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Re: smartphone over wifi - still possible?

You might try the AT&T GoPhone. You can pick up a Nokia/Microsoft Lumia 635 phone for $99 at Target (or probably Walmart etc). $25/mo prepaid gets you 250 minutes plus unlimited texts. $45/mo gets you unlimited minutes and quite a lot of data. The "Windows phone" has plusses and minuse...
by curmudgeon
Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:36 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: smartphone over wifi - still possible?
Replies: 29
Views: 1916

Re: Vacation in France

In my experience, countryside France is significantly easier with a rental car. Yes, there is public transport, but often the schedule is quite limited, perhaps oriented to workers commutes. While it is possible to do without, places like the villages of Provence are more accessible via car, and you...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:29 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Vacation in France
Replies: 86
Views: 4189

Re: Question About Retiring Early and Social Security

I think what you want is to play with the following: http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/estimator.htm You can put various stop work dates. Unfortunately it assumes that if you stop work before age 62 that you always start collecting at age 62, but you can apply the reverse discounting to get back to later c...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:30 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question About Retiring Early and Social Security
Replies: 10
Views: 1552

Re: Chip and Signature (not PIN) in Europe

Metro station automated ticket machine in Spain didn't take either my standard US swipe card or my chip-and-signature card. It wasn't a surprise to me, so I just used cash. No problems in stores and restaurants with my standard swipe card. I try to minimize my use of credit card for small purchases ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chip and Signature (not PIN) in Europe
Replies: 15
Views: 772

Re: Any European skiing experts???

We were in Rome over Christmas a couple of years ago. The Colosseum was open (and free!) on Christmas day. But it is true that there are a fair bit of holiday closures. I would probably look on tripadvisor forums for more details on ski options. You don't want to end up someplace where the runs are ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:53 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Any European skiing experts???
Replies: 9
Views: 796

Re: Deciding When to Retire

Given your scenario, I think it's really a matter of personal preference. It's worth running some financial evaluations, but I suspect there is no issue on that side. It's probably worth spending some time with various retirement planning software, such as firesim and the Fidelity in-depth one. You ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Nov 16, 2014 3:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Deciding When to Retire
Replies: 47
Views: 4955

Re: Speaking with an Aging Relative about care & money

A few more thoughts: 1) Try to get a feel for the personality of some of the likely places in your area. Sometimes the nicest physical facility isn't necessarily the best fit. She will likely be happier with a place that has people who will have things in common with her - this can be cultural/relig...
by curmudgeon
Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:22 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Speaking with an Aging Relative about care & money
Replies: 24
Views: 2026

Re: Speaking with an Aging Relative about care & money

It can definitely be a challenge. Definitely consider the issues involved in uprooting and moving cross country, though by the time you hit the mid 90's you've generally outlived all your friends and peers, and may have less attachment. It's still a definite challenge to get all the new medical and ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:58 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Speaking with an Aging Relative about care & money
Replies: 24
Views: 2026

Re: Pre Retirement Checklist?

I would say that creating it yourself would be the best thing to do. It gives you more time to think about what matters. In the case of involuntary sudden retirement, a checklist might be more useful, though. For a planned retirement, there are lots of potential paths, which will have different need...
by curmudgeon
Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Pre Retirement Checklist?
Replies: 6
Views: 916

Re: Yes, another Roth conversion question!

62, married, retired. Pension begins at 65, wait til 70 for SS, will file and suspend at 66 so wife gets spousal benefit. Using Taxcaster to project my future RMD/taxes, etc, even if I converted $30,000/year for six years, starting at age 65, I would still be in the 25% marginal bracket at age 70 1...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:28 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Yes, another Roth conversion question!
Replies: 4
Views: 521

Re: Transition from Saving to Spending

If I die and my spouse inherits, no immediate problem. She just rolls it over into her own IRA and leaves the grand reckoning to later. But when she dies, our kids have a tax problem. At best, they get to roll their shares into an "Inherited IRA" and take RMDs using my life expectancy (an...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:04 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Transition from Saving to Spending
Replies: 37
Views: 3876

Re: How do you track the value of your illiquid assets ?

I know the area that Madbrain refers to, and yes, the automated valuation programs are pretty useless there. On my block, there are houses ranging from 1000sf to 6000sf, 5 to 70 years old, and widely varying construction quality. Keeping track of the house valuation can be a somewhat relevant (and c...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 12, 2014 1:24 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you track the value of your illiquid assets ?
Replies: 50
Views: 2483

Re: Should I buy this car?

If you don't want extra features, the lightly used market for cars is pretty thin. Many people either want or get upsold a bunch of extra stuff (and those are the people more likely to resell sooner). For base models, if you plan to keep it for quite a long time, it can be worth just buying new. I w...
by curmudgeon
Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Should I buy this car?
Replies: 11
Views: 1423

Re: If your networth is over $3 million, how did you do it?

I suppose we are about at that level. In our case it roughly comes from: 10% inheritance 30% retirement savings/investment in 401K and rollover IRA (largely equities) 30% real estate (about half through appreciation, and half through mortgage paydown) 30% post-tax savings and stock options Largely b...
by curmudgeon
Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:57 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: If your networth is over $3 million, how did you do it?
Replies: 244
Views: 22072

Re: Should I shelter all my income?

It doesn't seem like there would be much point in sheltering ALL your income at these levels. You could run some tax estimates to get a picture of your tax bill (maybe try taxcaster, which is available free). I would guess that it might be worth sheltering $20K or so, depending on what your tax scen...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I shelter all my income?
Replies: 3
Views: 666

Re: HSA Contribution

To the best of my understanding, you can only contribute to the individual limit when your wife/family do not have HDHP coverage.
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: HSA Contribution
Replies: 4
Views: 347

Re: Supreme Court Blues

If you can afford insurance without subsidy, why would it matter? Health insurance existed before the ACA, it would continue to exist without it. Because those who cannot afford it without the subsidy will drop out, causing the risk pool to shrink, and rates to rise. I guess, indirectly, we get a s...
by curmudgeon
Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Supreme Court Blues
Replies: 34
Views: 2190

Re: What have you done to cut costs this year?

We've generally had a pretty good handle on costs in our household. For example, my wife tends to know which of the three major grocery options has the best price for our most heavily used items (it's often different stores for different things). Most of that runs on autopilot for us. We still do al...
by curmudgeon
Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:09 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What have you done to cut costs this year?
Replies: 134
Views: 12121

Re: What To Do With $85K Inheritance?

Personally, I'd start by putting enough into the home mortgage to get rid of the PMI. You can run the numbers, but I suspect that would be the best low-risk ROI. The rest I might sit on for a while, at least until the career/relo discussion settles out. If all your rentals are in one area, that's qu...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:25 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: What To Do With $85K Inheritance?
Replies: 46
Views: 2804

Re: Planning to Retire at 55

I agree that you are in good shape. A common strategy that folks with adequate savings consider would be to delay taking your SS until age 70. That gives a bigger chunk of inflation-protected income for the long term. Your wife might start taking now (or delay as well). It means you draw more from y...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 05, 2014 8:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Planning to Retire at 55
Replies: 22
Views: 3426

Re: Too much house?

I would base my decision more on whether I expected to stay in place for a reasonable amount of time (preferably 5+ years), and then start weighing other factors. Remember that when you are paying a mortgage (especially at lower interest rates), you are socking away a decent chunk in equity each mon...
by curmudgeon
Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:23 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Too much house?
Replies: 10
Views: 2054

Re: 2015 Suburu Outback

We were thinking of buying a Subaru Outback/Forester as well but now we are seriously considering the new Nissan Rouge. The third row (even with cramped leg space) comes handy when we have to haul more kids or ride along with grand parents. I bought a new Nissan Rogue last month. Very happy with ri...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:48 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 2015 Suburu Outback
Replies: 38
Views: 3766

Re: 2015 Suburu Outback

Beware of Subaru dealers who try to get you take their 30K, 60K and 90K service packages. We're getting close to 30k and the dealer is quoting $650 for the 30K service. For example, they recommend replacing brake fluid at 30K. I don't ever recall replacing brake fluid on any vehicle unless brake wo...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:41 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 2015 Suburu Outback
Replies: 38
Views: 3766

Re: Do you optimize for consistent cash flow? (max 401k earl

It's definitely worth understanding the details of your company match model. They vary widely. Some have really stupid quirks. My company only matches a limited amount on a paycheck-by-paycheck basis, so I have to spread the contributions out across the full year to get the full match. What's really...
by curmudgeon
Sun Nov 02, 2014 11:53 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you optimize for consistent cash flow? (max 401k early)
Replies: 7
Views: 857

Re: Are manufacturer vehicle owner warranties transferrable

Definitely read the fine print. Lots of warranties carry through ownership changes, but sometimes there are odd conditions.
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:17 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Are manufacturer vehicle owner warranties transferrable
Replies: 5
Views: 395

Re: Athens and London, what to do and where to stay?

London is a pretty easy city to wing it, but it's not cheap. Don't think there's any need to go to $350/night unless you want a business-type hotel. Even if you do, I wouldn't stay near the Tower, but someplace more central; Marriot County Hall would be central and higher end, or Premier Inn County ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:14 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Athens and London, what to do and where to stay?
Replies: 36
Views: 2050

Re: Car Rental Return Frustration in Spain

My favorite car rental return was in the Cook Islands... It was: 1) park the car in the lot at the terminal 2) put the keys under the floormat and catch your plane. Definitely felt a little odd.
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 22, 2014 4:04 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Car Rental Return Frustration in Spain
Replies: 17
Views: 1558

Re: Debit Card was hacked. Should I just use cash from now

This question arises every now and then on the forum. I will not own a debit card. I asked my bank for an ATM only card. Below is a post I made in 2011 on the same subject. The cited article explains why debit cards are not a good idea. Jeff This story appears in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. http://...
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 22, 2014 3:14 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Debit Card was hacked. Should I just use cash from now on?
Replies: 56
Views: 3902

Re: Car Rental Return Frustration in Spain

Returning a rental car at a train station in the big city can often be frustrating. We get used to these big lots with plenty of signage at the airports, so the return parking in the downtown is a real challenge. I've seen similar situations in Munich and Nice. It's not one of those things that you ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:25 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Car Rental Return Frustration in Spain
Replies: 17
Views: 1558

Re: Gross Yearly Income needed in Retirement (Speculation)

I've been penciling in roughly $80k per year as our baseline expenses. Gross to get there would depend on taxes. This includes about $20k/yr for travel, and some provision for auto replacement. It presumes moving from our current HCOL area to something more moderate, but not super low. It's doing so...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:27 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Gross Yearly Income needed in Retirement (Speculation)
Replies: 159
Views: 12883

Re: Gas stove features

You might consider a "gas-electric" range, or "dual-fuel". Gas for the cooking burners for all the standard reasons. Electric for the oven for more even heat, better broiling, maybe better convection performance. You need to have an available 220v outlet along with your gas line,...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:20 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Gas stove features
Replies: 12
Views: 1046

Re: Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?

Biggest help for me (and my wife), was not shoes or inserts, but shifting our walking to more hills and unpaved paths, and away from long stretches on flat pavement. The more varied stretching and motion during walking really seemed to help. I've really cranked up the miles (mostly walking) this yea...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?
Replies: 47
Views: 2429

Re: Smartphone questions

I held out on smartphones for a long time, because I didn't like the extra costs associated with them (and didn't expect to get a ton of use out of them). Recently the cost/value seems to be better (and our somewhat messy family plan got simpler), so I've made the shift. Biggest factor in my mind wa...
by curmudgeon
Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:06 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Smartphone questions
Replies: 106
Views: 8864

Re: bath tub

Couple of random thoughts for consideration. 1) If you can manage a little extra width vs the standard tubs, it definitely pays off. Also, eliminating or reducing the ledge on the inner side wall can make whatever you get a little more roomy. 2) The frameless glass looks nice, and doesn't have the r...
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: bath tub [replacement]
Replies: 14
Views: 1775

Re: Feeling very fortunate today!

For myself, I view the recent market movements as just noise. If it drops another 25%, I might be starting to make adjustments. I can see feeling differently, though, if I had some really expensive plans for the years immediately after retirement (round the world cruise or the like).
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:17 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Feeling very fortunate today!
Replies: 55
Views: 7298

Re: Mortgage from family member

We've done medium-sized loans among several family members over the years with no problems, BUT, we are a pretty close-knit family, and those who were involved in the loans (on both sides) were pretty financially stable. I could see the potential for problems even in my family, though, as there are ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:43 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Mortgage from family member
Replies: 21
Views: 1662

Re: How is Consumer Cellular

I'm planning to go to CC in a few months. I wanted a different phone from what CC carries, so I got a Nokia from the AT&T "Go Phone" prepaid service at Target. Since it's an AT&T phone, I *think* I could just move it straight to CC if I want, but I'd like to have it unlocked (to a...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:44 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How is Consumer Cellular
Replies: 39
Views: 7189

Re: How is Consumer Cellular

How does the number porting thing work? Are they going to contact ATT to stop service immediately? Thanks. Your new carrier has to contact your old carrier to get them to release your number. This generally means you need to give your new carrier the account password to your old account. We've been...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:24 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How is Consumer Cellular
Replies: 39
Views: 7189

Re: Is semi-retirement a bad idea?

It's not necessarily a bad idea, but the consulting gigs often run down after a while, or other things happen and I see folks who went this route coming back to more standard jobs. For many people in the higher income brackets, it's not just about the money, but also the stimulation and sense of pur...
by curmudgeon
Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:48 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is semi-retirement a bad idea?
Replies: 106
Views: 7588

Re: I am surely doing something wrong (FireCalc question)

You might be being optimistic about returns between now and age 70. If we have an extended downturn between now and your retirement age, you might not have that $1.4m portfolio. You can play around with these things and always find scenarios that look rosy (or grim). How about cutting your SS benefi...
by curmudgeon
Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:27 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: I am surely doing something wrong (FireCalc question)
Replies: 45
Views: 4252

Re: Home Ownership Maintenance Reserve

Lots of variability to this. In 35 years of home ownership, I've never been close to the 1%/yr level (generally less than .5%). On a true long-term basis 1% may not be that far off. It depends on how long you stretch the lifetime things like kitchen and baths; if you want to renovate those every 15 ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:09 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Ownership Maintenance Reserve
Replies: 11
Views: 1775

Re: Fidelity Offers A Round-Trip to Europe for New Account

I've looked into this as well as other savings account offers that American Airlines puts out with an offer of bonus miles. I like having all of my investments with vanguard and since this has to be a taxable account, in nine months I'd probsbly have to pay capital gains taxes :oops: I also had not...
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Fidelity Offers A Round-Trip to Europe for New Account
Replies: 26
Views: 3186

Re: Changing a flight date

This is why I try to fly on Southwest for many US flights. You can get full credit for your unused flight segments if you cancel them before the flight time. They won't refund in cash, but in the form of a credit that is good for a year for other Southwest purchases. Note that you still may have to ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Changing a flight date
Replies: 24
Views: 1626

Re: Winds of change... Have I missed anything?

I'll throw out a few points for you... Leverage - I use it at times, but it's not something I'm a big fan of. Having student loans while "saving" for house down payment and putting money into retirement accounts in bonds equals leverage to me. It's good to be always sticking something into...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:03 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Winds of change... Have I missed anything?
Replies: 5
Views: 1220

Re: Medicare Advantage Plan.....Stay or Go?

If you do switch to Medicare only, keep in mind the point that you don't have international coverage with straight medicare. Not everyone wants to do international travel in their 80's, but sometimes cruises are still appealing. Travel insureance is an option for those situations. Right now I'm just...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:56 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Medicare Advantage Plan.....Stay or Go?
Replies: 14
Views: 1267

Re: Blood work for cats

I wouldn't do blood work in this situation, but I'm definitely somewhat of an outlier in terms of vet care for pets. Since being spayed/neutered, our two cats have made a grand total of one vet visit in 17 years. The one visit was for removal of a cyst. The vet wanted to send the cyst out for pathol...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:11 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Blood work for cats
Replies: 40
Views: 2643

Re: Australia and New Zealand

Having been to both over the years, I'll throw in a few thoughts. Recognize that different things appeal to different people, so apply your own filter to what you get here... If flying on Air New Zealand, think about adding a stopover in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga). Interesting place, very laid bac...
by curmudgeon
Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:27 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Australia and New Zealand
Replies: 47
Views: 4268

Re: Employer stock options

I personally probably wouldn't do it for 5% discount. The gains on the 5% discount are not short-term capital gains, but ordinary income, subject to SS and medicare taxes, and also state income tax. Gains or losses after the stock is purchased are short/long term capital gains depending on how long ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:56 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Employer stock options
Replies: 7
Views: 537

Re: New Laptop, need help

I've spent a career working on leading-edge, highest performance computer systems, but I really find very little point in paying much more than the minimum for a laptop. For typical home usage, there's just no point. Battery life could be a reason for some folks, but that's about it. The laptop I'm ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:42 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New Laptop, need help
Replies: 33
Views: 2274

Re: Quit/retire - should I do this?

I'm in a similar place, and so I've been considering various factors along your lines lately. A few thoughts: 1) The layoff thing can vary widely. Sometimes companies formally ask for volunteers (offer ER packages to encourage people to leave sooner). Sometimes an informal offer/discussion with your...
by curmudgeon
Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:42 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Quit/retire - should I do this?
Replies: 41
Views: 3859
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