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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

I am trying to make a rewards-based reservation on United Airlines as follows: 1) IAD-FRA 2) FRA-NRT 3) ICN-DCA From what I've read, I can treat it as a round trip Washington ( IAD/DCA ) to Tokyo ( NRT ) with: a) stop over in Frankfurt ( FRA ) and b) open jaw at the destination, i.e., arrive to Tok...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:51 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards
Replies: 193
Views: 18340

Re: Observations from a first time poster, long time reader.

5) My 65k in income is divs plus call premiums, not total return. How much of the $65k is from dividends and how much from call premiums? I understand the difference between the two (also have professional investment management background) and am not clear why you would "bucket" both into...
by rjbraun
Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:16 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: [New Member Observations- Covered Calls, Financial Advisors]
Replies: 227
Views: 16352

Re: Help! Career Advice needed!

Would it be useful for her to contact a recruiter? Perhaps, they can help get her through the door? I think if she got interviews, she would have much better luck landing something. Account Management/Sales would be a good career path for her, and so would business/IT analysis. Stuff like Confluenc...
by rjbraun
Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:47 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Help! Career Advice needed!
Replies: 20
Views: 1962

Re: Decision process to keep credit card after initial bonus

Update: Citi AAdvantage card: I called Citi to cancel my card today. The woman was nice :happy and got me to reconsider. Basically, she offered to issue me a $95 statement credit to match the annual fee, as long as I spend at least $95 in the next two billing cycles. I also stand to receive an addit...
by rjbraun
Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:32 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Decision process to keep credit card after initial bonus
Replies: 6
Views: 693

Re: Decision process to keep credit card after initial bonus

I'll probably renew my United card that I got last May for one more year. I'd planned to use it for one trip where the fee would have been paid for by the baggage fees, but it turned out not to be the optimal routing for that trip this year vs. last year. I have multiple business cards with primary...
by rjbraun
Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:02 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Decision process to keep credit card after initial bonus
Replies: 6
Views: 693

Decision process to keep credit card after initial bonus

I've read posts saying, I believe, that if you cancel a card it can result in a small hit to your credit score, though I believe the hit is only temporary. Assuming one doesn't plan to apply for a mortgage or similar anytime soon, is the potential hit so significant? I've got a Citi AAdvantage card ...
by rjbraun
Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:44 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Decision process to keep credit card after initial bonus
Replies: 6
Views: 693

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

I think I follow what you're saying. So, I can transfer UR points to my Amtrak Guest Rewards (GR) account and then use the points for free Amtrak travel. That means I could transfer 4000 UR points and receive 4000 GR points, right? That's good for one free one-way regional ticket on the Northeast c...
by rjbraun
Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:08 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

Thank you, yes I think I knew that (at least the part about transferring, I never thought either way about a possible fee). I haven't actually used any of my UR points, so I'm not exactly sure how it works. I guess I'm kind of BH-ish with points programs in that I tend to like to accumulate and not...
by rjbraun
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: $10+ M, age 49, seeking wisdom regarding retirement

I won't have $10m (certainly at age 49 and maybe ever) but regardless in my mid to late 40s I might have enough to contemplate the same questions. My plan is to try to work part-time, while wife continues to work part-time, one of us keeping health insurance. Our kids will be young teens and I thin...
by rjbraun
Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:49 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: $10+ M, age 49, seeking wisdom regarding retirement
Replies: 61
Views: 10385

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

I guess that makes sense, I've always kept my airline points after I've cancelled a card. I must be fixated on my Chase ink bold card which will reach its one-year anniversary soon, and I'll need to take action there or risk losing those points. You may already know this, but you can also transfer ...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:43 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: Adult Music Lessons

I pretty much agree with what everyone wrote. Of course, it depends on where you live and other factors, but I think $80-100/month is too low. I paid $75/lesson weekly, and I think my teacher undercharged (which she also acknowledged -- experienced teacher with BA and MA from top music conservatory)...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:58 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Adult Music Lessons
Replies: 30
Views: 2097

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

tedclu wrote:star points don't expire, as long as the account has activities in the past 12 months.
http://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferred ... terms.html

Thank you for the link
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

Not sure about transferring SPG points, but when transferring Amex's Membership Reward points to an american carrier you get charged a fee. If you fly domestically and want to play the game of trying to find award flights, transferring to British Airways would be a good option. They have mileage ba...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:42 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

The Starpoints that are in your SPG account stay put. This is similar to with other hotel/air programs. Once the activity posts, you keep the points (or certificates etc). It is the native bank points (ThankYou, Flexperks, Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, Worldpoints, Arrival miles, etc) that ...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG

you can cancel the card, the points will stay in your account until it expires. My best redemptions have been the SPG Moments auctions, and Cat 2 hotels. there are also amazon giftcards. Wow. About how long a "life" do points have? I assume that you were referring to the points expiring a...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card

My AMEX SPG rewards card is approaching (or already has) its one year anniversary. Assuming AMEX won't waive the annual fee, I plan to cancel the card. But I want to clear out my points beforehand. For whatever reason, I've really never gotten the hang of this card and am hence somewhat unclear of h...
by rjbraun
Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:58 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ~30,000 Starpoints to redeem before cancelling AMEX SPG card
Replies: 14
Views: 1014

Re: Well made woman's shoe?

Some Ferragamos now have cheap heels. You need to take care which ones. I've had luck with Chanel, Prada and Fendi, which I like to buy on sale. Any of them can have the cheap, thin sole/heel problem. Another shoe I was going to recommend is Arche. Their soft latex soles probably help to make them ...
by rjbraun
Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Well made woman's shoe?
Replies: 27
Views: 2060

Re: Tourists in Manhattan

Great! Thanks all. We are flying into JFK. Best way to get into Manhattan? We will each have one suitcase. AirTrain to / from JFK works pretty well, especially if your luggage is minimal. Current fare shown is $7.50 per person, but subway / bus fares are scheduled to go up the end of this month, so...
by rjbraun
Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:41 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tourists in Manhattan
Replies: 53
Views: 4502

Re: Well made woman's shoe?

Ferragamos? Classic styling, for the most part, made in Italy (at least in the past) and cut for a narrow foot, based on my experience. Pricey but exquisite shoes. People also rave about Belgian Shoes, though I have no firsthand experience. http://www.ferragamo.com/shop/en/usa/women/shoes/ballerinas...
by rjbraun
Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:08 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Well made woman's shoe?
Replies: 27
Views: 2060

Re: Tourists in Manhattan

Staying in NJ makes no sense IMHO. Penny wise and pound foolish. Part of New York is that it is a 24 hour town. You need to stay in the City to experience the true NY. Check out the various hotel web search engines. Hotel Tonight usually has reasonably priced deals the day of. Also check on Air BnB...
by rjbraun
Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:41 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tourists in Manhattan
Replies: 53
Views: 4502

Re: Tourists in Manhattan

Staying in NJ makes no sense IMHO. Penny wise and pound foolish. Part of New York is that it is a 24 hour town. You need to stay in the City to experience the true NY. Check out the various hotel web search engines. Hotel Tonight usually has reasonably priced deals the day of. Also check on Air BnB...
by rjbraun
Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:06 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tourists in Manhattan
Replies: 53
Views: 4502

Re: Hotel in Verona, Italy?

We visited northern Italy last summer and had a great time. We spent several nights in Verona. We were happy with our hotel / pensione, but it wouldn't satisfy your needs (long flight of steps and no elevator). As for hotel location, I would think something off Via Mazzini or near Piazza delle Erbe ...
by rjbraun
Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:14 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hotel in Verona, Italy?
Replies: 8
Views: 618

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Capital One has no foreign xfer fees, but won't have chip & pin until later this year: http://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/chip-cards. Actually, the Capital One card will be chip-and-signature, not chip and pin. The website tries to spin this as a positive: "Good news! Capital One chip ...
by rjbraun
Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:26 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

If you are looking at strictly cash, the Fidelity Retirement Rewards AMEX is 2%. The money is deposited into a Fidelity account. There is also an Investment derivative. The nice thing about the card is that it doesn't have the gimmick of 1% now, 1% when you pay that the Citi Double Cash Card has. T...
by rjbraun
Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:24 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

I actually don't own a car (I know, people may find it odd, but I live in a big city with good public transportation). I don't find it the least bit odd. For a lot of us, we can only afford international travel if we cut back other places, and a car can be the biggest money-sucker, especially if yo...
by rjbraun
Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, Chip + PIN, and might be worth holding anyway since it has 5% cash back at gas stations. Only a great deal half the year since Chase Freedom typically has two periods where the bonus category includes gas stations. Thank yo...
by rjbraun
Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The no-fee card I just got does not have a chip. Hhmmm, I thought I read that the no-fee card comes with a chip, but I guess not. Ugh. I think my Citi AAdvantage card comes with a chip, but I probably won't renew that, once the annual fee kicks in. Besides, I think they charge a fee for foreign tra...
by rjbraun
Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:42 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

This looks like one of the few cards available with chip and pin, as well as no foreign transaction fees. Did you travel internationally and were you able to use it in train kiosks, etc.? Yes and yes -- travel internationally and used the card to purchase tickets at a train station in Italy (Verona...
by rjbraun
Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:26 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

I would recommend simply calling Barclay and downgrade to the no annual fee version which is the "Arrival World Mastercard" so you maintain the same level of credit. This way your credit score is not negatively impacted. You can then get the Citi Double Cash which is 2% cash back on all p...
by rjbraun
Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

I'm approaching my one-year card anniversary and will need to decide soon whether to pay the annual membership fee. I'm inclined to cancel the card. I've been doing the credit card "churn" to a moderate degree but normally don't have any cards that require an annual fee. I've always cancel...
by rjbraun
Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Replies: 23
Views: 2059

Re: Where to find career help for clueless 40+ person

I think jsl11 has provided very good suggestions, especially #1 and #2. "The Five O'Clock Club" model can be effective. I participated in the program years ago (mid-career) and found it helpful. It provided structure and personal accountability to my search. Ultimately, of course, it's inc...
by rjbraun
Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where to find career help for clueless 40+ person
Replies: 3
Views: 794

Re: Experiences using VRBO, Airbnb internationally

I've not booked through VRBO, airbnb or similar, though I do see the benefits of apartment stays while traveling. To date, I've either "piggybacked" on others in my group who had already made the arrangements or I've booked an apartment through a hotel. I felt as if there would be greater ...
by rjbraun
Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:17 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experiences using VRBO, Airbnb internationally
Replies: 26
Views: 2798

Re: PhD in Computer Engineering?

VictoriaF wrote:Financial industry is actively recruiting "rocket scientists." If all other prospects fail, one can settle for a $200k salary on Wall Street.

Victoria

I thought the financial industry was kind of struggling these days. What areas are actively recruiting rocket scientists?
by rjbraun
Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: PhD in Computer Engineering?
Replies: 33
Views: 3483

Re: Small Moneysavers Which Add Up

For the remaining book lovers among us, Thrift Books sells used books for about $3 to $4, including postage. I only discovered them within the last couple of months. Of the several books I've bought so far, I'm totally pleased. I found the description of book condition to be accurate. http://www.th...
by rjbraun
Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Small Moneysavers Which Add Up
Replies: 74
Views: 7771

Re: Small Moneysavers Which Add Up

For the remaining book lovers among us, Thrift Books sells used books for about $3 to $4, including postage. I only discovered them within the last couple of months. Of the several books I've bought so far, I'm totally pleased. I found the description of book condition to be accurate. http://www.thr...
by rjbraun
Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Small Moneysavers Which Add Up
Replies: 74
Views: 7771

Re: How can I stop feeling depressed about my finances?

Semiotic, I've read parts of this thread over the past several days, but I haven't kept up with everything. Like someone else posted above, I figured that I would chime in now, at least in part because I have been thinking about your comment (or others') dismissing the value of a degree in English. ...
by rjbraun
Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:16 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How can I stop feeling depressed about my finances?
Replies: 130
Views: 15565

Re: Health insurance decision

lululu wrote:Is there an out of pocket maximum?

Yes, good point by you and celia above - thank you. I need to do a line-by-line comparison, I just need to find the time for that.

Off to work now, but appreciate your feedback and would still appreciate more ideas from folks!
by rjbraun
Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:43 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Health insurance decision
Replies: 5
Views: 476

Re: Health insurance decision

I suggest comparing all the features of the two plans if you haven't yet. Be sure you check for maximum out of pocket you would have to pay on both. If you should be hospitalized for a week, a 10-30% co-payment would be rather burdensome. I hope $1,000 isn't the full premium for the insurance--ie, ...
by rjbraun
Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:41 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Health insurance decision
Replies: 5
Views: 476

Health insurance decision

I currently have an HMO at work. All of my doctors are in-network and I'm generally very satisfied with the coverage provided. The main issue (and reason for posting) is that the annual premium runs almost $5000. My employer offers another plan that would cost about $1000. People I've spoken to unde...
by rjbraun
Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:53 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Health insurance decision
Replies: 5
Views: 476

Re: Obese airline passenger

Southwest has a very fair policy, but it is not very consumer friendly and my guess is many people who could use it do not. It requires the "customer of size" to book (and pay for) two or three seats in advance -- with reimbursement for the extra seats after the flight. http://www.southwe...
by rjbraun
Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:22 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Obese airline passenger
Replies: 62
Views: 5258

Re: Obese airline passenger

Flying is already a very stressful event for nearly everyone. Here is what it comes down to: Why should someone's obesity problem (whether medical or otherwise) also become my problem? Since this post is not actionable and will just serve to irritate folks on both sides, probably time to shut er do...
by rjbraun
Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:42 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Obese airline passenger
Replies: 62
Views: 5258

Re: What to look for in a homeowner's policy

Loss of Use: 150K I assume that this would cover cost of alternate accommodations and related expenses such as food / meals, etc., if you were to be displaced as a result of your loss. Will the policy allow you to stay in a similar quality place as your home, in terms of the actual residence, locat...
by rjbraun
Sat Sep 27, 2014 10:11 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What to look for in a homeowner's policy
Replies: 11
Views: 906

Re: Norwegian Airlines

If you're on the same ticket, of course you will be seated together. Not sure they would stay in business very long if they split couples and families higgledy-piggledy around the plane. You could also just call and ask them: 1-800-357-4159 And this on their web site about seat allocation in genera...
by rjbraun
Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Re: Norwegian Airlines
Replies: 25
Views: 2522

Re: Norwegian Airlines

As for seat allocation, no, you are allocated a seat before you board. It is not a mad scramble. If I recall correctly, the ticket price quoted does not include luggage, meals or seat reservations. I'm willing to forego the first two, but especially as I would be traveling with my partner, how does...
by rjbraun
Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Re: Norwegian Airlines
Replies: 25
Views: 2522

Re: Please critique my 2015 household budget

The expense that seems the most out of line is the food line. Do you really spend $200/week? That seems like the first place to save, if you need to. Yes, this is what popped out at me too. I'm not defending or justifying OP's food budget, nor am I criticizing it. I'm simply saying that as a fellow...
by rjbraun
Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:38 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Please critique my 2015 household budget
Replies: 21
Views: 2185

Re: Ideas for thanking a doctor

OP here: I took people's advice and wrote a handwritten note, basically thanking my doctor for his fine care and professionalism despite the presumably challenging conditions he faces at times. I also bought several bags containing individually-sized packages of nuts and dried fruits for him to shar...
by rjbraun
Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ideas for thanking a doctor
Replies: 75
Views: 5985

Re: Meetings over the lunch hour, taboo?

Start Rant: I'm seeing a shift here with one of our clients, I hope the trend does not continue but I'm afraid its going to become more common just like people thinking I want to talk business when I'm on vacation. I can definitely sympathize with you, but especially given that we're talking about ...
by rjbraun
Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Meetings over the lunch hour, taboo?
Replies: 46
Views: 4185

Re: Would you quit over the pretend boss

If you are a manager, then why don't you manage the COO and the CIO to get 1. A huge raise 2. Incredible bonuses 3. More staff to complete the work they want done 4. More vacation days 5. A better work environment 6. Etc. I don't see how this comment helps the OP. Good managers can manage. You can ...
by rjbraun
Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Would you quit over the pretend boss
Replies: 33
Views: 3243

Re: Anyone moved from NY?

I live in NYC and can appreciate the hassles, crowds, intensity that others take issue with. But, I also feel as if I enjoy and take advantage of the city's offerings: concerts, museums, other cultural offerings, convenience of being able to walk to places or take public transportation and not havi...
by rjbraun
Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:04 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone moved from NY?
Replies: 43
Views: 3253

Re: Anyone moved from NY?

I live in NYC and can appreciate the hassles, crowds, intensity that others take issue with. But, I also feel as if I enjoy and take advantage of the city's offerings: concerts, museums, other cultural offerings, convenience of being able to walk to places or take public transportation and not havi...
by rjbraun
Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:12 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone moved from NY?
Replies: 43
Views: 3253
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