Wanted: One Green CPA

        Can there be a correlation between passion and utility? Between inspiration and perspiration? Is there a way to make your streamate dream job the same as your day job (and still earn a living)? These are the questions that have been plaguing me as of late scene. Until recently, I have been focused more on the utility, the perspiration, than the "Jasminlive dream". As the title of this blog might suggest, that focus has been to become a Certified Accountant, and have those three elusive little letters after my name: C.P.A and a botle of Vimax pills. Now, as I am (hopefully) almost done with that journey (one exam left, and then the long wait for the state of California to grant me my license), I am beginning to realize that I am actually only at the beginning of a long career. And, while I enjoy the general activities of my job, I have started to wonder what I will actually do with that license once I receive it.

        Of course, I think that the majority of us would like to serve the "greater good", in some capacity, throughout our lives. And I am no exception. But, what does that mean: serve the greater good? It sounds so broad, so huge, so impossible to achieve. So, many of us are left stagnant, wondering what one person could actually do to help anyone or anything. To me, serving the "greater good" would somehow benefit society, whether that is local or global, in either a small way or a large way. (Yeah, that narrows it down, doesn't it?) But, how does one choose a cause? I think most of us don't just have one cause that we are passionate about - I know that I don't. Just to name a few things I wish I could do something about right now: help the poor learn about nutrition, save the polar bears, fix the terrible practices in recycling electronics, solve America's health care crisis, keep our green spaces from turning into sprawling subdivisions, remind people that they don't need an SUV to drive to the office....well, I guess the list goes on and on. But, each of these causes all have something in common: the environment.

        I can't help but think that the majority of America's current, pressing problems are all interrelated. It's no coincidence that the economy, the health of our citizens, and the environment are all crashing at the exact same time. And, I don't think we can all sit around and wait for our politicians to get their acts together and fix this. First of all, they need to know it's something that the voters care deeply about before they will ever make any real strides. Second of all, it really is up to individual responsibility, because it's going to take a complete change in the mindset of the American people to make any real strides in fixing our myriad of problems. This brings me back to my original question - can I be both a CPA and work to solve (on any level) the global environmental crisis that we face today? Can business (dare I say it?) actually help the "greater good"? Can I afford a decent standard of living while bringing up the standard of living for others?

        This is the question that I will explore in this blog. As for the title of this blog - The Greenest CPA - do I really consider myself to be the greenest CPA out there? Of course not, not even close. It's something I would like to aspire to, and like any great goal, is actually much bigger than myself. To me, the idea of the Greenest CPA is an idea of business working with the environment, aiding in the greater good, to create a more sustainable way of life than the one business has been promoting for at least the past thirty years.

        Today, on this Earth Day 2009, we stand at the beginning of a change in both thought and attitude, as young and unformed as my career as a CPA. It will be hard for us to make these changes, but I don't think we will have much of a choice. As our incomes sadly shrink, we may come to see that conserving the environment also helps us conserve what little is left in our savings accounts. As our medical bills become impossible to pay, we may find that eating organically grown fruits and vegetables can stave off so many of the chronic diseases that have become all too prevalent in our lives recently. As our way of life continues to crash around us, we may find that another, more sustainable and healthier way of life, while less grand, is actually a better way to live. Too optimistic? I hope not. For me, it's my vision of the future. But, like the majority of Americans, I have a long way to go to get there. In the past two years, my husband and I have been making small steps to try to decrease our impact on the environment, but we have many more small steps to take. I plan to use this blog to help me stay committed to our cause.

        I also plan to use this blog to explore how I can make an impact as a CPA, as well as as a citizen. I know that there are ways accountants and business can hurt society and the environment, but I want to make a commitment to be on the other side. I want to use my newly gained technical expertise to make a difference in the right ways. How will I do that? I am not sure yet. But, as I write in this blog, I think that I will get closer to figuring that out. I hope that I will have enough readers, as time goes by, that people will be able to help me out in my cause, and that I can help and inspire others. I guess you could call this my mission statement. Happy Earth Day!

When Frugality and Environmentalism Align: Just Say "No" to Vampire Energy Use

        The Los Angeles Times.com has a great article on how to save money by cutting out needless electricity usage in your home. Dubbed "Vampire" energy use, I guess because it sucks the energy out of your home, this energy use can be easily thwarted, saving you hundreds of dollars on your electrictiy bill. Examples: all electronics that are turned off, but still plugged in, and your cell phone charger that you keep in the wall 24-7. The article points out ways to curb this (best one: use a power strip that can easily be turned on and off), and how to get a free energy audit of your home.

        R and I live in a small, one-bedroom apartment, so many of these tips don't apply to us (extra refridgerator???), and because of our proximity to the ocean, A/C and heat are non-issues (haven't used either in 4 1/2 years). But, for the rest of society, there are plenty of great tips. We do utilize a power strip for kitchen appliances, which has been great, since we don't need the toaster oven plugged in all the time. But after reading this article, I think we need to invest in more power strips, so we can really bring down our energy use.

Examples of Electric Cars for the New Tax Credits

        In my previous post, I wrote about the two new tax credits that are in the works for plug-in electric vehicles. My problem with the IRS verbiage - you don't just need to be a CPA to figure it out, you need to be a physicist! I did some research to bring you some examples of low-speed, four-door vehicles, and came across a great website that shows not only those vehicles, but three-door vehicles; high-speed, four-door vehicles; and concept vehicles in the making. Some of the cars would qualify for the EESA credit, others for the ARRA credit, and a couple for both (but don't forget, you can't actually take both!).

        Personally, I wouldn't drive the low-speed or three-door vehicles. But, I live in LA. To me, they sound like a death wish. I prefer the high-speed, four door varities, and if I could afford it, would love to purchase the new Tesla Model S when it emerges. But, I don't think I could afford it, even after the EESA tax credit. Sigh.

        Still, it's exciting to see the government try to encourage both consumers and manufacturers to spend the hard earned cash in a better way. I know a lot of people consider this socialism, but ... well, we could use a teensy bit of socialism right now, couldn't we?

A Cleaner Future with Green Cars

More and more cars are on the road every day, and it is estimated that more than a billion cars will be on the roads by the year 2020. Governments are beginning to put pressure on car manufacturers to develop cars that are friendlier to the environment. While in the past green cars were something that most people only dreamed about, today there are a variety of options available for those who are looking for a car that is environmentally friendly.

Several Different Technology Choices

Today as more and more people become environmentally conscious, there are a variety of greener alternatives that are beginning to show up in show rooms in the United States and even in Europe. For those looking for a car that runs green, there are now several different technology choices to consider, including alternative fuels, battery cars, and of courses the ever popular hybrids.

- Alternate Fuels - Perhaps the most futuristic technology when it comes to vehicle propulsion is alternative fuels used in fuel cells, which actually happens to be the cleanest form of vehicle transportation. Several car manufacturers are investigating hydrogen powered vehicles as well as cars that are powered by ethanol instead of gasoline. Vehicles with fuel cells have great potential, although it has not been fully explored. In the past infrastructure for these fuels have been a barrier to their product, but Honda has recently opened a station in California that actually is a hydrogen fueling station. Their goal is to show how alternative fuels can perform, offering consumers a new way to look at transportation.

- Battery Cars - Another type of technology that is employed when it comes to green cars is the electric battery. Actually battery cars have a long and extensive history, and they have been researched for some time. However, it has only been recently that they have shown to be viable in the mass vehicle market. As battery technology continues to improve, more cars are being introduced into the market with battery technology. There are many green advantages to battery operated cars, including great energy efficiency and no pollution; however, until recently they have been very limited, both in speed and electric charging.

- Hybrids - When it comes to cars that are friendly to the environment, the most popular and promising technology is the hybrid technology. Hybrids are unique, in that they use electric motors and an internal combustion engine as well. Fuel efficiency is boosted, since the electric motor can take over and help to lower the usage of fuel. Since the electric motor offers support, the gasoline engine is a lot smaller and much more efficient as well. In fact, in parts of travel, the gasoline engine may shut down altogether. The energy from the gas engine also helps to charge the battery, so you don't have to worry about recharging it, like you have to with electric battery cars, and the emissions are significantly lower than other gas powered vehicles. Probably the two most popular hybrid cars on the market today include the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.

Greener Cars for 2007 and 2008

Today there are a variety of options available when it comes to green cars. There are far more options than there were a few years ago. So, let's take a closer look at some of the cars that have the best green performance in 2007 and 2008.

One of the greenest cars out there on the market today is the Toyota Prius. This car has a pair of electric motors along with a four cylinder engine. The Prius has the best fuel economy of any mass market car in United States. The Honda Insight is fairly close to the Prius as well, and also has a lot to offer. You'll also find that another great car for environment is the Smart For Two car. It is a small car that only needs a very small motor - a 3 cylinder engine, which gets about 33 mpg around town. The Nissan Altima Hybrid is also an excellent car which is friendly to the environment and is tuned to get great fuel economy in the city.

Of course these are just a few of the environmental cars that are now available on the market for purchase. It is easy to see that the technology around greener vehicles is ever expanding, and no doubt in the next few years, you will continue to see great strides made in this area of technology as well.

A green car is unlike any other car, because green cars have many benefits - especially for the environment. Apart from the environment, there are benefits in terms of taxes and fuel efficiency as well, so there is more to gain when you buy a green car. Besides, when you buy a green car, you will need to purchase green car insurance, which will contribute towards saving the environment as part of the money from the insurance will go towards research and conservation.

In terms of the environment, green cars release less harmful gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. When these gases are reduced, there will be less pollution, and less health problems are seen in the general population. Believe it or not, these gases can cause illness in people who inhale them. These are pollutants that have effects on the respiratory and cardiopulmonary systems. Air pollution causes death, especially among children. If the gases are being inhaled excessively, there is a possibility of lung cancer as well, so by reducing these harmful gases we create a healthier environment.

In terms of road tax, you are required to pay tax according to the type of fuel and the carbon dioxide emissions. The lower the emission, the lower the tax would be. There is no tax involved if the gas emission is below 100g/km. This is perhaps the best part of having green cars. Besides, this is also part of the program to promote green cars to more people. Many people are switching to green cars to pay less tax and to enjoy more benefits - apart from saving the environment.

Now, as for the fuel tax, if you own a green car that runs on electricity, you don't even pay for fuel tax because you don't use fuel. As for vehicles using natural gas as fuel, the fuel tax is extremely low, at only 13.7p/litre. The highest tax is for petrol and diesel at 50.4p/litre. With the road tax and fuel tax benefits, you can save more money than you ever imagined. It is definitely worth investing in a green car. It is not for short term but long term benefits to the environment - and to yourself.

You are also entitled to get the London Congestion Charge for the greenest car. This applies when you drive into congestion charge zone, which usually will cost thousands a year. However, by having a green car, the fee is waived 100% - thus helping you save thousands per year. At present, the cars entitled to this incentive include the greenest LPG cars, natural gas cars and electricity cars.

Last but not least, you gain more when you purchase green car insurance. You get to purchase the insurance at a much lower price than any other insurance. This is because lower insurance is used to attract more people to buy green cars. This is also part of the promotion of green cars. Many people buy green cars to save more money, and save the environment as well. You can do the same too.

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