Search found 3376 matches

by madbrain
Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Solar panel investment - financially worth it?
Replies: 30
Views: 2426

Re: Solar panel investment - financially worth it?

I may be the minority here, but I think anything above 5% ROI is great, assuming you're sticking around to capitalize on it. In general I see a reductions in savings as equivalent to increases in earnings. A solar electric system seems more like buying an annuity since the equipment is much less va...
by madbrain
Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Solar panel investment - financially worth it?
Replies: 30
Views: 2426

Re: Solar panel investment - financially worth it?

Avoided gas costs per month 50 (600 yr) Energy sold (including electricity avoided) per moth 115 (1380 yr) my cost 18k 1980/18k = 0.11% That's actually 11.1%, as someone else already pointed out. That means your payback period is actually 9 years, which is more reasonable, but still a bit on the hi...
by madbrain
Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:56 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Solar panel investment - financially worth it?
Replies: 30
Views: 2426

Re: Solar panel investment - financially worth it?

If your monthly payment is $120/month and you are only deriving a $115/month benefit from the system, that means you will be paying $5/month more than you currently are. Technically, that means you will be paying 15 x 12 x 5 = $900 for your system over the 15 years. The $900 represents 7.8 months of...
by madbrain
Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:46 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Healthcare cost - Office Visit - negotiated insurance rate higher than cash rate?
Replies: 53
Views: 4164

Re: Healthcare cost - Office Visit - negotiated insurance rate higher than cash rate?

My husband was layed off from work. Insurance was up in the air for us during this time. I took my child to the doctor where I had to pay out of pocket. They did give me a discounted rate. We decided to purchase COBRA coverage through his previous employer. I want the doctor to file the claim I pai...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Flame Retardants
Replies: 6
Views: 518

Re: Flame Retardants

Perhaps. It depends on the chemicals. I'm guessing that, as long as you don't eat the chair, you'll probably be fine. Your pets that scratch the furniture might not be, though. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4508310 One of my cats has just been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, and h...
by madbrain
Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark
Replies: 66
Views: 7790

Re: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark

Madbrain, is that right about the california $2,500 rebate incentive? Yes, please see https://energycenter.org/clean-vehicle-rebate-project for CVRP and a list of eligible vehicles and rebate amount. You need to either buy, or lease for at least 36 months to be eligible. 24 months lease do not qual...
by madbrain
Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Leased Car Totaled - What Do I Owe?
Replies: 16
Views: 3301

Re: Leased Car Totaled - What Do I Owe?

In case anyone else ever had a similar issue - I wanted to post how it was resolved. I spoke with Hyundai directly, and after about 30 minutes of frustration, the representative said that I would be getting a check from them after my insurance company sends them the full fmv. It seems like it was j...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:40 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

I disputed the extra tip amount with Amex. The merchant ended up not being able to provide the signed slip with the tip amount, and the entire amount of the charge was refunded to me instead - ie. we got a free dinner. This was a $100+ meal. I hope the restaurant learned from this. And no, we were ...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

The above stories are yet another good reason that the US should move to a modern pin based credit card system like everywhere else does. The waiter brings the terminal over to your table, you type in the tip amount and that's it. Much less chance of server fraud. I think the main problem is that c...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

I also point out if something is left off the bill in a restaurant by accident. That has only happened a few times and I have never ended up paying for it. This has happened to me many times, especially for refills on glasses of wine. It actually happened again just last friday. I pointed out to th...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

This is especially frustrating given that a lot of people leave cash tips as a favor to servers, most of whom would prefer to have the cash payout than the card tip . . . so they can cheat on their taxes. Not something I want to assist with. Not to mention the inconvenience of having to carry cash ...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

I am surprised at the number of posters whose first response was to dispute the charge with the credit card company. In the very few cases where I have had reason to dispute a charge, the credit card company made it clear that I should first dispute the charge with the vendor, and then if that fail...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:57 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

1. For the first one, the waiter changed a 3 into an 8. In this case, it happened that the last digit of the total line could also be changed from a 3 to an 8. This one happened at a large event/gathering. Seems to me there are a lot of digits that could easily be changed without being noticed. A 0...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: LED bulb prices
Replies: 124
Views: 17308

Re: LED bulb prices

https://slickdeals.net/f/7888995-cree-93-cri-dimmable-led-a19-bulb-40-60-watt-2-97-3-97-each-used-to-be-15-97-ymmv-mostly-good-in-ca-free-store-pickup-home-depot Costco has Article 906191 which is a 3pack of 40W equivalent LED bulbs for $8.79 at Costco warehouse in PG&E territory in CA. This is...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Mortgage interest tax deduction in California
Replies: 4
Views: 701

Re: Mortgage interest tax deduction in California

tomtoms wrote:Hello! I know you can deduct mortgage interest rate and property tax from your federal taxable income. Can you also deduct them from your California taxable income? A link would be helpful! Your help is greatly appreciated.


Yes you can, at least according to Turbotax.
by madbrain
Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark
Replies: 66
Views: 7790

Re: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark

Are you sure the government subsidy only applies to the lease and not an outright purchase? No. The incentives apply once per new vehicle. However, if you lease repeatedly, you can receive these incentives multiple times, whereas if you buy, you can receive them only once. At $7500 - $12500 per veh...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:03 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]
Replies: 54
Views: 8494

Re: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]

Yes, insurance is intended to be a pooled risk. However, in its perfect design it is about shared risk or probabilities. In a given risk pool we pay for the probability we will need to make a claim, not the risk of high risk entrants. When the government forces the corruption of the risk pool by fo...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark
Replies: 66
Views: 7790

Re: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark

As with renting tools, there may be outstanding deals to be found in Whole Life policies, reverse mortgages, annuities, car leases, active mutual funds with front end loads. One might even find hens teeth. But, even if they do exist, I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to expend the time a...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

This happens more often than you think. Always take the customer copy. That discourages it right there. Think about how easy it would be to tack on a few bucks to a bill where some drinks were ordered with dinner and the customer copy was left. Very easy and it happens. I think I've turned into my ...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]
Replies: 54
Views: 8494

Re: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]

My issue - in having to delve into all these damn different companies - why isn't there any more uniformity among the companies re risk factors? For ex, me trying to get a H.O. quote, --- some ask if you are a smoker, some don't. The last one who didn't ask - I spoke up - WTF ? Don't you regard peo...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]
Replies: 54
Views: 8494

Re: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]

The states that prohibited consideration of credit scores harmed most rate payers. Those with higher credit scores are harmed by paying higher premiums than the actuarial basis would require. Which is not "most rate payers". Most rate payers who don't have higher credit scores might actua...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:19 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

FreeAtLast wrote:I will leave only cash tips there in the future......


IMO, cash tips is a poor option. Why even use a credit card at all at the restaurant, if you still have to carry cash for the tip ?
One of the major reasons to carry a credit card is convenience, to avoid having to carry cash.
by madbrain
Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

If you like math puzzles, you can also use a checksum: Adjust the tip such that if you sum all the numbers in the total (before the last), the last digit of the sum equals the last digit of the total. While this is a great idea, I think when inebriated, it would be easy to get this wrong :) Persona...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]
Replies: 54
Views: 8494

Re: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]

The states that prohibited consideration of credit scores harmed most rate payers. Lower credit scores have one of the highest actuarial correlations to claim payments. How could "most rate payers" have been harmed by forbidding the use of credit scores in setting premiums ? Most rate pay...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Phantom" Tipping
Replies: 68
Views: 10756

Re: "Phantom" Tipping

It has happened to me. I disputed the extra tip amount with Amex. The merchant ended up not being able to provide the signed slip with the tip amount, and the entire amount of the charge was refunded to me instead - ie. we got a free dinner. This was a $100+ meal. I hope the restaurant learned from ...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped [overcharged]
Replies: 54
Views: 8494

Re: Longtime Insurance Customers Get Ripped

I understand the first 4, but what is "persistency" ? Being stupid, and persisting with the same insurance company for TOO MANY YEARS? Is that it? Yes, I think that's essentially what it comes down to :) In reality, the insurers want to be able to charge more for people who have lapses in...
by madbrain
Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:49 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark
Replies: 66
Views: 7790

Re: $139 lease for EV, $0 down, 39 month lease Chevy Spark

We ended up leasing one of these, and I have to say it's a small car, and the interior certainly says "economy" but it's a blast to drive. Really happy with it, and with essentially no fuel or maintenance costs the cost is almost negligible. We are usually a one car family but we didn't t...
by madbrain
Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?
Replies: 931
Views: 147768

Re: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?

Poltergeist 3D. Not as bad as the reviews let me believe, but still not a great movie. Tomorrowland. It's OK, entertaining. But still, it's a Disney movie with all that entails. Insidious : chapter 3. This one is so bad, it almost works as a comedy, at least with the audience we had in the full thea...
by madbrain
Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Advice Needed: building a $20k portfolio for 25 y/o?
Replies: 21
Views: 1939

Re: Advice Needed: building a $20k portfolio for 25 y/o?

$20k is a small amount. Definitely do not split it in 4 funds. Using only 1 or 2 funds would qualify you for admiral shares with lower costs. With 4 funds you would have higher ERs. Avoid ETF shares also due to transaction costs on small amounts. If you are risk adverse, and it seems you are, you co...
by madbrain
Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: One million dollar home
Replies: 37
Views: 5659

Re: One million dollar home

b. Less than 10 year old townhouse for the same price and square footage as option A, but you lose the yard and driveway. Typically these are move in condition and not much work is needed. ... We can make the payments and still max out on retirement funds, but we are cautious. If we had a smaller m...
by madbrain
Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:06 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Refrigerator--Buy New or Used
Replies: 19
Views: 1467

Re: Refrigerator--Buy New or Used

Should I decide not to rent the condo out and leave it vacant until I move-in there in 7-10 years, should I buy new appliances now (if I can get a great closeout deal on them) or wait until the future in case styles, features and technology changes? If you are going to leave it vacant, definitely d...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a condo in earthquake-prone area?
Replies: 27
Views: 1922

Re: Buying a condo in earthquake-prone area?

Also, all purchase mortgages in California are non-recourse, so the lenders might have a tougher time collecting deficiencies. I don't know about California but in some non-recourse states if you refinance then you lose that protection. Yes, this is why I said "purchase mortgage". It was ...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:40 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Global Market is the optimal portfolio. Do you follow that rule?
Replies: 43
Views: 3241

Re: Global Market is the optimal portfolio. Do you follow that rule?

Those percentages must reflect some differences from what Vanguard calls emerging markets and perhaps the opening up of the Chinese stock exchange to foreign ownership, too. (I see those percentages are not float-adjusted.) The M* portfolio X-ray tool has a benchmark of "World Allocation"...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a condo in earthquake-prone area?
Replies: 27
Views: 1922

Re: Buying a condo in earthquake-prone area?

How do mortgage companies tolerate this? They probably tolerate it because they would otherwise lose a good portion of their business, seeing how earthquake premiums can sometimes be very high. For my house, they would be more than property taxes, but the premiums are not tax deductible. If the fin...
by madbrain
Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a condo in earthquake-prone area?
Replies: 27
Views: 1922

Re: Buying a condo in earthquake-prone area?

I think someone has been watching Hollywood movies too much ! Seriously though, earthquake insurance is very unaffordable. Even if you had a single family home, you probably would skip on it due to the high cost and high deductible. But in a condo, you don't have that choice, it's up to the HOA to d...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 5:41 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

In my case, for the people that I know, it tends to happen the other way. People loss their job and then force to sell their house and move. Of course that happens too. But if you lose your job and can't pay your mortgage, chances are you also couldn't pay rent either. However, where I live, plenty...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 5:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

<<people generally don't want to have things forced upon them.>> They do not want that too. But, it is NORMAL for this to happen to them. It is ABNORMAL for a person to have a job and stay in one place. That's utterly ridiculous. People will buy homes in areas where there are many jobs. I bought a ...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Smart phone as a camera only ???
Replies: 17
Views: 1454

Re: Smart phone as a camera only ???

If you don't need the phone service, then don't buy a smartphone. The camera is a secondary function of the device, not primary. While the sensors in smartphones are good and possibly as good as those in some compact digital cameras, all smartphone cameras have severe optical shortcomings in terms o...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:25 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

I really want to understand why do you think your house purchase decision is good?? I just don't see it. A) Have you sold the house?? B) Are you still paying the mortgage?? C) If you are renting, would you rent the same house?? KlangFool Not lightheir here, but I will answer as one who lives in a $...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

2) Why that is bad?? <<Several of them have actually been forced to move out of the area completely. >> 3) Ditto. If you think about it for one minute, people generally don't want to have things forced upon them. Being forced to move out of an area generally means having to give up your current job...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

<<Most people use leverage to buy a house, because they don't have enough assets to buy the house for cash outright>> I still use leverage to buy the house. I did not pay cash. But, I know that I have enough asset to pay off the house if needed. Most people don't get a mortgage to buy a house just ...
by madbrain
Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:11 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

You do not have to agree with me. But, for some people like me, it is not an income level question. It is an asset level question. To me, I would have to have 3 to 4 millions worth of asset (not counting the house) before I even consider buying a house at that price. I just do not like tying up tha...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are you middle class?
Replies: 21
Views: 2621

Re: Are you middle class?

If I put in my base salary, then we are in the middle class. If I put in AGI, then no. But my county has a very high threshold. Definitely not middle class by consumption - we are above. Not middle class by wealth either, higher also. Aspiration ? I don't know, we don't aspire to have kids. Everyone...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:43 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

When the school board asks for $40 million for a new high school, these sort of communities always pay for it. You are assuming a $1 million home is located in an expensive community - it doesn't have to be. The people in my neighborhood tend to not vote for these property tax assessments which is ...
by madbrain
Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:26 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?
Replies: 144
Views: 11797

Re: Your opinion on realistic income to live in a $1 million home?

We are a married couple living in a >$1 million house in the Bay area, on one income, a little under 200k last year. We save about 20% of gross income for retirement. We could not fit kids in the budget, but we do not want any. It's a big house, about 4700 sq ft. We only paid $800k for it 5 years ag...
by madbrain
Sun May 31, 2015 10:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?
Replies: 931
Views: 147768

Re: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?

Went to see San Andreas last night . We tried to see it on friday but even coming half an hour early, the IMAX 3D show was sold out, so we came back the next day. Californians apparently love to watch the utter destruction of their state.
The movie was very entertaining.
by madbrain
Sat May 30, 2015 8:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Intuit Quicken Question
Replies: 9
Views: 1136

Re: Intuit Quicken Question

Madbrain, have you had any trouble updating Quicken to the latest maintenance release (R8)? I tried two ways and both failed in a similar way: ⋅ From withing Quicken: Update fails. Log shows "bad version" or words to that effect. ⋅ From Quicken download website: Intuit...
by madbrain
Fri May 29, 2015 7:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Intuit Quicken Question
Replies: 9
Views: 1136

Re: Intuit Quicken Question

Where were you during tax season ? Best deals are usually for both Quicken and Turbotax. I bought Turbotax 2014 Premier + Quicken 2015 download CDs from Amazon for $84 + tax earlier this year. If you can hold off until next tax season, there will likely be a similar deal. The prices you quote are on...
by madbrain
Fri May 29, 2015 7:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: World's worst market timer. Buy high, sell... never?
Replies: 12
Views: 2468

Re: World's worst market timer. Buy high, sell... never?

What was his annualized rate of return ?
by madbrain
Thu May 28, 2015 10:55 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you buy health insurance these days?
Replies: 46
Views: 3623

Re: How do you buy health insurance these days?

I'm an LLC registered with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Secretary of State, and with my local town; I have my own EIN from the IRS and my own business banking account, HSA, 401(k) plan, etc. So even though I'm just me and have no employees I meet the requisite criteria for being a business. So...

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