Financial podcasting started in the middle of the last decade and offers a new alternative to the familiar finance advice cassette tapes and CDs. Most importantly, they’re often free and their format allows for topical information that be downloaded and played on your iPod with ease.

Typical podcasts present information clearly and succinctly in a format that maximizes comprehension and minimizes demands on your time. You might be surprised at how many opportunities in your everyday life lend themselves to this entertaining way of digesting useful information – on your commute, when you work out or even while enjoying some time at the beach.

In case you don’t know how to use podcasts, it’s really very simple. You can either subscribe by searching them out on your podcast client software of choice (often iTunes or other podcasting software like Juice) or download the files individually and put them on your MP3 player.

Lend us your ears and check out of some podcasts that we enjoy:

NPR’s Planet Money
This podcast, which we are currently sponsor, offers a quirky look at the global economy with pieces that are highly entertaining and extremely informative. NPR’s Color of Money and Economy podcasts are also worth exploring.

American Public Media’s Marketplace
Marketplace provides up-to-date, thoughtful insights on money and those affected by it. Though Marketplace specifically covers business and economics, much of the material relates to personal finance.

Vanguard’s Plain Talk on Investing
This biweekly series covers a wide range of investment topics and is dedicated to helping you achieve financial success through practical, easy-to-follow steps.

Sound Investing
Sound Investing is a weekly radio program that has been on the air for many years in Seattle. The show offers clear, concise advice on money and retirement, and includes interviews with some of the most influential people in the money business.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
These podcasts from popular personal finance magazine Kiplinger feature audio versions of the top stories from the latest issue of the magazine. Each episode is 3 to 5 minutes long and targets topics of interest to baby boomers.

Wall Street Journal
WSJ’s podcasts feature insights on the latest headlines and what they mean to you. WSJ This Morning is designed more for longer commutes while Your Money Matters and Watching Your Wallet are brief and more tip-oriented.

The Dave Ramsey Show
This is an hour-long edited version of Dave Ramsey’s daily call-in show. The Dave Ramsey Show is all about life, love and relationships—and how they all happen to revolve around money.

Money Guy
Brian Preston, the Money Guy, covers the basics, as well as advanced personal finance topics. Learn about topics such as equity-indexed annuities, the decline of the U.S. dollar and how to create a retirement withdrawal plan.

Feed the Pig
Feed the Pig is a public service campaign that serves to help 25 – 34-year-olds work toward long-term financial security. Podcast topics include basics such as student loans, emergency funds and buying a new car.

Money Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life
Laura Adams’ Money Girl Quick & Dirty Tips for a Richer Life offers short tips about topics like lesser-known tax credits, leveraged investments and mortgage short sales.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list but rather a starting point to the world of financial podcasting. You might want to explore some other useful and interesting financial podcasts from various sources including the New York Times, Slate, the Economist, Business Week and Forbes.

Have we left out your favorite? If so, let us know with a comment!