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Re: Day camps, summer camps, summer school

Our preschools close for the summer so we have done summer camps from when the kids were 3 years old (most camps are for potty trained kids, many even start from 4 years of age). We usually pick several weeks in a full day camp and sometimes add 1-2 weeks of another camp to try out a certain activit...
by vveat
Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:17 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Day camps, summer camps, summer school
Replies: 8
Views: 547

Re: Brown bagging in a more formal office

We often have clients around and office is business casual. I personally use the Ms Bento, saves me the need to use the fridge or to microwave and comes with its own bag. But I see plenty of brown bags in our fridge too. http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-Ms-Bento-Stainless-Lunch-Aqua/dp/B00120085E/ref...
by vveat
Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:10 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Brown bagging in a more formal office
Replies: 43
Views: 2884

Re: Redrawn flood zone map puts portion of property in FZ

We have the same issue with a corner of the backyard falls in the flood zone. This is one of my biggest pet peeves - the mortgage companies insists on us having flood coverage for the same value as the home insurance, and not a penny less (regardless of the fact that our mortgage principal is way sm...
by vveat
Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:56 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Redrawn flood zone map puts portion of property in FZ
Replies: 22
Views: 1007

Re: Will this affect your Tipping? [Suggested Tip Amounts]

I would probably tip because of the reminder, taking it as indication that tip is expected. I am often confused what is a tipping and non tipping situation (since I am originally from Europe) - for example I tipped gas station assistants for a while before realizing others don't. My pet peeve is hav...
by vveat
Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:10 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Will this affect your Tipping? [Suggested Tip Amounts]
Replies: 123
Views: 7544

Re: House too small; what to do?

What about making use of existing space more efficiently the way apartment dwellers in these places are instinctively used to? Like making use of bunk beds or foldable beds, decluttering and getting rid of clunky furniture? I bet with 7 people the amount of "stuff" lying around that isn't...
by vveat
Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:48 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: House too small; what to do?
Replies: 38
Views: 3058

Re: Closets etc for new home

We used EasyClosets with DYI installation. It was for a pantry which is in a transition space (not heated, outside walls, actually perfect temperature for a pantry). Installation was easy, they addressed questions quickly and customized some specs and resent a missing part with no argument. But in a...
by vveat
Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:39 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Closets etc for new home
Replies: 17
Views: 1653

Re: Party Decoration - how to minimize spending

Get ordinary single color balloons, have them helium inflated, and then draw simple pictures on them along the party theme. Last 2 times we did butterflies and frogs respectively, simple to draw and kids loved the novelty. If you are good with drawing, you can extend this to other items - cups, post...
by vveat
Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:41 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Party Decoration - how to minimize spending
Replies: 6
Views: 348

Re: How much to get your taxes done?

I pay $575 to a CPA, have been with him for 4 years ever since IRS collected interest on a DIY error. Taxes take me 1.5 hours a year with him. Last year I decided to check his results against TurboTax, spent at least 1 hour more and estimated refund was less - the main reason being I probably did so...
by vveat
Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:30 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much to get your taxes done?
Replies: 31
Views: 3018

Good financial decision with unexpected consequences?

I had this week 2 examples how a financial decision that was good on its own, resulted in unexpected financial consequences later on. A couple of years ago I opened an Amex Blue Preferred card with 6% on groceries. One strategy discussed on PF blogs at the time was using the card to buy gift cards f...
by vveat
Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Good financial decision with unexpected consequences?
Replies: 3
Views: 873

Re: Name change effects

Change it everywhere. My husband has been dragging it off for a few years, not even a formal name change just one letter spelled differently (think "th" vs t" because of a passport change) and now we decided to have this fixed and it has just proliferated meanwhile. SS and banks are e...
by vveat
Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:58 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Name change effects
Replies: 7
Views: 575

Re: Bogleheads favorite Personal Finance/Investing Blog?

In addition to above-mentioned I still like Free Money Finance, although it's not as good as a year ago, the author started a new job and relies much more on readers posts.
www.freemoneyfinance.com/
by vveat
Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Bogleheads favorite Personal Finance/Investing Blog?
Replies: 25
Views: 4394

Re: percolator vs drip

When hurricane Sandy left us without power for 2 weeks we were very happy that we are French press people, no electricity required to get a cup of coffee. What spoiled the picture was we had to grind the coffee first without our burr grinder - mortar and pestle really don't do the job :oops:
by vveat
Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: percolator vs drip
Replies: 109
Views: 4773

Re: Poll: Experience with personal lending

I've lent money to friends and would do it again - but if there is a chance the money won't be returned I would rather frame it as gift upfront to avoid potential awkwardness. A very good friend borrowed about $4,000 when we were both in grad school and up to our necks in debt, eventually I told him...
by vveat
Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:03 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Poll: Experience with personal lending
Replies: 52
Views: 2179

Re: Salary to Home Value/Mortgage Ratio?

Salary to house value now is 1:1, when we bought was 1:2. Housing is expensive in NJ, but we bought within our means and are happy
Mortgage payments, insurance and taxes are 7% of gross income but we do pay extra principal.
Mortgage is 60% of salary, hope to be 0% in 2 years :sharebeer
by vveat
Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:47 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Salary to Home Value/Mortgage Ratio?
Replies: 27
Views: 2058

Re: What does your spending pie chart look like?

How do you attach a chart here? I tried copy and paste from Mint, didn't work.

Home - 32% (mortgage, taxes, utilities, furnishings)
Kids - 25% (last year had preschool tuition for 2, activities, camps, etc)
Food - 11%
Gifts/charity - 5%
Healthcare - 4%
rest - 20%
by vveat
Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:44 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What does your spending pie chart look like?
Replies: 15
Views: 983

Re: Seeking Advice/Direction: Kids Allowence, Paying for Cho

I didn't get an allowance and didn't get paid for chores either - my parents occasionally gave me pocket money and sometimes for birthdays, but overall they provided for everything and I was not expected to need much beyond (this was in a different country). I turned out just fine, with I think a he...
by vveat
Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:57 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Seeking Advice/Direction: Kids Allowence, Paying for Chores
Replies: 29
Views: 932

Re: Oldest friend

I've changed my life twice (location, profession, etc) and the friends from the previous phase largely didn't survive the change. Both times I've kept in touch for a few years but it was more and more difficult to find conversation topics beyond catching up, we just were leading too different lives....
by vveat
Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:29 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Oldest friend
Replies: 17
Views: 1072

Re: High Income Earner & College Attended

I attended college in a different country - pretty much all colleges were public at the time, and mostly free. The poll should have this as an option to be comprehensive.

Would be better if poll is about full education level, grad school is the reason I am making well above 100K
by vveat
Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:36 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: High Income Earner & College Attended
Replies: 58
Views: 4102

Re: Trouble trusting US healthcare

I was raised in Europe, healthcare was mostly free, and nobody tried to sell you anything ... or offer you options in case you wanted to do more than the basics. I've seen the bad side of this - scant attention to patients, misdiagnosis, etc. In terms of dental work everything was bare bones - no an...
by vveat
Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:07 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Trouble trusting US healthcare
Replies: 70
Views: 3260

Re: home inventory app/method (for insurance)

I did this last January for the first time. First I listed everything in Excel - the item name/description, in which room it is, and also anything I could track down or estimate on year of purchase and cost. For a few I added links to these items from internet sources for price reference. I already ...
by vveat
Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:09 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: home inventory app/method (for insurance)
Replies: 7
Views: 413

Re: What did you do with unwanted baby gear?

Do you have a babysitter? Ours works with a few different families and also does some daycare at a church and always finds somebody who wants our stuff. There were very few things she hasn't been able to find a place.
by vveat
Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:59 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What did you do with unwanted baby gear?
Replies: 22
Views: 1226

Re: How much a baby costs?

Aside from the above-mentioned useful ideas for getting secondhand stuff - garage sales, Craigslist, church, etc, you and your wife could also mention around at work that you don't mind used clothes. Some people would be hesitant to offer unless you are close, but would happily help if they know you...
by vveat
Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much a baby costs?
Replies: 86
Views: 4005

Re: How much do you spend on books a year?

I spent $484 in 2013 and $664 in 2012 - both times exceeding my book budget of $30 a month. I do use the library a lot since I read on average 4-5 books a week, say 250 a year, and I have only bought ~50 last year. The library is especially helpful for kids books as well. I have a couple of Kindle d...
by vveat
Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:54 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much do you spend on books a year?
Replies: 47
Views: 1920

Re: Favorite Christmas Gift

My husband got us a nice heated mattress pad, since I am always cold and our old electric blanket works when it feels like it. The very next day after the package arrived I was down with strep throat, spent the whole day in bed shivering and feeling like being hit by a train, but the pad warmth made...
by vveat
Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:35 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Favorite Christmas Gift
Replies: 43
Views: 2082

Re: Europe with young kids - 6 and almost 3, bad idea ?

Ours are 5 and 3, we travel to Europe regularly to visit grandparents, but all they remember so far are the playgrounds and similar entertainment for children. So a trip for sightseeing would be a complete waste. So far we have gone the route of "leave them with grandparents, take a week-long a...
by vveat
Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe with young kids - 6 and almost 3, bad idea ?
Replies: 34
Views: 1970

Re: New Year's Eve

We are having friends over with their kids. The girls will have sleepover fun, we'll catch up, have dinner, possibly watch the ball drop, drink more and then retire to bed. Where I grew up (behind the Iron curtain) New Year's Eve was the big thing, with tree and presents and a lot of festivities, si...
by vveat
Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:23 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New Year's Eve
Replies: 67
Views: 3080

Re: Tipping a taxi driver on a snow day?

1) How much snow was on the ground? Less than 1", 2-3"? Was it still snowing? Was visibility reduced? 2) If he got in an accident or got stuck in the snow and needed a tow, he would have been responsible, so I can understand his concern. 3) Where did you wait for your ride? In the taxi? H...
by vveat
Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:31 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tipping a taxi driver on a snow day?
Replies: 36
Views: 2283

Tipping a taxi driver on a snow day?

I had a situation yesterday that left a bad taste in my mouth. I took a taxi from the airport to my NJ town yesterday. It was snowing, light at the airport, medium in my area. He started grumbling about the snow already on the highway when we were approaching my exit and said how "if he had kno...
by vveat
Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:28 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tipping a taxi driver on a snow day?
Replies: 36
Views: 2283

Re: Checklist for the Arrival of a Baby

Will or living trust - look into both, not sure what is best for your circumstances Term life insurance - you can use online calculator, I've heard 10x income as a rule of thumb Open a 529 for her, no need to start funding until you are ready, but we got some monetary gifts, esp from family, and dir...
by vveat
Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:28 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Checklist for the Arrival of a Baby
Replies: 22
Views: 1698

Re: Gift Suggestions - for a 9 year old girl

Her list will be best, can you offer to "fax it to Santa" for her? Mine is still a bit young, but I've been thinking I would do a mother-daughter night-on-the-town kind of thing - either show/movies and dinner, or a spa or just manicure/pedicure - at that age should work well, and it's exp...
by vveat
Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:21 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Gift Suggestions - for a 9 year old girl
Replies: 25
Views: 1317

Re: Better to be at home with older or younger kids?

We haven't had teenagers yet, but spending time with our 5 year old is much more fun and seems more beneficial than the time spent with our 2 year old. I love my little one, but frankly don't have enough patience for the games he likes. With the older one we can talk about things, read together, do ...
by vveat
Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:20 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Better to be at home with older or younger kids?
Replies: 51
Views: 2998

Re: Drastically reducing income to be a stay-at-home parent

Somehow it feels that most responses address the questions whether staying at home is stressful, who should stay at home, how to make it work with less money, how to make sure your daughter is cared for. However, reading through your post my feeling is that the question is why is your wife finding h...
by vveat
Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Drastically reducing income to be a stay-at-home parent
Replies: 34
Views: 2497

Re: Minimal emergency fund for a few months?

Thank you for the advice. It seems most of you also would feel comfortable under these circumstances with a lower emergency fund. My bonus is not at risk, I just don't know the exact amount, but I expect $30k net as the minimum (last 4 years I had between $25- 45K net, but after maxing 401k from bon...
by vveat
Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:49 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Minimal emergency fund for a few months?
Replies: 7
Views: 661

Minimal emergency fund for a few months?

I am wondering whether OK to go with minimal emergency fund for about half a year. We keep cash savings/emergency fund of ~$30k in online saving account. That will cover 3-4 months of regular expenses, or 5-6 months of "emergency-level" expenses. In the past we've dipped into it occasional...
by vveat
Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:13 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Minimal emergency fund for a few months?
Replies: 7
Views: 661

Re: Wood burning stoves in New England

We've had a wood stove for 3 years now, for a similar reason - a large tree cut in our backyard provided plenty of wood - in total a 5-years worth. Last year we got some more free wood, compliments of Sandy. No problem with small kids, we have a 2 and a 5-year old and they have fun helping gather wo...
by vveat
Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:22 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wood burning stoves in New England
Replies: 88
Views: 4582

Re: Average Yearly Raises?

8.6% over 11 years, but only 3.7% in last 7 years (I traded off for lifestyle)
by vveat
Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:12 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Average Yearly Raises?
Replies: 97
Views: 5338

Re: Let relative use my address for bank account?

We've done it for years with a couple of friends who went back to Europe. Never any problem, just a bit more junk mail to deal with. Never a problem and I would always do it for a good friend, let alone a relative.
by vveat
Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:17 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Let relative use my address for bank account?
Replies: 31
Views: 2436

Re: Spices for Cooking - Cost, Duration, etc.

You didn't say what kind of cuisine you prefer. It doesn't seem you cook that much, if you have preference for some spices or types of dishes that will already narrow down your choices. I see very little value in "kits" as many people use only a few spices. Also there are mixes for certain...
by vveat
Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:48 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Spices for Cooking - Cost, Duration, etc.
Replies: 28
Views: 2148

Re: Want to have kids, scared of the financial consequences

However, you're seeking an answer to a question before knowing the primary variable involved Couldn't agree more, as others have commented (1) you have no way of knowing what your attitude to staying at home will be after spending a few months with the baby; (2) there may be special needs that chan...
by vveat
Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:05 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Want to have kids, scared of the financial consequences
Replies: 95
Views: 6077

Re: career guidance, new to US, husband is radiology residen

13 years ago when I stepped off the plane, I had very good written English, good enough to get accepted in an Ivy program, but when I tried to order a hot dog in a center city Philadelphia fast food place, I was met with a blank stare. Even moderate accent can give you trouble here, depending on who...
by vveat
Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:51 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: career guidance, new to US, husband is radiology resident
Replies: 23
Views: 3012

Re: Considering a Bread Machine

We have a Breadman, and use it almost daily - 99% of the bread we eat comes from it. The convenience is great, you always have fresh bread and it takes less than 5 minutes a day to prepare. Yes, it's a cube, but a very tasty one. We also use it for making pizza dough, just on kneading cycle. For spe...
by vveat
Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:20 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Considering a Bread Machine
Replies: 38
Views: 2362

Re: What activities to enroll my daughter in -pls help me de

Mine is a bit younger, so things may work differently with a 9 year old, but I do the following: - use summer camps to let her try different things and see what she will like. She is generally enthusiastic about most new things, so I don't just ask her but watch out for true interest - does she talk...
by vveat
Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:03 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What activities to enroll my daughter in -pls help me decide
Replies: 17
Views: 1751

Re: Schooling for a 2year and 4 year old

I would recommend you read the book "Unequal childhoods" by Annette Lareau. This a a sociological research study but very readable, about how middle class, working class and poor people raise their kids - and the implications of each approach. Much better than a parenting book. My kids are...
by vveat
Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:43 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Schooling for a 2year and 4 year old
Replies: 58
Views: 3182

An alternative to bond funds in 401k

Not sure if this is investing or non-investing topic, but hopefully the moderator will weigh in if I chose the wrong forum. Our portfolio is 60% stocks and 40% bonds and cash, pretty much all in index funds. The bonds are all in the 401k, expense ratios 0.1 to 0.25%. My employer canceled a pension p...
by vveat
Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:40 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: An alternative to bond funds in 401k
Replies: 0
Views: 227

Re: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

We did it for 4 years with 2 different CSAs and stopped this year: The good: - with the second CSA which was better organized, we got to try a variety of veggies we hadn't seen before and which are almost impossible to find in supermarkets or even the regular farmers market - kohlrabi, tatsoi, groun...
by vveat
Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:15 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Replies: 14
Views: 676

Re: Who manages your finances? Him/Her/Both?

I do. No matter how hard I try, my husband has zero interest in participating in anything related to finances.

I think it's more about who has what skills and interests (book-keeping or whatever) rather than gender-related.
by vveat
Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:16 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Who manages your finances? Him/Her/Both?
Replies: 58
Views: 2745

Re: Am I saving enough that I can spend some of it?

Go for the trip. Now is the time to build experience, not just a nest egg. I've seen quite a few examples of gratification that has been delayed too long, and plans fell through due to external circumstances. 10 years ago I finished grad school with $120K in debt. I had a job lined up starting 3 mon...
by vveat
Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Am I saving enough that I can spend some of it?
Replies: 38
Views: 3988

Re: Changing Bathtub

When we renovated a few years ago, we decided to have the new tub put over the old one, instead of going through the hassle of removing, retiling, etc. We used Bath Fitter. http://www.bathfitter.com/. The installer had to come maybe 6-7 times with different models to try, since the tub was very old ...
by vveat
Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Changing Bathtub
Replies: 9
Views: 752

Re: Your Preference on Credit Card

We use 4, keeping it relatively simple: Alex Blue Cash for 6% groceries and also for 3% gas when Chase Freedom doesn't have gas in the quarterly categories Chase Amazon for 3% on Amazon purchases Chase Freedom for whatever in the quarterly categories works for us Priceline 2% on everything else This...
by vveat
Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:18 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your Preference on Credit Card
Replies: 32
Views: 2547

Re: Bookshelves

We have a small library room all lined up with Billy shelves, the 11" deep version. I prefer paperbacks and with 11" you can easily do 1 or 2 rows, we even have done layered double rows, by having the back row books on a small custom "step". I also like the flexibility to change ...
by vveat
Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:30 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bookshelves
Replies: 26
Views: 2371
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