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by curmudgeon
Thu May 21, 2015 1:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Inherited money and Roth contributions
Replies: 6
Views: 484

Re: Inherited money and Roth contributions

At the 180K income level, I think your parents income is too high for direct Roth contributions (whether from inherited funds or wages). They might be able to do "backdoor Roth"; do a search or look in the wiki for more information. Backdoor Roth is generally only practical if they don't h...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 21, 2015 11:56 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: homeowner vacancy insurance - yikes
Replies: 18
Views: 1237

Re: homeowner vacancy insurance - yikes

I think if you dig down deeper into your current policy, you will find that the basic structure coverage remains intact. While it's certainly possible for vandalism, especially unchecked, to cause extensive (and expensive) damage, I'd probably live with the reduced coverage myself. I'd be more comfo...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 18, 2015 11:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Huge Problem With First Home
Replies: 28
Views: 4776

Re: Huge Problem With First Home

I'm not quite sure what the big deal is about the termite damage, but without seeing it myself, it's difficult to give an informed opinion. There are always people who are willing to tear into things and charge you a lot of money, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have a real problem. The roof l...
by curmudgeon
Tue May 12, 2015 8:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should we purchase home without permits?
Replies: 70
Views: 4167

Re: Should we purchase home without permits?

The biggest thing in my mind here is that you need to think of this purchase as needing some extra "contingency funds" in your budget. Older houses need repairs and updating whether there were permits in the past or not. I've had to deal with plenty of major issues on older houses where th...
by curmudgeon
Tue May 12, 2015 8:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I Hate Vacations
Replies: 113
Views: 9111

Re: I Hate Vacations

I do find that I have to exercise some care in managing vacation time. Between my wife and I, there is always a temptation to come up with "just one more stop", which can lead to too little relaxation. We try to conciously build in down time, and don't fret if one of us wants a quieter day...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 11, 2015 11:09 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Seeking input on vehicle purchase
Replies: 19
Views: 1676

Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

I've been pretty content with the Nissan Rogue that we bought last fall. The nice thing is that there is a range of quite good vehicles available today. I was down to somewhat subtle points in my decision. Nissan has a relatively longer experience with the CVT transmission in the Rogue/Sentra platfo...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 06, 2015 11:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards
Replies: 260
Views: 141080

Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

I'm not into the manufactured spending, but I thought I'd share how we generated miles for (nearly) free flights on an upcoming Europe trip. Some threads on this board made me look a little closer at the potential for generating FF miles with little cost or inconvenience. I don't travel much for wor...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 06, 2015 11:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Free time in Prague and Amsterdam .. what to see?
Replies: 18
Views: 988

Re: Free time in Prague and Amsterdam .. what to see?

I was actually disappointed in the canal tour we did in Amsterdam. It might have been the tide level in part, but it felt like we were well below the street level and couldn't see as much as I would have liked. We will use the trams more on the next trip (we're actually planning a few days in both t...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 01, 2015 5:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Advice on trip to Vienna
Replies: 21
Views: 1622

Re: Advice on trip to Vienna

We've got a few days planned in Vienna later this year. I haven't been further east in Austria than Salzkammergut, so I appreciate this thread. It is nice to get an alternative picture to supplement the guidebook stuff.
by curmudgeon
Fri May 01, 2015 2:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Telemarketing by Cell /Increase with Consumer Cellular
Replies: 32
Views: 1696

Re: Telemarketing by Cell /Increase with Consumer Cellular

Do you think it's possible that telecom providers could be selling the phone numbers to marketers? I really doubt that Consumer Cellular or other mainstream telecom providers are selling your number to telemarketers (though USPS does sell your change-of-address notifications...). I wouldn't be surp...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 01, 2015 12:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Telemarketing by Cell /Increase with Consumer Cellular
Replies: 32
Views: 1696

Re: Telemarketing by Cell /Increase with Consumer Cellular

I wonder if the number porting process itself generates some activity which is being picked up by some number list collecter. I noticed a distinct increase in spam calls and texts (though still avg only a few every couple of weeks) when I ported my cell number from verizon to at&t. I DO try to k...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What is the best roofing material?
Replies: 17
Views: 1765

Re: What is the best roofing material?

If it is really 20-year old shake in socal, then it should be (ETA: was required at time of installation) fire retardent treated. It might (or not) have significant additional life left, that's specific to the actual material quality and conditions. Presumably if they were bothering to use shakes on...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Organ shoes
Replies: 10
Views: 1309

Re: Organ shoes

I don't play the organ, but several family members do or did. At home, I think playing in socks would be a good starting point (unless there's something odd about your pedal set). Wide feet would make it a little more difficult with shoes. If playing in shoes, I'd think something like a light dress ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [get music from a smartphone to an old car stereo]
Replies: 14
Views: 1009

Re: [get music from a smartphone to an old car stereo]

I tried the FM transmitter thing and wasn't happy, so I just bit the bullet and put in an aftermarket stereo with usb input. I got mine through Crutchfield, they have a good website and reasonable prices on the extra bits that make it fit cleanly with your dash and wiring. You can also get stereos w...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Early Retirement with 401(k)'s and IRA's
Replies: 16
Views: 2001

Re: Early Retirement with 401(k)'s and IRA's

Sara, One thing that I would do is to make sure to have at least a small Roth IRA account now, even if you pay high taxes on the initial funding. If you can do a "backdoor Roth", even better. If you have pre-existing IRAs, and your income is too high for direct Roth contribution, then just...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Hypothetical "Can he pull the plug?" [Retire early]
Replies: 39
Views: 3630

Re: Hypothetical "Can he pull the plug?"

Two important factors on the health insurance cost factors: 1) The ACA rates you see now will typically go UP as you age (depending on details of your state). 2) Even though the rates will go up with age, they are still well below what a true market would be for your age (you are being subsidised by...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much do you pay in Property Taxes?
Replies: 188
Views: 10986

Re: How much do you pay in Property Taxes?

SF Bay Area CA
3200sf, 1/2 acre
In the past 10 years, market value has ranged from about $800k to $1.4m. Prop 13 assessed value about $975k
$11k/year prop tax (incl sewer). 1% base rate plus about .2% of various add-ons.
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Poll: What is the credit limit of your credit card?
Replies: 56
Views: 3629

Re: Poll: What is the credit limit of your credit card?

We have an assortment of cards. Most probably have limits in five figures. Occasionally we might have $2-4K on a card during the month. I don't pay much attention to it, but our "utilization percentage" (balance/limit) is probably pretty low. I have the impression credit ratings care about...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tree roots growing into sewer lines
Replies: 41
Views: 1885

Re: Tree roots growing into sewer lines

I would put the rootx down first, so the roots have a chance to absorb it. Then a week or two later have someone run an auger down the line to clear it out (don't know that I'd bother with the camera, though it would be good to know if a section of the pipe has significantly collapsed). Repeat the r...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Closing out my first 'snowbirding' winter
Replies: 84
Views: 11011

Re: where is the best place to go for snowbird

where is the best place to go for snowbird It depends on what you want. We have retired friends who go to Mexico, to a place they own down there with another retired couple. I believe they are getting a little tired of the same place though. We have other retired friends who drive a camper to Mexic...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:31 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Capital gain on primary residence
Replies: 20
Views: 1724

Re: Capital gain on primary residence

I think nobody should be taxed at all, regardless how much I profit, if I put all the proceed into another primary home. If I decide to stay at my place forever and somehow I need to move after I retire, then I will have to find a place of lesser value just so I can pay taxes...!? So I kinda have t...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:26 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Capital gain on primary residence
Replies: 20
Views: 1724

Re: Capital gain on primary residence

Yes, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the tax situation, but you do need to keep it in context. It can be worth running a few scenarios periodically just to understand the implications. Staying put and just paying the eventual tax bill is not the end of the world. Sometimes there are specific loc...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)
Replies: 22
Views: 1429

Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

For my wife and I, with this much time I'd probably spend ~ 1 week in Paris, with day trips to Chartres and Versaille, and a week in a countryside location (with a rental car). Good options for the second part would be: Normandy/Brittany, Provence, or Alsace. Trying to add in another location which ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Which brokers do hassle-free Roth cnvrsn recharacterizations
Replies: 25
Views: 1850

Re: Which brokers do hassle-free Roth cnvrsn recharacterizat

I have had good experience with Schwab over the past 10 years -- both creating new Roth accounts and recharacterizing all or part of a conversion. Never any hassle and never an error on the part of Schwab. I've also found it easy to combine Roth accounts once I know that I will not be recharacteriz...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Implications of the "Cadillac" tax of the ACA
Replies: 29
Views: 3137

Re: Implications of the "Cadillac" tax of the ACA

There are lots of variations around this topic, and it's easy to misunderstand various points. The value reported on W2s in box 12-DD is definitely a bit opaque. If you've got a large group employer plan, you tend to be somewhat insulated from some of the pricing. ACA plans can also hide some of the...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:02 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Extreme Roth IRA Horse Race
Replies: 20
Views: 2200

Re: Extreme Roth IRA Horse Race

Overall, this gets $55 into the Roth IRA with a tax on either $36.20 or $20. So in the worst case, you lost $1.20 on the spread to reduce taxable income from $56.20 to $36.20. This is 6% ($1.20/$20). That is better than my tax bracket and this was literally the first example I could find. I am sure...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Extreme Roth IRA Horse Race
Replies: 20
Views: 2200

Re: Extreme Roth IRA Horse Race

I haven't seen those magic options that let you do this efficiently. Seems like the spreads will get you. It seems like it's against SEC(?) rules to trade with yourself in two accounts, which would help get around the spreads. Maybe you could do it via the "dark trading" platforms or some...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Extreme Roth IRA Horse Race
Replies: 20
Views: 2200

Re: Extreme Roth IRA Horse Race

I haven't seen those magic options that let you do this efficiently. Seems like the spreads will get you. It seems like it's against SEC(?) rules to trade with yourself in two accounts, which would help get around the spreads. Maybe you could do it via the "dark trading" platforms or some ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Implications of the "Cadillac" tax of the ACA
Replies: 29
Views: 3137

Re: Implications of the "Cadillac" tax of the ACA

I'm still not seeing where there's a problem. A $27,500 threshold is huge, even if it includes HSA contributions. For more than 99% of people, this is just does not need to be on their radar at all. I just did the calculations- subtract the HSA contributions for the year, and divide the threshold a...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Implications of the "Cadillac" tax of the ACA
Replies: 29
Views: 3137

Re: Implications of the "Cadillac" tax of the ACA

I was under the impression that the "Cadillac tax" was one of those provisions which was quietly expected to ensnare more and more people over time (and that it was given a delayed fuse to avoid the early political heat). Reading the IRS pdf makes clear this whole area of the law is still ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Two Legged Stool [Figuring out when to take Social Security]
Replies: 26
Views: 3152

Re: Two Legged Stool

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. In part it depends on your need and tolerance for risk. There are a few definitely non-optimal strategies (both deferring to age 70 would be one; at least one spouse should claim spousal at FRA), but beyond that there's not an obvious answer. It can make sense to...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Going over gift tax limits
Replies: 20
Views: 1744

Re: Going over gift tax limits

Let me slightly rephrase the question. Assuming a check was already cut for greater than $14K to one individual but the intention was to spread to gift among two married people, has the annual federal gift tax exclusion been exceeded (and therefore a gift tax return is needed)? I understand it is d...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:55 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Going over gift tax limits
Replies: 20
Views: 1744

Re: Going over gift tax limits

I have another question. If a parent wants to gift to her married child, I know she can gift $14K to the child and $14K to the spouse of the child. Does it need to be two separate gifts. For example, can the parent write a check for $28K made out to their child and the child just deposits the check...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:37 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Help w/ adult child hard-wired for poor financial decisions?
Replies: 45
Views: 5012

Re: Help w/ adult child hard-wired for poor financial decisi

Patience is important. There's not a lot you can do directly. I've watched a fairly broad circle of friends and family go through that age range. A few have gone through similar, lengthy, phases of going nowhere. Most of those eventually (by age 30 or so) have picked up and focused more on a career....
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:49 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Going over gift tax limits
Replies: 20
Views: 1744

Re: Going over gift tax limits

I don't know that I would go to "a lot" of effort to avoid needing to file a gift tax return, but I would definitely go to some effort to avoid it, just on principle. I don't like leaving paper trails around that could potentially come back to bite myself or my heirs *if* there is an easy ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: TurboTax Deluxe
Replies: 20
Views: 1948

Re: TurboTax Deluxe

I'm really grumpy about taxes today. Reading about the TT upgrade games this year pushed me over the edge to say "forget it, no TT for me". So I bought TaxACT, which claimed it would import my data from my previous years return to make life easier. Turns out TaxAct didn't import much more ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:55 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Has health coverage under ACA affected investment decisions?
Replies: 21
Views: 2063

Re: Has health coverage under ACA affected investment decisi

It is an interesting question. Similar tradeoffs in Roth conversion decisions. I tend to weigh actual tax/subsidy benefits in hand higher than future theoretical benefits. What you want is effectively an "anti-REIT", which doesn't generate pass-through income but makes everything (deferred...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:56 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Laptop Purchase at Costco?
Replies: 13
Views: 1861

Re: Laptop Purchase at Costco?

I buy lots of stuff at Costco, but not laptops. My preference is to buy cheap, adequate laptops so that I don't have to fret too much over potential for damage/loss when traveling or in general handling. Costco laptops are more expensive, so I look more at sales at Target, Best Buy, Office stores et...
by curmudgeon
Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:14 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Retiring to California. Keep 401k money pre-tax?
Replies: 21
Views: 1419

Re: Retiring to California. Keep 401k money pre-tax?

Sounds like they will be living modestly, with fairly low income in retirement. In that scenario, their income tax liability may be fairly low under any circumstance, and there is no need to get too fancy. The one thing I would be careful NOT to do would be do anything to generate a large, lump-sum ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How Confident on your Retirement Prospects? Pre-Retirees
Replies: 14
Views: 1152

Re: How Confident on your Retirement Prospects? Pre-Retirees

I'm pretty confident on our retirement prospects in general. It's less clear if I move the retirement start all the way up to current 55/56, and also keep the current HCOL house. Still doable, but less margin for our desired spending level. If I can de-stress my work life and retain enough interesti...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:03 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Renting out a private room in primary residence
Replies: 17
Views: 1911

Re: Renting out a private room in primary residence

About 30 years ago, in one of their periodic bouts of legislating from the bench, California courts invalidated most local zoning laws limiting rentals in "roommate" scenarios. Much to the dismay of folks who had lived in previously quiet SFR neighborhoods anywhere near a university. Since...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:35 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Son had fraudulent tax return submitted
Replies: 9
Views: 1464

Re: Son had fraudulent tax return submitted

I haven't needed to go too deeply into this, but it seems like there are three typical fraudulent use cases out there: 1) In the news recently, someone files a return claiming lots of overwithholding to get a big refund in your name. 2) Illegal immigrant uses your SSN for emplyment, may or may not f...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Why not use inflation-adjusted SPIA?
Replies: 117
Views: 5360

Re: Why not use inflation-adjusted SPIA?

It is a reasonable option. If you want a SPIA that is joint between two of you, it is quite a bit more expensive. Also if you want to start it at an earlier age. And, of course, they remove the potential for leaving an inheritance. So it works quite well for a single with no heirs. If the inflation ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Blues (music)
Replies: 57
Views: 3760

Re: Blues (music)

I like to support live music. One of my favorite BBQs brings in Blues bands fairly often. Some are better than others, but the BBQ and brews make it all good.

https://www.facebook.com/SmokingPigBBQFremont
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: If you have $1 million...
Replies: 65
Views: 6651

Re: If you have $1 million...

I buy a car when I think it's time for a new car. Based on considerations of reliability, comfort, convenience, cost-effectiveness. Choice of new vs used based on the same considerations. Lately it is usually mid-range new, but not always.
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:04 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Has Consumer Cellular Discontinued Roaming?
Replies: 24
Views: 2698

Re: Has Consumer Cellular Discontinued Roaming?

Interesting point. I've been planning to move to CC soon, in part because of their roaming coverage. I took a look at the coverage maps, and noticed that the CC voice coverage map appears to now be the same as the AT&T gophone map, both missing the roaming voice coverage that they used to have. ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:48 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Poll: Increasing international equities
Replies: 70
Views: 5533

Re: Poll: Increasing international equities

I've got very little in international. If I add some, it will be a market timing move, confined to the non-taxable portion of my investments. Maybe go from 1% to 10%, but not yet. Vanguards moves in this area have zero impact on my thinking.
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is Yahoo Mail working very slowly???
Replies: 26
Views: 1555

Re: Is Yahoo Mail working very slowly???

I have found Yahoo's web mail functionality to really be going downhill over the last year or so. Accessed from a variety of computers. My take is that marketing wanted a bunch of new bells and whistles, sales wanted more ads to generate revenue. But the best engineers all bailed to go to hotter sta...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:03 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Favorite chocolate candy
Replies: 51
Views: 3941

Re: Favorite chocolate candy

Not a candy, but Chuao Spicy Maya Drinking Chocolate. Just the right hint of cayenne to add vibrancy to a decadent drink. American artisanal chocolate shops sometimes seem to try too hard for edgy flavors that don't really convince me, but that drinking chocolate was exceptional. For eating chocolat...
by curmudgeon
Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:39 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: airbnb tips?
Replies: 20
Views: 1824

Re: airbnb tips?

This feedback has been quite helpful. I hadn't realized airbnb was so tied into social networks. I can understand how this might be valuable for what I might think of as the "part-time" b&b operations, where you might be sharing someone's home who is not a full-time host. I'm looking f...

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