurance, should the institution go under? Fidelity says that anything over that amount is covered by an insurance policy from Lloyds of London. Is that sufficient or should the money be rolled into two or three IRAs at different companies?


July 9, 2013
Job hunting? IRS offers tax deductions for some expenses

If you're job hunting, here's some money-saving advice: The IRS offers tax deductions to help job seekers offset the cost of some expenses, such as printing resumes, hiring an employment agency or traveling for interviews. Here's a look at what qualifies:

1. Your expenses must be for a job search in your current occupation. You cannot deduct expenses related to a new occupation or if it's your first time in the job market (i.e. you're a recent college graduate).

2. Generally, you can deduct:

• Fees paid to employment and job-placement agencies while looking for work.

• The cost of printing/mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers.

• Travel expenses if you leave town to look for a new job. But not if it's a vacation that just happens to include a stop at a would-be employer.

3. You can't deduct job-search expenses if there was a "substantial break" between the end of your last job and the start of looking for a new one. (Alas, the IRS doesn't specify what "substantial break" actually means.) Also, if your current employer or another party reimburses you for an expense, it cannot be deducted.

4. Typically, job-search expenses are claimed as a "miscellaneous itemized deduction" on Schedule A of your 1040 Form.

For details, see IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. Or call 800-TAX-FORM, or (800) 829-3676.

June 25, 2013
How do I rollover my 401(k) plan?

Q: I am 61 and have quit working. I have a 401(k) from my company. How and where do I decide to roll it over for my best retirement planning?


June 24, 2013
Freeze or Fraud Alerts on your credit history: Do you need one?

In Sunday's column on being careful when getting your "free" credit report, we mentioned a couple of additional options for consumers: security freezes and fraud alerts.
Both are actions that you initiate with each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. In California, the state Attorney General's Office has how-tos on getting a security freeze.

Rocklin resident David Harry and his wife have had a security freeze on their files with the three credit bureaus for years. It's "a substantial safeguard (against) unauthorized credit access for fraudulent purposes," he said in an email.

Here's more detail:

May 13, 2013
At age 71, where can I invest my annual IRA withdrawals?

Q: I just turned 71, so I received the allotted amount from an IRA account and from an ICMA account. My husband and I live comfortably with our pensions right now and don't need this money yet. We have health insurance, but we don't have long-term care insurance. Where can I invest the money, so it will produce a decent amount of interest and be available if the need arises?

Woodland, CA

May 2, 2013
Should I care about my credit rating?

Q: Should I care about my credit rating? I don't owe anything, I have a pension that takes care of all of my needs, and I have $300,000 in savings. I use a Costco Amex card and pay it off monthly. I have no plans to move or buy a house.

Sacramento, CA

May 1, 2013
How can I reinvest my 401(k) plan from a previous employer?

Q: I have a 401(k) from a previous employer, and I would like to transfer it to a financial vehicle where I would have some control of where the money is invested, such as precious metals, ETFs, etc. How can I do that? Do I need to deal with a brokerage company like Charles Schwab?

Elk Grove, CA

April 24, 2013
Should I cancel or borrow from a whole life policy?

Q: I am uncertain whether to cancel or borrow from a whole life policy (with a $100,000 benefit) that is a little over 10 years old, in order to pay off credit card debt. The policy's cash value is $13,000 and the credit card debt is $10,000. I would reinvest the difference in stocks and bonds.

The bigger picture is that I want to buy a term policy for $1,000,000 because a different existing $400,000 term policy has recently run over its term and is incurring premiums that are too high.

On top of that, I found out that I am paying too much for another group policy through my employer (for $300,000). I want to get rid of that as soon as possible; unfortunately, I am unable to until the end of the year. An additional $100,000 coverage is paid for by my employer.

I have read so many different and often opposing opinions about whole life policies in the past few days that I am thoroughly confused and don't know whether I would be wiser to keep than to cancel it.

The reason for the total coverage of $1,000,000 (20-year term) I'm seeking is that my wife is disabled and cannot work. I want to know she is secure enough that, in case of my death, she can live off the interest. I am 46, my wife is 49.

Clearwater, FL

April 12, 2013
'Money Matters': Teen's hip-hop video on finances wins award

Most hip-hop music is often about bling: spending it, not saving it. But in a recent contest tied to National Financial Literacy Month, teens rapped their way to $3,000 in prizes based on their money-saving lyrics.

The Money Matters Music Mogul contest, which drew 54 entries from across the country, is sponsored by the Charles Schwab Foundation in San Francisco and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, based in Atlanta.

Why hip hop? "Let's face it, personal finance in itself may not seem all that interesting to teens, so we're always looking for fresh ways to light a spark," said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation, in a statement. "We thought hip hop was a genre they would find relevant, and the success of the contest proved us right...I can't get this year's winning song out of my head!"

Blake McGuire, 15, of Indianapolis won a $1,000 scholarship plus $500 for his local Boys & Girls Club with his winning entry, titled "Money All That Matters." The other four finalists each won $500 scholarships.

The song's music video was produced in Atlanta by Kevin "Khao" Cates, a Grammy-nominated music producer. You can hear McGuire's song and/or download an entire album, "M4: Money Matters Music Mogul$" album of winning hip-hop videos on personal finances.

April 10, 2013
Can I put my current savings in a 401(k) plan from a former employer?

Q: I have about $50,000 just sitting in a regular savings account, not gaining much interest. Recently, I was sent a 401(k) account statement from a job I had over 12 years ago. It only has $100 in there now. Would I be able to use that account and incorporate some of my savings into it and manage my investments? My hope is to place some money in the account where I can gain some interest. I would be open to stock account or an IRA as well, but I am not too familiar with these. I could use some help.

Roseville, CA

April 3, 2013
Are there any local resources that teach young adults about personal finances?

Q: Are you aware of a local resource (such as an adult learning class) that teaches a young adult how to handle personal finances? Topics would include banking ins and outs (such as fees and how to avoid them), bill payment, budget creation and the like.

Rocklin, CA

March 29, 2013
Should my wife and I convert some of our term life to whole life?

Q: Our financial advisor suggested that my wife and I convert some of our term life to whole life. Should we follow his advice? Here is our information:
Husband - 38 years old
Wife - 32 years old
Combined Adjusted Gross Income - $175,000

Husband - $10,000 annual 401(k) contribution ($5K Roth & $5K traditional)
Wife - $15,000 annual 401(k) contribution ($7.5K Roth & $7.5K traditional)

Husband - $2 million term life policy - 19 years remaining on a 20-year policy
Wife - $2 million term life policy - 19 years remaining on a 20-year policy

We both have a disability income policy. The total combined retirement account value 401(K) is $75,000. The total combined savings and investment account value is $300,000. We have a child (age 1). We do not have any debt. We're currently renting

Walnut Creek, CA

March 2, 2013
Should I accept an "enhanced surrender" offer for my variable annuity?

Q: I have a variable annuity with a major insurance company. They have made me an offer of an enhanced surrender. The offer is my contract value plus 20 percent of my payment base. They are making this offer because of high market volatility, decline in the equity markets and low interest rates. In other words, it's costing them money to maintain these accounts. I don't have to accept the offer. My question: Should I go for this or not?

Ray, Sacramento

February 22, 2013
Is it a good idea to invest in an annuity?

Q: We are both 81 years old. We both have IRAs ($104,000). We are losing about $4,000 a year (from the principal) through our minimum withdrawals, which are about 2.4 percent. My question: Is it a good idea to invest in an annuity?
Victor, Sacramento

January 30, 2013
IRS: Most taxpayers can start filing for the 2013 tax season

Let the tax returns begin. The IRS officially kicked off the 2013 tax season, meaning most individual taxpayers can start filing their returns today, ahead of the Monday, April 15, filing deadline.

The IRS also announced new efforts to thwart fraud and connect with taxpayers.

Among them:

• Redesigned its website to make it easier to navigate and find information.

• Beefed up identity-theft and refund fraud, including more than 3,000 staffers - double the number in 2011 - assigned to I.D. theft issues. The IRS also installed stronger computer filters that it says will help detect fraudulent tax returns.

• Added more social media access to IRS information, including a new site on Tumblr. The IRS also updated its smartphone app (IRS2Go) and has more than 100 YouTube videos on tax topics such as refunds and tax credits.

January 14, 2013
Where's a safe place for retiree to invest in a Roth IRA?

Q: Where do you recommend a retiree invest a Roth IRA?
I'm looking to invest $40,000 with a ROTH account in a safe place for at least 10 years. Thank you.

-- Thomas, Lincoln

October 12, 2012
Insurers to pay Californians $28M in overdue death benefits

Two more life insurance companies will shell out $28 million to Californians in unpaid death and funeral benefits, under agreements announced this week by the state controller's office.

Forethought Financial Group Inc., an Indianapolis company that sells end-of-life policies through funeral homes, agreed to pay $25 million, as well as change some of its business practices. Nationwide Insurance Co. will return about $3 million in life insurance benefits. Under earlier agreements, the Columbus, Ohio-based company has already paid more than $12.5 million in unclaimed insurance monies to some 480 Californians.

These mark the fifth settlements since 2008, when California launched ongoing audits of life insurance companies and their payouts.

October 11, 2012
Should an adult child be named on a parents' bank account?

Q. I would like a professional's opinion on the pros/cons of adding an adult child's name to an elderly parent's bank accounts. I have heard conflicting opinions from friends and relatives. My belief is that it is a good thing to do and helps tremendously when the time comes to settle the estate. True? -- Tami, Sacramento

October 7, 2012
Did Social Security pull the rug out from some early retirees?

Q: My brother applied for Social Security retirement benefits early and started receiving benefits in February 2009 (at age 65). His decision was based on his cash flow at the time and the understanding that he could rescind his application and re-apply for benefits at age 70 (paying back all the retirement benefits he'd been paid to that point), thereby maximizing his monthly benefit check (he expects to live forever).

Recently he checked the Social Security website and discovered that a change in 2010 limits the time in which to rescind an application for benefits to 12 months from the date of the first benefit payment.

He feels screwed. He made his decision to start drawing Social Security benefits based on the fact that he could rescind his application and re-apply at age 70. Had he known that he would be prevented from doing that, he wouldn't have started taking the benefits in the first place. He believes that a notice of the change should have been sent to all those under the age of 70 who were currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits. That would have enabled anyone who wanted to to rescind his or her application.

Since both my brother (and thousands of others, no doubt) acted in good faith based upon an existing regulation, he feels that those in his situation should be "grandfathered in" (ie. sent a notice and allowed to rescind their original application within a reasonable period of time). Is this being considered? Is it likely to happen?
-- Larry, Elk Grove

October 3, 2012
40 California kids win college savings accounts

Read a book: Earn $529 toward college savings.

That's the winning math for some 40 California kids, who each won $529 toward their college savings, the state Treasurer's Office announced this week.

Among local winners of the "Think Big! Save for College!" contest were: Jonathan Shedd, El Dorado Hills; Xandei Souders, West Sacramento; Oscar Galvin, Sacramento; and Cody Chavez-Russ, Marysville.

The winners, ages 3 to 14, were selected at random from among 3,600 entries statewide.

Sponsored by ScholarShare, California's 529 college savings plan, the summer reading contest allowed parents to submit entries online or at their public library. If a winning entry was submitted at a local public library, the library received a matching $529 check.

October 1, 2012
How can I reduce my taxes on the sale of a rental property?

Q: I own a home in Oregon which has been used as a rental since 2003. A year ago I purchased a home in Sacramento. I have lost my job and I am considering selling the Oregon home and using the proceeds of the sale (approx. $200,000) to pay off my mortgage here in Sacramento. I understand that these proceeds will be treated as a taxable gain. What would my estimated tax to be paid on the investment be? Is there any way to reduce the taxes paid?
-- William, Sacramento

October 1, 2012
Surviving the recession: How do we get back on financial track?

Q: I'm wondering if you have any recommended resources for families who are trying to put their financial lives back together after the recession. We didn't lose our house, we didn't completely lose our jobs, we still have health care, cars, children in sports, etc.
However, we did this by hanging on for dear life, and obviously we made mistakes. We thought if we worked hard and cut back on "wants" vs. "needs" we would get through this and then catch up. But now the cars are old and falling apart, the house is a fixer-upper that can't get fixed up and is worth half of what we paid for it. Our credit score is still OK, but the balances on our cards are so high that we don't know how to pay them down.

One of us is employed full-time but there have been little or no raises or COLA in 5 years. One of us is part-time, but has taken repeated reductions in work, and will probably be down to just a few hours a week when the tax hikes don't pass. Full-time jobs are not available right now, or don't pay enough to cover childcare. Food is more expensive, medical costs are through the roof, and student loans just break even because we only pay $500 per month on them.

We never thought it would last this long. We won't be able to "get by" for much longer. I know there must be ways to get advice, but I can't find it.
Any ideas?
I WAS in the Middle Class, Sacramento

September 22, 2012
Should our parents help us with our mortgage?

Q: Ten years ago my wife and I bought a three-bedroom home. We're both in our late 30s and recently became unemployed. We owe $90,000 on the house and pay $900 per month, including insurance and taxes. We're thinking of refinancing to see if our monthly payment would be reduced. What is the refinance process? Is it better to pay insurance/taxes separately? Both of our parents are willing to co-sign if necessary since I'm not working. They have also offered to pay off the full amount then we pay them back with very low interest. Some other friends are in similar situations so any advice would definitely help us. Thank You. -- Martha, Sacramento

September 20, 2012
How do I find a competent financial adviser?

Q: I am a 53-year-old widow and mother of two. While I am bright, financial planning and taxes are new to me. I have enough money to see me through if I steward the money well. I would like to develop a financial, investment and tax plan but I think I need help. How do I find a competent professional to help me? What certifications should I be looking for? In the past I had free financial planning services from a wealth management company but found that the financial plan was centered around me investing money in the stock market through them. I discovered that I am too fearful of the stock market. I am however very comfortable with rental real estate. Any help in getting me a good adviser would be greatly appreciated. -- Lise, Lincoln

September 3, 2012
Do we need a will/trust or is a store-bought financial form OK?

Q: My brother's wife has a moderate Alzheimer's condition and is totally unable to handle any financial transactions. He also is in poor health and fears if he has a stroke, etc. he will be unable to control any of their financial transactions. Would a "finanancial directive" purchased at a stationery store giving me power of attorney as executor be legal or would it be better for him to do a living trust or will? My brother has a large estate and numerous CDs. What is the reality if he has a stroke or heart attack and both of them are unable to process any financial transactions? Thank you. -- Dave, West Sacramento

September 3, 2012
My home is under water; should I pay extra on mortgage?

Q: My house is about $25,000 under water and I cannot refinance because I have already taken advantage of a government-assisted loan. To pay off my mortgage early, I am making one extra payment a year so my son can have a place to live when I die (I am 71). I have a 30-year loan and still have about 24 years to go. Is it a good idea to make an extra payment when your house is underwater? -- Marge, Sacramento

September 3, 2012
What's the best way to invest $10,000 wedding gift?

Q: For a wedding gift, I would like to provide my daughter and her fiance with a nest egg of about $10,000. They are both 30, college-educated, with modest combined earnings of about $50,000. They have no debt and plan to have children in about three years. They are responsible about money, but have no investment experience. What form would you recommend the nest egg take? CDs? A seeded mutual fund investment account? Other? -- Antoinette, Davis

September 3, 2012
How do I keep my retirement savings safe?

Q: After 30 years, I am looking forward to my retirement in April 2013. Through the years, I have contributed to a 401k, and it is currently sitting near $70,000. I plan to stop my contributions to the 401k after I retire, but I am not sure if I should leave the money in the account, or would it be better to pull it out and place it elsewhere? With the current economic conditions, I am very worried if my money will be safe in the 401k. I am not looking to make any money on this, just want it to be in the most secure place I can find in these uncertain times. I greatly appreciate any help you can offer me. --- Jim, Roseville

August 23, 2012
Should I fix my roof or pay off my mortgage?

"Q:" I will be getting around $80,000 in cash from the sale of a property. I have 13 years left on my mortgage, with $70,500 remaining in principal. The house desperately needs a new roof and a new driveway. If I pay off now, I will be saving $1,000 per month to use for the repairs. Should I invest the $80,000 or pay off the mortgage?
-- Zia, St. Peters, MO

August 23, 2012
Should I move my vacation payout to my retirement plans?

Q: I'm retiring in 43 days, when I cash in my vacation time it will amount to close to $19,000. If I take the money (cashing out) it will be taxed about 40%. So need to know should I put the money in a 457K or a 401K? Not sure which is the better option or if there is a better option. Please advise, thank you.

-- Terry, Sacramento

August 23, 2012
Should I keep all my assets with one investment company?

"Q:" I have my 401(K) in an investment management company that has been wonderful through the recent financial crises. They have managed my funds well and diversified as the market fluctuated. I will be retiring in six months and will need to move my pension funds from my employer's account. As pleased as I am with my investment company I'm reluctant to put my pension in the same "bucket". Is it safe to do so or would it be better to put my pension into separate company altogether?

-- Jackie, Fair Oaks

August 22, 2012
What tips do you have to help pay for graduate school?

Q: I am entering a graduate program not related to my current job. Are there any tax deductions or any write-offs for the large expense I will be incurring? Do you have any ideas on handling this large expense? There is money in my IRA plan from my retirement in 2008. Or should I get a student loan? Thanks -- Carrie, Orangevale

August 6, 2012
Should my parents keep their credit cards?

Q: My parents are in their 80s and have a number of credit cards. Some they pay an annual fee. I want them to get rid of most of them (zero balances on all). They think that it will hurt their credit rating if they cancel them. I told them that it would not matter, their house is paid off, their car is paid off, and they have no loans, and are not anticipating buying anything expensive. They have never done a bankruptcy, no loan defaults, no late payments on anything. What do you think?
-- Dwaddy, Sacramento

August 6, 2012
How should I invest funds to pay off mortgage when I retire?

Q: I recently received $125,000 from a trust settlement. I want to invest it for approximately four years and then use it to pay off my mortgage because at that time I will be 65 and retiring. Any ideas on where to place the money?
-- Bob, Davis

July 30, 2012
Looking toward retirement, should I buy airtime with CalPERS?

I'm almost 53 and would like to retire at 60. Should I use my 401(k) to pay for an additional 4 years of PERS? Advice from others indicates that I will never make a guaranteed 6 percent with my 401(k) in the next seven years , so I should pay for additional PERS years of retirement time. -Need advice - Sacto

July 24, 2012
How should I save for grandchildren's college education?

Q. Your column today (Paying College Tuition) reminded me of a question I've been asking myself. I have two young grandchildren for whom I would like to set aside about $10,000 each. I would like to keep this money in my name in case I need it myself for some unforseen event.
Where would be the best place to park this money (if used for college, I will not need it for 12 or so years)? I'm not a good investor (makes me too nervous). Savings and CDs don't pay jack, so I've been thinking of an annuity, or maybe even savings bonds. Savings Bonds do not pay much interest, but I believe they're better than CDs, and they are state tax free. I understand if I use it for tuition, it can also be federal tax free. I'm 69. Wadda ya think? Thank you. James - Sacramento

July 23, 2012
On the up: Airline fees for same-day flight changes

With the summer travel season in full swing, we wrote recently about airline travel tips, including all those pesky fees on everything from excess bags to pillows.

One website,, just added a new chart of same-day fees that airlines charge when you need to fly earlier or later than your ticketed flight.

It used to be you that if you got to the airport early - or were delayed and needed a later flight, you could grab a different flight on the same day with no penalty. But today, on most airlines, "that perk has gone the way of free food and pillows," says

The same-day fees vary. American and United have upped their change fee to $75. Southwest doesn't charge a same-day fee but requires passengers to pay the difference between their original fare and their new flight.

Check it out: it's another way to be an informed consumer.

July 10, 2012
Should I pay off my mortgage early?

Q. Hello, I bought a house in 2006 for $1.1 million. I put down $850,000 and now have a mortgage of about $230,000. My house is probably now worth about $750-800,000. Should I work on paying it off, or just make the payments on this 30-year loan? I am retired and plan to be here about10-15 years. Thank you! Mick - Sacramento

June 27, 2012
Should I use my IRA to pay off my mortgage?

Q. My husband and I have retired. We have IRAs totalling $425,000, monthly income of $4000, balance of $250,000 mortgage. Should we pay off our mortgage, which is 5.75%, with our IRA or take a monthly withdrawal of $2100 each month for mortgage payment? Thank you.
Lee - Sacramento

June 26, 2012
What's the best way to pay for a child's college education?

Q. I'm just about to start paying for my daughter's college education. The tuition per year is approximately $30,000. I have certain buckets of money that I will be tapping into. I have about $60,000 in stocks, bonds, etc that can be used. My wife also has $70,000 in cash and I have $25,000 in cash. Since the market is so crazy at the moment should I just use the liquid cash to start? I will be paying in 2 installments. One is due at the end of July for $13,500. So I need to decide quick.

Also, for later payments, we have life insurance policies with a total cash value of approx. $14,000. Can I just take this cash out to use? Is this a good idea? I don't see in the fine print where this will change my policy payout at the time of death. My wife and I are both in our late 50s. We have other retirement savings in 401(k) accounts that we don't plan to touch. I also have 2 pensions (a total of 30 years) coming to me at some point.

I have the money to pay for college just not sure where to draw from first. I do have a financial planner who has been of little help, unfortunately. Your advice is appreciated.

Steve - Sacramento

June 25, 2012
Conditions are right, but don't rush into buying a new home

Q. I am starting a new job in several weeks, where I will be earning double what I make now. I intend to buy a house as soon as possible, but I have a probation period with my new job that could last upwards of 2 years. I want to take advantage of the market and get a nice house for about 160k. My fear is if I take advantage of the market and then lose my job, I'll be stuck, unable to sell and unable to make payments.

Would it be more wise to buy soon, within 6 months, with a small down payment, or risk prices going up by the end of 2 years, but have a larger down payment and hopefully pass the probationary period? I foresee no problems with my probationary period, but I know that there is always a chance of something happening.

Thank you.
Fair Oaks

June 18, 2012
How much is Mom/Dad worth around the house?

My Father's Day column on Sunday highlighted a survey - admittedly unscientific - that tallied up what the typical Dad contributes to the family household. The total: about $20,250 a year.

That's not counting Dad's paycheck, but adding up his around-the-house jobs like mowing the lawn, fixing the leaky sink, handling car repairs. The survey, compiled by, a consumer insurance site, is based on jobs/wages data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It pegs Dad's contribution at barely a third of what Mom contributes - more than $60,000 - as family chauffeur, birthday party planner, meal preparer, homework adviser, etc.

Read Mom's tally here.

June 16, 2012
Beware of financial scams targeting seniors

Elder financial abuse. It's not new, but it's getting renewed attention.

Last week, the state Department of Corporations urged Californians to be aware of investment fraud and other financial scams targeting seniors. It's also got a great resource, "Seniors Against Investment Fraud" (SAIF), which outlines scams and financial fraud targeting those over 50. Download it here.

Also jumping into the elder abuse arena is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by Congress in 2010 following the country's mortgage meltdown. According to the CFPB, Americans age 60 and over lost at least $2.9 billion to "financial exploitation" in 2010, often by family members.

June 15, 2012
Welcome to The Bee's Personal Finance blog

Greetings and welcome to The Sacramento Bee's first-ever Personal Finance blog. Why this, why now? Because money matters. And coming out of the so-called "Great Recession" (what's "great" about it, I haven't figured out yet), it's clear there's a real desire by all of us to be better informed about our personal finances.

So this blog intends to offer up news, tips, tools and resources that can help you figure out the often-baffling world of personal finances.

It's also the new home to our longstanding "Ask the Experts" panel, which is a rotating group of local experts on taxes (both IRS and California), investing, personal finances, wills/trusts and job hunting.

Meet Our Financial Experts

Claudia Buck

Claudia Buck is The Sacramento Bee's personal finance columnist. Read all her columns here. Contact her at

Terri Carpenter

Terri Carpenter offers advice on job hunting, retraining and career counseling. Carpenter works at Sacramento Works Inc., the career and job training arm of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). With 15 years in the field, she has hands-on experience with everyone from first-time job seekers to career professionals seeking advice after a layoff or looking for a mid-career change. Ask her a question.

Carlena Tapella

Carlena Tapella is a partner in the law firm of Webb & Tapella Law Corp. in Sacramento. The firm specializes in estate planning and probate, such as estates, trusts, conservatorships and litigation. She is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association's Estate Planning & Probate Section. Ask her a question.

Kimberly Foss

Kimberly Foss, certified financial planner, is the founder of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville. With nearly 30 years in the financial industry, her clients include women in transition, small business owners, retirees and "pre-retirees." Ask her a question.

Jesse Weller

Gregory Burke, a CPA and tax expert with John Waddell & Co. in Sacramento since 1984, worked as an IRS tax auditor for six years. He’s a past chairman of the California Society of CPAs. Ask him a question.

Daniel Tahara

Daniel Tahara takes your questions about California taxes. Tahara, a spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board, has 10 years of experience as a tax auditor. Ask him a question.

Personal Finance columns

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