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Re: Building a New House

Hello All, Wanted to hire an architect and wanted to know how much do they cost. Meet with one person who stated that she takes 10% of the cost of the construction, though that was a lot. Need somebody to design a house and give recommendations about insulation and better build quality overall. I a...
by TheGreyingDuke
Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:38 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Building a New House
Replies: 11
Views: 1239

Re: What desktop should I buy.

I agree, and I'm not talented enough to "build" my own but the next best thing is to put your specs together on newegg.com and get exactly what you want and need. The other big advantage with building your system through them is that it doesn't come with any of the garbage software/ads/et...
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:53 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What desktop should I buy.
Replies: 36
Views: 2575

Re: What desktop should I buy.

Between DW and I, we have used 3 HP laptops in the last 8 years and our current laptops are so sluggish and always acting up. I feel they make these laptops not to last too long. So we have decided to shop for a desktop. We don't want something too fancy but something that can last at least 10 year...
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:19 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What desktop should I buy.
Replies: 36
Views: 2575

Re: Another new laptop advice.

I'm not familiar with QuickBooks, but if that will function via a Chromebook, I'd strongly consider a Chromebook. I had never heard of them until someone recommended them on this forum a couple of months ago. My wife and teenager each received one as a Christmas gift. My wife got hers early, has be...
by TheGreyingDuke
Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:54 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Another new laptop advice.
Replies: 10
Views: 1247

Re: Volvo vs. Mercedes

If you really prefer the Acura, perhaps there is a Honda dealer nearby that could handle your more routine service requirements. Years ago I had an Integra, Acura dealer was 40 miles away while the Honda Dealer was 5 miles. The Honda folks were able to do all the work.
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:38 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Volvo vs. Mercedes
Replies: 52
Views: 4512

Re: Retirees: Withdrawals by time and amount

greenfire wrote: Am unsure what exactly my income will be this year and next, but I'm thinking that the $10-15K I will earn in my part-time work should be sheltered in my Roth to make my income lower.


The Roth contribution will not lower your income, those are post-tax contributions.
by TheGreyingDuke
Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:35 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Retirees: Withdrawals by time and amount
Replies: 36
Views: 3431

Re: Toddlers first flight

Zecht wrote:Do they adjust to modified sleep patterns well? Few do, but if yours do you might keep them up so they're exhausted and sleep through the plane flights.

Important point... is there a time zone change??
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:39 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Toddlers first flight
Replies: 30
Views: 1844

Re: Toddlers first flight

You might discuss this with your pediatrician, some recommend a decongestant before flying. Mike Indeed, a small antihistamine can really help; I am way past being a toddler and am a terrible sleeper on flights. I take an adult dose and manage to sleep. As to other passengers... you will always hav...
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:39 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Toddlers first flight
Replies: 30
Views: 1844

Re: Do it yourself tax solutions? Should I just try turbotax

I stopped printing them out years ago; you can save the files in pdf and the turbo tax format (read by other software) and save some space. My returns are quite simple and I usually just go to the "Income" page and add the figures in each category. The interview is ponderous. One other thi...
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do it yourself tax solutions? Should I just try turbotax?
Replies: 53
Views: 3996

Re: Leaving my job. Moving to Shanghai. Help with finances!

English teaching is by far the easiest job to get abroad and getting on a work visa may allow you to get on a local health insurance plan. Take advantage of traveling while you are over there. Never know when you will get back. :sharebeer You will not want a "local" insurance plan. The pr...
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:57 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Leaving my job. Moving to Shanghai. Help with finances!
Replies: 24
Views: 3058

Re: Leaving my job. Moving to Shanghai. Help with finances!

@TheGreyingDuke - thanks for your reply! It's really helpful. The visa situation does seem to be a potential issue, as I won't have a position lined up when I go over there, so I'm likely going to get an "L" tourist visa. So, even if I were to land a job with a US-based company in Shangha...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:42 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Leaving my job. Moving to Shanghai. Help with finances!
Replies: 24
Views: 3058

Re: treasuries discount versus premium?

Thanks Phineas! I really appreciate your advice. I have put my "non stock-fund" money in CDs but am slowly coming to the conclusion that 1) having it in treasuries is at least better than having it sit in my savings account (my default) and 2) I don't have the energy to chase down the bes...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:24 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: treasuries discount versus premium?
Replies: 9
Views: 697

Re: Different Experience With TSA Pre-Check

That happens to me all the time at my home airport (Burlington, VT) where there is no Pre-Check line. Sometimes, I am not even handed the yellow (or is it pink?) card to show the second agent, which would allow me to avoid unpacking the computer and going through the zapper.
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:20 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Different Experience With TSA Pre-Check
Replies: 35
Views: 2812

Re: Leaving my job. Moving to Shanghai. Help with finances!

I have spent a semester each year for the past ten years in China; we were in Guangzhou, close to Hong Kong and that made a difference, always knew I could get English speaking medical care if needed. we never carried any health insurance other than our BCBS policy from the US. There will be lots of...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:16 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Leaving my job. Moving to Shanghai. Help with finances!
Replies: 24
Views: 3058

Estimated capital gains on Vanguard

The preliminary figure have been up, that is not news I guess.

Question... if a fund is NOT listed does that mean no gains are anticipated?
by TheGreyingDuke
Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Estimated capital gains on Vanguard
Replies: 13
Views: 1010

Re: How do you rebalance?

It looks as if I am the first to chime in with "Don't rebalance". I am retired, have made my "number" (and more), direct all capital gains and dividends to my checking account and just let the thing go. Started at about 50/50 when my wife and I took early retirement, have a semi-...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:24 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How do you rebalance?
Replies: 40
Views: 3152

Re: Medicare signup

Professional planners recommend buying Medigap insurance from companies using the issue-age method of rating if you can find them. It is the best way to buy this particular type of insurance over the longterm, and will cost you significantly less money in later years than the other 2 rating methods...
by TheGreyingDuke
Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Medicare signup
Replies: 36
Views: 2148

Re: Newbie to using credit card points - family flight quest

It looks like with my 71k points, I can get about $350 in cash OR I could buy two plane tickets worth $320 or so. We are thinking of taking a family vacation, so it seems wise to use the points to buy the tickets right? I generally try to get $.02 a mile for my miles; recently I got over $.05 but t...
by TheGreyingDuke
Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Newbie to using credit card points - family flight question
Replies: 10
Views: 1525

Re: Medicare signup

Medigap Plan F (in both iterations) pays foreign emergency medical bills; it is limited to the first 60 days you spend out of country and pays 80% up to $50k
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:38 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Medicare signup
Replies: 36
Views: 2148

Unexpected Medicare surcharge, Charitable contribution

Last year I donated some equities to the Vanguard Charitable Foundation, creating more space for a TIRA to Roth conversion. Yesterday I received a letter from Social Security stating that I would be charged a surcharge next year due to my higher income ,even though half of the reported income was a ...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Unexpected Medicare surcharge, Charitable contribution
Replies: 2
Views: 368

Re: Buying a Computer. Need recommendations.

I have a x230 Thinkpad and an Acer c720 Chromebook. Except for the screen and keyboard (which are ThinkPad excellent) the Chromebook is good enough for my work, which is similar to the OP. Only exceptions are the unavailability of several programs: Skype (but you can run it in Linux), Quicken (but I...
by TheGreyingDuke
Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:23 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a Computer. Need recommendations.
Replies: 52
Views: 4953

Re: Last Pass in the Cloud

LastPass stores all your passwords in the "cloud", none are on your computer. Perhaps you could reframe your question, given this reality. :happy
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Last Pass in the Cloud
Replies: 28
Views: 2184

Re: Fixing Social Security Earnings Mistake Advice

Call your local SS office and make an appointment, this is best handled face to face without the traps of mail.
by TheGreyingDuke
Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Fixing Social Security Earnings Mistake Advice
Replies: 11
Views: 1529

Re: Traditional Health Insurance or High-Deductible: Help!

The mantra is to buy as much insurance as you need, but no more. If the potential higher costs (as outlined above) of the high deductible would set you in a financial tailspin, then the LD might be the bet.

In my opinion, it is not even close, go for the HD.
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:28 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Traditional Health Insurance or High-Deductible: Help!
Replies: 4
Views: 514

Re: Vanguard Brokerage or Mutual Funds?

There has been much discussion of this in earlier posts... One downside, if I recall this correctly, is that mutual fund dividends can no longer be directly deposited to an outside bank account; as a retired person, I live off those dividends and have them deposited to my local credit union. If they...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:15 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard Brokerage or Mutual Funds?
Replies: 16
Views: 1066

Re: What to do w/space under 15% Fed bracket limit?

My recollection is that NYS does not tax some amount ($20K?) of IRA distributions each year. If that is so, yet another factor to consider.

Hard to know what will work out best as there are many unknowns.
by TheGreyingDuke
Sat Nov 15, 2014 2:22 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: What to do w/space under 15% Fed bracket limit?
Replies: 21
Views: 2795

Re: Does anyone here make "fun" purchases.

My "fun" purchases are experiences, not things. Over the decades it has been my experience that the initial glow of the purchase of a thing dims rather quickly (there are exceptions.) There is an old saying that might be applicable here" "There are two best days for owning a car,...
by TheGreyingDuke
Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Does anyone here make "fun" purchases.
Replies: 111
Views: 8615

Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

I have used my EZ pass in several cars I own, friend's cars and rental cars, and have never bothered to register or notify anyone. The transponder works fine no matter what vehicle it is in. Any tolls get charged on my account. For a list of where the EZ Pass works, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/w...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:55 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars
Replies: 29
Views: 2607

Re: Which Tablet?

A tablet is only as good as its apps, and Android still falls behind in that respect. Could you please be more specific as I am on the fence. I see that there are approximately the same number of apps (1.3 million) in each ecosystem. But quantity is not everything so could you give some idea what i...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:24 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which Tablet?
Replies: 24
Views: 1979

Re: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars

Not sure about most of them, but I use my EZ pass with rentals. Just need to give them a call with the plate number and they will enroll the rental for the week(s) you have it. Used it recently on trip from Vermont to Kentucky.
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:16 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Road Tolls, and Rental Cars
Replies: 29
Views: 2607

Re: Increased Premium Paid for Premium Gas

I think one factor may be rapidly falling gas prices we have now. Premium presumably doesn't sell as quickly as regular, so the stuff sitting in the ground was bought when prices were higher. Once that premium get replaced by cheaper newer stuff, the price should start to come down to the normal sp...
by TheGreyingDuke
Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:41 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Increased Premium Paid for Premium Gas
Replies: 24
Views: 2028

Re: Increased Premium Paid for Premium Gas

As recently as two weeks ago, the premium premium was about $.50 here in Vermont. I took a trip down to Virginia and Kentucky and saw that the differential was less. Now I am back in Vermont, prices for both continue downward and the cheapest today at gasbuuddy shows $3.09 for regular, $3.47 for pre...
by TheGreyingDuke
Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:19 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Increased Premium Paid for Premium Gas
Replies: 24
Views: 2028

Re: Shoes for the Garden

I use what ever shoes have done their duty on the street and convert them to garden wear. Right now it is a pair of low cut hiking shoes, more like trail running shoes. They go to the next lower rung on the ladder (rubbish) once another pair of street shoes bites the dust.
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:35 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Shoes for the Garden
Replies: 23
Views: 1636

Re: where to place dividends in taxable acct.?

These days, in retirement, all dividends go to my local checking account and I spend it (today it will be for meeting the deductible in the fender bender my DW has just had) :-(
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:28 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: where to place dividends in taxable acct.?
Replies: 9
Views: 831

Re: Should I use 50k Delta miles for a $600 flight?

$600 is fairly pricey for your itinerary, though it is the holidays so maybe that's the going rate among all carriers. Maybe you have limited flexibility, so these questions are moot: Are you locked in with Delta? Did you broaden your search terms to nearby airports (e.g. BUR)? Different dates? 1-s...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I use 50k Delta miles for a $600 flight?
Replies: 73
Views: 4739

Re: Planting garlic

Second the ideas about soil. You can plant it anytime you can still work the ground. Don't plant too deep, the tops of the cloves should be about 1 1/2 inches below the surface. I use a homemade dibble stick. Take a piece of 1" square stock, cut it about six feet long. The cut yourself (out of ...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 26, 2014 4:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Planting garlic
Replies: 10
Views: 1229

Re: Done with Honda, not sure what next car should be?

I'm happy with my certified used Subaru Forester. I've received one recall notice about potential brake line corrosion; the dealership inspected my car and advised nothing's wrong. As an aside, my car developed an annoying rattle just out of the full 3 year warranty period. Subaru of America paid t...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:23 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Done with Honda, not sure what next car should be?
Replies: 77
Views: 7678

Re: Done with Honda, not sure what next car should be?

We've owned VW products (now including Audi and Porsche) for 37 years. In my remembrance,they have been recalled 2 or 3 times, never for anything I considered serious. German cars are superior. BMW is part of this same air bag recall. Audi has some recent serious brake issues. http://www.industrywe...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:17 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Done with Honda, not sure what next car should be?
Replies: 77
Views: 7678

Re: Using your own equipment on Uverse and Comcast

Comcast gave us a modem, no one there ever mentioned it but when we had a repair tech here he mentioned that if you asked, they would give you a unit. Perhaps that was because we were also buying phone service from them.
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:45 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Using your own equipment on Uverse and Comcast
Replies: 23
Views: 2444

Re: Limited tax-advantaged options for next 2 years?

I too am something of a "newbie" but if you are going with 90/10 perhaps it is no problem to put the equities in taxable. Pick index funds and own them forever. When you retire the assets will be taxed as capital gains tax, who knows what that will be in 30 years. :happy
by TheGreyingDuke
Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:58 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Limited tax-advantaged options for next 2 years?
Replies: 3
Views: 444

Re: IS this car lease too good to be true?

Just curious if it is an actual lease or a balloon note? Not a balloon, a lease This is a good deal, however keep in mind you most likely will not keep the car past lease-end (that's a high residual) so you will have to revisit either buying or leasing again in 2 years. After all, you might be able...
by TheGreyingDuke
Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:23 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: IS this car lease too good to be true?
Replies: 13
Views: 1994

IS this car lease too good to be true?

Vehicle is a Toyota RAV4 LE AWD, it shows a MSRP of $26,744, a discounted price of $23,246. All maintenance is included for the 24000 miles as is the warranty. The lease end value is $18,563 Monthly payments are $112 and the down payment is $2,899, it runs for 2 years and 24,000 miles. The gap insur...
by TheGreyingDuke
Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:46 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: IS this car lease too good to be true?
Replies: 13
Views: 1994

Re: Medigap Plan F, Hi-D

My experience is identical, except I am in Vermont and have the Mediagp with Colonial Penn. In Vermont, all Medicare supplement insurance sold is community-rated, not attained-age rated. Did that influence your decision when choosing your Plan? I also noted from the pdf file linked here that you gu...
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Medigap Plan F, Hi-D
Replies: 5
Views: 506

Re: Medigap Plan F, Hi-D

My experience is identical, except I am in Vermont and have the Mediagp with Colonial Penn.

Never met the deductible so no experience with that part of the process.
by TheGreyingDuke
Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:26 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Medigap Plan F, Hi-D
Replies: 5
Views: 506

Re: How do you wash your car?

When the weather is clement, I wash it at least monthly and before a road trip, wax it spring and fall. During winter I use the do it yourself places. Reasons: 1) Bird doo 2) Road salt (Vermont has a "black roads" policy) 3) Road dust (I live on two miles of gravel road) 4) Tree sap 5) Eve...
by TheGreyingDuke
Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:41 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do you wash your car?
Replies: 143
Views: 7406

Re: Buying a house without a realtor

If you're using a house inspector, try to choose one that does NOT know the seller's agent. If the agent and the inspector have a mutually beneficial referral relationship, the inspector is disincentivized from warning you not to buy a questionable house, because, in the future, the seller's agent ...
by TheGreyingDuke
Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:11 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a house without a realtor
Replies: 43
Views: 2892

Re: Buying a house without a realtor

Your understanding of the law is incorrect A buyer's agent is a fiduciary who owes a total duty of loyalty to the client. That is true BUT... I remember an article in the WSJ some years ago that showed (this was in Chicago I think) that when selling their own houses real estate agents held out long...
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:01 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a house without a realtor
Replies: 43
Views: 2892

Re: Meaning of Important note included in Medicare part D pl

In the Humana Walmart plan, the $320 deductible does NOT apply to tier 1 & I think tier 2. These are usually generics.There are no copays for the generics and no deductible, but just the monhtly premium which is around $15 for 2015 (was about $12 this past year). I use this plan and it has been...
by TheGreyingDuke
Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Meaning of Important note included in Medicare part D plan ?
Replies: 28
Views: 2179

Re: Meaning of Important note included in Medicare part D pl

I have the Humana Walmart Part D, interestingly I found that the one medication I needed was cheaper at a local pharmacy than at WalMart. No need to worry about that (and the Humana web site accurately posted the prices.)
by TheGreyingDuke
Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:27 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Meaning of Important note included in Medicare part D plan ?
Replies: 28
Views: 2179

Re: Retired and end of month checking account balance?

Peter Foley wrote:low 5 figures.


Me too!

Small pension, no SS, mostly dividends, interest, and maturing CDs
by TheGreyingDuke
Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:24 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retired and end of month checking account balance?
Replies: 21
Views: 2516
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