Useful Personal Finance Blogs

If you search on net you will get a hundred financial websites or blogs but most of them contain half baked knowledge. The information provided on such sites is usually copied with no original and creative inputs of their own. There are so many of them that even after spending hours trying to gain insight on a topic, in the end you might come out with no better understanding than before.

Very few websites/blogs actually take the pain to present the information in a creative and useful manner. Among those few, there are some which I like to read -

School Admissions - Nursery Vs Montessori and Age Cut-off Criteria

So the time came, finally, for us to start thinking about "school admissions". The questions that were popping in our minds were something like -

  • What is the difference between Nursery and Montessori ? Which one is better for us?
  • What is Montessori I, Montessori II and Montessori III ?
  • What is the right age to enter in LKG ?
  • What is the age cut-off criteria of different schools ?
  • Which is better - Nursery in mainstream schools or in a playschool ?

With so many questions in our minds, we began to search online and offline for answers. Here is what we got -

Kannada Learning Resources At One Place

Being myself from north India, it was difficult for me to get started in learning Kannada. Learning a new language is certainly not easy, all the more when there is not much practical need of it.

Bangalore, being a cosmopolitan city, is comfortable most of the times with English and sometimes with Hindi as well. At other times you can resort to sign language safely (as I used to do while communicating with my maid). But still I wanted to learn the language - may be as a token of respect to all those Kannadigas who have been a part of my Bangalore life. To be able to talk friendly and warmly with my maid or with those faceless auto-walas or with the lady sitting next to me in bus or with my building's watchman's kids, is what I wanted in general.

How Income Tax Authorities Track Your Income and Taxes Paid (TDS) - Form 26 AS

Do you know that Income Tax authorities have your income data and taxes paid data even before you file your returns ? It might sound shocking at first but the fact remains -

Even before you file your returns, Income Tax authorities know your earned income and taxes paid / remaining to be paid on that income.

They get all this data from various sources like - your employer, your banks, etc. Below is an example of how it works.

EPF Transfer Online

Recently I came to know that Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has started the facility of online transfer of EPF money from previous to the current employer. One of my friend told me about it. He applied for EPF transfer online and got the money transferred within one and a half month. Real quick!

So I went about understanding the process and found that EPFO has made the process pretty simple. To avail this facility, there are only 2 prerequisite conditions -

Simple EPF balance (PF balance) calculator

This is a basic EPF balance (PF balance) calculator which will answer your question - "How much EPF amount (including interest) will I get if I withdraw my EPF now?" This calculator will work in the case when both Employee and Employer Contribution remain fixed throughout the period of employment (i.e. not a percentage of basic salary). Please note that in this basic EPF calculator it has been assumed, for simplicity, that full month's EPF is deposited for the starting as well as the ending month.

Employee Provident Fund (EPF/PF)

Being a salaried employee, Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is an integral part of our lives. And why not, a part of our salary is deposited every month to the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) so that we have access to a decent amount at the time of retirement. Despite being such an important investment tool, there are many facts and processes about EPF on which not much clarity is there.

In the below articles, I try to share my knowledge and experiences with EPF balance calculation, EPF withdrawal process, EPF account tracking, etc.

Income Tax Rates

Time of the year again when we have to file our income tax. E-filing is made mandatory for people with annual income above Rs 5 lakh. The last date for filing of individual income tax return this time is 31st July 2014.

The first question that comes to mind when we think of filing income tax is - what are the current income tax rates/slabs this year. Sometimes we even want to know how the rates have changed over the years. Below are the income tax rates/slabs for individuals in current financial year and in recent years (for comparison purposes)

Book Review - Gandhi Before India

Some time back I happened to watch Richard Attenborough's movie "Gandhi" (9 Oscars and a box office hit). After watching the movie I wanted to know more about Gandhi. I had read his autobiography "My Experiments With Truth" but it did not cover much of the small events and circumstances that would have shaped his personality.

So when I heard of this book "Gandhi Before India" by Ramachandra Guha , I grabbed a chance to read it. It is a BIG book so I could only complete it in a month or so but it was a time well spent.

Book Review - The Four Agreements

Last week, I had the spiritual bug biting me so I decided to search for some good wisdom/spiritual book on internet. After reading reviews of many such books, I zeroed in to this book - "The Four Agreements (Toltec Wisdom Book)".

It is a small book imparting sane advice on personal freedom. The book is written in a lucid style and I could read it in one go. Though some of the things I had read before in one or the other form, what I liked most is the idea of distilling the wisdom in four main points against which I can keep evaluating myself.

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