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Re: "Best" place for new tires and tire protection plans = B

I pay fairly close attention to my cars, but I very rarely do wheel alignments any more. I think they only time in the last 15 years was on a new car which came badly aligned from the factory (done under warrenty). The roads in my area are reasonably good, and we don't slam across speed bumps, and I...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:32 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Best" place for new tires and tire protection plans = B.S.?
Replies: 24
Views: 1480

Re: making your own will or trust

The real question that needs to be asked is not whether anyone has had experience in writing your own will, but whether anyone has had experience being the executor or heir of someone who wrote their own will . One can say whether one has written their own will, but not how well it worked in the en...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:35 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: making your own will or trust
Replies: 29
Views: 1628

Re: Partials vs implants

I've had a partial (upper) for about 40 years. Two teeth that never came in. The less expensive plastic partials tended to break and need repair fairly often. I eventually had one made out of stainless about 20 years ago and it has lasted since then. If you have other teeth that may go, you may be f...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:58 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Partials vs implants
Replies: 27
Views: 2523

Re: (CA, USA) Recommendations for choosing between HSA Healt

Note that in California, none of your HSA contributions, your employer contributions, or the earnings in the HSA account are tax deductible (or exempt) from state income tax. Tracking your basis in the account over many years could be a pain, especially if you build up money in the account and then ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:42 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: (CA, USA) Recommendations for choosing between HSA Health Pl
Replies: 3
Views: 214

Re: First post - retirement questions

You have quite a bit of flexibility over the next few years. The one thing you don't have is a significant taxable account, but that's not really necessary in your situation. Your rental property income gives a good baseline income that acts somewhat like a large fixed income investment. Your plans ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:54 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: First post - retirement questions
Replies: 6
Views: 1068

Re: Spouse taking SS and tax consequences

We live in Calif.I appreciate the help and will try the worksheets.We were both going to wait until 70 but I think we might take hers at 65 though we do not need it.Mine at 70 is projected to be 3225 but I believe that is in today's dollars....hers 1950 or so.If we wait and with the increases we mi...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:00 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Spouse taking SS and tax consequences
Replies: 11
Views: 775

Re: Consolidation with Schwab?

I've been pretty satisfied with Schwab for myself, but I know what I want and just use them for services that I need. I was distinctly disappointed with the service Schwab gave to a relative; they sucked her into a significant investment in an expensive managed portfolio that was not appropriate for...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:06 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Consolidation with Schwab?
Replies: 21
Views: 1408

Re: LED bulb prices

My understanding about the wide regional variation in LED bulb prices is that this is due to utility subsidies in some regions. On the plus side, we don't have to deal with messy and wasteful rebate forms, but just get a direct discount at purchase. On the minus side, the utilities are getting to co...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:29 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: LED bulb prices
Replies: 104
Views: 8130

Re: Dual pane windows

I noticed a definite difference from installing dual-pane, low-e sliders in my (bay area) house. It's not huge, but they got a lot of sun, so the reduced heat gain helps. Whether it's worth it is an open question. If you have stucco exterior walls, be aware that for sliders, they generally have to t...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:53 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dual pane windows
Replies: 11
Views: 1060

Re: Retired: When to move?

I've followed this thread with interest, as it is something I expect to be making a decision on in the next few years. After watching various family members go through this, I'm definitely convinced that there is no automatic best choice; individual characteristics are important to making a good cho...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Retired: When to move?
Replies: 43
Views: 3986

Re: Being my own contractor for a bathroom remodel?

Different jurisdictions are all over the map on this type of stuff. Generally you can stay on the legal side of the licensed subcontractors issue (at least at the "fig leaf" level), by paying your tile or plumbing guy not as a bid job, but at an hourly rate "assisting" you. Payin...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:11 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Being my own contractor for a bathroom remodel?
Replies: 19
Views: 1449

Re: Best websites for foreign long term rentals

I'll be interested in seeing responses, as this is something we have been considering doing as well in the next few years. I don't have specific websites to share, but I'll offer a few thoughts: 1) I suspect you may find that many of the tourist rentals that are somewhat expensive by the week might ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:19 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best websites for foreign long term rentals
Replies: 9
Views: 843

Re: Costco travel for cruise purchase?

Thanks for all the responses. It sounds like cruise pricing is a messy space, and Costco is a reasonable option, but it's not necessarily the obvious go-to place for the best prices.

I've looked at the Cruise Critic boards a few times. I wasn't inspired to participate there.
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Costco travel for cruise purchase?
Replies: 11
Views: 1613

Costco travel for cruise purchase?

One of these days, probably in the next year or two, my wife and I will probably break down and do a cruise. While it's not likely to be something we'll make a habit of anytime soon (we tend to prefer independent travel), we figure it's one of those things we should try at least once. We'd probably ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Costco travel for cruise purchase?
Replies: 11
Views: 1613

Re: Cross Country trip this summer. Any advise?

my dh wants to see Mall of America Its just a really big mall. Honestly its nothing exciting. And it's not even that there is an enormous variety of stores; many of the stores are repeated several times through the mall. The only places I would expect advance reservations to be necessary would be i...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cross Country trip this summer. Any advise?
Replies: 31
Views: 1211

Re: Help, slab leak in San Diego. Ever have one?

This is one reason why I try to avoid houses on slab (though I have owned a couple). Running a new line through the ceiling would be my first option. If they choose the routing right, they may not have to take down too much drywall. If you go that route, I would definitely split the drywall repairs ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help, slab leak in San Diego. Ever have one?
Replies: 21
Views: 1905

Re: Buying a Pool Table

I've got an Olhausen table. I bought it with the house, though, so I didn't do comparison shopping. I definitely consider mine a quality product, and it's held up quite well through a fair bit of use. Mine has black felt, which I've found I like better than the typical green felt.
by curmudgeon
Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:52 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a Pool Table
Replies: 6
Views: 570

Re: Group Term life Insurance--Keep or Reduce?

Interesting question. The imputed income is one of those things we tend to ignore when we are younger and the rates fairly low, but as you age, it can be pretty substantial. You might inquire as to what the age bands are for the future - will it go up again at age 75? 80? It sounds like essentially ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:00 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Group Term life Insurance--Keep or Reduce?
Replies: 3
Views: 323

Re: "If your parents died early, will you die early too?"

This particular article sounds like it's awfully close to using anecdata. Thats a quite noisy period in terms of death rate, especially male death rate, with two huge wars and several smaller ones. I tend to think of human longevity as having two major components. One might be thought of as "na...
by curmudgeon
Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:33 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "If your parents died early, will you die early too?"
Replies: 32
Views: 3142

Re: Selling Our House ??

Yes, you will have a long-term capital gain. Hopefully you have retained records substantiating the money you spent in improvements, as those will increase the base value for gain calculations. Note that only "improvements" to the house count in increasing the base, not "maintenance&q...
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Selling Our House ??
Replies: 2
Views: 407

Re: Floor jacks

Sometimes Costco has a decent value option on floor jacks. Of course, it will be a different make every year. I've had the one I got there for about 15 years now with no issues (moderate amount of use).
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:14 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Floor jacks
Replies: 17
Views: 1688

Re: At what age to drop term life insurance?

I dropped my individual term policy at around age 50. The kids were through college, and our assets had built up substantially. I still have some coverage through my work, but that's not something that I feel a need to replace or carry forward in early retirement.
by curmudgeon
Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:42 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: At what age to drop term life insurance?
Replies: 14
Views: 1598

Re: When to stop tax-deferred savings?

I have saved maximum allowed in 401k accounts throughout our careers. I need to calculate whether it is better to pay taxes now and avoid large required minimum distributions after 70 years, or continue 401k contributions and pay taxes later on larger required minimum distributions. How to decide? ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:27 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: When to stop tax-deferred savings?
Replies: 12
Views: 1724

Re: Wanted: Travel Trailer Recommenations

I'm not a regular in the trailer world, but $50K seems rather on the high side; when you don't have a drivetrain, a lot of costs drop off. You could probably spend that on an Airstream, though. For better tow behavior and maneuverability, you might also consider a 5th wheel; might not be worth it if...
by curmudgeon
Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:44 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wanted: Travel Trailer Recommenations
Replies: 23
Views: 1574

Re: Can we/should we afford this house?

What's the point of earning all that money if not to make use of it. I'm a big fan of living below your means, but that doesn't have to mean a miserly life. It sounds like your bases are pretty well covered. In your situation, I'd think about taking out a 30-year mortgage, but paying it down at a fa...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:04 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Can we/should we afford this house?
Replies: 63
Views: 4376

Re: Train tickets in Italy-Wow!!

Trenitalia website can be a bit of a challenge to deal with at times. When you get past this step, you may also have issues with your credit card :( In the past, I found it sometimes seemed helpful to have created a user id before purchasing, even though not actually required; that associated my add...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Train tickets in Italy [trouble booking with Trenitalia]
Replies: 22
Views: 1860

Re: Monaco vacation without busting budget

If you aren't crazy about F1 racing, don't go to Monaco during the Grand Prix. It's a small place, so the races take over the town, with fences and barriers everywhere. And hotels will be even more expensive then. That whole coast is pretty crazy busy during summer. If you can go off-season, say Apr...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:20 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Monaco vacation without busting budget
Replies: 36
Views: 2307

Re: Roth conversion when not working - I'm so confused

But what's the difference between taking 10,000 from the TIRA now and paying 15%, as opposed to converting it to the Roth and paying the rate later? I would still need 12,000 or so to live on, should I convert another 10k on top of that? :confused Some of the Roth coversion strategy stuff applies m...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:53 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: thinking about retiring and living on my IRA
Replies: 17
Views: 2749

Re: Retirement planning

The contribution limits for the "backdoor Roth" are fairly low, but as others have noted, you might as well use what you can there, and if your wife has earned income, do the same in her name. Once you've used up your tax-advantaged space, then the question becomes what to do with addition...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retirement planning
Replies: 16
Views: 1973

Re: Term life - for how long?

20-year term sounds like the right approach. It's good to have coverage until the kids are launched, but I don't see much reason to go beyond that point in your case.
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Term life - for how long?
Replies: 36
Views: 2332

Re: Cheap Flights to Europe, where do you find them?

The problem with going for airline miles in this case is that it's probably pretty difficult, if not impossible, to book tickets for miles in June/July at this point. I've done the consolidator thing many years ago, but I don't know the state of that business these days. I definitely take a look at ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:57 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cheap Flights to Europe, where do you find them?
Replies: 43
Views: 3064

Re: Rent and save for next 5 years or stretch now?

If possible, you probably need to spread your net wider on schools. In SF and the peninsula, that's not easy to do, but for other parts of the BA, there are areas with reasonable schools and somewhat more affordable houses. Getting caught up in having to have the "best" schools can really ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:34 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rent and save for next 5 years or stretch now?
Replies: 38
Views: 2666

Re: New 2014 Car - Should I Put Anything On The Finish?

I occasionally wax my cars, though not as often as I might. I aim towards twice a year, but probably do it less than that. Somewhat for protection from the sun, but more against bird droppings. Sometimes the bird stuff is pretty acidic and can eat into even a modern finish if it isn't noticed and cl...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:18 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New 2014 Car - Should I Put Anything On The Finish?
Replies: 24
Views: 1802

Re: London itinerary assistance

I don't think it matters too much which day you do which. The one thing that I would say is that if you want to catch a play or musical, check on which night the ones of interest are dark; Sun or Mon nights are common off nights. One other minor point, presuming you are taking a bus tour for Stonehe...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:12 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: London itinerary assistance
Replies: 28
Views: 1208

Re: Bay area Public vs Private School

Twenty-five or so years ago we faced much the same question, with the additional complication that much of San Jose Unified was under a court-ordered desegregation busing program. We weighed the balances of schools, costs, commutes, and communities before deciding on what we felt was an "above ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:51 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bay area Public vs Private School
Replies: 66
Views: 5165

Re: Living trust to avoid probate

Laws on inheritance and handling of joint accounts can vary quite a lot from state to state. And can also vary depending on the amounts involved.
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:28 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Living trust to avoid probate
Replies: 19
Views: 1870

Re: 401K vs IRA

Having diversity in retirement fund forms is helpful, as it gives you choices in retirement that you might not otherwise have. Some of your existing choices might be taken from you in the future with tax law changes as well, though that's hard to predict. Even if the law stays the same, you may find...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:51 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 401K vs IRA
Replies: 8
Views: 611

Re: Are HELOC rate adjustments predictable?

While in theory short-term rates are pretty volatile, the fed has made fairly strong commitments to holding down short-term rates for at least the next 18 months. I would look at what your HELOC rate is specifically tied to. If it's something like prime rate, I might just leave it be and get on with...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:14 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Are HELOC rate adjustments predictable?
Replies: 9
Views: 733

Re: Midlife rent vs. first-time purchase: please help!

Happy - location might color the advice you get here. It's not a big deal, but some places will have different types of costs involved in house, condo, apartment. Property tax, utilities, services can all vary significantly between various locations. Part of a buying decision is understanding how mu...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:00 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Midlife rent vs. first-time purchase: please help!
Replies: 38
Views: 2101

Re: Need advice on investment and AA if forced into early re

A few thoughts: 1) You would certainly qualify for ACA subsidies under current rules, and they would substantially limit your medical ins costs. You can get subisdies if you have up to $60k of income for a couple. It sounds like you can get by with under 60K/year drawn from your accounts, and princi...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:46 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Need advice on investment and AA if forced into early retire
Replies: 11
Views: 868

Re: 100% consumption in retirement

We have been ramping our consumption up a bit over the past few years, which should provide a failry smooth transition into retirement. We may very well trade one form of consumption (large house in HCOL) for a somewhat LCOL area and higher travel budget after we retire. I also debate about maintain...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:31 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 100% consumption in retirement
Replies: 18
Views: 906

Re: What is your 10-year historical returns (to Dec 31, 2013

Average annual return was 12.4%, but CAGR was 9.5% 100% equities, sometimes with some options leverage. Just for fun I dropped this past year, and did the numbers for 9 years: Avg annual - 9.2%, CAGR 6.5% I expect I may dial back a bit over the next 10 years to more of a simple indexed set-and-forge...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:31 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What is your 10-year historical returns (to Dec 31, 2013)
Replies: 71
Views: 2839

Re: Buying a foreclosed house

The bank will often want the standard sales contract revised in a way which is all about protecting the bank, not you. They may require you to use their pet escrow company, and provide title insurance through their captive TI company. If they are doing this kind of thing, it doesn't mean you don't w...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a foreclosed house
Replies: 16
Views: 1386

Re: Midlife rent vs. first-time purchase: please help!

I watched an aunt of mine go through this round. She was single, had rented much of her life, financially in quite sound circumstances. She bought the house probably when she was about 50, enjoyed working in yard and garden, but not long after she retired, she was happy to sell the house and move to...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:17 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Midlife rent vs. first-time purchase: please help!
Replies: 38
Views: 2101

Re: [Poll] What was your 2013 return?

There are some good comments here about the (un)reliability of various results and computations. Even large companies with accountants and auditors get their income statements wrong sometimes, and individuals are certainly more prone to mistakes. In my case, my taxable investing account has occasion...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:45 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: [Poll] What was your 2013 return?
Replies: 209
Views: 8527

Re: Living vs. saving

An old paper from John Norstad that tries to crunch the numbers on this question: http://www.norstad.org/finance/srate.pdf Based on his assumptions, 15% was about an optimal balance, unless you want a better lifestyle in retirement than you have during your working years. I really like that Norstad...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:54 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Living vs. saving
Replies: 75
Views: 9217

Re: Europe solo at 50?

I've seen quite a few comments in recent years that the rail passes are not a great option any more. Lots more limitations and surcharges than there used to be. That doesn't mean it might not work out for you, but something to keep in mind. There are lots of discounts for advance purchase point-to-p...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:58 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe solo at 50?
Replies: 59
Views: 3728

Re: Used Books for Purchase?

I've use alibris and abebooks a fair bit. Amazon acquired abebooks a few years ago; I'm not sure if the abebooks content is integrated into general Amazon searches or not.
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:54 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Used Books for Purchase?
Replies: 9
Views: 560

Re: In this case would you be done? Have you won?

I suspect there are plenty of people on this board in some variation of the OP description. Some of them might keep saving at a high rate in order to retire a few years earlier than the projected 65. I honestly doubt if many would go into a full-on "coast mode" of spending their full incom...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:18 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: In this case would you be done? Have you won?
Replies: 60
Views: 3687

Re: How much life insurance should you carry when retired

We let my personal term policy drop at about age 50. The kids were all through college, and we had accumulated a fairly substantial amount of retirement assets. It felt a bit odd, but after laying out the various financial scenarios, it seemed an unnecessary expense. I have some additional life insu...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:51 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much life insurance should you carry when retired
Replies: 47
Views: 2183
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