Search found 186 matches

by cbeck
Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:56 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please help me improve my online security
Replies: 24
Views: 2430

Re: Please help me improve my online security

Don't store password databases, even encrypted ones, in anybody's cloud. Change passwords frequently and never use a password for more than one site. In addition to a virus checker, install an adware checker, such as the one from malwarebytes.org. Browse the internet only from a virtual machine, pre...
by cbeck
Thu May 21, 2015 9:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Career Advice: Follow "Passion" or Follow the Money?
Replies: 73
Views: 4926

Re: Career Advice: Follow "Passion" or Follow the Money?

I cringe whenever I hear someone talk about his "passion" as though the mere assertion of what is no more than someone's preference should privilege the speaker in special ways, such as implying that having to earn a living is a crass concern by comparison. Happily, the OP does not demonst...
by cbeck
Wed May 06, 2015 11:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67
Replies: 2
Views: 496

Re: retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67

Turns out that he cannot start a new defined benefit plan in any variety of self-employment. If he were to become an employee of a company of which he owned less than 40%, then he could participate in a new DB plan.

The solo 401k is indeed available to him.
by cbeck
Tue May 05, 2015 9:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67
Replies: 2
Views: 496

retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67

My friend is self-employed as a sole proprietor. He previously setup a defined-benefit plan for himself. Now at age 67 that plan is fully funded so that he cannot make any more contributions. However, since his income is still quite good and he will be facing RMDs starting at age 70, he fears the so...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:26 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation?
Replies: 40
Views: 4474

Re: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation

IIRC, public debt is similar to post WWII levels as well, but unlike private debt, there was a sustained effort to pay it off after WWII, so over the past half century plus it's looked more like a "U" than the steady increase in private debt/wages. We never paid down any of the WWII debt,...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:45 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: In 39% Tax Bracket does a Roth make sense?
Replies: 18
Views: 3224

Re: In 39% Tax Bracket does a Roth make sense?

No one has mentioned the estate planning implications of a Roth. In general, the value of a Roth depends on the lifespan of the Roth account itself. Most discussion focuses on the owner's life span, but if there are to be heirs it changes the picture. The value of the Roth also depends on the rate o...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:15 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation?
Replies: 40
Views: 4474

Re: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation

I agree, however there are some industries where deflation in prices would be a good thing for the economy at large. Let's start with the ridiculous education and healthcare costs in this country. The next place where a bit of deflation could help is in the level of taxation in general. We are alre...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: basic Medicare question
Replies: 1
Views: 387

basic Medicare question

Can someone confirm or correct my understanding that Medicare Part A pays for hospital services, not including surgeons, anesthesiologists, or doctors of other types and that those services are only covered by Part B or additional insurance programs like Medicare Advantage? The question arises in a ...
by cbeck
Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Choosing between learning a language/learning martial art
Replies: 20
Views: 1236

Re: Choosing between learning a language/learning martial ar

The main reason that people fail to learn second languages is not lack of ability, but insufficient motivation. Learning a language is a long, hard grind. Korean is at the very top of the pyramid of difficult-to-learn languages (for English speakers) to learn according to the Foreign Language Instit...
by cbeck
Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:42 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Advice needed on lawyer's retainer agreement
Replies: 12
Views: 1287

Re: Advice needed on lawyer's retainer agreement

So, this lawyer dies and goes to heaven and there at the Pearly Gates is St. Peter along with hosts of cherubim and seraphim all singing "Hosanna! Hosanna!" So, the lawyer goes to St. Peter, "What's all this about?" And St. Peter replies well you're the oldest man ever to die and...
by cbeck
Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Ulysses Contract
Replies: 12
Views: 1453

Re: Ulysses Contract

The fallacy is the belief that your information is now complete and that you will refuse to incorporate new information into your decision-making in the future. It worked out well for Ulysses, but in other situations you become a fanatic.
by cbeck
Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Chaos, complexity and entropy [for non-physicists]
Replies: 113
Views: 8365

Re: Chaos, complexity and entropy [for non-physicists]

FYI, in addition to founding information theory Claude Shannon was a successful investor who apparently got very rich on a portfolio of only four or five stocks which he never sold including HP and Motorola. Some even attribute the decline in his scientific output to his absorption in investing. Rec...
by cbeck
Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:52 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis
Replies: 75
Views: 4226

Re: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis

If there were a company created with truly mutual ownership, like Vanguard, that was entirely focused on selling SPIA's at cost, perhaps the price would fall. Well, of course it would - there's that gain the ins cos. are "exacting", net costs. But, how much it would fall, would be interes...
by cbeck
Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:49 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis
Replies: 75
Views: 4226

Re: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis

Well the problem actually becomes is that IF they are wrong about their assumptions (such as the longevity) then the risk will get transferred back to you since an insurance company's guarantee is only as good as their ability to pay the claim. If everyone starts living to be 200 then they arent go...
by cbeck
Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis
Replies: 75
Views: 4226

Re: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis

The OP's analysis fails in the most fundamental aspect: he has converted a problem with a crucial unknown, actual individual lifespan, into a problem that ignores this aspect completely, a fixed period annuity or mortgage. If we actually knew how long we will live, then financial planning would be p...
by cbeck
Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:40 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Travel Insurance for a "trip of a lifetime"
Replies: 36
Views: 2916

Re: Travel Insurance for a "trip of a lifetime"

I have never bought travel insurance. The risk of medical evacuation would be worth insuring against if it can be purchased as a stand-alone item. However, in my opnion, insuring the costs of the trip itself doesn't make sense. When we insure a house or a car we are insuring against the loss of the ...
by cbeck
Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with Snapfon?
Replies: 3
Views: 760

Re: Experience with Snapfon?

You might not be able to get her to wear it, but you can now buy wristwatches that accept SIM cards and offer one-button emergency calling (or any calling) along with GPS-provided location. http://www.amazon.com/Bracelet-Tracking-Quad-band-Handheld-Navigation/dp/B00HN02XEQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid...
by cbeck
Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deciding
Replies: 52
Views: 9754

Re: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deci

In my experience, the bottleneck for VOIP is not only download/upload speed but also the latency. To get good quality, check the ping time to the VOIP provider IP address. 150ms is acceptable. Higher than that will cause problems in phone dialogue. My experience is that latency doesn't matter. I us...
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]
Replies: 97
Views: 10785

Re: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]

bpp wrote:
normaldude wrote:To be on the safe side, US citizen expats might need to use a US address (not PO box), US phone number, and US VPN.


...in order to attempt to conceal a false declaration?
That seems like an unusual definition of "safe."


What is false, illegal, or unethical about a mailing address?
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:28 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]
Replies: 97
Views: 10785

Re: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]

normaldude wrote:So it's possible that Fidelity is merely targeting non-US citizens. Like someone who came to USA on a student visa or work visa, opened a Fidelity account, and then a few years later moved back to their home country.


Nope. I am a US citizen and they notified me.
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:12 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]
Replies: 97
Views: 10785

Re: US citizens abroad cannot invest through a US brokerage

What if I already own the funds and then move abroad? Any difference between an IRA and a taxable account? This is probably more fallout from FATCA. :( It wouldn't matter if you moved after opening the accounts. In fact, if you already live abroad you would probably not be able to open an account w...
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deciding
Replies: 52
Views: 9754

Re: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deci

I bought Ooma. It did not work for me. It needs QoS to work properly. That is priority ordering of packets over the internet. Since I had A T&T DSL with a Gateway (combination of router and modem in one box), and it does not support QoS, the outgoing sound was bad. If you have a router that sup...
by cbeck
Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Biology of Risk
Replies: 91
Views: 5337

Re: The Biology of Risk

cbeck, you're speaking to the choir. :happy Hey, risk is actually risky, and it's the reason why I never recommend 100% stock to anyone. The problem with selling in a greatly depressed market locks in losses and converts what Bernstein calls shallow risk into deep and permanent risk. I can say that...
by cbeck
Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Annuitizing for retirement - what if the market is down?
Replies: 43
Views: 4161

Re: Annuitizing for retirement - what if the market is down?

However, SPIA rates at the date(s) of annuitization are also affected by current market conditions. The payout by the SPIA depend on the rates prevailing at the time, but those rates are only one factor in determining the payout. The other main factor is the mortality credit which is not affected b...
by cbeck
Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:09 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Biology of Risk
Replies: 91
Views: 5337

Re: The Biology of Risk

Having said all this, I can say that investors can train and condition themselves to remain rational. It happened to me. I retired in 1998 and found the Bogleheads (diehards) in 1999. When the tech crash hit, I had an extremely hard time staying the course. I worried, I lost sleep, I got an upset s...
by cbeck
Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:19 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: A $1000 lesson on how manipulative salespeople can be?
Replies: 107
Views: 18419

Re: A $1000 lesson on how manipulative salespeople can be?

I view nearly all salespeople as my enemies. My immediate goal in interacting with them is to break their script. They have strategies for manipulating me which includes getting me to say yes, making me feel like their "friend", creating a sense of urgency with a one-time price reduction, ...
by cbeck
Mon May 26, 2014 8:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Pre-nup at only $1M networth, do I need it?
Replies: 199
Views: 13679

Re: Pre-nup at only $1M networth, do I need it?

I teach engineers about defective analogies. You don't have a relationship with an insurance company. Did you have a severance pay discussion at your hiring interview? There's a defective analogy right there. The relationship between a company doing a hiring interview and an interviewee is profound...
by cbeck
Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:44 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Death of co-worker
Replies: 94
Views: 10800

Re: Death of co-worker

This discussion is a good example of availability bias. The OP has encountered an example of unexpected, early death in his workplace and he is making the mistake of overweighting that risk because it is available. The other side of the risk is people who are very old and have outlived their resourc...
by cbeck
Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:44 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 60 Minutes 3-30-14: Michael Lewis book "Flash Boys"
Replies: 70
Views: 4521

Re: Is The US Stock Market Rigged? ~ 60 Minutes March 30, 20

I saw the 60 Minutes show. A good reason to use index funds and avoid market timing. The rapid traders were front running and skimming a little bit off of every trade made. Even if you held only index funds, you were still impacted, although the low turnover of index funds would lead to fewer trans...
by cbeck
Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Friend possibly victim of real estate dual agency
Replies: 27
Views: 2927

Re: Friend possibly victim of real estate dual agency

A fiduciary obligation would require that the agent not put his own interest before those of his client. RE agents do not have a fiduciary obligation to their clients in NY. In fact, few agency relationships of any kind are held to this very high standard. Brokerage firms were able to fend off attem...
by cbeck
Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:35 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Has anyone seen the Japanese Stock Market?
Replies: 73
Views: 7516

Re: Has anyone seen the Japanese Stock Market?

The economist that Paul Krugman recommends reading on the Japanese economy is Richard C. Koo. For instance, his book, "The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan's Great Recession." http://www.amazon.com/The-Holy-Grail-Macroeconomics-Recession/dp/0470824948/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&...
by cbeck
Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Any less expensive sources for Lipitor?
Replies: 54
Views: 3741

Re: Any less expensive sources for Lipitor?

[Medical claim (vitamin) removed by admin LadyGeek]
by cbeck
Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Movers in NYC?
Replies: 6
Views: 623

Re: Movers in NYC?

flatratemovers.com Great company. They give you price and move you for that price. Used them several times including across the world. Good job every time.
by cbeck
Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:27 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The inevitability of rising inflation--is it so?
Replies: 130
Views: 8160

Re: The inevitability of rising inflation--is it so?

After 30 years without high inflation and in the midst of a global economic slowdown where deflation remains the greater risk, you have to wonder what does it take for people to stop being afraid of inflation? http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NQAuKUEl4Y0/T3EjXaTS-2I/AAAAAAAABUQ/k21b2SrBnZQ/s320/U.S.+Yearly...
by cbeck
Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:06 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Target Credit/Debit Card Hacks - what to do?
Replies: 94
Views: 8884

Re: Target Credit/Debit Card Hacks - what to do?

I give up. As a consumer, why do people care so much about this? Over 10 years, I have had fraudulent charges a handful of times and it took about 30 seconds on my CC's website to mark them as fraudulent and that was it. This thread is not far off from someone suggesting to wear a tin foil hat. I a...
by cbeck
Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:44 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Shorting your own employer
Replies: 48
Views: 3994

Re: Shorting your own employer

I am youngish (29) and I work in the software industry. Right now this is a hot field and pay is accordingly quite good. However, I have concerns that this won't always be the case and this industry in particular has had dramatic ups and down over the last 20 years. I was in a similar position when...
by cbeck
Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:20 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: NC Introduces "Flat Tax"
Replies: 26
Views: 2990

Re: NC Introduces "Flat Tax"

NC is estentially putting a 5.8% flat tax on all income and only allowing for exemptions based on mortgage interest and propety taxes. Gone are personal exemptions and the such. The goal is to move to a consumption-based tax structure in the long term. Sounds confused. A tax (flat or otherwise) on ...
by cbeck
Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Poll - Use password vault for Vanguard password?
Replies: 27
Views: 2222

Re: Poll - Use password vault for Vanguard password?

Someone in another thread about security brought up an interesting point about what if someone does gain access to your Vanguard account. What's the worst they can do? Can they transfer all of your Vanguard funds to your checking account? One way that a thief who gains access to your Vanguard accou...
by cbeck
Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Free Cloud storage
Replies: 23
Views: 1893

Re: Free Cloud storage

Download the free backup program duplicati from here: http://www.duplicati.com/ Set it up to backup files to one or more of a number of cloud services like skydrive, google, etc. for which you have login accounts. Typical schedule would be full backup once a month and daily incrementals going off at...
by cbeck
Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Quicken Strategies [Migration from MS Money]
Replies: 5
Views: 760

Re: Quicken Strategies

A huge waste of time and effort to reconcile all the discrepancies from a full import. Just keep the Money installation and start the Quicken fresh, maybe at the turn of the year. Other than cost and acquisition dates, you don't really need all the history anyway.
by cbeck
Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:56 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Man Throws Away 7,500 Bitcoins
Replies: 11
Views: 1692

Re: Man Throws Away 7,500 Bitcoins

Just a modern update to Keynes suggestion to bury banknotes as an economic stimulus: If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried ...
by cbeck
Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:00 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: William Bernstein: the paradox of wealth
Replies: 83
Views: 18956

Re: William Bernstein: the paradox of wealth

This discussion comes down to little more than whether one has an optimistic or pessimistic temperament. Sure, the upward tide of history is plain to see from a point of Olympian detachment. But just how comforting would that view have been to you in the Late Classical period as you looked forward t...
by cbeck
Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:08 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Fama or Shiller on Bubbles, my take
Replies: 14
Views: 2449

Re: Fama or Shiller on Bubbles, my take

^^^ I don't see the page link. OTOH, I'm on a widescreen monitor. In any case, I think Larry's article underscores a key point about market timing: You need to be right twice. When to get out and when to get back in. Those are two separate events. That doesn't make sense to me. You only need to be ...
by cbeck
Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Medical/Dental Tourism?
Replies: 91
Views: 5109

Re: Medical/Dental Tourism?

Doctors are always going on about how special they are: special knowledge, special training, special responsibilities, etc. Maybe. But when we look at the marketplace for medical services at the pinnacle of which doctors are perched, what we see doesn't look that special: anti-competitive restraint ...
by cbeck
Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Medical/Dental Tourism?
Replies: 91
Views: 5109

Re: Medical/Dental Tourism?

It's true that anecdotes are woefully inadequate at evaluating the quality of medical care. The average patient usually has no alternative though, whether in the US or abroad. However, the World Health Organization rated the US health care system as number 37 out of 191 countries. The best rated wer...
by cbeck
Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Online Banking
Replies: 29
Views: 2953

Re: Online Banking

Be careful however, because if one beneficiary passes before you - your FDIC insurance drops immediately (but of course if you remember, you can change the PODs immediately thereafter). To clarify, the FDIC coverage for the portion of the funds that the beneficiary would inherit drops on the death ...
by cbeck
Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Elope to Save Money?
Replies: 79
Views: 5990

Re: Elope to Save Money?

By all means elope. Expensive weddings are an extraordinary waste of money. It's just a party. Parties are not the important part of life. And they're usually miserable affairs with people pissed off at each other because this or that is not perfect or someone is not filling a role the way it is sup...
by cbeck
Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:36 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Shiller Thinks Owning a Home is a Terrible Investment
Replies: 255
Views: 22968

Re: Shiller Thinks Owning a Home is a Terrible Investment

I notice an effect among myself and friends and family, which I call the Pride of Ownership cost of owning a home. Those of us avoiding this pitfall find that we can be perfectly happy living in a house or apartment whose quality of construction, layout, etc. would not be acceptable if we were the o...
by cbeck
Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:35 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Closed end funds
Replies: 13
Views: 1124

Re: Closed end funds

The OP might take a look at the Templeton Global Income Fund (GIM) which is a closed-end, unhedged foreign bond fund that does not use leverage. It currently sells at a discount of 5.5% with an ER of 74 bps which is high, but not especially high for a foreign bond fund. It currently pays a 5% yield ...
by cbeck
Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Closed end funds
Replies: 13
Views: 1124

Re: Closed end funds

Wow. This is the first thread I recall where "closed end fund" was considered an investment class or strategy. Do you also consider sold out movies, plays, and concerts because hey, it wouldn't be sold out if it wasn't a good show? Reading the feedback, apparently there's some aspect to s...

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