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Re: Restaurant tipping

I go with the flow, since tipping is part of how the system works in the US I tip between 15% and 25%. After having moved to Switzerland tips here are very low and people make a living wage. Service is not worse either. Just went to Italy and went to a Michelin star restaurant. Service was excellent...
by German Expat
Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Restaurant tipping
Replies: 200
Views: 11720

Re: New washing machine won't fit down basement steps.

Haier has a couple small washing machines but volume is quiet small compared to what you are used to. http://www.amazon.com/2-3-Cu-Ultra-Compact-Washer/dp/B00MHWWW9Q/ref=pd_sbs_la_9?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQ0T0HHBYTQ2PV902P0 In Europe it won't be a big issue to find them but seems like those models are...
by German Expat
Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New washing machine won't fit down basement steps.
Replies: 32
Views: 2902

Re: PIN + Signature card in Europe

Not even worth to do the math if your card has no foreign fee (cap one, some chase cards, some amex cards), always make sure not to pick USD because the exchange rate is pretty bad.
by German Expat
Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:29 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: PIN + Signature card in Europe
Replies: 16
Views: 646

Re: Do you consider mortgage payments as savings?

We never considered it for our savings because we planned to own our house free and clear way before retirement. An interesting twist now though is that we are currently renters (in Switzerland) and I subtract our (former) home equity from our assets to get our net assets to get an apples to apples ...
by German Expat
Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:35 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you consider mortgage payments as savings?
Replies: 410
Views: 20158

Re: How to hedge a 5/5 ARM?

Your downside is not that bad with the 5/5 and at least when I had it the maximum change after 5 years was capped to 2% and then you are ok for another 5 years. I personally would not sweat it too much with a hedge and just put extra money into the mortgage to at least get it back to the 15 year ter...
by German Expat
Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:07 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: How to hedge a 5/5 ARM?
Replies: 20
Views: 1331

Re: Money lent and unable to recover

You can do a tax write off but you need to be able to proof it was a loan (best would be a document notarized but at least you got the wire information). http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/loan-bad-debt-deduction-friends-family-1282.php I've always liked the old saying: "If you lend so...
by German Expat
Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:06 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Money lent and unable to recover
Replies: 10
Views: 1742

Re: Investing while in Switzerland

Thanks for your reply I have to read a bit more into the pension plan my wife has but from all I know since it is taxed in the US already anyway it is more or less tax free there. Also the amount is invested by the pension plan but it is not a defined pension plan, it is closer to a 401k that you mo...
by German Expat
Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:41 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Investing while in Switzerland
Replies: 2
Views: 346

Investing while in Switzerland

We moved to Switzerland (at this time planned for at least 5 years) last August. We are both US citizens. I finally have a bit of time to look a bit more detailed into our investments. Our investment plan states to have 1/3 each into Domestic US, International and Bonds and it is almost all in Vangu...
by German Expat
Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:10 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Investing while in Switzerland
Replies: 2
Views: 346

Re: What language do EU partners use to communicate?

The EU has 24 official languages and all of them can be used in the European Parliament. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament#Translation_and_interpreting The meetings between Schäuble and Varoufakis were most probably translated and you just didn't see the translators in the official pi...
by German Expat
Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:20 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What language do EU partners use to communicate?
Replies: 12
Views: 1073

Re: Not clearing snow from driveway

I only cleared the sidewalk in front of the house and the walk way to the house but left (except in extreme snow conditions) he driveway itself alone and just drove over it. You don't want anybody to fall on our property but our driveway to the garage was only used by our cars. Also in Colorado snow...
by German Expat
Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:01 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Not clearing snow from driveway
Replies: 81
Views: 5963

Re: What does it mean to buy or sell a stock?

You always need a buyer if you want to sell a stock. There is a (finite) number of shares available and apart from a company issuing new shares or buying back their own shares this amount stay the same. So lets say in a very simplified way you have 10 shares owning company A. If you also want to own...
by German Expat
Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:02 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: What does it mean to buy or sell a stock?
Replies: 26
Views: 1604

Re: Mr. Money Mustache: Hero or Foolish?

I don't read his blog that much but I believe him living on 25k (not having to pay rent). I don't find it that hard, I know my mother lives on way less in Germany after her retirement and even has to pay (a very low) rent. When I was a child I grew up with my grandparents living on one salary and th...
by German Expat
Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:18 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Mr. Money Mustache: Hero or Foolish?
Replies: 452
Views: 71524

Re: MSCI Switzerland Index Return

We moved to Switzerland in August and most of our salaries are paid in Swiss Francs (some of mines in USD because I keep contributing to US social security and our US 401k). We had a steady erosion of the exchange rate from the CHF to the USD the last couple month. The real issue will be for compani...
by German Expat
Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:42 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: MSCI Switzerland Index Return
Replies: 9
Views: 884

Re: Bilingual households

Wife's native language is Chinese, mine is German. Our son is 9 years old. We speak English at home. We were not that consistent and our son likes to answer in English. He is going to Chinese Sunday school though. His Chinese is pretty good because of multiple longer stay in China and the school. Hi...
by German Expat
Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:50 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bilingual households
Replies: 39
Views: 5198

Re: Wall Street Journal Subscriptions on Ebay question

Just got it via the WSJ program for students for 99$ (my wife is a Professor and therefore eligible). They used to give it for free to Professors but stopped that a while ago except if they push it to your students. Not sure if we will keep it but trying it now for 1 year. Do you have more details ...
by German Expat
Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:47 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wall Street Journal Subscriptions on Ebay question
Replies: 22
Views: 4903

Re: Ski questions from a Southerner

Wy wife doesn't ski but happily tags along to go to the mountains and work a bit at the hotel, do some walking, get a massage etc. She did guided snow shoeing tour 2 years ago in Steamboat and really enjoyed it. The gondola brought them up the mountain and they had a great sunny day with a good view...
by German Expat
Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:48 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ski questions from a Southerner
Replies: 42
Views: 5082

Re: Any regrets going from iOS to Android phone?

I have an iphone 4s with my US number on it and a Nexus 5 with my Swiss number on it. Wife uses an iphone 6. I prefer Android but the switch took a bit getting used to it. My wife tried Android but didn't like it. I think it is all about personal preference. If you already have a lot of games etc. y...
by German Expat
Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:27 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Any regrets going from iOS to Android phone?
Replies: 27
Views: 3506

Re: Do we have too much house?

I don't think you have too much house. We just moved and sold our house in the US, moved to Switzerland and still miss it a lot. It was bigger then what we needed but perfect in every other sense. We plan to return to the US and not sure we will find a similar house again in our next area of living....
by German Expat
Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:17 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do we have too much house?
Replies: 45
Views: 4604

Re: How long did your IT career last? At what age did it en

I am heading IT for a manufacturing company (I am myself 50) and we do have older IT people. Silicon Valley and the start up culture in general is biased against age but you don't see it as much in the industry, retail, banking, insurance etc.. I just talked to the infrastructure guy for a very larg...
by German Expat
Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:54 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How long did your IT career last? At what age did it end?
Replies: 156
Views: 15354

Re: Wire transfer from Europe (fees, exchange rate)

I have a Charles Schwab account and you can send the money into one of their European accounts, e.g. a Euro account and they will give you a very good rate. http://international.schwab.com/public/file/P-2791907/mkt24112_Wire_Transf_Instructions.pdf E.g for Euro they can just transfer to a bank in Fr...
by German Expat
Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:52 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Wire transfer from Europe (fees, exchange rate)
Replies: 16
Views: 1008

Re: smartphone over wifi - still possible?

I assume (your post doesn't tell us much) you are using a subsidized smart phone and this phone is locked to the carrier. It would be helpful you tell us what the phone is (e.g. iphone) and then what your calling patterns are. I also (assume) you probably want to continue using your existing phone. ...
by German Expat
Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:52 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: smartphone over wifi - still possible?
Replies: 31
Views: 3200

Re: When do you know it is time to switch jobs?

Many many years ago (close to 30) I did similar work you did from building and supporting a network (Novell) to programming. IT is getting way too complex now to do all the things you are doing except if you work for a small company and then you probably scratch the surface only. Now I am higher up ...
by German Expat
Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:03 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: When do you know it is time to switch jobs?
Replies: 37
Views: 4881

Re: Best place (with warm weather) to raise children

Boulder county Colorado, won't fit the criteria for temperatures in winter. Winters are not too bad, it is sunny almost every day. Excellent schools, great outdoor activities and your children will love to learn skiing. We just moved away and still miss it a lot.
by German Expat
Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:00 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best place (with warm weather) to raise children
Replies: 73
Views: 5683

Re: Is my husband a spendthrift? Or I a tightwad?

I am a bit confused about the house you got gifted and the relative large mortgage payment. Also you show a gardener as expenses and at the same time your husband spends a lot on gardening tools? In any case in your income level I would not worry about the small overspending on your husbands end and...
by German Expat
Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:22 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is my husband a spendthrift? Or I a tightwad?
Replies: 198
Views: 18206

Re: Why Not Buy Vanguard ETFs Through Schwab?

Why not have both? I have a Schwab account (great for international travel with their ATM card, free checks etc, we use it also as our main checking account) and have a couple Schwab ETF's as well. But most of our assets are with Vanguard. I don't really see a particular reason for either / or, why ...
by German Expat
Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:10 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Why Not Buy Vanguard ETFs Through Schwab?
Replies: 18
Views: 2552

Re: Real Estate Question

Interesting comments about getting rid of things. We just moved to a smaller place and are still unpacking and getting settled in. We moved way too much stuff after already doing some limited things before we moved. Sometimes hard to get rid of things and I will also have to do another round on the ...
by German Expat
Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:41 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Real Estate Question
Replies: 21
Views: 1737

Re: rebalancing spreadsheet

I use google docs because it automatically updates the prices so I only have to worry to update the quantities I own after purchases. Works quite well for me and it has 2 additional tabs, one showing the totals in a cross tab and another tab showing the history. I copy the history manually every 30-...
by German Expat
Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:08 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: rebalancing spreadsheet
Replies: 11
Views: 814

Re: buying a house in france

I wire money to Europe and use Charles Schwab, it is 25$ for an international wire and they can send Euro's with a decent exchange rate. I would not send US$ because the receiving bank might give you a less rate. Not sure how much money you need to wire, highest I did was 45k US$ in one wire.
by German Expat
Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:01 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: buying a house in france
Replies: 15
Views: 1646

Re: NFCU 1 year certificate (CD) 5% APY $5k max balance

Thanks for the heads up, went in with 5k. I joined in the short window when you could join a different CU that was then merged with NFCU.
by German Expat
Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:27 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: NFCU 1 year certificate (CD) 5% APY $5k max balance
Replies: 28
Views: 3600

Re: Investment strategy for a foreign worker in US

Do you have a 401k and what match do you get? If you have one and get a match this is free money and you should at least use it up to the match. You should save first for your own retirement and use all vehicles before putting money into a 529.

What do houses cost in your area of the country?
by German Expat
Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:02 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Investment strategy for a foreign worker in US
Replies: 2
Views: 235

Re: Volvo Overseas Delivery - Any experience?

We did a couple BMW deliveries from Munich. You can save money and most incentives and discounts do apply as well. You can save around 8% off invoice. You can get better bargains though if you e.g. buy at the end of a model year and straight from the dealers lot (obviously depends how desperate they...
by German Expat
Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:01 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Volvo Overseas Delivery - Any experience?
Replies: 11
Views: 1370

Re: GMail successfully hacked 92% of the time

This was mainly about android and on android gmail is the default mail app
by German Expat
Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: GMail successfully hacked 92% of the time
Replies: 11
Views: 2131

Re: GMail successfully hacked 92% of the time

Your link asks for a Microsoft live account login?

I found a different link with no login required:

http://rt.com/news/182168-gmail-android ... -research/
by German Expat
Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: GMail successfully hacked 92% of the time
Replies: 11
Views: 2131

Re: Good place to buy eyeglasses without insurance?

Another vote for Costco. I have progressive glasses as well and pricing was around the range others mentioned for Costco (190$). Also used their by a 2nd par of glasses discount to get new (prescription) sunglasses.
by German Expat
Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:06 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Good place to buy eyeglasses without insurance?
Replies: 39
Views: 3239

Re: Difference between leasing a car and renting a home

The main difference between the 2 is really the deprecation curve. Houses (more or less) don't depreciate over time but cars have a dramatic depreciation. A car would be worth 60% (give or take 10%) after owning it for 3 years. So you can't really compare apples to apples here otherwise your rent on...
by German Expat
Tue Jul 29, 2014 6:08 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Difference between leasing a car and renting a home
Replies: 7
Views: 1060

Re: Keep house or sell

You are missing one important data point, how much is the condo worth when you sell it? Plan for some repairs and also for some vacancies. Also do you want to be a remote landlord.
by German Expat
Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:07 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Keep house or sell
Replies: 14
Views: 994

Re: Paperwhite for Cloudy-Day Reading

I get more then 1 week reading (1-2 hours per day) out of the paperwhite but usually put it into airplane mode. I am using the 'original' paperwhite cover.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007R5 ... UTF8&psc=1

Best device to read because it is easy on your eyes.
by German Expat
Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:51 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Paperwhite for Cloudy-Day Reading
Replies: 21
Views: 1931

Re: Refinance ?

Why don't you look at different products with lower rates? E.g. Penfed has a 5/5 ARM with 3.25% and virtually no closing costs. Worst case after 5 years it would go to 5.25%. https://www.penfed.org/55-Adjustable-Rate-Mortgage/?WT.ac=1021 Or look at a 15 year fixed with a potentially lower rate and p...
by German Expat
Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:41 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Refinance ?
Replies: 14
Views: 1166

Re: Luggage recommendation

I like the Costco carry on luggage. I have the 21" Kirkland spinner and it holds up very well. Also you can't beat the warranty :-). I do like the spinner design because it puts less strain on your back. http://www.costco.com/Kirkland-Signature%E2%84%A2-21%22-Hybrid-Spinner-Carry-On---Black-.pr...
by German Expat
Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Luggage recommendation
Replies: 36
Views: 2962

Re: Noise blocking earphones

I would be careful with the active noise canceling headphones for your application. They work very well for airplanes with constant background noise but can't block variable noise well. For those you just need a tight seal around your ear. For flying I use in ear bose quiet comfort 20 but at home I ...
by German Expat
Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:55 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Noise blocking earphones
Replies: 18
Views: 3757

Re: Europe travel

Where is she going to and how much does she get paid? Easiest is to just spend the money (e.g. take a nice trip for the memories). We had a couple Au Pairs from Europe(in the US) and they all managed to spend their money :-). Is the pay higher now then it used to be? Added: forgot to add the actual ...
by German Expat
Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe travel
Replies: 11
Views: 1490

Re: TV - is wifi needed or desirable?

I don't think it is worth it or you should get it. I don't like the user interface much on our wireless TV and the manufacturers tend not to stay up to date with changes. Also consider that the TV will probably last 10 years or more. We use a Roku on one TV, Apple TV on another TV and for the TV wit...
by German Expat
Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:41 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TV - is wifi needed or desirable?
Replies: 25
Views: 2189

Re: Commute to elementary school [French language spoken]

Our son has Chinese as his second language. My wife also has a bit of a harder time to keep up but what helped us most was to immerse him. He is almost 9 years old and my wife and he went for longer summer breaks to China and he had no choice. He also goes to a Chinese Sunday school (2 hours every S...
by German Expat
Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:32 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Commute to elementary school [French language spoken]
Replies: 37
Views: 2984

Re: Amazon prime - how to get the best out of it?

Streaming just got a lot better, they have now older HBO shows on it. If your child is relative small you can lock the kindle tablets down:

http://www.howtogeek.com/178303/how-to- ... -freetime/
by German Expat
Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:16 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon prime - how to get the best out of it?
Replies: 48
Views: 5478

Re: Round The World!

I did a couple (always on business though) world around trips and you can book them usually cheaper when you start somewhere else (US prices are relative high). Just came back a couple weeks ago doing it on Cathay, Quatar and BA in business class. For a private trip I am not sure I would really want...
by German Expat
Fri May 30, 2014 8:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Round The World!
Replies: 43
Views: 9625

Asset allocation: Selling house, moving abroad and renting

We are moving to Switzerland in August and are in the process of selling our house. We will rent in Switzerland. We were on the way to pay off the current home in about 7-10 years and have 50% equity in it. Our current asset allocation is 1/3 international, domestic and bonds. We did decide to stay ...
by German Expat
Fri May 30, 2014 4:06 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Asset allocation: Selling house, moving abroad and renting
Replies: 1
Views: 202

Re: Google Voice Not Supported on OBi Devices After May 15 2

Depends on the plan with voip.ms. Just head over to their web site at http://www.voip.ms I got the cheapest plan for 0.99 cent for the phone number per month as the only fixed fee and then pay per call (inbound and outbound). Works best for us because 95% of our calls are international to family and...
by German Expat
Fri May 16, 2014 7:43 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Google Voice Not Supported on OBi Devices After May 15 2014
Replies: 102
Views: 11930

Re: Google Voice Not Supported on OBi Devices After May 15 2

You can just add a 2nd provider and then your list will look like this in the obitalk portal: SP1 Google Voice™ Account Connected SP2 Voip ms Registered Then click on SP2 and the 2nd option on the next screen allows you to make this the primary line: Primary Line for Outgoing Calls If you check this...
by German Expat
Fri May 16, 2014 7:11 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Google Voice Not Supported on OBi Devices After May 15 2014
Replies: 102
Views: 11930

Re: Google Voice Not Supported on OBi Devices After May 15 2

Mine still works as well. I assume they just didn't get around turning it off yet :-).

I already have a 2nd provider (voip.ms) configured and fully tested and will swap over after it stops working.
by German Expat
Fri May 16, 2014 5:45 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Google Voice Not Supported on OBi Devices After May 15 2014
Replies: 102
Views: 11930

Re: Solar Panels?

I got a system 2 years ago, works well but had people coming out to our house. I did get 3 quotes at the time. The reason for them taking measurements was that our roof is split into many sections and a bit hard to figure out just via google pictures if they would have fit. We also had to decide on ...
by German Expat
Fri May 16, 2014 7:20 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [residential] Solar Panels [in CA]?
Replies: 22
Views: 1884
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