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by Kosmo
Sat May 23, 2015 5:46 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Best choice for cash for newborn
Replies: 6
Views: 403

Re: Best choice for cash for newborn

529. That's what I do with monetary gifts to my kids.
by Kosmo
Fri May 22, 2015 10:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Acceptance of 'prize' when employer pays for function?
Replies: 8
Views: 1300

Re: Acceptance of 'prize' when employer pays for function?

My company has government contracts. We have to take yearly training on gift acceptances and similar topics. I would not be allowed to keep any of the items you mentioned, they would belong to my company. I would be allowed to keep things of "minimal value" like pens, note pads, coffee mug...
by Kosmo
Fri May 22, 2015 11:30 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Loans and credit lines with interest from 0% to 1%?
Replies: 5
Views: 496

Re: Loans and credit lines with interest from 0% to 1%?

I get junk mail from Chase Slate all the time about 0% balance transfers and 0% interest for 15-18 months. I wonder if it would work to a debit card so the "balance transfer" lands in your checking account. They usually also give checks that are written against your credit account. Write ...
by Kosmo
Thu May 21, 2015 7:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where should we go on vacation this summer?
Replies: 6
Views: 461

Re: Where should we go on vacation this summer?

This is one of the most open-ended questions I've seen here. Where do you live? Are you willing to fly? How many people are in your family? Kids? What do you consider a reasonable amount to spend on a vacation? How long do you want to go for? I personally hate the beach and wouldn't recommend any. O...
by Kosmo
Thu May 21, 2015 6:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question about Mortgage "hacks" in payment
Replies: 4
Views: 754

Re: Question about Mortgage "hacks" in payment

The first method I read is paying bi-monthly as opposed to monthly. I believe it works out to be cheaper in the long term, because the interest is accumulated on a daily basis. Of course, going by that logic, weekly or daily payments (for the same monthly amount) would be better. Mortgage interest ...
by Kosmo
Thu May 21, 2015 9:16 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: The exact math behind using 401k loan to pay down debt
Replies: 14
Views: 999

Re: The exact math behind using 401k loan to pay down debt

Let's say the loan interest is $1000. When withdrawn in retirement, with a 25% tax rate, you'll pay $250 in taxes and get $750 to spend. But if your tax rate during the repayment phase is 33%, you'll need to earn $1493 to pay that $1000 in interest. So are the additional taxes paid the $250 or the ...
by Kosmo
Thu May 21, 2015 8:35 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: The exact math behind using 401k loan to pay down debt
Replies: 14
Views: 999

Re: The exact math behind using 401k loan to pay down debt

You probably have to go back to the original thread for a longer explanation of why it's the tax rate in retirement. But it makes sense, because extra taxes are only paid on the small amount of loan interest (i.e. extra funds you have to put in your 401k to repay the loan), which is why it's L * T....
by Kosmo
Thu May 21, 2015 7:22 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: The exact math behind using 401k loan to pay down debt
Replies: 14
Views: 999

Re: The exact math behind using 401k loan to pay down debt

Then compare two values. Rtax - Rtsp * (1 - T) L * T Why use your retirement marginal tax rate in L*T? You have to pay taxes in retirement on the final distribution of that amount anyways at a rate of T. But the additional taxes you have to pay now during the repayment of the loan are at your curre...
by Kosmo
Fri May 15, 2015 7:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Anybody know of a good no-cost HELOC?
Replies: 10
Views: 826

Re: Anybody know of a good no-cost HELOC?

Alliant credit union. I bank there and have a HELOC. No fees, no appraisal, everything was done over the phone or through email in a few days. Rate is a little higher than you could find elsewhere though, it's 4% right now.
by Kosmo
Wed May 13, 2015 10:55 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Auto-braking systems in cars - experiences?
Replies: 67
Views: 2709

Re: Auto-braking systems in cars - experiences?

I wouldn't want to teach my children, from day 1, to rely on computers to not hit other cars, but that's just my opinion. I agree here. The responsibility of driving should always remain with the driver. Any system that overrides what the driver is telling the car to do needs to be as absolutely fo...
by Kosmo
Wed May 13, 2015 10:36 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is this a dumb thing to do? [Pied-a-terre to share with daughter]
Replies: 41
Views: 4877

Re: Is this a dumb thing to do? [Help daughter purchase condo]

What are the insurance implications? Would your homeowners insurance cover her belongings? Should you get landlord's insurance and she get renter's insurance even if there is no landlord/tenant relationship that includes the payment of rent? This could be very impactful if you do get a mortgage. I t...
by Kosmo
Wed May 13, 2015 8:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much can I spend on a car?
Replies: 157
Views: 8539

Re: How much can I spend on a car?

I don't see myself marrying and moving out until I'm in my 30s. Dating issues aside (you've already gotten a lot of feedback on that), how do your parents feel about this? When I was 25 (6 yrs ago), I had the same education and similar salary, but I wasn't a freeloader in my parent's house, I had m...
by Kosmo
Mon May 11, 2015 3:04 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Round Numbers in Portfolio Allocations
Replies: 49
Views: 2891

Re: Round Numbers in Portfolio Allocations

Suppose today your asset allocation is 75:25, and tomorrow it will jump to 70:30. But you see that you are actually at 70:30 today and you've hit your rebalancing bands so your plan says you must rebalance to 75:25 today. Then tomorrow, you must switch to your new 70:30 asset allocation. So you go ...
by Kosmo
Mon May 11, 2015 2:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Epoxy garage floor?
Replies: 20
Views: 2073

Re: Epoxy garage floor?

I wouldn't consider an epoxy floor an upgrade. Unless you really don't like the sight of your concrete floor, it's not worth it. I'd also consider painting the garage not worth it. The only exception would be if you spend a significant amount of time in the garage and the epoxy is an improvement for...
by Kosmo
Mon May 11, 2015 1:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Round Numbers in Portfolio Allocations
Replies: 49
Views: 2891

Re: Round Numbers in Portfolio Allocations

Your graph is wrong. It should have jump discontinuities. It stays constant for 5 years, then abruptly changes in an instant. The question is, how could such a plan possibly make sense? People should have some kind of reason to make an asset allocation change. How could it possibly be the case that...
by Kosmo
Fri May 08, 2015 8:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling house; what to fix, what to leave?
Replies: 26
Views: 2175

Re: Selling house; what to fix, what to leave?

I tend to think people are visual and make their decisions based on that. I'm not a realtor but... 1. Driveway repaving (sealcoating won't do it unfortunately - big cracks) - approx. cost - $5,000 - No, too much $ outlay to recoup in a sale in my opinion 2. Replacing 2 original windows (hard to ope...
by Kosmo
Thu May 07, 2015 5:00 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Round Numbers in Portfolio Allocations
Replies: 49
Views: 2891

Re: Round Numbers in Portfolio Allocations

What does "investment savvy" have to do with round numbers? I don't see how this addresses the issue at all. Agree here. If you understand why you have an asset allocation (in general), why your AA is what it is, and how to rebalance...then it doesn't matter what the numbers are. Especial...
by Kosmo
Thu May 07, 2015 2:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New car vs used car -- what's your approach?
Replies: 57
Views: 2795

Re: New car vs used car -- what's your approach?

I don't drive a lot (7-8k miles per year) I don't drive it a lot but do drive short distances frequently (3 miles to park and ride and back to home). Do you anticipate your driving habits to change significantly in the near future? If you drive only ~600 miles/month and most of it is short duration...
by Kosmo
Wed May 06, 2015 5:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What are the Pro's and Con's of Retiring in Amarillo, TX
Replies: 89
Views: 5414

Re: What are the Pro's and Con's of Retiring in Amarillo, TX

Con: You're in Amarillo, TX.

I had a short work assignment there one time for 3 weeks. That was 21 days too many.
by Kosmo
Wed May 06, 2015 12:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: escrow increase...
Replies: 28
Views: 1860

Re: escrow increase...

I've received this type of letter before. Basically they've taken my maximum negative balance, added 2 months buffer (I believe that's the max allowed by law), and then divide that by 12 months. That is the amount my payment will increase by. This. The lowest the escrow balance can be projected to ...
by Kosmo
Tue May 05, 2015 6:39 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What happens if you violate an HOA?
Replies: 35
Views: 3406

Re: What happens if you violate an HOA?

That HOA is currently in the process of putting a house up for auction for nonpayment of dues and fines. Huh? The HOA owns the house? No, the HOA doesn't own the house. But we have a lien against the house and we have the power to force a sale at auction (sheriff sale) to collect what is owed. Diff...
by Kosmo
Tue May 05, 2015 12:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Backyard playsets - worth it?
Replies: 22
Views: 2551

Re: Backyard playsets - worth it?

Just bought this particular one from Costco. In the store it was $300 less. http://www.costco.com/.product.100157831.html?cm_sp=RichRelevance-_-categorypageHorizontalTop-_-CategoryTopProducts&cm_vc=categorypageHorizontalTop|CategoryTopProducts My kids are 1.5 and 2.5 and they want to go to the p...
by Kosmo
Mon May 04, 2015 5:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 400lbs, delivery or pick up?
Replies: 63
Views: 3069

Re: 400lbs, delivery or pick up?

Delivery. The whole process will use forklifts and hand trucks. No one will be lifting the 400 lbs but you.
by Kosmo
Mon May 04, 2015 5:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What happens if you violate an HOA?
Replies: 35
Views: 3406

Re: What happens if you violate an HOA?

What do the rules/governing documents say? These spell out what the board can, cannot, and must do. If the board can levy fines and penalties, expect that to happen. State laws (at least the PA laws) are very open ended and leave things up to the association. The HOA in my neighborhood (for which I ...
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 5:57 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Does "buy when down" apply to all asset classes?
Replies: 4
Views: 441

Re: Does "buy when down" apply to all asset classes?

In that case, go ahead and buy. Your intent is to get back to the desired allocation.
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 5:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: PMI- single premium at closing?
Replies: 5
Views: 361

Re: PMI- single premium at closing?

Put together an excel spreadsheet that runs through all 3 scenarios and figure out which costs the least. Run them out to 3, 5, 7, and 10 years. The answer depends on interest rates, closing costs, pmi rates, taxes, etc.
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 5:20 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Does "buy when down" apply to all asset classes?
Replies: 4
Views: 441

Re: Does "buy when down" apply to all asset classes?

You shouldn't disproportionately buy anything. Buy according to your allocation. If an asset class is down, then it may be time to rebalance.
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 5:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying off HELOC early and impact on credit score
Replies: 3
Views: 233

Re: Paying off HELOC early and impact on credit score

If your credit score is already 825 it won't matter.
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 9:32 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: The Engineer's Guide to Investing
Replies: 32
Views: 3071

Re: The Engineer's Guide to Investing

1) Max out my 401k 2) Get out of debt 3) Max out my HSA 4) Max out my Roth 5) Contribute as much as I can to other investment vehicles 6) Go to work, wait until retirement, and reap the rewards I go 3, 1, 2...but otherwise a solid plan for any profession. Specifically related to engineering: always...
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 9:17 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Value of personal time
Replies: 24
Views: 1990

Re: Value of personal time

As a working parent, my time isn't so much "valuable" as "not there." I don't know if there's a sufficiently large number I can write after a + to show true this is. Most of my decisions are based on optimum use of time, not money. I mentioned earlier this week in another thread...
by Kosmo
Fri May 01, 2015 8:43 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do I have any recourse against home improvement company?
Replies: 21
Views: 2006

Re: Do I have any recourse against home improvement company?

Riser height is a structural matter and it isn't affected by the finishing material. Riser height on the treads is absolutely affected by the finish material, and is what counts when measuring riser height. The maximum riser height is 7-3/4” and the maximum variation from the first riser to the las...
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Invest or Pay Down Loan?
Replies: 14
Views: 936

Re: Invest or Pay Down Loan?

Pay it down. I consider 5.25% high enough to put additional money towards the loan instead of investing.
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:11 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Backyard patio - should I invest?
Replies: 39
Views: 2608

Re: Backyard patio - should I invest?

If you paid someone $30 to cut your lawn, at $1,500 it would take 50 cuts to break even. At a cut a week, you would break even in a year. Plus the cost of gas, oil, maintenance, storage, and your time. I recently decided it was worth it to keep my landscaper at $35 a cut. He's done in 20 minutes an...
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:47 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Sell or rent condo
Replies: 19
Views: 822

Re: Sell or rent condo

Thanks. The 10k is before depreciation and I receive 1700 a month in rent. The HOA dues are 535.00 per month and about 3k in property taxes. Thanks for your advice. Is there no mortgage? (1700 - 535 - 3000/12)*12 = $10,980 yearly income with only the expenses you listed. All other expenses added up...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do I have any recourse against home improvement company?
Replies: 21
Views: 2006

Re: Do I have any recourse against home improvement company?

they're treating it like they found nuclear waste on site or something. They refuse to negotiate at all on the issue. On this count, people who refuse to negotiate are not worth dealing with. Give them back their deposit and say see you later. Regarding the original issue, have you checked that the...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:33 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Backyard patio - should I invest?
Replies: 39
Views: 2608

Re: Backyard patio - should I invest?

$14k is a ridiculous quote for that. Is it in an area that's hard to access? As has been pointed out, this job is probably $500 in concrete, maybe $200 in gravel, and $100 in other supplies. You're not parking a car on this so it won't need to be reinforced. The bulk of that cost is to essentially r...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Feel like I made a mistake with buying a house: appreciation
Replies: 43
Views: 4955

Re: Feel like I made a mistake with buying a house: apprecia

Do you plan on selling the house or leveraging as much as you can in a home equity loan? If not, it doesn't matter. It's an unrealized gain, which can disappear just as quickly as it appeared.
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:42 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Wifes 401K
Replies: 11
Views: 458

Re: Wifes 401K

You say you want to mimic a 3 fund portfolio, but you're only using 2 funds. I suggest: 65% FXSIX 25% FSEVX 10% FXSTX This slightly overweights the extended market, which is entirely a personal preference. Hold an international index in the Roth IRA instead of target retirement. If you have a desire...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:26 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Another reason NOT to use (free) Wifi
Replies: 53
Views: 6231

Re: Another reason NOT to use (free) Wifi

I'll side with all the "who cares?" people. Unless someone is stealing sensitive information about you to be used in nefarious ways, it doesn't matter. And even if "they" are actually bad guys looking for an edge on everyone, they'll find this info out anyways, it just might be a...
by Kosmo
Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:16 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Taxes are killing me
Replies: 21
Views: 2926

Re: Taxes are killing me

If you post actual numbers it would be more helpful than asking about abstract concepts. There are a lot of people here who know tax strategies and implications very well (I'm not one). For starters, project your income, tax liability, and tax withholding for 2015. Make W-4 adjustments to increase y...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: any experiences negotiating fences with neighbors?
Replies: 27
Views: 2410

Re: any experiences negotiating fences with neighbors?

Who's property is the fence on? If it's your fence, there's no negotiating. (In my township, fences must be on one property, not on the line. It makes things easier.) I've got a row of trees/large bushes between my yard and the neighbor. It's on my side of the property line. I told my neighbor I was...
by Kosmo
Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Health Equity HSA - Vanguard Funds (some Admiral)
Replies: 3
Views: 388

Re: Health Equity HSA - Vanguard Funds (some Admiral)

I use the same. The total expense ratio, including the 0.00033% fee that is charged to the cash account, is still lower than than the ERs for the active funds.
by Kosmo
Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much do you pay in Property Taxes?
Replies: 188
Views: 11000

Re: How much do you pay in Property Taxes?

$7200. 2100 sf house on 0.5 acre in a Philly suburb with an excellent school district. Market value of the house is ~$400k, but assessed value is ~$150k.
by Kosmo
Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cleaning out large basement - cost to rent a dumpster?
Replies: 29
Views: 2097

Re: Cleaning out large basement - cost to rent a dumpster?

Call the company that picks up your trash. If they don't rent them, keep calling trash companies until you find one that does. I don't expect you'll need to make more than 2 calls. When I did some renovations I rented a 20 yard dumpster for 10 days. I think it was $375. Not to hijack the thread, but...
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:07 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Poll: Effective average Adjusted Livesoft tax rate?
Replies: 67
Views: 5252

Re: Poll: Effective average Adjusted Livesoft tax rate?

~$173k ALI, 8.99% taxes.

This actually shed a lot of light on the amount of non-(federally) taxable income I have. I never added it up this way before.
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much should a small tile floor (3' X 5') cost? $2000?
Replies: 47
Views: 3447

Re: How much should a small tile floor (3' X 5') cost? $2000

I thought of trying to take the plywood out in one piece, but wouldn't the plywood be nailed to the floor joists all across? So, if I cut it out at the edges, wouldn't it still be nailed in places in the middle of the floor? Prybar/crowbar. Although if you can get a good grip on the plywood, you ca...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much should a small tile floor (3' X 5') cost? $2000?
Replies: 47
Views: 3447

Re: How much should a small tile floor (3' X 5') cost? $2000

Do it yourself. Make sure you remove all the baseboard trim first, try not to break them so you can use them again. Pry up the tiles rather than breaking them. Only do the tiles at the wall, then cut the plywood floor out. Get a friend and lift up the tile and plywood as one piece to get it out (it ...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:16 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which mortgage is better to pay off?
Replies: 18
Views: 1525

Re: Which mortgage is better to pay off?

What is your time frame for buying this other property? Will you be able to pay off one of those mortgages in that time? If not, it won't matter because you'll still have 2 mortgages while shopping for a 3rd. I'd suggest not pre-paying either one and just saving that money. At worst you have a lot o...
by Kosmo
Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:31 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Principal variations on a fixed rate HELOC?
Replies: 6
Views: 395

Re: Principal variations on a fixed rate HELOC?

A HELOC is not a fully amortized loan. The interest you pay each month is based on how much interest has accrued since the last payment. The actual payment date matters, not the due date. Interest is accrued on a daily basis.

As a general rule, understand what you're signing up for before you sign.
by Kosmo
Sat Apr 04, 2015 6:31 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rental property purely for tax-saving reasons
Replies: 15
Views: 1454

Re: Rental property purely for tax-saving reasons

You should buy a rental property because you want to own a rental property and be a landlord, not because you might be able to save on taxes. Saving on taxes is questionable anyways. Your friend most likely will only be able to offset rental income with rental expenses, so it won't reduce his taxes ...

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