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by patrick
Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International Stock Poll: Emerging vs Developed Ratio
Replies: 55
Views: 2591

Re: International Stock Poll: Emerging vs Developed Ratio

My only international fund is Vanguard Total International so I am at market weight ... whatever that is ...
by patrick
Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What were your biggest financial emergencies?
Replies: 45
Views: 7113

Re: What were your biggest financial emergencies?

If an emergency means a large unexpected expense that must be paid in cash, I have never had an emergency. Even if you include a checking account is cash, the only large payments I have to make with cash are rent and health insurance, neither of which is unexpected. Every other significant expense, ...
by patrick
Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Will Saudi Arabia be added into Total International Stock?
Replies: 14
Views: 1644

Re: Will Saudi Arabia be added into Total International Stoc

Vanguard Total International uses the FTSE Global All Cap ex US index, which includes both developed and emerging markets but not frontier markets. Their classification is described here: http://www.ftse.com/products/indices/country-classification The highest income country on the planet, Qatar, is ...
by patrick
Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:41 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Poll: do you own individual international stocks?
Replies: 25
Views: 1744

Re: Poll: do you own individual international stocks?

stlutz wrote:The Fidelity commissions are in local currency. So 3000 yen not dollars.


Even so it still comes out to 25 dollars, a fairly high commission.

I'll also note that many foreign stocks can be purchased on US exchanges for the same commissions (as low or high as they may be) as US stocks.
by patrick
Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Has Anyone had a Credit Card Cancelled for not Using It
Replies: 51
Views: 3768

Re: Has Anyone had a Credit Card Cancelled for not Using It

It's happened to me several times. If I recall correctly, Target, First National Omaha, US Bank, Citi, HSBC, and WaMu all cancelled my cards at various points over the years, in some cases without notice and usually after more than a year of inactivity. It's not really a problem since I still have o...
by patrick
Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: protecting passport from damage
Replies: 23
Views: 1615

protecting passport from damage

I just renewed my passport. The last one had gotten a bit worn over the years. Could you suggest anything convenient for carrying the passport while keeping it safe from any damage?
by patrick
Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cloud Storage
Replies: 44
Views: 4564

Re: Cloud Storage

Let's assume we all have something we want to stay private. Like Leeraar's genealogical data, Livesoft's oatmeal recipe, Victoria's personal musings on her pilgrimage, or Caduceus's homemade sex video (just kidding ...). So we encrypt it and send it into the cloud. But surely this encryption will b...
by patrick
Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ad Blockers
Replies: 34
Views: 1846

Re: Ad Blockers

I've been using AdBlock (just plain AdBlock, nothing else in the name) on PC for Chrome. The running total it keeps is quite interesting: 655,488 ads blocked so far. I never knew I was getting that many!

On my smartphone I use Adblock Edge (based on Adblock Plus but no whitelist) for FIrefox.
by patrick
Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Indexed Universal Life
Replies: 6
Views: 677

Re: Indexed Universal Life

For starters, consider the following: 1. As with all cash value life insurance, you have to keep it in force until death in order to avoid paying income taxes (at ordinary income rates!) on the gains. Assuming you have any gains, that is. 2. As with universal life insurance in general, there is a &q...
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International increase in Target Retirement & LifeStrategy
Replies: 233
Views: 21256

Re: Who should be concerned?

Even after the increase, the international stock holdings are still below market weight relative to US stocks.
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Account internet security
Replies: 27
Views: 1594

Re: Account internet security

A bad guy might have your cellphone, or might have your computer. There's a very low probability the bad guy will both "know" the login password and "have" the cellphone. If the bad guy has control of your computer, that is enough to get into your account. He just has to wait fo...
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How Do You Watch Television?
Replies: 81
Views: 6021

Re: How Do You Watch Television?

If you sign up for several different streaming services it may well cost as much as cable. However, Netflix alone has much more content than basic cables packages, and with no ads!
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: External Hard Drive?
Replies: 44
Views: 2516

Re: External Hard Drive?

I have never had a USB flash stick fail on me, but then again I do not use them very aggressively. I have however noticed another risk. Their extremely small physical size makes them very easy to lose.
by patrick
Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Laptop: Windows based vs. Apple
Replies: 86
Views: 6412

Re: Laptop: Windows based vs. Apple

This. We made the switch to a MacBook Pro 6 years ago and love it. We still own the same laptop after 6 years and it's running strong. Since that time, we've purchased iPhones, Apple TV, iPad, and a Time Capsule, and yes, they all really do work seamlessly. We've owned several different Windows lap...
by patrick
Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you still use currency or have you gone all-plastic?
Replies: 47
Views: 3318

Re: Do you still use currency or have you gone all-plastic?

I think it's been at least a year since I used cash for anything other than a taxi. Does using credit cards mean that I end up spending more? Perhaps, but I still manage to save more than half of my income. If I really would end up spending less with cash, that's a good reason to stick to credit car...
by patrick
Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Mutual Funds or Variable Annuity?
Replies: 11
Views: 899

Re: Mutual Funds or Variable Annuity?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Of course it is good for the "advisor" who will get lots of money at the relative's expense. The problem with the annuity is that it almost certainly doesn't guarantee 5% a year in the normal sense. In the normal sense, guaranteeing 5% a ye...
by patrick
Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where to purchase Windows? What version?
Replies: 32
Views: 2293

Re: Where to purchase Windows? What version?

I was in a similar boat with my wife's Dell computer. I found several good reinstall videos on youtube, one specifically for Dell computers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4ECjkiGFYM Another option is to get the iso binaries from Microsoft. http://www.techverse.net/download-windows-7-iso-x86-x64-...
by patrick
Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Seeking Advice - 457s, Fund Choices, Simulations, and More!
Replies: 3
Views: 431

Re: Seeking Advice - 457s, Fund Choices, Simulations, and Mo

There is a possible advantage to staying in the 457 plan. There is no penalty for early withdrawals from a 457 plan, but once you roll over to the IRA then there is a penalty (with various exceptions) of 10% of you withdraw the money before the year you reach age 59.5. However, in this case it looks...
by patrick
Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Why not use inflation-adjusted SPIA?
Replies: 117
Views: 5216

Re: Why not use inflation-adjusted SPIA?

The insurance company can absolutely buy TIPS. And therefore are just as safe if inflation "takes off" as Social Security, since both Social Security and TIPS are in the end guaranteed by the Government of the United States of America. An insurance company can take 100% of assets collecte...
by patrick
Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Archival CD - MDisc
Replies: 25
Views: 1589

Re: Archival CD - MDisc

The mindset seems to be: a) Nobody seriously expects 40-year-old media formats to be readable today. b) Nobody seriously expects there to be any real problems reading current media formats 40 years from today. In the case of mass market formats, (a) is not true. Phonograph records and audio cassett...
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Wealthy cardholders prefer cash-back rewards
Replies: 33
Views: 4363

Re: Wealthy cardholders prefer cash-back rewards

Although I'm hardly wealthy, I also prefer cash back over the alternatives. The reason is the flexibility. I had a hotel rewards card many years ago but ended up never redeeming any of the rewards because there just too many restrictions on when and where they could be used.
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do you watch TV differently after "cutting the cable"?
Replies: 23
Views: 2270

Re: How do you watch TV differently after "cutting the cable

I stopped subscribing to cable a bit over 3 years ago. I watch Netflix far more often than I ever watched cable, and I almost never watch broadcast TV now. As for the background noise, I never missed it.
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:45 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International value: worth the fees?
Replies: 24
Views: 2089

Re: International value: worth the fees?

There are some other options that might be worth considering: 1. iShares has foreign dividend-focused funds that ETFs 0.49% for emerging markets and 0.50% for developed. These are free to trade at Fidelity. 2. Wisdomtree has foreign small-cap dividend funds that ETFs 0.58% for developed and 0.63% fo...
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: VUL - what should my course of action be?
Replies: 8
Views: 1109

Re: VUL - what should my course of action be?

The original post is actually a few years old. However, there is one thing I can't help but reply to:

Everything I am learning about VUL is that it is the worst of the so-called permanent life insurance policies.


I have to disagree with this. Equity Indexed Universal Life Insurance is worse.
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International value: worth the fees?
Replies: 24
Views: 2089

Re: International value: worth the fees?

As an active fund, VTRIX holds stocks that the active manager considers to be value stocks. These don't necessarily correspond well with those that were consider value in the research about the value premium which is instead usually based on price to book ratio.
by patrick
Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:46 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: interest rate increase looming. what you gonna do ?
Replies: 65
Views: 6501

Re: interest rate increase looming. what you gonna do ?

Celebrate! If you are investing for the long term (longer than your bonds' duration) you are better off in the end if interest rates increase now.
by patrick
Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:19 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why is there more (real) money in the market?
Replies: 8
Views: 1202

Re: Why is there more (real) money in the market?

I would agree that interest rates have something to do with it, but here are some other things to consider: Stock market capitalization is a total immediate price of stocks, while GDP is the amount of production over a certain period of time, usually a year. If you calculate that market capitalizati...
by patrick
Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Archival CD - MDisc
Replies: 25
Views: 1589

Re: Archival CD - MDisc

The storage media themselves may or may not fare well over the decades, but the ability to run the software applications for our older computer and media files remains a huge question mark. Losing the ability to read common media files would take a lot more than a change to one application. It woul...
by patrick
Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:43 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What percent Emerging Mkt in Total Int'l Stock Index?
Replies: 22
Views: 2155

Re: What percent Emerging Mkt in Total Int'l Stock Index?

Different sources have different ideas of which countries count as emerging markets. For instance, Taiwan is emerging accord to the index Vanguard follows, but it counts as developed in some classifications.
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:39 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Foreign Currency Hedge for Vacation
Replies: 14
Views: 1235

Re: Foreign Currency Hedge for Vacation

I would agree that it is probably not worth the trouble to hedge this -- especially if the hotel is prepaid. But if you wanted to, the simple solution of going ahead and exchanging for CHF cash now would probably have no higher cost than doing so later, assuming you were going to exchange cash at al...
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Poll: Increasing international equities
Replies: 58
Views: 4065

Re: Poll: Increasing international equities

I'm not making any change, but I will note that people who are increasing international allocation do not seem to be following the standard market timing behavior. People usually seem to move into what's done well over the last few years, but international has actually underperformed.
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:19 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: REITs and Bonds, Little tax advantaged space. Var annuity?
Replies: 10
Views: 664

Re: REITs and Bonds, Little tax advantaged space. Var annuit

If you own a significant amount of rental property directly you already have a significant amount of real estate exposure even without buying any REITs. So you probably could manage to skip them (or just have them in the 2% tax advantaged account) and still have plenty of real estate as a fraction o...
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:06 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "Americans Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement"
Replies: 41
Views: 4981

Re: "Americans Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement"

Beliavsky wrote:Unify the 401(k) and IRA contribution limits so that people with poor options in their 401(k) plan can simply open IRA accounts.


Unfortunately, most people who would take advantage of this would probably use it as an opportunity to put more money in high-cost IRAs instead of high-cost 401(k)s.
by patrick
Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:48 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Archival CD - MDisc
Replies: 25
Views: 1589

Re: Archival CD - MDisc

None of us have 1000 year old MDisc media to test, so we are left with hypothetical estimates. I suspect many people underestimate the life of ordinary media. I've recently gone back through old media in my personal possession and had generally good results. The vast majority of decade-old optical d...
by patrick
Sat Feb 28, 2015 5:20 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How to Invest in Gold
Replies: 70
Views: 4844

Re: Why not Tungsten?

So if you wanted $1 million in a fungible, divisible, physical asset, that you could carry on your back, own anonymously, that has maintained its buying power for thousands of years all over the world, that would allow you to walk into virtually any town or city in the world and get close to spot p...
by patrick
Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:47 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Oil ETF?
Replies: 9
Views: 868

Re: Oil ETF?

I don't expect OIL to be much, if any, better than USO. OIL tracks a futures index and thus should be expected to perform similarly to the USO fund which also uses futures, and from the historical results it seems that OIL has indeed performed very similarly to USO since inception back in 2006. Note...
by patrick
Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Poll: Largest fraudulent charge to your credit card(s)?
Replies: 49
Views: 2736

Re: Poll: Largest fraudulent charge to your credit card(s)?

I had voted "No fraudulent charges, lucky me" but it turns out my luck had just run out. I just now detected a fraudulent charge on my card for the first time ever. Time to change my vote! The largest individual charge is $40 but they made a bunch of charges totaling over $300. And the fir...
by patrick
Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What do you think of Fidelity's retirement benchmarks?
Replies: 14
Views: 2220

Re: What do you think of Fidelity's retirement benchmarks?

The vast majority of Americans retire with much less than recommended yet somehow they manage to make do. There is also an issue with changes in salary. If your salary increases dramatically then your retirement readiness would seem to have gotten much worse. Likewise a big pay cut swould make it lo...
by patrick
Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How do you invest in Frontier Markets?
Replies: 51
Views: 2832

Re: How do you invest in Frontier Markets?

Since the original post the MSCI reclassification of Qatar/UAE from frontier to emerging has completed. The FM ETF no longer includes these countries, and as a result it has less concentration in the Middle East than it used to. Currently, less than 40% of FM is in the Middle East, primarily in Kuwa...
by patrick
Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: external hard drive - Windows 8 - need assitance
Replies: 20
Views: 1433

Re: external hard drive - Windows 8 - need assitance

The interface for USB drives is generic. All recent operating system have generic support for it, so you shouldn't need to install a special driver. Even if the device doesn't officially support Windows 8, that shouldn't matter either -- I am using Windows 8 but can still use USB drives that are a d...
by patrick
Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:22 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: UGA: Locking in the Current Price of Gasoline
Replies: 15
Views: 1347

Re: UGA: Locking in the Current Price of Gasoline

UGA offers commodity exposure without using a commodity futures account," but darn it all, that does not make sense. They say clearly that they are investing in futures contracts, not gasoline itself, and it seems to me that they must be using a commodity futures account. I presume this means ...
by patrick
Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:58 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Reward checking account paying 3+% interest -- good idea?
Replies: 5
Views: 933

Reward checking account paying 3+% interest -- good idea?

I've been looking at rewards checking accounts, which offer much higher yield than normal checking (and higher than 30 year Treasuries these days!) and trying to figure out if it is worth using them. From what I've looked at it seems the best on offer now is at Consumers Credit Union, as described o...
by patrick
Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:24 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Ignore the experts but can you invest by consensus?
Replies: 15
Views: 1131

Re: Ignore the experts but can you invest by consensus?

1) Limited to mutual funds and ETFs (probably not much debate on that).


I think there is debate on that -- many of us would consider using US savings bonds (and of course have some money in a plain bank account too, but I presume that is not thought of as part of the portfolio).
by patrick
Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:51 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Does Inflation eliminate the Safety of Bonds?
Replies: 42
Views: 3568

Re: Does Inflation eliminate the Safety of Bonds?

Inflation certainly increases the risk of bonds. You are told this much when you invest in them. OR, interestingly enough, it can reduce return instead, if you buy TIPS. Take your pick. From this very simplistic argument.. that Bonds are like cash.. just not as bad.. "if your bet pays off"...
by patrick
Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Tax Exempt Muni Bond Index for Brokerage Account
Replies: 16
Views: 1488

Re: Tax Exempt Muni Bond Index for Brokerage Account

Someone who is about to retire (or has recently retired) may be on the verge of a large drop in tax bracket. Wages (or self employment income) are often the large majority of taxable income and so retirement lowers taxable income a lot, possible dropping down multiple tax brackets. This is especiall...
by patrick
Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:05 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Emerging markets bonds better than US high yield bonds?
Replies: 28
Views: 2747

Re: Emerging markets bonds better than US high yield bonds?

"Fortunately" for those advocating emerging markets bonds, 1998 was more than ten years ago and thus doesn't show up in the 1-3-5-10 year returns or the usual growth charts. Blue line: Emerging markets bonds as represented by the Fidelity New Markets Income Fund. ("Normally investing...
by patrick
Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:09 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: can someone explain the reasoning behind SEPP?
Replies: 10
Views: 1009

Re: can someone explain the reasoning behind SEPP?

72(t) refers to a section of the Internal Revenue Code, laws enacted by Congress, not a regulation from the IRS. Sometimes it's not clear what the point of a law is, but presumably it's based around the idea that the IRA is intended for retirement only and shouldn't be used for any other purpose. Al...
by patrick
Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Ten Year Treasuries Up 1.68 to 1.95 This Week
Replies: 24
Views: 1988

Re: Ten Year Treasuries Up 1.68 to 1.95 This Week

It's very shocking to live in times where yields ending up at 1.95% is actually an increase!
by patrick
Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "770" Account
Replies: 4
Views: 617

Re: "770" Account

This is just another name for cash value life insurance.
by patrick
Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:54 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Met a Vanguard basher TransAmerica Insurance pusher
Replies: 41
Views: 4896

Re: Met a Vanguard basher TransAmerica Insurance pusher

He was probably talking about equity indexed universal life insurance. It is cash value life insurance (just like whole life insurance) but the returns credited to it are a derivative of stock returns with caps and floors and dividends thrown away (just like equity indexed annuities). There are prob...

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