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Re: Helping My Grandmother

Your grandmother is in an undesirable spot, but still better off than countless millions. She'll survive. The uncle sounds more like a hapless jackass than a thief. Make sure you think about the psychological fallout, and the tradeoffs in costs and likely benefits of possibly making the defining eve...
by gd
Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:19 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Helping My Grandmother
Replies: 54
Views: 3108

Re: Helping My Grandmother

She can probably reduce her expenses somewhat with social programs. Check with her local social and senior services. I don't know how NJ works, but most MA towns have a Council on Aging, a volunteer committee running local senior services, usually with some paid professional staff. She may have acce...
by gd
Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:38 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Helping My Grandmother
Replies: 54
Views: 3108

Re: Honda Fit, Civic

Hijacking the thread slightly-- it sounds like the OP (and many replies, including mine) are looking for something like the old Subaru station wagons. I'd take a replacement for the Escort wagon in a pinch. I don't follow the auto fashions-- is there any sign anyone will come out with something like...
by gd
Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:52 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Honda Fit, Civic
Replies: 32
Views: 3024

Re: POLL: Walmart vs Amazon

I will often willingly pay a premium to shop at locally-owned stores located in a town center. I use my money to improve my quality of life, and shopping locally is an investment in that, although admittedly very inefficient. I spend time in a foreign country with very clustered populations, and the...
by gd
Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:23 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: POLL: Walmart vs Amazon
Replies: 137
Views: 8021

Re: Repair or Replace PressureWasher?

If you choose to buy a new one, consider trying to give the previous device away on a freecycle site. There may be someone more willing to repair it than you. Or perhaps try to give it away first and if you succeed, buy a new one with less guilt. As an aside, if a recipient can resell something I gi...
by gd
Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:01 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Repair or Replace PressureWasher?
Replies: 3
Views: 279

Re: Worst "Large purchase" ever?

No one here bought a house at the top of the market (like in 2006 or so)? Yup, within a few months, knowing we were in a bubble. I mentally reduced my net worth by the value of the house the day we purchased it, never expect to see my purchase price again, and don't care. It was a lifestyle choice ...
by gd
Mon May 26, 2014 9:31 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Worst "Large purchase" ever?
Replies: 110
Views: 11614

Re: Hiring someone versus painting yourself

lululu wrote:I never let anyone work on my house or yard without my being there. I started this policy when I came home to find the gutter installers had sawn off all the decorative exposed rafter tails on my Craftsman house.

That's evil.
by gd
Mon May 26, 2014 6:45 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hiring someone versus painting yourself
Replies: 51
Views: 4225

Re: Hiring someone versus painting yourself

I would be able to paint every so often for a couple hours a day. Hire. You do not have the time to do it better than a commercial painter, so just pay someone. I did my own. Figured it was a month, took two years. It was a tough job with unusual materials, and inconceivable that a commercial paint...
by gd
Mon May 26, 2014 6:42 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hiring someone versus painting yourself
Replies: 51
Views: 4225

Q about exposed mass emailing addresses

In the last year or two I've received more and more wide-distribution emails from known-to-me organizations that have had a large TO: list exposed to all recipients. This bothers me a lot; I assume at least some of the hundreds of recipients have malware that will harvest my name and target me with ...
by gd
Thu May 22, 2014 6:17 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Q about exposed mass emailing addresses
Replies: 3
Views: 418

Re: New Google Moto-E smartphone for $129

I don't use smart phones, so a basic question. I know several people who have need of only a basic voice cell phone. One might text if it was easy, the other no. Both find feature phones frustrating-- difficult or confusing menus traversing tiny screens with limited buttons to navigate voice mail an...
by gd
Fri May 16, 2014 7:21 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New Google Moto-E smartphone for $129
Replies: 42
Views: 3673

Re: Telephone sales illegal?

I was very content with minimal phone service until forced to upscale to get broadband internet. One of the side effects was call blocking-- the ability to reject anonymous callers, and set specific caller numbers that will be rejected. I block any number calling more than twice. It often works well...
by gd
Tue May 13, 2014 1:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Telephone sales illegal?
Replies: 20
Views: 1381

Re: Borrowing Kindle Books from the Public Library

I have an unsubstantiated theory that few titles are available on my Overdrive system partly because there is no penalty or disadvantage in 1) requesting lots of titles even if you don't really want it, and 2) holding them until they expire after the full period. Real books must be physically picked...
by gd
Mon May 12, 2014 9:39 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Borrowing Kindle Books from the Public Library
Replies: 20
Views: 1985

Re: Expiration of Best By dates on canned or packaged food

We approached one food bank that was looking for food but they rejected it saying "our clients prefer ONLY FRESH vegetables." I'd bet either a misunderstanding (e.g. they already had enough canned goods), or that the food pantry organizers have the snobby attitude problem, not the clients.
by gd
Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:35 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Expiration of Best By dates on canned or packaged food
Replies: 18
Views: 2737

Re: Expiration of Best By dates on canned or packaged food

The psychology of this is a labyrinth. Many-- not all-- of the people who need these services are there because they consistently make bad decisions and choices; that doesn't make it any less important or correct, just harder. I perceived a difference in attitude between short and long-term clients,...
by gd
Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:13 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Expiration of Best By dates on canned or packaged food
Replies: 18
Views: 2737

Re: Expiration of Best By dates on canned or packaged food

I volunteered for several years in a local food pantry. There are recommended (USDA?) standards for using expired, past-sell-by or past-best-by dates. Any such organization can easily find them. We distributed expired food within these limits (e.g. 2 years most cans, 1 year acidic canned food, dry p...
by gd
Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:19 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Expiration of Best By dates on canned or packaged food
Replies: 18
Views: 2737

Re: TV show recommendations?

I found it sad to read comments scornful of the special effects on a site streaming The Outer Limits reruns; it was magnificent zeitgeist. But if you all get bored, feel free to redo Wikipedia during commercials next weekend:
http://boingboing.net/2008/04/27/death- ... itcom.html
by gd
Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:02 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TV show recommendations?
Replies: 304
Views: 119726

Re: Annuity type changed: honest accident or malicious?

It is not clear to me what the original "audit" letter stated about the account type. Receiving a survey doesn't quite make sense to me-- they're *asking* him what kind of account he has with them? And alarm bells don't go off? If it was the wrong type, he should have corrected them ASAP. ...
by gd
Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:48 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Annuity type changed: honest accident or malicious?
Replies: 15
Views: 2423

Re: Typical fees for an account with Morgan Stanley ?

I never understood who gets suckered into these accounts peddled by middlemen. Maybe the former clients can tell us why. Here's one explanation: Two households in my family have MS accounts, in both cases it is because they like having a specific person to talk to and who knows their account. They ...
by gd
Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:50 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Typical fees for an account with Morgan Stanley ?
Replies: 20
Views: 2091

Re: Typical fees for an account with Morgan Stanley ?

I closed my last MS account several years ago, and haven't regretted it. I was spending a *lot* of time studying my statements trying to figure out confusing entries until I knew exactly what they were doing, for no discernible benefit. Two households in my family have MS accounts, in both cases it ...
by gd
Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:32 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Typical fees for an account with Morgan Stanley ?
Replies: 20
Views: 2091

Re: Why Americans are Retiring Overseas

That was not a puff piece, it was an explicit advertisement for a product.
by gd
Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:21 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Why Americans are Retiring Overseas
Replies: 109
Views: 11206

Re: Tax Managed International

So what I'm seeing is that either 1) the "tax managed" bit was empty marketing and removed with no impact to customers, or 2) they're sweeping under the rug the point that holders of the fund should plan on future increases in the tax liabilities associated with the fund. Am I missing some...
by gd
Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:06 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Tax Managed International
Replies: 27
Views: 1927

Re: Always understand taxes do not trust software

Although the amounts might be small, this will obviously affect your behavior for years, if not a lifetime. Why not print out the returns for the two tax prep programs, compare everything side by side, dig down into the differences, and resolve the issue? And post the results, since you've already o...
by gd
Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:28 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Always understand taxes do not trust software
Replies: 34
Views: 3588

Re: Firecalc says I will be 100% successful but ...

Figure out what "but ..." means and tighten that parameter. Seriously, I'm not being facetious. What is it you aren't comfortable with and don't trust history with? Inflation? Market returns? Spending rates? If you think things might be more volatile than in the past, then you're leaving t...
by gd
Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:52 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Firecalc says I will be 100% successful but ...
Replies: 13
Views: 2417

Re: What to do with Win computers?

I am not a Linux-for-all advocate, but I did install Ubuntu recently on a very old laptop who's XP went nuts and would have been junked otherwise. It is much better, much more turnkey than years past. I use it for occasional web browsing and simple documents using the Libreoffice it was bundled with...
by gd
Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:40 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What to do with Win computers?
Replies: 51
Views: 2930

Re: Buying for someone who "has everything"

Laughably overpriced mail order consumables companies make lots and lots of money off this. I've been trying for years to talk various relatives out of compulsory, unneeded gift-giving, but recreational shoppers and consumers take it as a personal attack on their value system. It finally occurred to...
by gd
Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:00 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying for someone who "has everything"
Replies: 43
Views: 2793

Re: Investing Strategy for Future Expats

I'd say renouncing USA citizenship is the key point on which all else pivots. You will pay tax in the USA until you do this. And have paperwork; lots of paperwork. If you decide to renounce in 20 years, you may find your net worth more than you're expecting today, and you have no way of knowing whet...
by gd
Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:34 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Investing Strategy for Future Expats
Replies: 14
Views: 767

Re: Please help identify quote: I'm richer than he because..

Apropos of only the general topic, almost all internet quotes of Albert Einstein are false, and I'd make a wild guess of half of Abraham Lincoln's and Samuel Clemens'. I find a good rule of thumb is that if I can't identify the specific source work of a famous person's supposed quote within a 2-minu...
by gd
Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:02 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Please help identify quote: I'm richer than he because...
Replies: 28
Views: 3220

Re: Question about e-filing

Consider what you are concerned about, exactly. That TurboTax takes a value and incorrectly reformats it from what you see to what is in the electronic format? I don't know the formats used, but that's probably a very straightforward programming task to do and test. It is vastly more likely that the...
by gd
Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question about e-filing
Replies: 3
Views: 349

Re: buy I-bonds now or wait after May 1?

amfox1 wrote:Updated:

Sept 2013 CPI-U - 234.149 (baseline for next six month measurement period)
Feb. 2013 CPI-U - 234.781 (0.27%)

Do you mean Feb. 2014 above?
by gd
Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:17 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: buy I-bonds now or wait after May 1?
Replies: 50
Views: 9016

Re: Does anyone have an opinion on WealthFront?

.25% fee to invest in .17% (average) Vanguard ETFs. So it's more than doubling the cost of investing in standard vanilla ETFs. Could you elaborate on what you see as the benefit?
by gd
Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:03 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Does anyone have an opinion on WealthFront?
Replies: 41
Views: 3278

Re: Please help guestimate some expenses in retirement

I don't understand your tax situation, but suggest you simply use a tax prep program to test scenarios. And check your magic 8 ball for future tax law. Mentioning travel invites a general comment. I also lived a frugal/minimalist life, and more or less retired a bit early. My expenses and activities...
by gd
Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:42 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Please help guestimate some expenses in retirement
Replies: 10
Views: 904

Re: foreign sales people calling 5 times daily

That Nomorobo site has the seeds of a great Onion ad. It asks me for an email address before giving even the slightest clue of how it works or what they're going to do for me. Or, for that matter, with my email address. Well, not quite that last-- from their privacy policy, basically the only additi...
by gd
Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:41 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: foreign sales people calling 5 times daily
Replies: 41
Views: 3005

Re: Replacement for Windows XP Computer

I believe that for the uses you describe, the electronics is pretty much irrelevant as long as it is not a bottom-end model. Consider that the size, color (ok, not that, they're all black), location of plugs and buttons, amount of fan noise, size and stability of monitor may be more relevant over th...
by gd
Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:02 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Replacement for Windows XP Computer
Replies: 72
Views: 4998

Re: Social security - means testing

Roughly same age, no.
by gd
Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Social security - means testing
Replies: 6
Views: 1209

Re: What is your 2013 Federal Effective Tax Rate?

I don't agree on the importance of marginal tax rate. Actually, I don't agree with the importance of any tax rate; it's a question of whether you're getting value for the money (NOT whether you agree with what's done with the money after it leaves your hands). I find it a stunningly good value, and ...
by gd
Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:25 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What is your 2013 Federal Effective Tax Rate?
Replies: 73
Views: 5006

Re: I don't want to upgrade XP just yet, is that ok?

You might be pleasantly surprised at the improvement a wide monitor (my assumption) and faster CPU makes. But if it's just for pedestrian tasks like writing and run-of-the-mill web browsing, just keep on and mind what you click on. I had XP become unusable on an old laptop; some sort of bug where a ...
by gd
Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:02 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I don't want to upgrade XP just yet, is that ok?
Replies: 86
Views: 7121

Re: Any Subaru owners out there?

After needing a small station wagon for decades, I finally relented and went to a Subaru dealer with the intention of walking out having bought a new car (not much of a bargainer). I walked in, looked around, and said "where are all the station wagons?". It was the year they turned their l...
by gd
Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:28 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Any Subaru owners out there?
Replies: 53
Views: 4738

Re: Will this affect your Tipping?

I don't know what I'd do, because I've never bought an ice cream cone with a credit card. I'm guessing I'd have looked at the prices and walked away before buying. OT but to reply above, in my modest but relevant experience European service attitudes are based on it being more of a respectable life-...
by gd
Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:30 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Will this affect your Tipping? [Suggested Tip Amounts]
Replies: 123
Views: 8821

Re: Tax form 1116 questions

I haven't studied the OP issues, but I did work on my Turbotax 1116 a few days ago. I have a perennial problem with 1116, with an obscure situation requiring special handling (different from OPs). They have improved their 1116 from years past; criticisms based on previous years may not be valid.
by gd
Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:41 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Tax form 1116 questions
Replies: 29
Views: 2131

Re: What to say to Non-Savers

If it's someone you are not morally responsible for, shrug it off. If you really are concerned about this, get your mother some contact with elderly people living on SS, at home and in low-end nursing homes. Then point out this is her future, explaining you will not have the resources. Whether you c...
by gd
Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:05 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What to say to Non-Savers
Replies: 71
Views: 5561

Re: Indoor Plants - Recommendations?

"NASA researchers suggest efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space" You might want to do the math first, as well as consider whether you actually are concerned about those specific chemicals in your house. High quality artif...
by gd
Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:03 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Indoor Plants - Recommendations?
Replies: 21
Views: 1838

Re: How to Increase Charitable Giving?

Give to something local where you can see it make a difference. For example, IN MY OPINION my local schools will suck up anything I could possibly give, with no discernible impact, and they get half my property taxes in any case. Pass, thanks. My local senior services no-- we anonymously gave a sign...
by gd
Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:12 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to Increase Charitable Giving?
Replies: 26
Views: 1514

Re: Third party fixed-rate electric power schemes

OP here-- I finally sat down and spent a few minutes rummaging through old electric bills. Interestingly, I seem to have gotten the advertisement for this service just as the utility rates jumped up. Every one of the 5 or so samplings of bills for the last 2 years (all I had access to) had a base ra...
by gd
Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:32 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Third party fixed-rate electric power schemes
Replies: 14
Views: 965

Re: Cancellation fee from health provider - feeling ripped o

Just read the last post or two before my first; I don't think overbooking is relevant here. That's a reason to NOT worry so much about no-shows; it helps you realign your schedule and get people handled promptly. This doesn't sound like that kind of specialty, in any case. Insurance billing is a goo...
by gd
Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:42 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cancellation fee from health provider - feeling ripped off
Replies: 30
Views: 2083

Re: Cancellation fee from health provider - feeling ripped o

I can imagine a scenario where this is sort of justified. Me, for example. I have a part-time job that I drive 1.5 hours RT to get to. We try to book more than one customer (1-1.5 hrs revenue per session) per day, but sometimes have just one. I often spend more time driving than I get paid for. When...
by gd
Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:22 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cancellation fee from health provider - feeling ripped off
Replies: 30
Views: 2083

Third party fixed-rate electric power schemes

I've recently gotten an advertisement from a company (Constellation) supplying fixed-rate electric power rates with a 2-year signup. My personal reaction to these business schemes is that guessing wrong and being locked in would be more irritating to me than guessing right, so I never do it. And som...
by gd
Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:34 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Third party fixed-rate electric power schemes
Replies: 14
Views: 965

Re: Windows XP Advice

I'd guess a local computer services business near you (somebody working out of their house or strip mall storefront) could set up a new XP machine for you at any time, now or in 5 years, for a modest price. It's a pretty trivial task for them. If you're genuinely nervous about it, you might buy a sh...
by gd
Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:08 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Windows XP Advice
Replies: 21
Views: 1333

Re: What are your favorite browser extensions?

The Adblock Plus ethics issue isn't much for me, because I would avoid heavily ad-loaded sites in any case, but I'm wondering-- do host sites actually track whether the ad is downloaded or not, or just actually clicked on? I've always assumed they can tell whether it's downloaded, but the more I thi...
by gd
Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:45 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What are your favorite browser extensions?
Replies: 35
Views: 1746

Re: [What is] wrong with Treasury Direct website?

(snip) Thanks for that link, PJW. That's great information. I think every TD user should print out that page and the URL and file it with their other I Bond and financial information so their heirs can easily find it. And perhaps current TD users should also read all of the information and follow a...
by gd
Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:48 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [What is] wrong with Treasury Direct website?
Replies: 79
Views: 5159

Re: Tips for making iPhone apps

midareff wrote:you guys make me feel so obsolete.

I find it sort of liberating. I can finally just shrug and let go. And throw out all those WROX books in the attic.
by gd
Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:20 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Tips for making iPhone apps
Replies: 13
Views: 1230
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