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Re: When to take a HSA distribution for past medical costs

I've been thinking on this topic myself, without coming to a clear conclusion. A few thoughts: 1) it's pretty common to have some significant dental bills as you age, so it might be worth planning ahead for that potential. 2) I would probably withdraw all that you can easily and conveniently documen...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:36 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: When to take a HSA distribution for past medical costs
Replies: 6
Views: 421

Re: Downsize, Reduce, Simplify.

It's an interesting topic. I'm looking at a similar potential situation and thinking about options. I take an active interest in managing and trying to prevent buildup of "stuff". We try to have a general concept that if one new thing comes into the house, two old ones need to leave it. Th...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:19 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Downsize, Reduce, Simplify.
Replies: 56
Views: 5490

Re: Tax Preparation--Anyone try this as second income

Have a friend who started doing this for extra income a number of years ago (with HRB). There are definitely limitations in doing it with the big companies. They offer training, but it is very tied to their systems. My friend stuck with it, and eventually got IRS Enrolled Agent cert, but only after ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:50 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tax Preparation--Anyone try this as second income
Replies: 13
Views: 2064

Re: TV sound options for hearing impaired

My thanks to all for the useful feedback. It seems like there are a number of options to consider, some of which are dependent on the specifics of the particular hearing aids. Having the references here gives me some good starting points for research.
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:36 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TV sound options for hearing impaired
Replies: 12
Views: 903

Re: negotiating vacation days

A couple of times in silicon valley I've tried to negotiate extra vacation days in the offer; never got anywhere with it. The companies had pretty structured policies that they didn't want to tweak. What some *would* do is negotiate a bit more pay or sign on bonus and agree to unpaid time off. If yo...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:24 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: negotiating vacation days
Replies: 31
Views: 1633

TV sound options for hearing impaired

I have some relatives who have a bit of a challenge with their TV usage. They have a fairly small house, without a separate TV viewing area (den/FR). One of the couple watches lots of TV, and has hearing issues. The other finds having TV sound being on all the time somewhat stressful. Presumably the...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:10 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TV sound options for hearing impaired
Replies: 12
Views: 903

Re: Real 3% (CPI plus 3% guaranteed)

Quite a few years ago, my employer offered "Guaranteed Investment Contracts" in their 401K. These had a very nice fixed return at the time, and I jumped on it with about 40% of my 401K. After all, it was an insurance company who was guaranteeing these things, right? In hindsight, this turn...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:20 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Real 3% (CPI plus 3% guaranteed)
Replies: 21
Views: 1792

Re: What age did you pay off your "forever" home

We haven't (yet) at age 55. We had a perfectly adequate house that would have been paid off by now if we stayed there, but 12 years ago we decided to "move up", which meant taking a new larger mortgage. I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, but given our particular tax and income situati...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:33 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What age did you pay off your "forever" home
Replies: 52
Views: 3985

Re: How does Spending/Saving change as Empty Nesters?

We didn't have any specific plan around this, though we knew that the empty nest stage would definitely free up cash flow. What ended up happening is that the larger part of the extra cash flow went into savings/retirement, and the rest into lifestyle expansion (travel, entertainment, furniture, etc...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:32 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How does Spending/Saving change as Empty Nesters?
Replies: 11
Views: 1186

Re: downhill ski boots question

In my book, the most important thing about ski boots is that the president of the manufacturer has feet shaped like yours. Everything else is just marketing noise. Try a variety of boots to see which ones seem to fit your feet best, and use that as criteria. There are lots of really high markups and...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:09 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: downhill ski boots question
Replies: 17
Views: 994

Re: Retiring in 2015 and should I ...[payoff mortgage with 4

NO WAY. Not in a lump sum. Or at least, not unless you really like paying taxes. We have this "progressive" tax code, which means that if you look wealthy, you've got a target painted on your back. You get to pay much higher tax rates, and higher medicare premiums, and surtaxes, etc. Now, ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:38 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retiring in 2015 and should I ...[payoff mortgage with 401k]
Replies: 8
Views: 1003

Re: Taking advantage of the Euro's decline

A few years ago, I moved the default setting for my vacation dial to "domestic" because of the low US dollar exchange rate. It wasn't an absolute; once or twice specific circumstances weighed heavily enough to put up with the exchange, but it was the starting point. There's lots of places ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:37 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Taking advantage of the Euro's decline
Replies: 8
Views: 821

Re: Should I Declare Victory and Pack It In?

Eight years ago I was in a somewhat similar situation. I was coming off of several years of high-stress, high-compensation work in an environment that was becoming toxic. I took a look at our financial situation and decided that if we significantly downsized our lifestyle (not quite MMM, but in that...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:54 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Should I Declare Victory and Pack It In?
Replies: 173
Views: 16389

Re: What is the international portion of your portfolio and

I've lived overseas (5 years in UK and 5 years in Japan) and worked extensively with European and Asia suppliers. When I compare U.S. companies with their overseas counterparts, I don't see any inherent advantages that the overseas companies have that will tend to make them more successful in the m...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:33 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What is the international portion of your portfolio and why?
Replies: 126
Views: 8680

Re: What is the international portion of your portfolio and

I'm at 0% international, and I've been that way for about the last 10 years. I'm not a believer in diversification uber alles. Even in my US-based investments, I have at times applied concentration for higher risk and return, though I have shoveled the gains over into index funds. I'm not philosophi...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:19 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What is the international portion of your portfolio and why?
Replies: 126
Views: 8680

Re: Is a "Free" Home Always Worth It?

I wouldn't go for it myself. Dad needs to break down and price the house appropriately this spring, and sell it for what the market considers realistic. An old family home that has aged over the years tends to want a fair bit of work and renovation, and that needs to be considered in the price. Many...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:37 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is a "Free" Home Always Worth It?
Replies: 18
Views: 1897

Re: Alternatives to TurboTax

Thanks for the responses. I'm thinking I will give TaxAct a try this year. I wasn't too excited about H&R Block buying TaxCut, and their prices (at least list) seem relatively high. I don't have terribly complex taxes this year, but I do have rental property and Roth conversions (TT seemed prett...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Alternatives to TurboTax
Replies: 26
Views: 2681

Alternatives to TurboTax

I've used TurboTax for quite a few years, but have been somewhat annoyed with their pricing games in recent years. The shenanigans this year with schedule D are enough that I now won't use them on principle, even if I have to do my taxes on paper. I'd still find tax software convenient, though, so w...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:11 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Alternatives to TurboTax
Replies: 26
Views: 2681

Re: Reporter doing story on Turbo Tax Fracas

I don't do interviews, so I'm not much help directly to the reporter. I've used Turbo Tax for a number of years, and been increasingly annoyed with their upsell and hidden costs (like added cost to efile state). I normally used "Deluxe", but I was pretty annoyed last year when "Premie...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:54 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Reporter doing story on Turbo Tax Fracas
Replies: 52
Views: 7016

Re: Two Homes in Retirement?

I've been kicking this topic around a bit myself, and in fact had a somewhat similar thread a few months ago. Aside from the costs, there is definitely a chunk of extra work involved in managing an additional property. Even if you want both places to be your own, with your own furniture, there is a ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:48 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Two Homes in Retirement?
Replies: 38
Views: 3490

Re: Increase Investing or Pay Down Mortgage?

I might do some of each. Or maybe refinance the mortgage into a 15-year, which should get a lower interest rate as well as the faster pay down (but would also lose the flexibility to make lower payments if needed at some point).

You are making a good start either way.
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:43 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Increase Investing or Pay Down Mortgage?
Replies: 16
Views: 2012

Re: Is there a bias in calculating safe withdrawal rate?

So the typical SWR analysis overweights starting years that begin in troughs and underweights starting years that begin at peaks relative to when people actual hit their portfolio numbers. I think this key point is just wrong. SWR analysis is not influenced by the number of people actually starting...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:08 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is there a bias in calculating safe withdrawal rate?
Replies: 30
Views: 2269

Re: Changes (mostly bad ones) to my 401k. Who benefits?

I *would* send the sternly worded letter to the committee. It might wake them up a bit and remind them of their responsibilities. Half of them were probably just going with the flow and not paying much attention.
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:24 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Changes (mostly bad ones) to my 401k. Who benefits?
Replies: 34
Views: 2663

Re: Medicaid and Roth Conversion / Gain Harvesting?

Many people view Medicaid as a medical system of last resort, with services difficult to access (many doctors won't accept it). I know little about the system, and it varies from state to state, but I would suggest doing some research before choosing it. You might want to manage your income to some ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:06 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Medicaid and Roth Conversion / Gain Harvesting?
Replies: 21
Views: 1829

Re: [Annual POLL] What was your 2014 return?

Looks like 14.1% overall this year. About 90% US equities, 10% cash. I may add some international in another year or two, but not yet. Similar situation on moving the cash to bonds. Laggard was my 401K, at 11.1% (mid-cap index plus active mid-cap equities). Big winner was my Roth conversion at +70%,...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:15 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: [Annual POLL] What was your 2014 return?
Replies: 144
Views: 14062

Re: Term life insurance decision

I'm not sure you really need additional insurance in this case. If you die during these working years, there would be a SS survivor benefit for your wife starting at that time, not delayed until retirement age. SS is not just retirement, there are also death and disability benefits when they apply. ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Term life insurance decision
Replies: 8
Views: 823

Re: Do you generally spend more when using credit cards?

There are certainly a wide range of financial behaviors, many of them not always rational, though I expect that Bogleheads will be far more rational than most. If you want to get a picture of this, take a survey of bogleheads and see how many carry a credit card balance (never, sometimes, often), an...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:56 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you generally spend more when using credit cards?
Replies: 71
Views: 2694

Re: Do you generally spend more when using credit cards?

For small day-to-day purchases, there is no effect for me. I carry enough cash, and payment method is somewhat arbitrary. In recent years I've found myself more likely to pay for $20-100 items with credit card, but make correspondingly fewer visits to the ATM. For large purchases ($1000 and up), I'm...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:32 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you generally spend more when using credit cards?
Replies: 71
Views: 2694

Re: Early withdrawal of Rollover IRA

I would roll this into something else if possible, maybe a current 401K or IRA at someplace where you are more active. Maybe even do a Roth conversion, and keep adding to it bit by bit. It's a bad habit to pull money out of retirement accounts "because the little account is a nuisance", or...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:38 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Early withdrawal of Rollover IRA
Replies: 4
Views: 487

Re: [Poll] Is your generation better off than parents' or ki

I find it mixed. I'm financially better off than my parents, but some of my siblings are worse off (all born in the 1950's). In our case, I don't see this as a generational thing, but more a matter of choices and priorities. Some of us wanted to "do our own thing", or accumulated student l...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [Poll] Is your generation better off than parents' or kids'
Replies: 16
Views: 984

Re: Cash Purchase On House and then a Mortgage

It is possible to make your purchase offer a "cash" one (really with no mortgage contingency), and then go ahead and get a mortgage. Essentially you are committing to the seller that you will go through with the purchase even if the mortgage doesn't go through (or in particular, has apprai...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:20 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cash Purchase On House and then a Mortgage
Replies: 2
Views: 525

Re: Tree Root Removal

I had pretty good success with that stuff on the sewer line in the old family home. Kept a problematic line (made out of the old "Orangeburg" material) working for 40+ years and got to the point that it only had to be snaked every 5-8 years. My theory was that it didn't make much sense to ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Dec 31, 2014 1:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tree Root Removal
Replies: 8
Views: 1325

Re: What would you have done differently when retiring?

Any thoughts on how retirement is different or changed as a single? I feel like keeping connections is something I could improve on. Any thoughts you have are appreciated. I think I would lean toward retiring earlier as time cannot be recovered and you just don't know when it will stop, my dad is 9...
by curmudgeon
Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What would you have done differently when retiring?
Replies: 107
Views: 10656

Re: Do you read online reviews?

I've had pretty good luck with tripadvisor. I definitely don't just go by star ratings there, but I've learned to read between the lines on reviews (some folks will never be satisfied unless they are fawned on by the staff). If I have a doubt in my mind about a review I see on TA, I look at other re...
by curmudgeon
Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do you read online reviews?
Replies: 26
Views: 1659

Re: Tablet (something simple) for after a stroke?

I can't see the current generation of tablets doing anything but cause frustration, especially without internet access. The good voice recognition might help, but that uses cloud computing for the voice analysis. Even with voice, I think frustration and disuse would be the result. Would easy crosswo...
by curmudgeon
Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:52 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tablet (something simple) for after a stroke?
Replies: 16
Views: 1433

Re: Do we have enough to retire?

It would be awesome to pay off the HELOC. That's $100,000, and in return, you remove $1300 a month from your expenses... That's huge. But how do you pay it off since all your money is tied up in retirement accounts? You've got enough, but it's going to be tricky to make the cash-flow work right. Ma...
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:30 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do we have enough to retire?
Replies: 23
Views: 2876

Re: Should I do a 25 year refinance?

I presume your lender is tacking in some significant loan origination fees which get added back into the loan balance. I'd shop it around to a few lenders, and maybe consider dropping down to a 20-year loan if you can get a better rate.
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I do a 25 year refinance?
Replies: 13
Views: 849

Re: What would you have done differently when retiring?

I think a previous poster mentioned - don't wait to long or you become less fit - I have become less fit and if I wait another couple of years, I feel I will reach the point of no return. This IS an interesting post, indeed! A year or so ago I realized that one of my major thoughts on "what do...
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:17 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What would you have done differently when retiring?
Replies: 107
Views: 10656

Re: Do we have enough to retire?

Some good points above. You do need to keep in mind the extended length of retirement, particularly for the younger. After 10 years or so, it might be difficult to re-enter the work force (at least at a similar level) if circumstances mandated. My general thought is that you are fine, as long as you...
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:04 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do we have enough to retire?
Replies: 23
Views: 2876

Re: Do you usually order beverage at restaurants?

We used to mostly just get water (when the cost was more of a factor). In recent years, I'll often get unsweetened iced tea, while my wife will either stick with water or have a beer/cider. I'm mostly avoiding the calories in drinks these days, rather than the cost.
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:52 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do you usually order (not-free) beverage at restaurants?
Replies: 89
Views: 7629

Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

It has been interesting to read more of the details of working the award system. In the past I haven't done too much to squeeze more miles out. I don't have a small business or a large business travel spend, so I mostly just did some basic stuff and let the rest go by. I kept the free United card; w...
by curmudgeon
Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:29 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards
Replies: 32
Views: 1979

Re: Backyard Spa

Lots of factors involved here. You may find a few threads by searching the forum. I've known lots of people who buy them and then end up rarely using them (probably at least half of people who buy). We have one that we've tended to use several times per week. The 110v ones are very limited; that's j...
by curmudgeon
Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:30 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Backyard Spa
Replies: 19
Views: 2183

Re: What price are you planning to pay for your next car?

Just bought a new Nissan Rogue. Sale price was a bit under $25K, but tax put it over. On our typical cycle, we would likely buy another similar-priced car in about five years, but if we retire, that is likely to change the pattern.
by curmudgeon
Fri Dec 26, 2014 10:36 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What price are you planning to pay for your next car?
Replies: 91
Views: 6955

Re: Traveling to spain - phone, data plan and credit card

I generally pick up some cash from an ATM in the airport; it's a better exchange rate. Bank ATMs have less/no fees relative to "convenience" ATMs. You can check your credit cards to see if they have added foreign purchase fees; many ding you an extra 2-3% overseas. Watch out for hotels/ven...
by curmudgeon
Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:53 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Traveling to Spain - phone, data plan and credit card
Replies: 33
Views: 2621

Re: What % of net worth is your home?

Home is about 40% of net worth (at age 55). I consider that high if we were to retire today (though our lifestyle is not as expensive as the house value might imply). We could buy an equivalent house in a lower COL area for about a third of the price here. 11 years ago when we bought the house, I sa...
by curmudgeon
Tue Dec 23, 2014 4:10 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What % of net worth is your home?
Replies: 127
Views: 10748

Re: IRA contribution & withdrawal

Don't play games with gifting, just make it a loan. It only needs to be for one month, right?
by curmudgeon
Tue Dec 23, 2014 3:43 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: IRA contribution & withdrawal
Replies: 4
Views: 809

Re: Taking mortgage to contribute more to Roth

Opinions here will vary. I would take out a mortgage to repay the 401K loan. That lets you get your 401K money back to your general investment pool. I would NOT take out additional money to pay taxes for Roth conversions (if I'm interpreting you correctly); you are presumably in a fairly high tax br...
by curmudgeon
Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:11 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Taking mortgage to contribute more to Roth
Replies: 23
Views: 2396

Re: Alternative to reverse mortgage for aging mother's new h

I might suggest taking whatever equity she can get out of the current house and buying a SPIA to generate some income. Then search for low-income senior apartments in the area. There are a range of provisions and details in this, which likely vary from state to state (and within states as well) so d...
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:02 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Alternative to reverse mortgage for aging mother's new home
Replies: 15
Views: 1445

Re: On average, how often do you check your investment balan

Adding up total balances, probably once a month. Specific accounts more often, especially if I've got some short tem position open (I trade a bit in tax-deferred accounts).
by curmudgeon
Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:37 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: On average, how often do you check your investment balances?
Replies: 53
Views: 3445

Re: Ski questions from a Southerner

Most ski areas have beginner packages that include a lesson, beginner lift ticket, and ski rentals for not much more than a standard ticket. A lesson definitely helps to get you started. Do the lesson in the morning, then spend the afternoon practicing on your own, at your own pace. Some form of wat...
by curmudgeon
Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:36 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ski questions from a Southerner
Replies: 42
Views: 4922
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