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by German Expat
Mon May 18, 2015 9:51 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Huge Problem With First Home
Replies: 28
Views: 4830

Re: Huge Problem With First Home

When we bought our last house in 2007 (sold again now) the realtor specifically told us to get a separate stucco inspection done by a specialist rather then the general inspection. This was a very long (probably 30 pages) report focusing on the Stucco and the realtor told us that there were plenty o...
by German Expat
Sun May 17, 2015 12:00 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which online banks accept incoming wires (and are generally good).
Replies: 19
Views: 1219

Re: Which online banks accept incoming wires (and are generally good).

Another vote for Schwab. Also no foreign exchange fees on ATM transactions.
by German Expat
Fri May 15, 2015 7:00 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Back pain, Laptop Standing Desk
Replies: 10
Views: 1007

Re: Back pain, Laptop Standing Desk

I use an electric height adjustable full office desk. I programmed 2 preset positions and dependent what I do or how I feel just move it up or down. By now you can also get low cost versions at e.g. Ikea.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S09022272/
by German Expat
Mon May 11, 2015 9:52 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: New car, lease or buy?
Replies: 33
Views: 1319

Re: New car, lease or buy?

Leasing is attractive if you buy new cars every couple years anyway but if you keep a car long term buying is better. What is she planning to do after the 3 years lease? Get a new car? Buy it out?
by German Expat
Mon May 04, 2015 11:50 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Retired w/ working spouse
Replies: 7
Views: 1144

Re: Retired w/ working spouse

I am also interested in the answer. My wife is 8 years younger and retirement for me is 5-15 years away. If my wife keeps working my current idea would be to still save the maximum allowed in her retirement accounts and use some after tax in case we have higher expenses (have a 9 year old and planni...
by German Expat
Mon May 04, 2015 6:34 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Will you buy self-driving car?
Replies: 235
Views: 9305

Re: Will you buy self-driving car?

The goal of Google or Uber to invest in self driving cars is not for you to keep owning your car. The long term goal is to use big data so the cars will be already close to you when you need it and you won't own it yourself. How many hours a year do you drive your car compared to how long it just si...
by German Expat
Sat May 02, 2015 2:55 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: FSITX vs PTRAX
Replies: 1
Views: 240

FSITX vs PTRAX

I just noticed my 401k (Fidelity) has now FSITX. I have bonds in PTRAX but the expense ration for FSITX is much lower. Should I move completely over to it? Duration looks like it is almost the same. Anything I might miss (those are the only 2 bond options I have).
Thanks
by German Expat
Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:06 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Spendy spouse
Replies: 110
Views: 10759

Re: Spendy spouse

My wife likes to spend more then I do but within reason. She has a LV bag, Burberry bags, Tumi (ok those are not that expensive) and a Channel bag (really expensive in my book :-) ) and I happily bought almost all of them together with her and tried to get the lowest price or would even order them f...
by German Expat
Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:10 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Potential new home is well-priced, but...
Replies: 31
Views: 2845

Re: Potential new home is well-priced, but...

Even if you get a good deal a higher priced home will have higher costs, repairs, utilities etc., you can do quite a lot about it (e.g. on our last house we added a solar system, blow in insulation, sealed the whole house, set the thermostats much more efficient) but at the end of the day a larger h...
by German Expat
Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:01 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Teachers: 9 or 12 month salary?
Replies: 26
Views: 3529

Re: Teachers: 9 or 12 month salary?

On her last job my wife was originally on the 9 month schedule but we changed it to 12 month. Was just psychological a bit easier to see the same amounts coming in every month and made my spreadsheets much easier for our expenses, savings etc. She did get summer research support in some years and th...
by German Expat
Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Opticians [Purchasing eyeglasses]
Replies: 13
Views: 1381

Re: Opticians

Look at Costco, good pricing and excellent service. Also a lot of times they have a discount on a 2nd pair so last time I got new sunglasses as well.
by German Expat
Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Would you buy a house without AC?
Replies: 60
Views: 4773

Re: Would you buy 1.5 M house without AC?

You could just look at a split unit for the bedroom(s) if you are worried about opening windows or sleeping at night. Energy efficiency is not that bad but with California energy pricing still not cheap.
by German Expat
Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:09 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Would you refinance to save 0.25%?
Replies: 23
Views: 2014

Re: Would you refinance to save 0.25%?

Keep looking 4% is high, would you also consider a 15 year, you can go below 3% then with no closing costs (e.g. cashcall mortgage). Just shop around and yes I would refinance from a 4.25% mortgage especially if you stay in the house for the long run.
by German Expat
Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:24 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Poll: What is the credit limit of your credit card?
Replies: 56
Views: 3679

Re: Poll: What is the credit limit of your credit card?

Used to play the credit card sign up game before going to Switzerland, now still more then 10 open and they have between 10k to 40k limit. My most used ones are now the ones with no foreign transaction fee (mainly Chase Saphire). Curious why you are asking :-).
by German Expat
Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: A House Purchase Scenario
Replies: 10
Views: 981

Re: A House Purchase Scenario

Not sure there are many good 5/1 interest only ARM's out there. I would go for a 5/5 ARM and then you will be much better covered and they are still quite low. Look at Pentagon Federal Credit Union or Navy FCU (if you have access to it). You will have also to consider closing costs though which make...
by German Expat
Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Purchase vs lease solar panels?
Replies: 34
Views: 2668

Re: Purchase vs lease solar panels?

Leasing seems like a good option if you don't want to put money down and seem reasonably certain you will be in your house for the term of contract (usually 20 years). When I looked at leasing a pre paid lease was much more attractive at the time and you avoid potential indexing issues. Not sure th...
by German Expat
Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:08 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Purchase vs lease solar panels?
Replies: 34
Views: 2668

Re: Purchase vs lease solar panels?

I had panels on our house and after 2 years had to sell the house. Unplanned promotion and my wife also found a job and we moved to Switzerland. We had a 20 year prepaid lease and we had no problems for the buyer to take over the lease. There were 0 costs involved for the lease assumption on either...
by German Expat
Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:27 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Purchase vs lease solar panels?
Replies: 34
Views: 2668

Re: Purchase vs lease solar panels?

I had panels on our house and after 2 years had to sell the house. Unplanned promotion and my wife also found a job and we moved to Switzerland. We had a 20 year prepaid lease and we had no problems for the buyer to take over the lease. There were 0 costs involved for the lease assumption on either ...
by German Expat
Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:12 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Restaurant tipping
Replies: 200
Views: 13786

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
Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New washing machine won't fit down basement steps.
Replies: 32
Views: 3177

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
Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:29 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: PIN + Signature card in Europe
Replies: 16
Views: 754

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 6:35 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you consider mortgage payments as savings?
Replies: 410
Views: 22710

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
Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:07 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: How to hedge a 5/5 ARM?
Replies: 20
Views: 1623

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
Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:06 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Money lent and unable to recover
Replies: 10
Views: 1866

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
Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:41 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Investing while in Switzerland
Replies: 2
Views: 390

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 3:10 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Investing while in Switzerland
Replies: 2
Views: 390

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
Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What language do EU partners use to communicate?
Replies: 12
Views: 1112

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
Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:01 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Not clearing snow from driveway
Replies: 81
Views: 6252

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
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: 1629

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 12:18 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Mr. Money Mustache: Hero or Foolish?
Replies: 452
Views: 75555

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
Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:42 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: MSCI Switzerland Index Return
Replies: 9
Views: 901

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
Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:50 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bilingual households
Replies: 39
Views: 5360

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
Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:47 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wall Street Journal Subscriptions on Ebay question
Replies: 22
Views: 5169

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
Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:48 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ski questions from a Southerner
Replies: 42
Views: 5235

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 04, 2014 11:27 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Any regrets going from iOS to Android phone?
Replies: 27
Views: 3604

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
Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:17 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do we have too much house?
Replies: 45
Views: 4699

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
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: 15680

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
Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:52 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Wire transfer from Europe (fees, exchange rate)
Replies: 16
Views: 1143

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
Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:52 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: smartphone over wifi - still possible?
Replies: 31
Views: 3317

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
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: 4955

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
Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:00 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best place (with warm weather) to raise children
Replies: 73
Views: 5810

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
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: 18856

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
Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Why Not Buy Vanguard ETFs Through Schwab?
Replies: 18
Views: 2786

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 6:41 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Real Estate Question
Replies: 21
Views: 1749

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
Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:08 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: rebalancing spreadsheet
Replies: 11
Views: 828

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
Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:01 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: buying a house in france
Replies: 15
Views: 1660

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
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: 3670

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
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: 245

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
Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:01 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Volvo Overseas Delivery - Any experience?
Replies: 11
Views: 1427

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
Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: GMail successfully hacked 92% of the time
Replies: 11
Views: 2150

Re: GMail successfully hacked 92% of the time

This was mainly about android and on android gmail is the default mail app

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