Search found 167 matches

by vveat
Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: El Paso into Juarez - Day trip w/ family - Safe and practical?
Replies: 32
Views: 2779

Re: El Paso into Juarez - Day trip w/ family - Safe and practical?

I was working there for a couple of months 10 years ago on a project. The kidnappings were just on the rise, so I drove back each evening to sleep in El Paso. I ate out a few times with a Mexican colleague, but nothing much to see or do from touristic perspective. A pretty run down town, mostly dirt...
by vveat
Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tipping in a buffet
Replies: 26
Views: 2821

Tipping in a buffet

Today's thread on tipping didn't mention buffets and I am curious, since we just went for lunch to a small Indian buffet, for the first time in maybe 10 years. Self-serve obviously, but there were waiters who refilled water glasses and one brought some condiments over. The bill was just $20 for 2 pe...
by vveat
Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: House Layout: Where to put Dining Table?
Replies: 23
Views: 1748

Re: House Layout: Where to put Dining Table?

Id hire a professional designer and pay them an hourly rate to help you plan layout, as you are debating purpose of multiple spaces. Well worth the fee to have a trained set of eyes. This! I had a similar dilemma a couple of year ago, and I used an online designer service. First I asked advice on h...
by vveat
Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: kitchenaid vs. bosch dishwasher
Replies: 61
Views: 3249

Re: kitchenaid vs. bosch dishwasher

We had a Bosch installed 1 week ago - so far everything works perfectly: - we use the "sanitizing" at the end of the cycle and everything comes out perfectly dry - the third rack for silverware really creates a lot of extra space - the three sets of tines point in different directions and ...
by vveat
Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home cleaning services
Replies: 30
Views: 3361

Re: Home cleaning services

We pay $70 bi-weekly in NJ to the same person who also babysits for us occasionally. She cleans about 1,500 sq ft, including 2 baths. She is not doing a perfect job, previously we had a better one who charged $85 for slightly bigger area of cleaning. I had quotes from cleaning services and they were...
by vveat
Sun Jun 28, 2015 10:54 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is your home owner insurance going up 27% this year?
Replies: 35
Views: 3718

Re: Is your home owner insurance going up 27% this year?

In New Jersey ours went up by ~20% two consecutive years. Sandy would explain the first increase, but the next one was annoying. I am planning to shop around soon, not even wait for renewal time - the problem is we have both home and auto with them and a ticket I got last year may mean I won't get v...
by vveat
Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Money arguments with spouse and how did you resolve
Replies: 72
Views: 8827

Re: Money arguments with spouse and how did you resolve

We pretty much never have money arguments in the sense of what to spend - the fact that I am the single earner, but my husband is more frugal probably helps. I defer to his common sense and he defers to my financial planning skills. And we are a high income household which helps, but we had similar ...
by vveat
Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Your Top 10 Books
Replies: 56
Views: 7400

Re: Your Top 10 Books

I'll go with the (fiction) ones I have reread numerous times. Non-fiction is harder for such a list - I could almost do a top 10 in each area One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck The First Man in Rome, by Colleen McCullough The Moon is a Har...
by vveat
Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What percent of your spending is "basic" and what percent is "discretionary"?
Replies: 42
Views: 4145

Re: What percent of your spending is "basic" and what percent is "discretionary"?

Our emergency budget is 52% of the current spend - so discretionary is 48%. It assumes decrease in some categories (reduction to basics) such as groceries, some kids related stuff, etc. And increase in some categories such as healthcare. Kid's preschool makes a good 20% of our spend, and is definite...
by vveat
Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Non-Bogleheads approach to changing cars?
Replies: 44
Views: 5088

Re: Non-Bogleheads approach to changing cars?

You bought used and sold it when it still had value as it fit your family's needs so I don't see an issue. Only red flag I saw was $100 junk yard toyota. I would never drive myself or let a family member drive a car in such condition. I hear you but we didn't have many options at the time, I was ju...
by vveat
Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:03 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much do your children cost per month?
Replies: 83
Views: 6989

Re: How much do your children cost per month?

2 kids, 4 and 7, high COL area. The costs of school, camps and activities way exceed anything else. "Kids" is by far our biggest expense category. Annual $17000 preschool (2 more years to go) $4500 summer camps $4000 sports - gymnastics team for one and swimming classes for both $2000 baby...
by vveat
Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:56 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon refunds when a gift card was used
Replies: 1
Views: 306

Amazon refunds when a gift card was used

Does anybody happen to know this. When you've purchased an item and paid partially with a gift card, upon the item return does Amazon refund only the portion that went on the credit card, or do you get any gift card balance back? I just bought something and it's too small, their size chart was horre...
by vveat
Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where do you keep your to do list?
Replies: 60
Views: 5682

Re: Where do you keep your to do list?

Thank you as always for the quick and plentiful advice. I checked out OneNote, Evernote, Google Keep, Trello and Toodledo - and I liked Evernote best for now, will give it a fair try. Aside from getting Sticky Notes off my screen, I also like the synchronizing with iPhone - I didn't know how useful ...
by vveat
Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:29 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where do you keep your to do list?
Replies: 60
Views: 5682

Where do you keep your to do list?

This is mostly in work context, though could be just as useful for a personal to do list. I am looking for a simple IT solution that doesn't overcomplicate things. Not an app, something under Windows. What I need is the ability to: - see a master list with items organized in "projects" - h...
by vveat
Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Non-Bogleheads approach to changing cars?
Replies: 44
Views: 5088

Non-Bogleheads approach to changing cars?

I was sorting our car records since we changed cars recently, and it struck me that our approach to replacing cars may seem very un-Bogleheadish. We absolutely believe one shouldn't change cars just for the sake of driving a new car - and for that matter we've never bought a "new" new car....
by vveat
Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Advice Needed - Has Anyone Chosen Work Life Balance over Extra Money?
Replies: 101
Views: 11325

Re: Advice Needed - Has Anyone Chosen Work Life Balance over Extra Money?

Is your skill set and hence potential for success just as good at the new job? You are shifting industries or sectors - are skills exactly transferable? If not, that may create some extra risk and pressures on new job, aside from the lack of network. I moved tracks within the same company - from a h...
by vveat
Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:52 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Advice for Boston trip
Replies: 24
Views: 1563

Re: Advice for Boston trip

Thank you everybody for the amazing advice. I think we have our list now with your help - we'll do a Duck tour first, then hit some of the Freedom Trail from Paul Revere's House to Boston Commons and get to the Swan Boats - we'll add the Boston Tea Party ship to the list and do the Children's Museum...
by vveat
Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:02 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Advice for Boston trip
Replies: 24
Views: 1563

Advice for Boston trip

We’ll visit Boston for 3 days next week with our 7 and 4 year old kids. The older one is very interested in the revolution and colonial times, so we’ll walk a bit the Freedom Trail, have a look at Paul Revere’s house and maybe Faneuil Hall, likely do a Duck tour, but I am wondering what else to add....
by vveat
Thu May 28, 2015 8:57 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Should I shorten my last name?
Replies: 70
Views: 6724

Re: Should I shorten my last name?

My husband and I always bring up the name Frunzik Mkrtchyan (famous Armenian actor from Soviet times) to illustrate how you can have 9 letter name with essentially one vowel sound :sharebeer I was very happy to switch to my husband's name, even if it took me a year after the marriage. Still need to ...
by vveat
Sun May 24, 2015 5:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Quality medicines
Replies: 8
Views: 917

Re: Quality medicines

The pharmacy chains in the US usually buy from a few mega wholesalers - Cardinal health, McKesson, etc, and they work with all manufacturers, so your medication could be sourced from anywhere. Even if you insist on locating a specific drug from a specific company, you usually have no way of knowing ...
by vveat
Fri May 22, 2015 7:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Teaching maths to a 4 year old
Replies: 31
Views: 2751

Re: Teaching maths to a 4 year old

My 4 year old was fascinated by the Bugs and Buttons app. I got the free one first and that kept him interested for quite a while. All kind of counting and adding exercises, pretty intuitive
by vveat
Wed May 20, 2015 4:29 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Lending a car to a niece for a few months - how to arrange insurance
Replies: 10
Views: 1179

Re: Lending a car to a niece for a few months - how to arrange insurance

They suggested he sells the car to his niece for a dollar. :confused
by vveat
Wed May 20, 2015 3:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Lending a car to a niece for a few months - how to arrange insurance
Replies: 10
Views: 1179

Lending a car to a niece for a few months - how to arrange insurance

A friend in NJ has a niece who is just graduating in IL and she has found a job there at least through December (she may need to go abroad after that). She needs a car and my friend has an old car, which he doesn't need since he just upgraded to a new one. He wants to give her the old car to use thr...
by vveat
Sun May 17, 2015 8:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should we purchase home without permits?
Replies: 70
Views: 4745

Re: Should we purchase home without permits?

Some years ago we bought a house with an illegal addition built without a foundation (walls raised up from an old patio). This was still the boom years, a bidding war situation, and us fairly confident in our handyman abilities. We did get a discount from the seller, something like $4k. All ended up...
by vveat
Sun May 03, 2015 11:04 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying ML350 - how old a car to get?
Replies: 6
Views: 822

Buying ML350 - how old a car to get?

We are looking for a new car with high towing capacity - over 7000 lb - and my husband has decided on ML350. I am not messing up with his choice, but our dilemma is how old a car to buy. His previous and current cars have been bought when 5+ years old (he has driven a Toyota, a Nissan, a Saab, but n...
by vveat
Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with transporting oversized art piece?
Replies: 7
Views: 724

Re: Experience with transporting oversized art piece?

The sculptures are not exactly expensive - I think originally $300 or so each. It's not a recent purchase, they have been in the family for a while, I want to bring them over to US for sentimental reasons. If shipping separately I was thinking FedEx or UPS. Aren't they reliable for this? How does on...
by vveat
Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with transporting oversized art piece?
Replies: 7
Views: 724

Experience with transporting oversized art piece?

I'll need to transport sometime this summer 2 wooden sculptures from Europe to US. The problem is that both are long - 62 and 65 inches respectively. I initially thought that I should be able to get them in as cabin luggage, but the rules as described by the airlines are not exactly clear and seem t...
by vveat
Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:08 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Flood insurance premium compared to homeowners?
Replies: 1
Views: 382

Flood insurance premium compared to homeowners?

I wrote recently that we are planning to pay off our mortgage this year, and actually will try to do it immediately to avoid renewing our flood insurance in May. The plan is already in motion, we paid off the mortgage last week (yay!) and just got in the mail the renewal offer for the flood insuranc...
by vveat
Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do we need irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT)?
Replies: 27
Views: 2235

Re: Do we need irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT)?

Do you already have a living trust in place? If yes, setting an ILIT through the same estate lawyer may be minimal cost. I don't remember exactly anymore, but I think we paid less than $3,000 for the original living trust (which was a mountain of paperwork) and $500 or less extra for the ILIT. The h...
by vveat
Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone ever use a closet design company?
Replies: 22
Views: 1917

Re: Anyone ever use a closet design company?

One more vote for Easy Closets. It's more hands on since you do the design work and installation, but it's worth it both in cost and ability to do things exactly as you want them. We did our pantry several years ago and are still very happy with it. 2 situations since then. First we had one side det...
by vveat
Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Who's going to Disney this summer?
Replies: 84
Views: 6125

Re: Who's going to Disney this summer?

We are planning our first Disney family vacation, or rather a Florida vacation, since we'll do 2 days at Disney and 3 days at the beach in St.Pete's. The kids are 4 and 6, so we still call the shots, including spending one of the 2 days in Epcot, which at least has some more grown-ups appeal. The ti...
by vveat
Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Car Accident Question
Replies: 27
Views: 1756

Re: Car Accident Question

If there was a police report made, then give that info to the insurance company. The police department will most probably request a fee for obtaining a copy of the report (I have personal experience with this). Instead of paying the fee to get the report wait 4-5 days and you'll start hearing from ...
by vveat
Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Free checking account for irrevocable trust
Replies: 3
Views: 441

Free checking account for irrevocable trust

We have a checking account in the name of an irrevocable (life insurance) trust. Since this account exists for one purpose only - to make payments to life insurance twice a year - the account has very low balance and rarely a movement. So far we kept it at PNC, but we just discovered that since July...
by vveat
Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:18 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Amazon Prime - good deal or calculated conditioning
Replies: 50
Views: 3353

Re: Amazon Prime - good deal or calculated conditioning

But is it a change in spending patterns due to Prime, or is it a self-selected group of people who choose Prime because they already spend more. Could be a combination of both, but I would find more convincing research that compares before and after - how much spending increased after one signs up f...
by vveat
Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Success stories of NOT buying more/too much house
Replies: 65
Views: 6617

Re: Success stories of NOT buying more/too much house

We've been 10 years in our house, originally we bought it as a moderate size fixer upper to fix and move on in a couple of years. But we surprised ourselves and stayed put (not from lack of means, by choice). How we do it: - By thinking of how much effort and thought went into renovating and customi...
by vveat
Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: garbage disposals - are these still used?
Replies: 52
Views: 4156

Re: garbage disposals - are these still used?

When we bought our house it didn't have one, my husband got a unit from Home Depot and installed it. We use it regularly, but would never think of dumping food down in it - for us it's just extra help to make sure drains don't get clogged with food pieces. I hate drainers, it's so much more convenie...
by vveat
Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bilingual households
Replies: 39
Views: 5588

Re: Bilingual households

We came to the US 15 years ago - my native language is A, my husband's is B, at home between the adults we speak A. Our kids understand A well enough, but barely speak it. I really wanted them to learn B, as it's a more widespread language, but it would require my husband "artificially" ta...
by vveat
Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Bonus how much do you spend vs save?
Replies: 50
Views: 5447

Re: Bonus how much do you spend vs save?

I only started getting sizable bonuses (50-70k after taxes) last couple of years, and we haven't figured out a strategy yet. Our savings are already pretty high, so we could afford to splurge, but regretfully we can't come up with a big splurge idea either :oops: This year we'll throw it all at the ...
by vveat
Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: POLL: What are your monthly food expenses?
Replies: 67
Views: 5469

Re: POLL: What are your monthly food expenses?

I frankly don't see what the head of household age has to do with this. What's the hypothesis - that younger people spend more or less? Region or state would have been more relevant. This said, the comments were reassuring. We spend $1233 monthly, groceries (incl. pet stuff and toiletries), eating o...
by vveat
Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do you travel with friends?
Replies: 53
Views: 5849

Re: Do you travel with friends?

On most of our trips pre-kids, we went alone. We travel fast and cover a lot of ground, most other people will find it tiring. Only once I remember matching schedules with friends for a few days, we were exploring Turkey, and they were interested only in Istanbul, we spent a couple of days together ...
by vveat
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Sell funds vs. borrow from 401k - for short term need
Replies: 3
Views: 447

Sell funds vs. borrow from 401k - for short term need

We are planning to pay off our mortgage early - mostly for the pleasure of having no debt, since the rate is low at 2.75%. We max out 401 and IRAs, so not sacrificing retirement for this. One extra benefit is that we plan to cancel our flood insurance as soon as we are not obliged to maintain it by ...
by vveat
Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Your Favorite Cookbook?
Replies: 68
Views: 6420

Re: Your Favorite Cookbook?

I have a ton of cookbooks, but the most frequently consulted ones are from American Test Kitchen - "Best Recipe", "Cooking school", "Cook's country". In a similar style I like "All About Roasting" and "All About Braising" by Molly Stevens, as well as...
by vveat
Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Holiday Tipping
Replies: 13
Views: 1666

Re: Holiday Tipping

We tip the UPS driver, as we do a fair amount of online shopping. He gets $20. The postal workers keep changing, so we are never sure whether to tip. Probably will give $10 to whoever shows up that day. Our babysitter doubles as a cleaning lady. We give $150 (which is a third of her monthly income f...
by vveat
Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Documentaries to recommend?
Replies: 138
Views: 17743

Re: Documentaries to recommend?

I was checking out recently ballet-related documentaries, specifically ones that focus on the effort and practice it takes. I liked 2 in particular "The dancer" - follows a student from the Royal Swedish Ballet School, really shows you almost physically the effort it takes, but also the be...
by vveat
Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: When do you feel comfortable financially to have kids?
Replies: 59
Views: 4801

Re: When do you feel comfortable financially to have kids?

For us it was about getting at least some foothold and stability in a new country. We moved to the US a month after getting married - a couple of years of MBA (incurring a 6-figure debt) and the first couple of years on the job didn't feel right to start a family since we had no safety net and I was...
by vveat
Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Personal Tips for a New Father to Be
Replies: 31
Views: 4112

Re: Personal Tips for a New Father to Be

Since your wife works for your company, after the baby comes you may need to actually put in more hours to compensate for her absence And travelling with a baby (or a toddler) is (1) usually a hassle; (2) not that beneficial for the child, if you want to expose them to culture and experience you'll ...
by vveat
Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon store card - change of terms?
Replies: 7
Views: 1793

Re: Amazon store card - change of terms?

@ Riceman. Thanks a lot, it seems the terms must have changed, as it definitely doesn't read that way anymore, only the financing seems to have remained. I'll cancel then @ Aptenodytes. I have a pretty straightforward credit card setup with the Chase 3% Amazon default for Amazon purchases, Amex Blue...
by vveat
Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon store card - change of terms?
Replies: 7
Views: 1793

Amazon store card - change of terms?

A few days ago I signed up on impulse for the Amazon store card - they offered $40 upon signing up - I did and they delivered. I read the terms and actually I am not planning on using it at all, since it seems to only offer financing, and no cash back. I'll probably close it soon, because it now mov...
by vveat
Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is this career suicide? Jumping ship early
Replies: 13
Views: 3620

Re: Is this career suicide? Jumping ship early

Personally, I see more cons in this situation - With a kid under a year old, going from good work-life balance to a worse one for same pay is not a great move. Your wife may trade having you at home to having to rely on babysitting from the (now close) family. - Being the boss of a friend may potent...
by vveat
Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Car Rental Return Frustration in Spain
Replies: 17
Views: 1862

Re: Car Rental Return Frustration in Spain

Same thing here earlier this year when returning a car to the Madrid airport, we drove twice around the airport and no signs for rental car return. Finally my husband stopped, I ran inside a terminal and asked on information - turned out it's "hidden" within the parking lot of terminal 1. ...

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