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Re: Building a New House, Advice please.

As alluded to by others, change orders can kill any project's budget. Your contract with the builder, if of the "fixed price" variety (i.e., the builder will build the home as designed for "X"), will no doubt have provisions for "changes" or "changed conditions&quo...
by john94549
Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:11 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Building a New House, Advice please.
Replies: 60
Views: 4351

Re: "You're invited to...." (nonsense talk and dinner)

It's more than disconcerting to think that one of the "guests" at the table might be a stealth salesperson. Given folks' propensity to be polite, I can imagine how table conversation might be steered.
by john94549
Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:48 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "You're invited to...." (nonsense talk and dinner)
Replies: 68
Views: 3742

Re: [Best Option for Early Termination] of Apartment Lease

Check your state and local laws on tenants' rights and eviction. I guarantee you that your apartment landlord has. The costs of evicting (actual and imputed) are already built into your monthly rental. In effect, good tenants subsidize bad ones. Whether you co-sign or sub-let, there is risk. Pay the...
by john94549
Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:28 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [Best Option for Early Termination] of Apartment Lease
Replies: 14
Views: 769

Re: Why are 401k plans expensive?

Having read the posts herein, I can only say I am (a) happy my wife's 401K seems fair, and offers low-cost options, but (b) unhappy so many others are put-off by presumably unfair and high-cost plans. The solution at my wife's company was a major lobbying effort by highly-compensated individuals, i....
by john94549
Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:54 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why are 401k plans expensive?
Replies: 39
Views: 2981

Re: Diy managed payout fund?

Your Mom might have been smarter than you suspect. A well-managed CD ladder can yield a "managed payout". For example, nibbling away at $200K over 20 years, or whatever. Any target-retirement fund entails some risk. By definition, they invest in equities (which could go down) and bonds (di...
by john94549
Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:22 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Diy managed payout fund?
Replies: 6
Views: 420

Re: 2nd Opinions on Bond Alternatives?

Stick with TBM. At your age, modest dips in any Total Bond Fund will be invisible as you approach retirement.

The purpose of TBM in your AA is to offer an "anchor-to-windward" and provide ballast for re-balancing, if necessary.

I wouldn't change a thing.
by john94549
Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:03 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 2nd Opinions on Bond Alternatives?
Replies: 26
Views: 1429

Re: Buying a house without a realtor

We bought our very first house (back in 1973) on a handshake. No realtors on either side. We hired a title company to help with the paperwork, and that was that. My oh my, how times have changed. The "paperwork" involved these days is much more complicated. As a first-time buyer, knowing t...
by john94549
Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a house without a realtor
Replies: 43
Views: 2765

Re: Help Create a Portfolio Generating 2,500 a month on 600K

One might suspect the best scenario would be an annuity on $600K and the rest invested. Of course, to be safe, you might want to chop up the annuity into amounts "protected" under your state's "whatever" fund. Mind you, annuities are merely "protected", not "guaran...
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:10 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Help Create a Portfolio Generating 2,500 a month on 600K
Replies: 22
Views: 3722

Re: Anyone cancelling travel plans?

Two points: (a) I had no travel plans; and (b) even if I had same, rest assured they would not have been to West Africa.
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:36 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone cancelling travel plans?
Replies: 117
Views: 6175

Re: which bond is good to buy in this market

A five-year CD ladder is optimal.
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:29 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: which bond is good to buy in this market
Replies: 4
Views: 665

Re: Cash in liquid savings

The key verb is "survive". Don't mess with success. Once you get past a nice comfort level, then invest in an asset allocation with which you feel comfortable. Mind you, my wife and I are both 67, and our comfort level is 20 -25 years in cash/cash equivalents. I suspect we are outliers. Bu...
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:05 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Cash in liquid savings
Replies: 13
Views: 1166

Re: Safety net - VBMFX, PRPFX, VIPSX, VWINX, or Pimco

Every month, I get these "e-mail alerts" reminding me that "X" has been added to my CDs. Clockwork.
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:03 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Safety net - VBMFX, PRPFX, VIPSX, VWINX, or Pimco
Replies: 12
Views: 1916

Re: Stocks as long term investments

I remember joking with a co-worker over lunch back in the very late 1999s/early 2000s that, had I plopped all my lunch money into Cisco, I could have bought the sandwich shop. Hint: the sandwich shop is still there. And still serves a good tuna on whole wheat, or so I am told. Point being: Some stoc...
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:42 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Stocks as long term investments
Replies: 48
Views: 3103

Re: Dry Powder

I suspect the general consensus is to limit "trading" to one's "fun money" account (no more than 5% of investable assets). You can satisfy that gambling urge without "betting the farm", as it were. I have a SEP-IRA with Schwab. It was (and is) established as my "fu...
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:16 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Dry Powder
Replies: 49
Views: 3501

Re: How does one hedge against deflation?

Shed debt. Once you are debt-free, invest in federally-guaranteed instruments of debt (i.e., where you are the creditor).

An entirely different question is "should you."
by john94549
Sat Oct 18, 2014 6:53 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How does one hedge against deflation?
Replies: 52
Views: 3702

Re: Employer 401(k) vs. Vanguard IRA investments

Problem solved: plop the VMMXX into VGTSX. There's your international. * Fidelity 401k (4% employer match): $5,000 25%: OIBYX, expense ratio = 0.75% 25%: OIGYX, expense ratio = 0.90% 25%: FLVIX, expense ratio = 0.82% 25%: FINSX, expense ratio = 0.68% These expense ratios, as it were, seem a tad high...
by john94549
Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:34 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Employer 401(k) vs. Vanguard IRA investments
Replies: 17
Views: 1229

Re: Employer 401(k) vs. Vanguard IRA investments

At age 35, I would seriously consider an asset allocation of 70% (equities) and 30% (bonds). You have two menu choices which leap out. FUSVX and FSITX. I would ignore all the others. The "international" options seem to have quite high ERs. If you really, truly, want to invest in "inte...
by john94549
Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:18 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Employer 401(k) vs. Vanguard IRA investments
Replies: 17
Views: 1229

Re: Home Depot Warranty not honored

Our experience with extended warranties has been a mixed bag. When we re-modeled our kitchen, we purchased an extended warranty which covered all the new appliances, including the Jenn-Air Refrigerator. Several months prior to the expiration of the extended warranty (ironically enough, quite similar...
by john94549
Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:20 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Depot Warranty not honored
Replies: 26
Views: 2989

Re: Market Slide Percentages?

As I pointed out to the wife, declines in Mr. Market matter based only on asset allocation. They matter even less if retirement withdrawals are based solely on non-market allocations. Stated another way, if you have enough in cash, CDs, or other fixed-income, to fund retirement, above-and-beyond S/S...
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:39 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Market Slide Percentages?
Replies: 28
Views: 1857

Re: Balanced Index vs. TSM and TBM

VBIAX has always been a "no-brainer" for us.
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:26 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Balanced Index vs. TSM and TBM
Replies: 10
Views: 1037

Re: Question - Being a Trustee

Ordinarily, a business owner wants to run his or her business, until (a) he or she doesn't, or (b) he or she is incapable of doing so. If the idea of the trust is to deal with (b) (incapacity), then you should have an attorney look long and hard at the trust agreement. Are you prepared to "run ...
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:10 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question - Being a Trustee
Replies: 19
Views: 1243

Re: Estate planning - big firm or solo practitioner?

I am pondering this as well. I am concerned that a small firm may not survive long enough to help me update my estate plan if needed or when my family may need them in the future. Thoughts? Hire the lawyer, not the firm (old saying). As a general rule, hire an estate planner who is old enough to kn...
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:52 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Estate planning - big firm or solo practitioner?
Replies: 15
Views: 1106

Re: Estate planning - big firm or solo practitioner?

Been there, done that. A small(ish) local firm which has both lower overhead and more reliance on personal referrals, well, you get the drift.
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:45 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Estate planning - big firm or solo practitioner?
Replies: 15
Views: 1106

Re: Why are 401k plans expensive?

My wife's 401K offers two funds (SWPPX and VBTLX, which she holds, 60/40) which permit plan participants to approximate the performance (and low-cost) of, say, VBIAX (which is not offered). Other fund options sport higher ERs (in some cases, much higher). There is no plan administrative fee, so, pre...
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:05 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why are 401k plans expensive?
Replies: 39
Views: 2981

Re: Home Depot Warranty not honored

Check the extended warranty. While purchased at HD, it might be through a third-party. There might well be a different "800" number to call under the extended warranty.
by john94549
Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:11 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Depot Warranty not honored
Replies: 26
Views: 2989

Re: Estimating the value of a business

It will get much easier to calculate as we have more people working with us generating revenue. At which point, are you selling "them"? If so, why do they need "you"? Even if you maintain ownership, "they" could simply call it a day, walk out, and, well, you get the dr...
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:24 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Estimating the value of a business
Replies: 8
Views: 816

Re: Preventing animals from chewing through garage threshold

Based on our experience (here, in CA), the biggest issue is mice, and mice will find their way under garage doors. Our "solution" (a work in progress) was to hire a professional pest-control company (with whom we'd had a relationship for 20+ years) to seal up everything, including between ...
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:23 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Preventing animals from chewing through garage thresholds
Replies: 23
Views: 1459

Re: Is semi-retirement a bad idea?

Before I left "Big Law" to go off on my own, the standing joke was that half the senior partners were already semi-retired, they just kept it a secret.
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:11 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is semi-retirement a bad idea?
Replies: 106
Views: 7097

Re: Maximum Number of Medicare Hospital Days

Based on my experience(s) with my Mom, prior to her death, the larger issue was always the nursing home care. Rest assured, hospitals will discharge to nursing homes when further hospitalization is (in their opinion) unwarranted*. The thornier issue in the nursing home setting is whether progress is...
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:49 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Maximum Number of Medicare Hospital Days
Replies: 10
Views: 740

Re: guidance on allocation of $500,000 with 55/45 AA.

Using some rounding here for simplicity, but I think $450K in VBIAX and $50K in a CD meets your criteria*. That's close enough to your 55/45, gives you total stock and total bond, and a risk-free dollop on top. Not too hard to find a 5-yr IRA CD offered at 2.25%+ these days. I'd look at StateFarmBan...
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:16 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: guidance on allocation of $500,000 with 55/45 AA.
Replies: 6
Views: 461

Re: Estimating the value of a business

JamesHongKong wrote:
Right now the company is me


Which is why it is so hard to "sell" a solo practice (not that you are, but you get the drift).
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:58 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Estimating the value of a business
Replies: 8
Views: 816

Re: investing in bear market

It really takes more to trigger the "typical" re-balance band (+/- 5% in your allocation) than what we have seen this month. Even in the plunge of 2008, I can recall hitting my 5% band only twice, on the first drop of 20%, and the second drop of 20%.
by john94549
Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:32 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: investing in bear market
Replies: 29
Views: 2243

Re: Siren song of increased stock allocation

As noted elsewhere, it really does take a 20% (plus or minus) swing in Mr. Market to trigger a typical 5% re-balancing band. We're not even close. Some folks seem to think a 5% gyration in Mr. Market generates a re-balance. It does not. That said, you can re-balance in very tiny increments, if you w...
by john94549
Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:51 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Siren song of increased stock allocation
Replies: 38
Views: 2887

Re: Buy a new car, or fix the old one?

1994 Buick Regal here, some 79K miles. Has some minor issues, nothing critical.* Drives perfectly well back and forth to the grocery store, etc. Just passed smog today. *The radio antenna stopped retracting some five years ago, so I can't go through a car wash (they'd snap it off). The A/C stopped w...
by john94549
Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:22 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buy a new car, or fix the old one?
Replies: 55
Views: 2930

Re: What hedges inflation (other than TIPs)

While dull and boring, I must say that, in the many years I have purchased CDs at terms of 5-yrs or greater, the average yield on my ladder has always sported a real return.* Even under ZIRP, my CDs have fared well. Today, my ladder goes from the lame (a 4-yr at 1.7%) to the not-too-shabby (a 10-yr ...
by john94549
Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:36 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What hedges inflation (other than TIPs)
Replies: 11
Views: 747

Re: Will and Estate Planning - do i or not need an attorney

about a living trust created by a lawyer that had clauses that were unenforceable. Not to mention "impractical" or "impossible". You might wish to search and read other threads on "springing powers of attorney". As noted, "springing" powers (which can be foun...
by john94549
Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:00 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Will and Estate Planning - do i or not need an attorney
Replies: 26
Views: 2246

Re: Do you rebalance now?

Most folks advocate "bands", where your desired AA (say 60/40) has become 55/45. Then, you would sell enough of the "45" to get back to 60/40. Not surprisingly (given the math), it actually takes some rather major market swings to trigger such bands. For example, assume a stock m...
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:51 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Do you rebalance now?
Replies: 17
Views: 1463

Re: Dry Powder, When to Start Value Averaging In?

At 65/35 (assuming that's stocks/fixed-income), CDs are worthy. I would consider plopping a bit in anything over the "going rate" for 5-yr CDs (2.25%), wait to see if PenFed comes up with a special, and, that failing, plopping the balance into the best deal you can. You seem to have room i...
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:26 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Dry Powder, When to Start Value Averaging In?
Replies: 23
Views: 2203

Re: Sale of house-closing tomorrow, buyer is backing out

While not a huge amount, it appears Kentucky might require you to go to small claims court to establish your entitlement to the earnest money. Call the title company (better yet, have your realtor call) and nail down the logistics. Lesson learned: the earnest money amount has to be a significant det...
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:08 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Sale of house-closing tomorrow, buyer is backing out
Replies: 60
Views: 5062

Re: Will and Estate Planning - do i or not need an attorney

You might look into a trust. All my Mom's assets (except her car) were held in the trust my Dad set up before he died. After Mom died, I contacted a reputable local estate planning attorney. He took one pass through all her assets and told me there was no need for any court proceedings whatever. I d...
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Will and Estate Planning - do i or not need an attorney
Replies: 26
Views: 2246

Re: Anyone buy inverse ETFs during a correction or crash?

Chart and compare the paths of UPRO and SPXU over the past year.
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:20 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Anyone buy inverse ETFs during a correction or crash?
Replies: 13
Views: 953

Re: Sale of house-closing tomorrow, buyer is backing out

Make sure to check the listing agreement to see how much, if any, of the earnest money in a default goes to the realtor. In the last listing agreement I signed, it was 50%.
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Sale of house-closing tomorrow, buyer is backing out
Replies: 60
Views: 5062

Re: Leaning towards buying a 1-BR condo in Bay Area

Many condo associations use professional property managers. If your prospective HOA does, ask if you can speak with them regarding any deferred (or contemplated) "big ticket" items which might result in an assessment. The HOA meetings are often attended by the property manager, and minutes...
by john94549
Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:49 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Leaning towards buying a 1-BR condo in Bay Area
Replies: 21
Views: 2049

Re: Relocating to a tax free state with good weather need ad

I would echo the comments of others that you take the totality of costs/benefits in retirement, not just taxes (income or otherwise). In addition, many states offer income tax abatement for retiree benefits (S/S, pensions) and property taxes even though they might otherwise be considered "high-...
by john94549
Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:43 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Relocating to a tax free state with good weather need advice
Replies: 53
Views: 3613

Re: CD ladder

Do you have any plans to add to the ladder in the future? If so, and you have a bit of patience, you might consider going with just the five-year CD this year, then another 5-yr next year, etc., until your five-year ladder is "filled". The interest on your current CD (which is swept, if br...
by john94549
Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:12 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: CD ladder
Replies: 3
Views: 601

Re: Buffett Says ‘No-Brainer’ to Get a Mortgage to Short Rat

While it is possible to invest in a guaranteed (FDIC) vehicle at 3.4% (State Bank of India's recent 10-yr CD comes to mind), and recently 3.3% (Synchrony's 10-yr), the problem is timing. If you have $1000/mo to pay down a 3.375% mortgage (or invest in a similar-yielding, long-term, CD), you may not ...
by john94549
Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:45 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buffett Says ‘No-Brainer’ to Get a Mortgage to Short Rates
Replies: 77
Views: 8744

Re: How much of your Emergency Fund would you lock up in CDs

If over 59 1/2, and it's an IRA CD, and you can make partial withdrawals with no EWP, and you won't need the money for a week to ten days, fine.* Other than that, I'd have "ready cash" in a garden-variety savings account. When you start to fiddle with a CD ladder, break here, snip there, i...
by john94549
Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:07 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much of your Emergency Fund would you lock up in CDs?
Replies: 37
Views: 2679

Re: Brokered CDs - is/why the rate higher than normal bank C

A few weeks ago, I seem to recall a Synchrony 3.3% 10-yr brokered CD (through Fidelity). Why these "hot deals" pop up is lost to us mere mortals. Point being, they do. Your best resource is Ken's blog: http://www.depositaccounts.com/blog. Check out the weekly summary of best CDs. I suspect...
by john94549
Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:18 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Brokered CDs - is/why the rate higher than normal bank CDs
Replies: 14
Views: 1150
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