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by madbrain
Tue May 05, 2015 1:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Costco and AMEX
Replies: 26
Views: 4096

Re: Costco and AMEX

i haven't gotten any info or offers re the costco amex card situation. i'm sure i'll accept the card deal they offer - turn down the credit card then you have to carry a standalone membership card anyway. Personally, I'm not really sure. I recently had my wallet stolen with 5 credit cards in it. Th...
by madbrain
Tue May 05, 2015 1:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

ACA did little to fix the individual marketplace for those making above the subsidy limits. I don't think that's true. ACA did away with pre-existing conditions exclusions. I believe the OP would not have been able to obtain any insurance on the individual market due to those. Pre-ACA the only opti...
by madbrain
Tue May 05, 2015 2:48 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Replace Fidelity AMEX with Citibank Double Cash
Replies: 14
Views: 1531

Re: Replace Fidelity AMEX with Citibank Double Cash

Has anyone replaced their Fidelity AMEX with Citibank Double Cash Visa? I'm thinking about doing so but wonder if there is any benefit other than the citibank being a visa (and thus having one less card in the wallet). Is the Citibank a world mastercard with better extended warranty? Is Citibank an...
by madbrain
Mon May 04, 2015 8:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 400lbs, delivery or pick up?
Replies: 47
Views: 1931

Re: 400lbs, delivery or pick up?

packet, madbrain: Wait, what!??! What brand, flavor, style, etc? This, I will look into! Tho... the nearest Costco is about an hour and 45 minutes away... so I'll have to post another "is it worth it?" post ... :/ 1h45 drive away is a pretty bad deterrent. The brand is Litter Purfect, 35 l...
by madbrain
Mon May 04, 2015 6:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 400lbs, delivery or pick up?
Replies: 47
Views: 1931

Re: 400lbs, delivery or pick up?

I just want to point out that you can buy 400 lbs of cat litter at Costco for about $100 .
I have never bought more than 180 lbs at a time, though.
by madbrain
Sun May 03, 2015 12:23 am
Forum: Forum Issues and Administration
Topic: Forum software upgrade bug reports and change requests
Replies: 126
Views: 3721

Re: Forum software upgrade bug reports and change requests

Another issue, which is more annoying, and a regression : When maximizing/widening a browser window containing a bogleheads.org thread, such as this one, There are now wide blank margins on the left and right, which didn't use to be there. I can make these margins disappear by enlarging the font, bu...
by madbrain
Sun May 03, 2015 12:13 am
Forum: Forum Issues and Administration
Topic: Forum software upgrade bug reports and change requests
Replies: 126
Views: 3721

Re: Forum software upgrade bug reports and change requests

Change request : On my desktop Firefox 37 browser, I now get the tiny buttons where it used to say "report" and "quote". The new buttons are not intuitive to me. I suppose they might make sense on a mobile browser with limited screen real estate. But they don't make sense on my t...
by madbrain
Sat May 02, 2015 7:45 pm
Forum: Forum Issues and Administration
Topic: Forum is now back ONLINE!
Replies: 45
Views: 1369

Re: Forum is now back ONLINE!

Thank you. I was starting to suffering from withdrawal symptoms without my daily fix of Bogleheads .
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 11:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: FIA Card Services website
Replies: 18
Views: 1601

Re: FIA Card Services website

tfb wrote:
madbrain wrote:Does Amex do this differently and issue cards with different numbers for joint account holders ?

It does. Take a look at your two cards.


I was asking because I don't have Amex joint cards, except the FIA Amex, and those both have the same number .
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 10:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

Solely for backup in the case of power outages caused by storms, et.c, can this replace a whole house (e.g. Generac) natural gas generator whose costs are approximately $10K (5 for the generator, 5 for permit, installation, etc.)? Depends how long you want to it to run, and what your peak load migh...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 10:10 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Finding the actuarial value of delaying SS benefits
Replies: 27
Views: 2177

Re: Finding the actuarial value of delaying SS benefits

Madbrain, Thanks for your extensive comments and suggestions, this is very helpful. Sorry that you had a hard time converting from Excel to OpenOffice. I will respond to your comments in order. At this point I am not sure if I will make major revisions, but I will make some updates in the next week...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 9:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: FIA Card Services website
Replies: 18
Views: 1601

Re: FIA Card Services website

Does the FIA Card Services website allow reporting by card holder, e.g. if two people share a credit card, can a filter be applied to the statement to view who charged what? Similar to what AMEX allows. Look at your two cards from FIA. The card numbers are the same. They don't know whose card was u...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 8:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

You can't do this unless the voltage of the solar cells matches the charging voltage of the battery. Since both of them vary quite a lot this is unlikely. Not all DC is the same. A DC-DC converter is pretty much the same complexity as a DC-AC converter. Makes sense. I wonder why the article and the...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 8:53 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

Some back of the envelope calculations here: I own a plug in electric vehicle and have a time of use rate plan with PG&E. I do not have solar. Peak cost is ~$0.30/kWh. Non peak cost is ~$0.10/kWh. Displacing 10kWh every day from peak to non peak would save me $2 a day or $730 a year. The paybac...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 8:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

All what you say is true but if the power company wants to change the terms of NET metering (pay less for PV generated energy) or eliminate NET metering altogether than the equation changes and IMHO favors some sort of battery system as an adjunct to solar panels. Yes, but eliminating net metering,...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 8:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

The cost of every kWh keeps rising, and meter costs, distribution costs, investment recovery costs, nuclear power decommissioning costs, regulatory costs, etc keep rising even faster. The more we reduce our power use, the less electricity per house the utility sells, so they raise the unit cost and...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 7:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

As with any technology, early adopters are the rich, who pay development costs. Once those are accounted for, we move to costs of production, which are often cheap when done on an industrial scale. Think telephones, electrically initially, cars, TVs, Flat Screens, VCRs, GPSs, computers, cell phones...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 6:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

One big caveat: There is still a big issue with wealthy people being able to afford these types of system and poor people not, while the utilities continue to increase baseline fixed costs, which they do in order to recoup losses associated with selling less electricity because of increased use of ...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 6:02 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get
Replies: 18
Views: 1691

Re: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get

The take away for reverse mortgagors: If your mortgage was issued before July, 2011 and there is no provision in the deed of trust explicitly allowing heirs to purchase the property at 95% FMV your heirs may be surprised to learn that HUD's July, 2011 guidance is not applicable to them. PS: Way did...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 5:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

There really isn't much point to this as a money saver unless you aren't on net metering. Not necessarily. If you have a time of use plan, but not net metering, it could still work, if the Powerwall can be set to never send power to the grid - ie. just charge the battery during off-peak hours, and ...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 5:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

It looks like the main benefit is indeed for owners with solar as excess energy generation would otherwise be wasted and night time relying on the grid. With a net metering plan, you get paid by the electric company for that excess solar energy. It's never really wasted - it just goes to your neigh...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 5:18 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System
Replies: 50
Views: 3938

Re: Powerwall: The Arrival of Home Battery Backup System

A bit non-plussed about this : You can reserve a Powerwall right now on Tesla's site. The device will also be available via distributors, with the 10kWh version offered to installers for $3,500, while the 7kWh model will cost $3,000. This doesn't include the cost of a DC-to-AC inverter to work with ...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 2:53 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Finding the actuarial value of delaying SS benefits
Replies: 27
Views: 2177

Re: Finding the actuarial value of delaying SS benefits

Enkido, Thanks for making this spreadsheet. You clearly put a lot of work into it. That said, I wasn't really able to use it, as we fall outside of the many data restrictions. But even trying to come up with data that fit, I didn't really understand it. Comments below. I loaded the married spreadshe...
by madbrain
Fri May 01, 2015 1:26 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Finding the actuarial value of delaying SS benefits
Replies: 27
Views: 2177

Re: Finding the actuarial value of delaying SS benefits

So I'd guess the average mortality of people who ask the question is somewhat better than the SS tables. Not necessarily, you could ask the question well before you are even eligible for SS, but still not make it to SS age, or end up in a terminal illness situation in the future when you become eli...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

The OP has not explained their health situation, so it's hard to say if a spreadsheet type comparison would make sense for him/her or not. In my last post I did, but I think we posted at about the same time. Like the HIV meds that you mentioned, I have a fairly predictable base rate of burn. I have...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

Probably because it doesn't make sense for many people to buy individual health insurance through an agent anymore, as they would be foregoing the ACA tax credits by doing so, just as they would by buying from the health insurance carrier directly. As I posted earlier, I used a broker to get (ACA) ...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

I've been a contractor for awhile but I was covered under my wife who worked almost up until she died. Ah, sorry to hear that. Higher insurance cost is one of the downsides of contracting. I hope you are adequately compensated for these extra costs. I did a rough calculation and I make about 2X wha...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

No and yes. As it sounds like you know from past experience, whether one plan has a $20 copay or a $30 one doesn't matter. ... Not really spreadsheet stuff, but these things do take research. I don't think there is any way to answer those questions w/o putting some time into it at least the first t...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:41 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get
Replies: 18
Views: 1691

Re: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get

And you want me to brief the case too! Am I on the clock? Why would you think reading the case would not be any help? Do you think judges (in this instance a federal district judge) make the stuff up on the elevator ride to to chambers? The answer to your all your questions are here: https://schola...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

But let's say you're right, what do you suggest I do? Complain to your legislators and get single-payer healthcare enacted, bypassing all these needless middle-men insurance companies and associated complexity. Not an immediate solution to your problem, mind you, but it's a sorely needed one. I agr...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

And as the OP has mentioned several times, the only plans that are available at that site are low-end HMO plans, mainly for people seeking sudsidized health coverage. The Massachusetts Division of Insurance lists many dozens of other plans, mostly PPO's, which is what the OP wants, but they can onl...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

Do you know someone who owns a small business and uses a broker? A friend of mine uses the same broker she used when she dropped group insurance and went to an individual plan. Some of the insurance agents I called today sell business insurance, and group health insurance, but have no familiarity w...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get
Replies: 18
Views: 1691

Re: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get

Do not pass Go because there another hurdle in at least one jurisdiction, and this may spread to others--banks don’t give up. In Chandler v. Wells Fargo, N.A. No. 11-3831, 2014 WL31215 (ND, CA Jan. 3 2014) the court denied the right of the heirs to purchase the underwater inherited property for 95%...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:55 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Quicken with FIA Card Services
Replies: 5
Views: 381

Re: Quicken with FIA Card Services

It works for me with current transactions in Quicken 2015 Premier, and worked with the previous version as well.
The financial institution name is "FIA card services".
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: FIA Card Services website
Replies: 18
Views: 1601

Re: FIA Card Services website

I don't like their web site either. I tried to set up automatic full payment for each month but I couldn't find that option. Has anyone been able to do this? Call therm, they mail you some paper to sign and you return... took a couple of months to setup -- Someone more paranoid than me might suspec...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: FIA Card Services website
Replies: 18
Views: 1601

Re: FIA Card Services website

bogleboy wrote:Does the FIA Card Services website allow reporting by card holder, e.g. if two people share a credit card, can a filter be applied to the statement to view who charged what? Similar to what AMEX allows.


No.
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

When the ACA was open for enrollment you would get on their site and put in your zip code. I don't know anything about Mass. health exchange and you might not even be eligible for ACA. OP is eligible for ACA due to COBRA ending. https://www.healthcare.gov/unemployed/cobra-coverage/ Replacing COBRA ...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Considering HVAC Zoning
Replies: 5
Views: 432

Re: Considering HVAC Zoning

We have a 3,400 SF 2 story colonial in NJ. A few years ago we installed a Carrier multi-stage, variable fan speed AC/NG furnace w/ Carrier 8 zone electric damper system. Since the install our house has been really comfortable all year around in all rooms. We're very happy with the level of comfort....
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 42
Views: 2559

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

I don't know about Massachusetts specifically, but under the ACA, the expiration of COBRA qualifies you for a special enrollment period, so you could purchase an ACA plan through your state exchange. I believe if you are eligible for a tax credit an want to claim it, you must buy through the exchang...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:26 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get
Replies: 18
Views: 1691

Re: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get

If, however, you did not want to take on that obligation, you could disclaim that portion of the inheritance (that is, the property subject to the reverse mortgage) without impairing the remaining estate assets because the mortgage holder of the reverse mortgage could not go after the other estate ...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:13 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get
Replies: 18
Views: 1691

Re: Reverse Mortgages-now better, but harder to get

An often overlooked upside of a reverse mortgage is that under federal regs. it's non-recourse. Yes, but you're never underwater, are you? I thought these things were set up to be like a glorified HELOC. You can be underwater on a reverse mortgage, or a HELOC, if the value of the home drops signifi...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Traveling light up to 2 weeks - ditch the laptop, use phone?
Replies: 53
Views: 3176

Re: Traveling light up to 2 weeks - ditch the laptop, use ph

I really don't get the use case for tablets. You must have better eyesight than me. 8-) Yes, I do have 20/20 eyesight. But still, it seems to me that if I'm going to take a tablet with its limited input capabilities, storage, and processing power, I'm much better off having a laptop, which does wei...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:09 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Traveling light up to 2 weeks - ditch the laptop, use phone?
Replies: 53
Views: 3176

Re: Traveling light up to 2 weeks - ditch the laptop, use ph

What do you shoot photos with while on vacation ? I use a DSLR primarily . I would not go on a trip without a laptop, if only to be able to backup the pictures from the SD card onto the laptop's hard drive, process the pictures (I shoot RAW only), upload them, etc. I really don't get the use case fo...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Organ shoes
Replies: 10
Views: 1268

Re: Organ shoes

I thought about this overnight, because I worried that the OP would not find a C-width shoe comfortable, and it occurred to me to try moccasins. So I brought my pair to the church where I practice, and have worked for three hours today on the Bach Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, in the moccasins instead...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Organ shoes
Replies: 10
Views: 1268

Re: Organ shoes

I gather that the OP is male; if you are willing to wear women's shoes (and it sounds like you will be doing your playing at home, not out in public), Organmaster has a couple of women's models that are slip-ons; here is one, the "Mary Jane" http://store.organmastershoes.com/womansorgansh...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Organ shoes
Replies: 10
Views: 1268

Re: Organ shoes

Organmaster brand shoes are the best organ shoes available. Organ shoes have certain requirements that are not met by dress or dance shoes. 1. Snug, narrow fit (but not a small shoe), which makes playing the pedals easier. 2. No lip sticking out where the sole meets the rest of the leather. This al...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Organ shoes
Replies: 10
Views: 1268

Re: Organ shoes

(There is a manufacturer on the West coast who will custom make the shoes for those needing unusual sizes, or special fits, and it's not much more than the regular pricing. Whether they can change a shoe to a Velcro closure... I don't know.) Thanks. If you happen to know the name of the manufacture...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:13 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Thinking about a new desktop PC.
Replies: 55
Views: 3659

Re: Thinking about a new desktop PC.

Just so I understand, if you have a SSD (say, 256GB), you also generally have a traditional drive for document storage? You put the OS and programs on the SSD and put files (documents, spreadsheets, photos, etc.) on the spinning drive? Am I understanding correctly? Yes. Though if you can afford an ...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:18 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Thinking about a new desktop PC.
Replies: 55
Views: 3659

Re: Thinking about a new desktop PC.

I am thinking about buying a new PC, and see that HP and Dell (and probably other) are still selling and marketing Windows 7 units. I like Win7 and don't really like Win8 on a desktop or laptop. I read that Microsoft intends to let Win7 and 8 users upgrade to Win10 when it comes out later this year...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:34 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Getting the stink out of running clothes
Replies: 34
Views: 2171

Re: Getting the stink out of running clothes

Are you using any softener during the wash cycles, or a detergent that contains a softener ?

And if you now use a dryer, do you use dryer sheet softeners also ?

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