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September 10, 2012

Overseas Travel Tips

Are you planning on traveling overseas in the near future? You might assume that knowing a few key phrases of the language for the country you are traveling to might be enough. However, have you ever thought about the need for an emergency physician referral or a much-needed up-to-the minute alert on a local epidemic or a security threat? These are real issues that could happen to you and as the old saying goes: " It's better to be safe than sorry". To ensure a safe trip overseas, take a look at these safety tips.

Get a Country Risk Assessment. You should get a Country Risk Assessment for the countries you will be visiting by going to
the U.S. State Department website. According to the State Department, Travel Warnings are issued "when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country." A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's "ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff".

Sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You can sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program here. By signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, formerly known as "Travel
Registration" or "Registration with Embassies" you will be able to receive the latest travel updates and information. Also, if you need help, the State Department can better assist you in an emergency if you advise them what your travel plans are here. Signing up will help the State Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis in the country to which you are traveling.

Familiarize yourself with the local laws and customs. You should familiarize yourself with the local laws and customs of the countries you will be visiting as you are expected to obey the laws of the countries you are visiting. This may include any of the following: dress standards, photography restrictions, telecommunication restrictions, curfews, etc. Also, keep in mind that in some countries it is against the law to speak derogatorily of the government and its leaders.

Protect your passport. Theft of American tourist passports continues to be on the rise. To help prevent your passport from being stolen you should carry your passport in a front pants pocket or in a pouch hidden in your clothes. You should also make a photocopy of your passport and keep it in your hotel safe. If your passport does get stolen you will at least have a copy of it which has your Passport Number, Issue Date, etc.

Get a Travel Insurance Policy. Travel Insurance can help you with a number of items such as: airline strikes, medical emergencies, legal referrals, emergency cash, transfer assistance, language interpretation assistance, and much more. For a list of the top Travel Insurance companies, visit ManagingMoney.com.

To ensure an exhilarating, yet safe trip, be prepared for the unexpected by considering the above mentioned overseas travel tips. You'll be glad you did!

September 7, 2012

Free Shipping Day Coming Soon

Keep your eyes peeled for Monday, Dec. 17th, -- Free Shipping Day! If you think it's much too early to start thinking about Christmas, think again. For those who dread crowded malls, online shopping has become the preferred mode of shopping. Free Shipping Day merchants guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.

Since the inception of Free Shipping Day in 2007, it has been rivaling Cyber Monday, which is the Monday following Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). As of this posting, FreeShippingDay.com already has over 260 top name merchants participating with an expected 1,000 merchants participating by December 17th. In keeping with our motto, "Save Money, Make Money, Get Organized!", we at ManagingMoney.com thought you should know...

For other ideas on how to reduce your daily expenses, go to our Expenses Center at www.ManagingMoney.com.

September 4, 2012

How to Make Paying for College Less Stressful

Trying to figure out how to make paying for college expenses less painful? Whether you've just graduated from high school and going on to college or you're a returning college student, trying to stay on top of payment deadlines for tuition and other fees can be stressful. To ease that burden, take a look at these IRS tips about education tax benefits that can help offset some college costs for both students and parents.

The IRS offers benefits that typically apply to you, your spouse or a dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return. Take a look at the American Opportunity Credit and also the Lifetime Learning Credit to see how it may benefit you. Note that you can claim only one type of education credit per student in the same tax year. However, if you pay college expenses for more than one student in the same year, you can choose to take credits on a per-student, per-year basis. (For example, you can claim the American Opportunity Credit for one student and the Lifetime Learning Credit for the other student.)

American Opportunity Credit. According to the IRS, this credit which was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is still available for 2012. The credit can be up to $2,500 per eligible student and is available for the first four years of post secondary education at an eligible institution. Forty percent of this credit is refundable, which means that you may be able to receive up to $1,000, even if you do not owe any taxes. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, course related books, supplies and equipment.

Lifetime Learning Credit. According to IRS regulations, in 2012 you may be able to claim a Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 for qualified education expenses paid for a student enrolled in eligible educational institutions. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim the Lifetime Learning Credit for an eligible student.

NOTE: The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit education benefits are subject to income limitations, and may be reduced or eliminated depending on your income. For detailed information, visit the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center at IRS.gov and/or Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be downloaded at IRS.gov or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


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