Archive for May, 2015

  • Essential Tips for Studying in the U.S.

    Heading to the U.S. to study? You’re about to embark on an amazing adventure, with big campuses, sunny summer days, and lots of new friends.

    Here are some quick tips to take the stress out of preparing for the big trip:

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    1.    Most important is, of course – The Passport – a “Must’’ when you plan on studying or travelling abroad. Remember to check the expiry date well in advance of your travel date.

    2.    Obtain a Visa – before applying for a visa, students must be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant with the necessary approval documentation to apply for a student visa. You can research what types of US student visas you can apply for here.

    3.    Health Condition – visit a doctor before you leave to get a clean bill of health. If you need to pack medication, make sure it’s in the original container, clearly labelled, or with a doctor’s prescription.

    4.    Take care of your Banking Needs – get the latest currency exchange rates from sites like xe.com, and make sure you take enough US Dollars and/or travel checks with you.

    5.    Airline Tickets – purchase airline tickets early to avoid high airfares, and plan how you’re going to get from the airport to your destination, especially if your flight arrives in at night.

    6.    International Students ID Card – this could save you a lot of money. The ISIC card is the most internationally recognized student card and will get you discounts on sights, accommodation, shops, transport and more.

    7.    Make a list of Emergency Contacts – keep a list of emergency contacts and provide them to your roommate, host institution or someone close by, just in case.

    8.    Make Photocopies of Important Documents – copies of all your essential documents are never useless. Keep copies of your passport, visa, other forms of identification, and important phone numbers and email addresses.

    9.    Keep in mind the Electrical Voltage System – electrical sockets in the US supply between 110 and 120 volts, so remember that your electrical devices might need voltage converters and adaptors to work. You can even purchase adaptors with in-built voltage converters, which could come in very handy.

    And last but not least:

    10.  Housing Options – It’s very risky leaving your country and travelling thousands of miles from home without securing accommodation.

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    Consider the following options:

    Dorms – no doubt your university has dorms and this is the most common and popular housing option for newly admitted students. It’s also the most convenient, as it means living right on campus. Dorms also supply meal plans so you don’t have to worry about organizing your breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    Off-Campus Housing – it may sound strange, but renting an apartment off campus costs less. You can choose your roommates, the area, and have more control over who you meet and when. Remember, when choosing this option over a dorm, you will have to cover any additional expenses – utilities, transportation, food, etc.

    Homestay – this is quickly becoming a popular option among international students. Staying in someone’s home will make it easier to interact with native English speakers and experience their culture more closely.

    If you need help arranging accommodation, there are Housing Offices at your University you can turn to. You can also contact your International Student Advisor for information regarding on-campus and off-campus housing.

    In addition, many universities provide resources on housing and apartment rentals on their websites.

    So far so good! You’ve done everything to make your transition to the US easier, but now what?

     Firstly, don’t forget to call home – make sure your phone is loaded with enough credit to make a quick call. This will make you feel better and reassure your friends and family.

    Take a walk – after you’ve settled into your new home take some time to explore your new campus or neighbourhood. Getting some fresh air and exploring your surroundings will help you feel human again after a long trip.

    Don’t fall asleep – after a long flight you will feel the urge to fall asleep and your body clock will be totally messed up. Try to stay awake ‘till at least 10 or 11 p.m. to beat the jet lag.

    Lastly, have fun, enjoy US student life, and who knows? You could make some great new friends to last a lifetime.

    Make your life as a student even easier by signing up to Sprintax for a simple solution to preparing your tax return.

  • 3 Smarter Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

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    Wondering how to spend your IRS tax refund?

    A big refund might feel like you’ve hit the jackpot, but it’s not always wise to spend it all at once. We’ve given you three awesome ideas for amazing life experiences, but if you’re not the ‘adventurous type’ or don’t feel like spending it all in on go, you might consider a more practical plan for your cash.

    Here are some tips on how to spend your tax refund wisely:

    Make a plan

    Firstly, think about your current financial situation and how your tax refund could influence your short and long-term financial needs. Having a clear plan on how to spend your tax refund can greatly improve your future financial health and help you develop financial management skills.

    Pay off your credit card debt

    This might be the first and probably smartest idea that comes to the practical mind when it comes to getting a tax refund. And yes, paying off your high-interest credit card debt should be number 1 on your “smart-ways to-spend-your-refund” list. It might not be ‘fun’, but it will be such a relief to start afresh financially and when you finally have the money you need, you should definitely get your debt matters in order.

    Start your emergency fund

    Maybe this idea sounds better suited to someone in their forties? Well, you might think this way until the ‘emergency’ arises and you realize there isn’t a penny left in the piggy bank. Emergencies don’t just happen to people in their forties, and often occur suddenly, so an emergency fund will give you that welcome cushion to land on when you need it. That’s why putting aside part of your tax refund money (not necessary all of it) will prevent you from getting off-guard.

    Finance your education

    Using your tax refund to buy college or university textbooks, to start additional qualifications courses or sign up for an eBook subscription service, is a really smart way to spend it. The price of textbooks is constantly rising and next semester these could burn a hole in your pocket unless you’ve set some money aside. This could save you the usual money troubles you’ll likely encounter at the beginning of the semester and what’s more, will pay you out hundred times in future.

    Save or spend your tax refund? The final say is yours. Sprintax can only help you get your refund. Sign up here!

  • 3 Awesome Ways to Spend your Tax Refund

    The 2015 US tax season is officially over, so if you’ve filed your tax return you’re probably both relieved and eager to see if you’ll get a refund.

    About 13% of Americans will put their tax refund towards an amazing vacation and 39% will use it to pay down their debts, according to a recent study conducted by the National Retail Federation.

    How will you spend yours?

    Enough with the stats, let’s start with the best part of every tax season – how to spend the money you could get back from the IRS! This year, our advice is to unleash your creativity and do something memorable instead of splashing out on a rainy afternoon.

    Why not try one of these awesome ideas:

    ’’StartUP’’ your future

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    Remember that amazing business idea you promised to develop when you got enough money? Well now is the time! Startups are a huge part of the business world and if this is what you’ve been dreaming of, why not start today?

    If you’ve got the idea, now you have the budget to make it happen! Get a pen, draft your first business plan, and give your dreams a head start.

    A voyage of discovery

    8986414_mlNothing pushes you to grow as much as seeing the world. Travelling will open your mind up to new cultures and experiences, so why not try somewhere off the beaten track? If you’re planning on putting your tax refund towards an amazing adventure, we suggest something a little bit different than the well-known tourist destinations.

    How about a Jungle Safari in Borneo or a Cycle Safari in Tanzania? You could brave an Ocean Exploration course in the deep blue waters of the Caribbean or an overland adventure in West Africa. It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? And if you’re a true explorer and adventurer, you should go on at least one epic trip during your lifetime.

    “On the edge of life”

    2786043_lDoes jumping out of an airplane sound fun? Then extreme sports might be the answer. Adrenalin is sometimes all you need to awaken the power within. What if now is the time to meet “The Brave” in you? Get your tax refund and put it towards a sky diving session, balloon flight or bungee jump.

    The adrenalin is guaranteed as well as your safety if you rely on a recognized company, so keep this in mind when searching for exciting “on the edge of life” experiences.

    Whatever you decided to do with your US tax refund, don’t forget Sprintax can help you, not only with great ideas but with filing next year’s return!