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Re: How to start tracking finances

I use good old fashioned Excel and have for the last 6-8 years. I track virtually everything I spend on a daily (or every few days) basis. Over the years I've tweaked it to add/change spending categories but overall it's a relatively simple spreadsheet. I have an annual budget that I set up in Dece...
by Kosmo
Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to start tracking finances
Replies: 14
Views: 1416

Re: Help me find a good slow cooker

I have a Crock Pot purchased at Costco. You can set 30 min increments up to 12 hrs. High, low, and warm settings. When the timer expires it goes to warming mode. We use it 2-3 times per month, had no issues.
by Kosmo
Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:47 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help me find a good slow cooker
Replies: 29
Views: 1513

Re: Cost plus vs. bid for residential renovation

I'm not familiar with these types of bids for a home renovation, but would a contractor make a fixed price bid on a large scale project? I'd think the fixed price would have to include a reasonable estimate of potential issues which would cause it to be pretty inflated. Plumbing and electrical work ...
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:14 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost plus vs. bid for residential renovation
Replies: 1
Views: 267

Re: I need a new coffee maker, any recommendations?

Stick with the Bunn. That's what I use. Can't say off the top of my head which model, but the actual pot has a terribly designed spout. Very hard to pour without spilling, but I've heard the new models fixed that issue.
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:52 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I need a new coffee maker, any recommendations?
Replies: 60
Views: 2253

Re: Which are non-taxable accounts?

The proper term is tax advantaged account. But some might call a Roth IRA or Roth 401k a non-taxable account. Here's a simplified summary: Taxable account: Dividends and net gain are taxed. The amount that they are taxed depends on your tax bracket, if dividends are qualified, and if gains are long ...
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:36 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Which are non-taxable accounts?
Replies: 5
Views: 510

Re: Let's compare 2013 effective tax rates

Here's a variety of answers, pick the most appropriate. 25% fed tax bracket, 3.07% PA income tax, my wife has a 1% local wage tax (PA local taxes are a pain to keep track of). We also have a loss of $4017 on 1040 line 17, and I'm not adding that back in. But the operation of a rental property means ...
by Kosmo
Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:25 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Let's compare 2013 effective tax rates
Replies: 46
Views: 2150

Re: Offsetting Losses with Gains

You want to offset a gain with a loss, not the other way around. A net loss results in lower taxes. A net gain results in higher taxes. Offsetting gains and losses result in minimal tax consequences.
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:04 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Offsetting Losses with Gains
Replies: 5
Views: 286

Re: How to invest $1k a month

What's the money going to be for? Retirement? House down payment? New car? Future education? The answer depends on what you want to use the money for. The time frames (and therefore risk level) are different. And you may be able to use tax advantaged accounts. Until you know how you want to direct ...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:30 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: How to invest $1k a month
Replies: 16
Views: 2066

Re: 79% of bachelors degree in tax deductions/credits

The primary purpose of this exercise was to show how much community college can save you. I agree that community college can save lots of money. As to the "where on the 1040" can you deduct college expenses... First, the irs claims you can in fact deduct them. Google it. Second, I use tur...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:10 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: delete this(edited)
Replies: 17
Views: 1537

Re: How to invest $1k a month

What's the money going to be for? Retirement? House down payment? New car? Future education? The answer depends on what you want to use the money for. The time frames (and therefore risk level) are different. And you may be able to use tax advantaged accounts. Until you know how you want to direct t...
by Kosmo
Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:28 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: How to invest $1k a month
Replies: 16
Views: 2066

Re: 79% of bachelors degree in tax deductions/credits

I won't debate the tax implications you've discussed, but I'll chime in on books. A BS and MS in engineering set me back roughly $5000 on books and software. And that's after re-selling the books I didn't keep as references. There's also all sorts of extra fees for science labs, club participation, ...
by Kosmo
Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:14 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: delete this(edited)
Replies: 17
Views: 1537

Re: Repainting a bathroom wall

I had major peeling on a bathroom ceiling. This is how I handled it. Scrape it, then sand it. Make sure you get all the flaky areas off. Try not to dig into the drywall otherwise it'll just get worse and worse, you just want to get off the paint that isn't adhering properly. If you need to, apply jo...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:56 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Repainting a bathroom wall
Replies: 8
Views: 562

Re: Brown bagging in a more formal office

I will wait on buying a swanky leather bag. If I won't be out of place with a regular backpack I will be happy as all get out. I'm still in grad school too so carrying a backpack is pretty normal for me. I think you'll find that it's pretty normal for almost everyone. Backpacks are just too "f...
by Kosmo
Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:32 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Brown bagging in a more formal office
Replies: 43
Views: 3079

Re: Calculate effect of mortgage-interest deduction

In reverse order: 2. Is there a better approximation that we could use on these boards than the "subtract 1%" strategy without getting too deep into each poster's personal situation? Or even some general criteria? (E.g., "people making between $50K and $200K annually typically only de...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:29 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Calculate effect of mortgage-interest deduction
Replies: 11
Views: 705

Re: Home improvement plans not filed with town?

How does adding a bathroom decrease sq footage? Most assessors measure property by the outside measurements of the foundation/dwelling to come up with sq footage with additons/subtractions for nooks and crannies. You're correct if they do it that way. If you have to move or modify walls to accommod...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:38 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Home improvement plans not filed with town?
Replies: 21
Views: 960

Re: Home improvement plans not filed with town?

Basements generally don't count as square footage unless there's an at-grade entrance (full size door to walk in and out of). Was all the work done in the basement? Adding a bathroom above grade, but not changing the footprint or roofline of the house usually removes square footage. What would conce...
by Kosmo
Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:22 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Home improvement plans not filed with town?
Replies: 21
Views: 960

Re: How Many Properties Do You Own?

Primary residence and rental townhouse (former primary residence).
by Kosmo
Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:11 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How Many Properties Do You Own?
Replies: 19
Views: 2165

Re: HTTPS [Request to implement HTTPS for this site]

Please add https support; it's 2014 and all websites should use https. There is really no reason not to. No reason to not use https. But also no reason to change to use it. I don't care one way or the other, but I yet to read a compelling reason to make any changes. If you use the same password her...
by Kosmo
Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:53 am
 
Forum: Forum Issues and Administration
Topic: HTTPS [Request to implement HTTPS for this site]
Replies: 52
Views: 2672

Re: Attempt at explaining the backdoor Roth to my new accoun

Alan S. wrote:For some advanced tax practitioners, I think some of these retirement plan rules are found to be boring as well.

No way! There are more exciting sections of the tax law?!?
by Kosmo
Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:48 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Attempt at explaining the backdoor Roth to my new accountant
Replies: 26
Views: 2271

Re: renting out condo management fees

My intention is to fully pay off my mortgage in 12-24 months and keep this condo as an income stream. The area I live is close to a major metropolitan city and there are a lot of commuters from here to the city. My goal is if I can overcome the property tax and monthly maintenance fees and have few...
by Kosmo
Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:18 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: renting out condo management fees
Replies: 17
Views: 929

Re: Where to park short-term cash of 100K

I'd argue that less is better. 20% gives you a margin in case housing crashes again, but I think we are at a pretty stable floor there, and if you are staying in the house long-term...its not really even an issue. Sometimes you get better loan terms with 20% down, so its all got to be considered. T...
by Kosmo
Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:19 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Where to park short-term cash of 100K
Replies: 31
Views: 2718

Re: Detached Townhome vs. Single Family Home Costs

I already know that roughly $1,500 of the annual HOA is offset by savings on hazard insurance. The remaining $1,800 a year seems like it would get swallowed up pretty quickly by snow/lawn care and roof/siding replacement. It seems like it may even be a better deal than SFH costs, but then I assume ...
by Kosmo
Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:09 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Detached Townhome vs. Single Family Home Costs
Replies: 15
Views: 1417

Re: Detached Townhome vs. Single Family Home Costs

Not all of the HOA payment is for maintenance. There's also insurance for common ground, any services provided for the benefit of the community (like trash pick up), management company expenses, and more. And if the HOA really is responsible for replacing siding, roofing, etc. then the estimated cos...
by Kosmo
Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Detached Townhome vs. Single Family Home Costs
Replies: 15
Views: 1417

Re: advice requested from engineers

Harvard Electrical Engineer or Penn State Electrical Engineer....does it matter? The Ivy name might have the opposite effect in this case. From my experience, the Penn Stater would be a far more likely candidate to get a job in industry. Can't say about a position in academics, but I'd suspect the ...
by Kosmo
Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:34 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: advice requested from engineers
Replies: 85
Views: 4415

Re: HOA lawyer sends threatening letter, need advice

Hello all, many thanks for all your comments ... Both those of you who are pro HOA and pro me. While I do feel wronged here for sure and hate to just roll over, I likely will do so at this point to avoid any lien and get this current (in their eyes) and avoid further fees. i'll then possibly attemp...
by Kosmo
Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:14 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: HOA lawyer sends threatening letter, need advice
Replies: 46
Views: 4236

Re: HOA lawyer sends threatening letter, need advice

Kosmo, even if lawyer is specifically telling me not to contact HOA about this matter and threatening lien against the home? I'm more and more strongly thinking to lawyer up here. I think i need someone on my side and not just cower. If i just pay, who knows what they try next? What really irks me ...
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:24 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: HOA lawyer sends threatening letter, need advice
Replies: 46
Views: 4236

Re: advice requested from engineers

It's a bit hard to make recommendations without knowing what the ultimate goal is. If the goal is to stay in academics/research then a top tier, well-recognized school is the way to go. If he wants to go into industry, it won't make much a difference, but the schools that focus on more practical app...
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:08 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: advice requested from engineers
Replies: 85
Views: 4415

Re: HOA lawyer sends threatening letter, need advice

I'm currently on 2 boards for community associations. Do not talk to the lawyer. All they care care about is collecting the money they think you owe. Call the property management company and ask to speak directly to the board president. The board of directors are the only people who can make decisio...
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: HOA lawyer sends threatening letter, need advice
Replies: 46
Views: 4236

Re: Your thoughts on vacation home or second home

If I had the money I'd buy a vacation house near a ski resort in VT or upstate NY. It's close enough that I could drive up for a weekend, but far enough that I'm "away from it all". And there's enough events and activities year-round to keep the family occupied, it's not just a winter dest...
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your thoughts on vacation home or second home
Replies: 61
Views: 3617

Re: 28 year old with student loan needs help

I was going to agree with the others and say you should leave the Roth alone, but it looks like my opinion is irrelevant now.

It's always nice when people ask for advice and then do the opposite.
by Kosmo
Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:21 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 28 year old with student loan needs help
Replies: 14
Views: 982

Re: Acquiring Debt - Marriage

When will interest start accruing on that student loan? If there's no interest being paid right now, that makes it more appealing to the pay down the car loan. If you really do have $1000-$1500 to put towards debt reduction then you could be done with that car loan in 8-12 months. Then there would b...
by Kosmo
Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:54 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Acquiring Debt - Marriage
Replies: 28
Views: 2797

Re: Critique these long-term real-estate investments

Doesn't off the bat seem like a bad plan, but also not a great one. I question some of your assumptions: Does this person really only have $1500 in expenses and $4500 in excess cash every month? Sounds unusually low for someone of such high income. $2000 in taxes seems low and $2000 in landlord insu...
by Kosmo
Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:25 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Critique these long-term real-estate investments
Replies: 15
Views: 990

Re: Can I beat 2.75% guaranteed via mortgage paydown?

McCharley wrote:Can I beat 2.75% guaranteed via mortgage paydown?

Yes...over an appropriate time period. How long are you willing to wait?

Personally, I would not pay down the mortgage. I have personal and rental mortgages, both at slightly higher rates than 2.75% and I'm not in any rush to pay those off.
by Kosmo
Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:47 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Can I beat 2.75% guaranteed via mortgage paydown?
Replies: 73
Views: 4525

Re: Bad time to open new fund in Roth?

If the money is for retirement, and retirement is 20+ years away...then the best time to invest is yesterday. The next best time to invest is today. And after that it's tomorrow. As an index investor, you should be hoping that the market is always at or near all time highs. You want it to go up! I j...
by Kosmo
Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:35 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Bad time to open new fund in Roth?
Replies: 19
Views: 1658

Re: How exactly do index funds compound?

You can't really compare stock/ETF/mutual fund price appreciation and dividends to interest. That's a fundamental misunderstanding of how they work. Index funds appreciate in value when the underlying companies are valued higher. Some weighting function determines the index value based on what it's ...
by Kosmo
Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:18 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How exactly do index funds compound?
Replies: 12
Views: 2007

Re: Amazon hikes cost of Prime to $99

Between Kindle books, streaming, and physical items, $99 is still a good deal for us.
by Kosmo
Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:38 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon Prime Increase
Replies: 185
Views: 7662

Re: Turn spare change into big bucks?

I first sort the pennies by date and keep those 1981 and before in a box at home. They're 95% copper which makes their metal content value about twice face value. Of course, it's not legal at present to melt these down, but it's a fun, cheap hobby that might someday pay off. Ok, I feel better knowi...
by Kosmo
Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:06 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Turn spare change into big bucks?
Replies: 29
Views: 2216

Re: "The Average Investor Should Use a Financial Adviser"

inbox788 wrote:..."The Investor who uses random methods, doesn't use asset allocation, and is emotional about their investments"...

So...in other words "The average investor"
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:07 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "The Average Investor Should Use a Financial Adviser"
Replies: 51
Views: 6991

Re: Should I Pay Off This Rental Property

So the real question is "What do I do with $49k?" Or you could phrase it differently: Should I trade $49k for $921 per month? If the goal is to get this money into the stock market, then investing the $49k now is the way to go. If the goal is to be debt free, then pay off the mortgage. Tha...
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:00 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Should I Pay Off This Rental Property
Replies: 13
Views: 646

Re: Math Behind Information

Now, getting back to your question using the figures you present ... Thus, for investing $100 per month, you need to solve for 100*(1+X)^(10) + 100*(1+X)^(119/12) + ... + 100*(1+X)^(1/12) = 12793 and the solution in your example is X=0.0111. (This is what calculators such as Excel call the XIRR fun...
by Kosmo
Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:08 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Math Behind Information
Replies: 6
Views: 803

Re: HSABank Debit Card

I was issued one also without requesting it. It's most likely automatic when you sign up for that insurance plan. I've never used it; it now resides in my drawer of useless crap along with some other debit cards, business cards, old phone chargers, paper clips, and pens that don't write anymore. You...
by Kosmo
Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: HSABank Debit Card
Replies: 4
Views: 275

Re: State Taxes

You got the right answer from sscritic about the reciprocal tax agreement. Fill out the proper forms and do your taxes correctly. Don't be lazy because it's the easy thing to do.
by Kosmo
Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:11 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: State Taxes
Replies: 8
Views: 921

Re: Costco vs BJs vs Sams Club

I go to Costco at least 2 or 3 times a week. We also have a membership at BJs for a few brand name items that Costco doesn't have and we use a lot of. Specifically, baby formula and dog food. On the whole, I prefer Costco because the quality of just about everything seems higher for no increase in p...
by Kosmo
Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Costco vs BJs vs Sams Club
Replies: 53
Views: 4016

Re: The Motley Fool HSA Article

The problem is not that people are deferring qualified distributions. The problem is exactly that. The easiest fix would be requiring that qualified distributions can only cover medical expenses incurred within say last two years. This way you can still save money now for large expenses down the ro...
by Kosmo
Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:36 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Motley Fool HSA Article
Replies: 16
Views: 1753

Re: Do you have a side job?

I hasn't considered real estate, so I feel obliged to change my vote to yes. However, I don't think of it as another job.
by Kosmo
Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:33 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you have a side job?
Replies: 58
Views: 4785

Re: Generac recall? (And if so, a scam anyway!?)

How did this company know you owned this particular model of generator?
by Kosmo
Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Generac recall? (And if so, a scam anyway!?)
Replies: 6
Views: 514

Re: Trip through New England

Newport, RI...and check out all the mansions. There's a couple of Indian casinos in CT. Dozens of lighthouses in ME. And there's so much in and around Boston you'd have a hard time not finding something interesting to do.
by Kosmo
Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:32 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Trip through New England
Replies: 39
Views: 1422

Re: Want to buy but can't find the "right" vehicle - what to

You won't find the perfect vehicle. Go with the one that has the least objectionable qualities.

Clearly you aren't in dire need to make this purchase. You can keep searching, but I think you'll just get more frustrated.
by Kosmo
Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:37 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Want to buy but can't find the "right" vehicle - what to do?
Replies: 74
Views: 3403

Re: [POLL] What do Bogleheads DRINK?

I drink coffee in the morning and then water throughout the rest of the day.

I occasionally have a soda. And even more frequently I have a beer. But I wouldn't consider that I drink them "regularly".
by Kosmo
Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [POLL] What do Bogleheads DRINK?
Replies: 72
Views: 3760
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