NO PASSPORT, NO VISA, OK?

May 20, 2013

You have ever which to travel outside the country but there is a paper/stamp cardboard requirement with your face attached to your name. Yes. That is how it has ever been since 450 BC. This was in the form of letter for protection during the journeys of Nehemiah, an official of King of Persia. Today, it is improved documentation and watered down to mere ID card.
Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, you may need passport and in some cases, with visa. Going about this yourself is time consuming and prone to frustration. The immediate best alternative is to employ the services of Travel Agencies like http://www.elittetravel.com . Their department of passport and visa services will make sure your paperwork is filled out correctly, submit it to the proper authorities and get your documents back to you, perhaps as soon as 24 hours later.
However, is it worth paying extra dollar instead of going it yourself? George Eliot may have plenty of tasks to take care of before an overseas business trip, but renewing his passport isn’t one of them. He pays a fee and lets an Elitte Agency do all the work.
“It is a godsend,” says Eliot, who lives in North Dakota and owns a Production Industry in China. “I have traveled to dozens of countries and have used a third-party service every time.” Renewing a passport or getting a visa to visit a foreign country means paperwork, and often long lines and weeks of waiting by the mailbox.
But you have an option if they’re willing to pay: Passport and visa services will make sure your paperwork is filled out correctly, submit it to the proper authorities and get your documents back to you, perhaps as soon as 24 hours later. Is paying sometimes several hundred dollars worth it? Yes, the services can be a big help, especially if a would-be traveler doesn’t have time to waste in the line. It comes down to what you think your time is worth. Standing in line at visa offices or passport offices can suck up hours. … For many people, it’s just not worth taking a day or half day off from work to do what Elitte Travel Agents does best.
Now back to our initial interest. Can you travel around the world without this paper and attached troubles? The answer is yes and no. Yes if you are not getting off your Yatch or Cruise. Or if you are transiting in airports of countries that does not require transit visa. You may equally travel to colonies of America without visa. On the other hand, you will need to obtain your passport and visa as early as 24 hours with the help of Elitte Travel Agency. By and large, to be safe, you need passport for your trips.
Some travelers renew their passport on their own, but use professionals to help him secure visas. This is because trying to navigate the consulates to get a visa gets very complicated for countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Visas application have so many variables that it is … prudent to use a passport service because they stay current with the latest visa requirements.
Yes, the service will cost you. But Eliot says the fees are well worth the savings in hassle and staff time.

TAX RECORD KEEPING-How long is too long?

March 6, 2010

Storing tax records: How long is long enough?

April 15 has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoeboxes full of receipts is behind us. But what should be done with those documents after your check or refund request is in the mail?

Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the “three-year law” and leads many people to believe they’re safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time.

However, if the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be indication of fraud, it may go back six years in an audit. To be safe, use the following guidelines.

Business Document To Keep For One Year

  • Correspondence with Customers and Vendors
  • Duplicate Deposit Slips
  • Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)
  • Receiving Sheets
  • Requisitions
  • Stenographer’s Notebooks
  • Stockroom Withdrawal Forms

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Bank Statements and Reconciliation’s
  • Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
  • Employment Applications
  • Expired Insurance Policies
  • General Correspondence
  • Internal Audit Reports
  • Internal Reports
  • Petty Cash Vouchers
  • Physical Inventory Tags
  • Savings Bond Registration Records of Employees
  • Time Cards For Hourly Employees

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Accident Reports, Claims
  • Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Cancelled Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Employment Tax Records
  • Expense Analysis and Expense Distribution Schedules
  • Expired Contracts, Leases
  • Expired Option Records
  • Inventories of Products, Materials, Supplies
  • Invoices to Customers
  • Notes Receivable Ledgers, Schedules
  • Payroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensioners
  • Plant Cost Ledgers
  • Purchasing Department Copies of Purchase Orders
  • Sales Records
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Time Books
  • Travel and Entertainment Records
  • Vouchers for Payments to Vendors, Employees, etc.
  • Voucher Register, Schedules

Business Records To Keep Forever

While federal guidelines do not require you to keep tax records “forever,” in many cases there will be other reasons you’ll want to retain these documents indefinitely.

  • Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
  • Cancelled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
  • Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
  • Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
  • Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Financial Statements (Year End)
  • General and Private Ledgers, Year End Trial Balances
  • Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • IRS Revenue Agents’ Reports
  • Journals
  • Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
  • Minutes Books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Mortgages, Bills of Sale
  • Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
  • Property Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Trademark and Patent Registrations

Personal Document To Keep For One Year

  • While it’s important to keep year-end mutual fund and IRA contribution statements forever, you don’t have to save monthly and quarterly statements once the year-end statement has arrived.

Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Credit Card Statements
  • Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes)
  • Utility Records
  • Expired Insurance Policies

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Supporting Documents For Tax Returns
  • Accident Reports and Claims
  • Medical Bills (if tax-related)
  • Property Records / Improvement Receipts
  • Sales Receipts
  • Wage Garnishments
  • Other Tax-Related Bills

Personal Records To Keep Forever

  • CPA Audit Reports
  • Legal Records
  • Important Correspondence
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Income Tax Payment Checks
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension Records

Special Circumstances

  • Car Records (keep until the car is sold)
  • Credit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
  • Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
  • Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
  • Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
  • Property Records / improvement receipts (keep until property sold)
  • Sales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
  • Stock and Bond Records (keep for 6 years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and Instructions (keep for the life of the product)
  • Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
  • Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (keep for 3 years after the tax life of the asset)

COST OF RAISING CHILDREN

December 19, 2009

How much will it cost me to raise a child?
We can’t tell you exactly what your child will cost, but we can provide you with estimates. Knowing what to expect will allow you to plan for the future. Here is a breakdown of the items you’ll need, and an estimate of their costs.
These estimates are for a first child. Bear in mind that second or third children will cost less than the first, since you will already have purchased many of the items you need.
Government estimates say that a family with an income of $115,400 will spend a total of $298,680 to raise a child to age 17. If you include the cost of college, that cost goes up to $450,000. If your child requires orthodontia, add another $10,000. If you buy your child a car, add that in, too. For an only child, add 25% to the cost.
About a third of the amount spent in the government estimates goes to cover the portion of your rent or mortgage allocated to the new member of your household. It also includes the extra cost you’ll incur in making sure you have enough room now that your family is bigger.

What costs can I expect during the first year?
Here are the costs you can expect up to birth and during the first year.
• An uneventful delivery costs about $8,000-$10,000, and a Cesarean section $12,000-$14,000. Depending on your coverage, you’ll pay anywhere from zero percent to 30% of this cost.
• Before you bring the baby home, you’ll buy a crib, a changing table and a swing or other rocking device. The moderately priced versions of these three things will cost you about $1,200. You’ll also need two strollers: a collapsible one at about $150 and a full-size one at about $300. A full-size infant car seat will cost you about $100, and a full-size high chair will cost $150. You’ll also need an infant seat, at about $50. Finally, you will spend about $300 on washcloths, sheets, blankets, towels, undershirts and other baby clothes.
• A year’s worth of formula concentrate costs about $1,200. If you buy the ready-to-serve type of formula, the cost is even more. You’ll also need a year’s supply of bottles, at about $30, and you’ll have to add another $20 to replace the nipples at least twice in a year. Nursing mothers will have to invest in nursing bras and nursing pads (about $30). Most nursing mothers will need to invest in a breast pump and its accoutrements, at about $200.
• Disposable diapers for the first year cost about $800, and a diaper genie costs about $30.
Child care in a day care center costs much less than a live-in nanny. A mid-priced day care center charges $200-$250 per week for your infant’s care, or about $10,000-$12,000 per year.
• Your infant will visit the doctor about six times during his or her first year, including well-baby check-ups as well as the inevitable colds and fevers of infancy. How much you will spend for doctor visits during the first year depends on your health insurance. If you are in an HMO, you will pay only the $5 or $10 co-payment. But if you are covered by traditional indemnity insurance, well-baby visits may not be covered at all, or only a percentage may be covered. This means (assuming a doctor’s visit costs $60) you will pay $45 to $60 per visit for uncovered visits, and $45 per visits for medically necessary visits. You will also need to pay for prescriptions.
• You’ll spend about $500 on toys and clothing during the first year.
• Your total expenses for the first year run about $15,000-$18,000. The biggest variables are child care and health care.

How much will I spend on my child during ages one through six?
During these years, you’ll spend about $1,000 on toys and clothes, and about $700 a year on food. If your child attends day care or pre-school, add in the cost of these services. Day care will cost you an average of $10,000 per year, while pre-school costs vary widely. Health care costs could run as high as $500 per year–or could be much less, depending on your health coverage.

How much will I spend on my child during ages six through twelve?
This is the time when the overall expenses of child-rearing drop, and families can save more. During these years, your child care expenses will drop drastically. And you won’t have to take your child to the doctor as often, since they’ll be past the childhood-disease stage. (Of course, if your child begins orthodontia during this stage, you’ll have to pay more).
You will spend more than in the previous stage on clothing, toys, and entertainment, but your kids won’t be demanding the high-ticket clothing and other items of adolescence. The bill for food will be just slightly more than what it was in the previous stage.
On the negative side, now that your kids are in school, you’ll want to pay for all those extras that middle class kids have: dancing and music lessons, sports participation, and so on. And, if you decide to send your kids to private school or to summer camp, these expenses will have to be added in.

How much will I spend on my child during ages thirteen through eighteen?
During this stage, you can expect your child’s food, clothing, and entertainment bill to greatly exceed what it was during the previous stage. For instance, food will cost at least $2,000 per year, and clothing at least $1,000 per year.
Once your teen starts driving, your auto insurance will go up. The extra cost could be anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on your state of residence and whether your child is a boy or girl. If you intend to buy your child a car, add this expense in.

How can I teach my kids good financial skills?
Once they reach school age, children should start learning rudimentary financial skills.
You might start to teach your kids in the following areas:
Give your kids control over their own money (their allowance and whatever monies you give them that are not earmarked for some particular purpose). You can make suggestions to them about what they should do with it, but allow them the final say on what happens to the money. Let them see the consequences of both wise and foolish behavior with regard to money. A child who spends all of his money on the first day of the week is more likely to learn budgeting if he is not provided with extras to tide him over.
Beyond the basics of budgeting and saving, you’ll want to get your child involved in saving and investing. The easiest way to do this is to have the child open his or her own passbook savings account. If you want your child to get familiar with investing, there are various child-friendly mutual funds and individual stocks available.
Kids can start using credit cards at an early age with parental counsel and involvement. They can learn the concepts of incurring and paying off debts both from credit card use and from small loans that parents make them. If children have to file tax returns-as they would with an IRA–allow them to participate in the process; this will get them used to the idea of yearly tax payments.

LETS START FROM MARRIAGE

October 17, 2009

Getting Married (or Divorced): Some Financial Guidelines

What are the financial implications of marriage (and of divorce and re-marriage)? Those who have recently changed their marital status or who are planning such a change may have important financial and legal decisions to make. These decisions might deal with property ownership, providing for children’s welfare, post-mortem planning, and day-to-day finances.

This Financial Guide will discuss the financial steps appropriate to a change in marital status. Because divorce is sometimes the flip side of a marriage and often the bridge between marriage and remarriage, it is covered here as well for the sake of overall context. The guide will also briefly touch on the legal issues involved; however, the variations in state law make it impossible to discuss in depth the many legal ramifications of a change in marital status.

How To Prepare Financially For A First Marriage

For the young, newly married couple, the areas of financial concern that will need to be addressed are: (1) life insurance, (2) form of property ownership, and (3) money management.

Life Insurance

When it comes to insurance needs, the basic rule is that you need enough coverage to sustain your family’s present income level should you die. If you are the only breadwinner, or if you plan on starting a family soon, then you will need to purchase life insurance.

Property Ownership

If you intend to own a residence or other property, or if you and your spouse already own property together, you will need to consider the best way for you to hold that property. Will the property be held solely by one spouse? By both spouses jointly? Because of the complex legal implications of the various forms of property ownership, you should seek legal advice about this issue.

Money Management

It is important to consider carefully how your day-to-day finances will be handled. The new couple should discuss financial goals, resolve differences, and establish a budget and/or saving and investment plan.

Will you have joint bank accounts, separate accounts, or both? How much do you want to spend on vacations? On monthly food bills? Entertainment? Gifts? What are your long-term financial goals? Do you have a financial plan, even an informal one?

If you don’t have a financial plan, now is the time to prepare one. Even if you do have a plan, your changed marital status suggests that you review it

How To Prepare Financially For A Divorce

If you are considering a divorce, it is vital to plan for the dissolution of the financial partnership in your marriage. Such dissolution involves dividing the financial assets you have accumulated during the years of marriage. Further, if children are involved, the future support given to the custodial parent must be planned for.

The time taken to prepare and plan for eventualities will pay off later on. Here are some steps towards that end.

Take Stock Of Your Situation

Make an inventory of your financial situation. This will help you to prepare in two ways:

  • It will provide you with preliminary information for an eventual division of the property.
  • It will help you to plan how the debts incurred in the marriage are to be paid off. (Although the best way of dealing with joint debt, such as credit card debt, is to get it all paid off before the divorce. Since this strategy is often impossible, compiling a list of your debts will help you to come to some agreement as to how they will be paid off.)

To take stock of your situation, here are the steps you might follow:

    • The current balance in all bank accounts;
    • The value of any brokerage accounts;
    • The value of investments, including any IRAs;
    • Your residence(s);
    • Your autos; and
    • Your valuable antiques, jewelry, luxury items, collections, and furnishings.
  1. Make sure you have copies of the past two or three years’ tax returns. These will come in handy later.
  2. Make sure you know the exact amounts of salary and other income earned by both yourself and your spouse.
  3. Find the papers relating to insurance-life, health, auto, and homeowner’s-and pension or other retirement benefits.
  4. List all debts you both owe, separately or jointly. Include auto loans, mortgage, credit card debt, and any other liabilities.

If you are a spouse who has not worked outside the home lately, be sure to open a separate bank account in your own name and apply for a credit card in your own name. These measures will help you to establish credit after the divorce.

Estimate Your Post-Divorce Living Expenses

Figure out how much it will cost you to live after the divorce. This figure is especially important for the spouse who is planning to remain in the family home with the children; it may be determined that the estimated living expenses are not manageable.

To estimate these expenses, add together all of your monthly debts and living expenses, including rent or mortgage. Then total your after-tax monthly income from all sources. The remaining amount is your disposable income.

Cancel All Joint Accounts

First, it is important to cancel all joint accounts immediately once you know you are going to obtain a divorce.

Creditors have the right to seek payment from either party on a joint credit card or other credit account, no matter which party actually incurred the bill. If you allow your name to remain on joint accounts with your ex-spouse, you are also responsible for the bills.

Your divorce agreement may specify which one of you pays the bills. As far as the creditor is concerned, however, both you and your spouse remain responsible if the joint accounts remain open. The creditor will try to collect the bill from whoever it thinks may be able to pay, and at the same time report the late payments to the credit bureaus under both names. Your credit history could be damaged because of the co-signer’s irresponsibility.

Some credit contracts require that you immediately pay the outstanding balance in full if you close an account. If so, try to get the creditor to have the balance transferred to separate accounts.

If Your Spouse’s Poor Credit Affects You

If your spouse’s poor credit hurts your credit record, you may be able to separate yourself from the spouse’s information on your credit report. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires a creditor to take into account any information showing that the credit history being considered does not reflect your own. If for instance, you can show that accounts you shared with your spouse were opened by him or her before your marriage, and that he or she paid the bills, you may be able to convince the creditor that the harmful information relates to your spouse’s credit record, not yours.

In practice, it is difficult to prove that the credit history under consideration does not reflect your own, and you may have to be persistent.

For Women: Maintain Your Own Credit Before You Need It

If a woman divorces, and changes her name on an account, lenders may review her application or credit file to see whether her qualifications alone meet their credit standards. They may ask her to reapply. (The account remains open.)

Maintaining credit in your own name avoids this inconvenience. It can also make it easier to preserve your own, separate, credit history. Further, should you need credit in an emergency, it will be available.

Do not use only your husband’s name-e.g., Mrs. John Wilson-for credit purposes.

Check your credit report if you have not done so recently. Make sure the accounts you share are being reported in your name as well as your spouse’s. If not, and you want to use your spouse’s credit history to build your own, write to the creditor and request the account be reported in both names. Also, determine if there is any inaccurate or incomplete information in your file. If so, write to credit bureau and ask them to correct it. The credit bureau must confirm the data within a reasonable time period, and let you know when they have corrected the mistake.

If you have been sharing your husband’s accounts, building your own credit history in your name should be fairly easy. Call a major credit bureau and request a copy of your file. Contact the issuers of the cards you share with your husband and ask them to report the accounts in your name as well.

If you used the accounts, but never co-signed for them, ask to be added on as jointly liable for some of the major credit cards. Once you have several accounts listed as references on your credit record, apply for a department store card, or even a Visa or MasterCard, in your own name.

If you held accounts jointly and they were opened before 1977 (in which case they may have been reported only in your husband’s name), point them out and tell the creditor to consider them as your credit history also. The creditor cannot require your spouse’s or former spouse’s signature to access his credit file if you are using his information to qualify for credit.

A secured credit card is a fairly quick and easy way to get a major credit card if you do not have a credit history. Secured credit cards look and are used like regular Visa or MasterCard’s, but they require a savings or money market deposit of several hundred dollars that the lender holds in case you default. In most cases, the creditor will report your payment record on these accounts just like a regular bankcard, allowing you to build a good credit record if you pay your bills promptly.

Consider the Legal Issues

The best way to plan for the legal issues that must be faced in a divorce-child custody, division of property, and alimony or support payments-is to come to an agreement with your spouse. If you can reach an agreement, the time and money you will have to expend in coming up with a legal solution-either one worked out between the two attorneys or one worked out by a court-will be drastically reduced.

Here are some general tips for handling the legal aspects of a divorce:

  • Get your own attorney if there are significant issues dealing with assets, child custody, or alimony.
  • Some ways of finding a good matrimonial attorney include referrals from another professional, referrals from trusted friends, or lists obtained from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. (The address of the latter organization is listed in the last section of this Guide.)
  • Make sure the divorce decree or agreement covers all types of insurance coverage-life, health, and auto.
  • Be sure to change the beneficiaries on life insurance policies, IRA accounts, 401(k) plans, other retirement accounts, and pension plans.
  • Don’t forget to update your will.

Tip: Those who have trouble arriving at an equitable agreement-and who do not require the services of an attorney-might consider the use of a divorce mediator. This type of professional advertises in the section of the classifieds titled “Divorce Assistance” or “Lawyer Alternatives.”

Division of Property

The laws governing division of property between ex-spouses vary from state to state. Further, matrimonial judges have a great deal of latitude in applying those laws.

Here is a list of items you should be sure to take care of, regardless of whether you are represented by an attorney.

  1. Gain an understanding of how your state’s laws on property division work.
  2. If you owned property separately during the marriage, be sure you have the papers to prove that it has been kept separate.
  3. Be ready to document any non-financial contributions to the marriage, e.g., your support of a spouse while he or she attended school, or your non-financial contributions to his or her financial success.
  4. If you need alimony or child support, be ready to document your need for it.
  5. If you have not worked outside the home during the marriage, consider having the divorce decree provide for money for you to be trained or educated.

How To Prepare Financially For Re-Marriage

When considering remarriage, it is important to plan for the following:

  • Whether property acquired before the marriage will be held jointly;
  • How to provide for children from a previous marriage; and
  • Whether a prenuptial agreement is necessary to accomplish goals related to either of these issues.

If either spouse has significant assets, it will be necessary to consult an attorney.

As for the estate planning aspects of providing for children from a previous marriage, trusts and/or life insurance are the vehicles most often used.

Be sure to update your will before you remarry to ensure that your assets will be divided among your heirs after your death in the manner and proportions you desire.

Finance!!! What is it?

October 4, 2009

Away from our educational backgrounds. What is Finance? What is decision about how to make and spend money? What is money? When should we start to think about decisions concerning money? What are the impacts of good monetary decisions and not so good monetary decisions? Who makes financial decisions about us, even without our knowledge of it, or our interest in their decisions? Why do we have to take a financial position or make a choice each and every time?

Since we all make daily financial decisions, to answer most of the financial concerns will take a long but interesting sessions. I will be ready to give my best every time, but if you have further concern on any particular topic, don’t hesitate to ask.

In my next blog, I will give outlines of interesting financial topics that I will be cracking. Please, let me say that, sometimes I will divert to meet your concern. But, I promise to come back soon after.

Hello world! FINANCE? What is it?

October 4, 2009

Away from our educational backgrounds. What is Finance? What is decision about how to make and spend money? What is money? When should we start to think about decisions concerning money? What are the impacts of good monetary decisions and not so good monetary decisions? Who makes financial decisions about us, even without our knowledge of it, or our interest in their decisions? Why do we have to take a financial position or make a choice each and every time?

Since we all make daily financial decisions, to answer most of the financial concerns will take a long but interesting sessions. I will be ready to give my best every time, but if you have further concern on any particular topic, don’t hesitate to ask.

In my next blog, I will give outlines of interesting financial topics that I will be cracking. Please, let me say that, sometimes I will divert to meet your concern. But, I promise to come back soon after.