Search found 518 matches

by Wolkenspiel
Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:28 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: BMW X5 2017 - Seeking advice
Replies: 40
Views: 3692

Re: BMW X5 2017 - Seeking advice

We own a previous generation X5 35i, 2012 MY with ~27000 miles. I'm sure the low mileage contributed, but the car has not had any repairs or dealer visits, other for the yearly maintenance. All materials inside have held up fine (with 2 little kids and their stuff being lugged around) and it basical...
by Wolkenspiel
Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Can we afford a 800k house in HCOL area (Boston area) ?
Replies: 42
Views: 4756

Re: Can we afford a 800k house in HCOL area (Boston area) ?

Few things:' 1) Why are you viewing day care as a recurring expense? Daycare is temporary in nature, by the time kids are in school (age 4: preschool) day care is no longer needed. We've got plenty of cash to weather a temporary expense like that if we run into issues cash flowing it. Daycare is a ...
by Wolkenspiel
Fri May 05, 2017 12:50 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a luxury car (how dumb would it be to do this?)
Replies: 216
Views: 21282

Re: Buying a luxury car (how dumb would it be to do this?)

ncbill wrote:Paying just for the routine maintenance during the lease (much less out-of-warranty repairs) might push them back to a Toyota. :happy


OP will have difficulties trying to pay for the X5's FREE "routine maintenance" during the lease. All baked in the price of course, but no surprises.
by Wolkenspiel
Fri May 05, 2017 12:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a luxury car (how dumb would it be to do this?)
Replies: 216
Views: 21282

Re: Buying a luxury car (how dumb would it be to do this?)

A BMW X5 is a wonderful car, but since you are used to driving a Toyota make sure you factor in the $300 oil changes, $1500 sets of tires that last 20k miles, and any out of warranty work even with an independent shop will be expensive. A set of OEM tires for my 2012 X5 is $750 or less for 18"...
by Wolkenspiel
Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: how much house can we afford? Boston area.
Replies: 50
Views: 4157

Re: how much house can we afford? Boston area.

Assuming down payment of 20%, I'd go no more than base salary x 2 = mortgage debt. These types of housing ratios don't work in HCOL areas. A quick check of the single family listings in some of the nice suburbs shows one (!) single family residence for less than $500k - an 880sqft home that from th...
by Wolkenspiel
Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:41 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying expensive car, how to keep payments low?
Replies: 149
Views: 10347

Re: Buying expensive car, how to keep payments low?

For those interested in Q7, they should seriously consider VW Atlas. If I remember correctly, the current Q7 has been around since 2005!!! No, 2017+ Q7's are "all new" - completely redesigned platform. They just look the same (on the outside). In terms of driving dynamics, the new car is ...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What Car Should I Buy My Daughter as a Graduation Present
Replies: 150
Views: 10421

Re: What Car Should I Buy My Daughter as a Graduation Present

Buy her a Lotus Elise. For $30k, you can find an 05-07 in perfect condition. Mid/rear engine so the drive wheels have most of the weight of the car over them. Great for winter traction. Traction is fine, unless there are more than 5-6" of snow. In that case the flat underbody of the aluminum m...
by Wolkenspiel
Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Induction cooktop impressions?
Replies: 32
Views: 2539

Re: Induction cooktop impressions?

Like most who replied, I love the (Electrolux) induction cooktop we installed in our kitchen reno last year. Instantaneous response, more power, easier cleanup compare to the previous electric range. Probably even prefer it over gas. No problems using any of the steel pots and pans we had, from chea...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Most of College Endowments Lost Money in 2016
Replies: 10
Views: 1971

Re: Most of College Endowments Lost Money in 2016

TomCat96 wrote:meanwhile the S&P 500, aka the one fund portfolio returned 12%.
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/04/most-inv ... p-500.html


Fiscal year 2016, not calendar year 2016. S&P 500 from June 2015 to June 2016 did not return 12%, but ~4%. All spelt out in the article quoted.
by Wolkenspiel
Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:12 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Seeking a Europe based broker that accepts US Persons.
Replies: 3
Views: 485

Re: Seeking a Europe based broker that accepts US Persons.

Have you checked Cortal Consors (Consorsbank.de)? I think they are owned by Paribas, and there seemed to be some language in their account profile that indicated that they might take US clients. Good luck.
by Wolkenspiel
Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Need a good commuter car fairly soon
Replies: 86
Views: 7382

Re: Need a good commuter car fairly soon

what are these super cheap jettas? The MSRP is around 18/19k which doesn't seem unusually cheap. Dealers on the East Coast are advertising new 2017 Jettas starting at $12.1k ($19k MSRP), see e.g. cars.com. There are some caveats (e.g. destination charge, dealer fees need to be added), but VW is mas...
by Wolkenspiel
Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Eyeglasses - Costco Changed Policies - Help!
Replies: 51
Views: 34345

Re: Eyeglasses - Costco Changed Policies - Help!

For equivalent progressive lenses, that site is about $100 more than Costco in my case...or make it about $80, since I had to pay an $18 extra fee at Costco. My comparison was digital/hd progressive with 1.67 material and premium AR, which were $169 at Costco or $187 with the $18 fee. Another onlin...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Flying Across Atlantic with 98th Percentile 18-Month Child
Replies: 114
Views: 8479

Re: Flying Across Atlantic with 98th Percentile 18-Month Child

davidsorensen32 wrote:I'd fly business.


Once we're going there, why not a private jet? Btw, I've found that fellow business class passengers take even less kindly to crying toddlers than the folks in coach.
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Flying Across Atlantic with 98th Percentile 18-Month Child
Replies: 114
Views: 8479

Re: Flying Across Atlantic with 98th Percentile 18-Month Child

Talk to a travel agent. Even with a toddler on your lap and without a seat, you are required to pay taxes. So you are not really saving a full cost of a fare. The ticket is likely 30-40% of the total cost. We also had a 99th percentile son and it wasn't even a question if we were to keep him on our...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Flying Across Atlantic with 98th Percentile 18-Month Child
Replies: 114
Views: 8479

Re: Flying Across Atlantic with 98th Percentile 18-Month Child

We have flown many longer (e.g. US-East Asia) trips with a lap child (sometimes even adding a toddler), so this can be done. Not the most relaxing trip, but not such herculean task either. My wife even did a number of solo trips with infant+toddler. You should try to get a bulkhead seat with a bassi...
by Wolkenspiel
Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:16 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon Prime Getting Stingy?
Replies: 90
Views: 13154

Re: Amazon Prime Getting Stingy?

I apparently placed 59 orders with Amazon this year. I recall one instance where the original shipment didn't make it and Amazon sent a replacement, which arrived a week after the originally promised date. It didn't occur to me to ask for any additional compensation... Overall, still very satisfied.
by Wolkenspiel
Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Kitchen Remodel question
Replies: 44
Views: 3866

Re: Kitchen Remodel question

We recently remodeled our kitchen and went with a built-in microwave under the countertop of the kitchen island (actual built-in, not a countertop MW on a shelf). Avoids both wasting precious counter space and the "outdated" over-the-range look. Cost was maybe $500, split between the stain...
by Wolkenspiel
Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Professor having to buy his own computer for work
Replies: 93
Views: 7580

Re: Professor having to buy his own computer for work

Although the universities do not publish those numbers, I believe MIT, like Harvard Stanford Yale Princeton (Amherst, Dartmouth, Penn etc.) has a legacy rate which is significant. I believe at the other aforementioned schools it is around 30% (but I am not aware that that number is ever published)....
by Wolkenspiel
Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to address a college professor with a PhD (Dr. or Prof.)
Replies: 60
Views: 3766

Re: How to address a college professor with a PhD (Dr. or Prof.)

I don't care much how students in my classes address me, although Prof. Wolkenspiel seems a bit more appropriate than Dr. Wolkenspiel - after all, that's the capacity in which I interact with them. I don't even mind much if they address me by first name, as long as it doesn't reflect a generally unp...
by Wolkenspiel
Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe Trip in August
Replies: 99
Views: 8110

Re: Europe Trip in August

Valuethinker wrote:Europe? It very much depends, but most places a 10% tip works.


Yeah, for tourists. Don't export (or import) ridiculous American habits to the rest of the world. In most of Europe, what is on the bill is what you pay, rounded up by a few % if you like.
by Wolkenspiel
Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:35 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should my husband become a US citizen?
Replies: 102
Views: 9406

Re: Should my husband become a US citizen?

Keep in mind that your greencard expires after 10 years. I know you can apply to have it extended, but you should do research on whether or not those extensions are commonly granted or they expect people to apply for citizenship. That's not an issue. I agree that generally that is not an issue. How...
by Wolkenspiel
Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: college related advice for 11th grader
Replies: 180
Views: 18161

Re: college related advice for 11th grader

The only other thing I have to say is that if he plans on going to graduate school it doesn't matter where he does undergrad. I'd be interested to know how you arrived at this conclusion. I have direct experience with MIT grad student admissions (in a STEM field) and can not confirm this. In my fie...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chip credit cards, do I need to get a PIN?
Replies: 54
Views: 7245

Re: Chip credit cards, do I need to get a PIN?

VictoriaF wrote:Do all unattended stations accept cash? I always carry with me plenty of cash and bring the leftovers home for the next trip.


In Switzerland and Italy they generally accept cash, in France I have seen many that don't (and also don't accept non-Chip&PIN US cards).
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chip credit cards, do I need to get a PIN?
Replies: 54
Views: 7245

Re: Chip credit cards, do I need to get a PIN?

The vast majority of Chipped cards in the US are Chip and Signature. If you get a PIN it is only used for cash advances at ATMs. If you get overseas to a kiosk or place that actually requires an offline Chip & PIN it probably won't work even with that PIN that you set. That is not correct. I re...
by Wolkenspiel
Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:04 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Enough is enough
Replies: 51
Views: 16859

Re: Enough -- by Jack Bogle

I'm re-reading it. Page XX, in the introduction Mr. Bogle states, that David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, claims our .gov has changed the way it calculates inflation several times over the last 35 yrs. "Using the pre-1980-methoed {inflation} would be over 9%, compared to about 2% in the offi...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:01 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: I have a dilemma? Should I provide a concession?
Replies: 20
Views: 3294

Re: I have a dilemma? Should I provide a concession?

I got some feedback today from the property manager regarding reimbursement and it appears that is not an option. I was told the HOA wants to hire their own personnel and will complete the project in Aug/Sept. Since the buyers want the floors fixed or a concession by next week it appears I will hav...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Need to Refi 1st Mortgage but under water $110k
Replies: 27
Views: 3062

Re: Need to Refi 1st Mortgage but under water $110k

Lets look at some numbers. $723000 * 0.055 / 12 = $3314 $223000 * 0.0275 / 12 = $511 Total Payment = $3825/month Gross Income = $180000 / 12 = $15000/month Approx Net Income = $15000 * 2/3 = $10000/month Net income - mortgage = $6175 With a net income of $10000/month, I'm wondering why you can't ma...
by Wolkenspiel
Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling a used car
Replies: 27
Views: 3007

Re: Selling a used car

We sold a car a year ago. Took some decent photos, posted ads on cars.com and craigslist, using a throwaway email address and phone number. We priced the car at the low end of the cars.com asking prices, and sold it within a couple of days. Sale was closed and money wired at our local BoA branch. Ov...
by Wolkenspiel
Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:38 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Does Anyone Plan to Work Past 70 years of Age
Replies: 63
Views: 7549

Re: Does Anyone Plan to Work Past 70 years of Age

I worked to age 70, then retired in good health and good financial shape. It never really occurred to me to retire early, i.e., 50's or early 60's. In my line of work (college professor), very few people retire early. We have our own research agendas as well as good job security once we achieve ten...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: No dipstick on a new Audi engine!?!!
Replies: 73
Views: 14409

Re: No dipstick on a new Audi engine!?!!

Some of the reflexive luxury/German car bashing is as tiring as it is unhelpful - no, it doesn't have a dipstick - yes, there is an electronic oil-level measurement - yes, some of the modern engines are prone to using some oil between oil changes - no, it shouldn't end up in a puddle on your drivewa...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?
Replies: 39
Views: 3456

Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

We took our daughter (now 4) to Asia every year to visit our family. I understand that some people may say that it is a waste to travel with young kids because they don't remember and may not appreciate as much. But I disagree. I think you are paying for the experience as a family. To help them gai...
by Wolkenspiel
Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:56 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Travel to Greece
Replies: 58
Views: 5814

Re: Travel to Greece

If you want to go to Greece, I'd recommend gobs and gobs of US dollar singles. Stuff your pants, as it were. Have you ever traveled outside of the US? You might want to try some time. To the OP:I would not cancel a Greek trip planned for later this year. Maybe bring some more cash (Euros...) than I...
by Wolkenspiel
Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Convince me not to buy Porsche
Replies: 190
Views: 24356

Re: Convince me not to buy Porsche

I spent a lot of money on cars in my 20's and 30's, and unlike the dire predictions from the lovely fellows here, haven't come to regret it. I have extremely fond memories of a few years in a Lotus Elise, about as un-Boglehead as they come. HOWEVER, I think borrowing a significant amount of money fo...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Macbook Air: Spend $ on RAM or Faster Intel HD Graphics?
Replies: 54
Views: 8459

Re: Macbook Air: Spend $ on RAM or Faster Intel HD Graphics?

In the last weeks I upgraded my 2012 Mac mini and my wife's Macbook pro from 4GB to 16GB RAM - the difference is night and day. Go for 8GB.

Edit: Neither of these machines is used for any particularly computing-intensive tasks, and still the improvement was striking.
by Wolkenspiel
Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Citizenship and Social Security
Replies: 7
Views: 1130

Re: Citizenship and Social Security

While you wait for a definitive answer, you could play with this tool:
http://www.ssa.gov/international/paymen ... ideUS.html
by Wolkenspiel
Thu May 28, 2015 1:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?
Replies: 91
Views: 8833

Re: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?

The opportunity cost was significant, but there's no sense crying about it now; I'm doing fine. If I were to try to do it again now, with a wife, children, and mortgage to support, things would be quite different. The "opportunity costs" for a PhD have been mentioned a few times, but it's...
by Wolkenspiel
Thu May 28, 2015 1:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?
Replies: 91
Views: 8833

Re: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?

As regards the ~40% 6 year, ~50% 10 year stats I got from these slides on Ph. D. Completion and Attrition: Analysis of Baseline Data Thanks for the link - this obviously doesn't mean that ~35-45% of grad students work on their PhD for 10+ years, but essentially that 35-45% of those who start a PhD ...
by Wolkenspiel
Thu May 28, 2015 1:10 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?
Replies: 91
Views: 8833

Re: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?

This is perfect. I'm defending my life sciences PhD this summer, after 6 years. This is about average at my institution a top 15ish NIH funded university. My stipend is $30k per year, on which I can live comfortably. Could I have done something else right out of school that makes more? Sure. But th...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed May 27, 2015 5:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Money and cell phones when traveling to Canada
Replies: 40
Views: 3974

Re: Money and cell phones when traveling to Canada

runner9 wrote:Thanks, both our cards are chip and pin, not sure I have the pin for one right now, something to track down just in case...


There's a million US visitors to Canada every month. I doubt that a chip&pin card is necessary to be a successful tourist in Canada.
by Wolkenspiel
Wed May 27, 2015 4:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?
Replies: 91
Views: 8833

Re: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?

I know several Physics and Chemistry PhD's. Tenured professor positions continue to be rare. They are competing against engineering bachelor degree holders for positions in industry with a PhD not really offering any advantage. Comments they receive is that they are over-educated for positions that...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed May 27, 2015 4:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?
Replies: 91
Views: 8833

Re: Cost of a "free" PhD program is around half a million? How does anyone afford this?

I was talking about someone in his or her thirties returning to school that already has a well paying job. Giving that up for a PhD and potentially lower income upon graduation. That's the fringe of a fringe population - there is zero general lessons to be learned from that example (as from most of...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed May 27, 2015 10:38 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tips for extended European Trip
Replies: 23
Views: 2816

Re: Tips for extended European Trip

Here are my questions/comments, I am looking for some suggestions, what am I missing? 1. How best to pay for ongoing expenses at home? I am thinking about just prepaying 3 months of water, hoa dues, cell phone, healthcare, etc. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to put all these things on auto ...
by Wolkenspiel
Tue May 19, 2015 8:07 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: American living in Taiwan
Replies: 22
Views: 2936

Re: American living in Taiwan

How do healthcare costs work there? That's, as I'm sure you know, a potential big expense, especially as you get older. No, it isn't. Taiwan has a wonderful "citizen's insurance", and even private health care costs are entirely reasonable. We paid for the birth of our 2nd kid in a private...
by Wolkenspiel
Tue May 05, 2015 9:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying new car
Replies: 21
Views: 4396

Re: Buying new car

Any suggestions on how to negotiate best price when buying new Subaru Forester? And how do you know if lease or purchase is better? Thanks You should definitely use TrueCar. It will get you the best price ever. But really, pick the model/trim you want, find some at local-ish dealers, and email them...
by Wolkenspiel
Mon May 04, 2015 1:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?
Replies: 142
Views: 46537

Re: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?

Can you provide any trustworthy sources for your assertion that Truecar data represents anything more than dealer-supplied pricing information? And from which dealers? If you are a dealer and sign up with Truecar, do they put a bug in the computer that automatically reports sales prices to Truecar?...
by Wolkenspiel
Sun May 03, 2015 11:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?
Replies: 142
Views: 46537

Re: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?

Nowadays, the numbers you see on TrueCar are the numbers the dealers want you to see. The data for "what others paid" distribution are not dealer-supplied. If someone uses Truecar for nothing else but to figure out what prices the average buyer paid, they've already received a valuable se...
by Wolkenspiel
Sun May 03, 2015 11:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?
Replies: 142
Views: 46537

Re: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?

I just checked BMW X5 on Truecar for two large cities (Phoenix and Kansas City) to see how good their target price is, and their fabulous target price is now $3K above invoice in KC and a terrific $250 below MSRP in Phoenix. The deal you got doesn't seem to be anywhere near the Truecar price now, s...
by Wolkenspiel
Sun May 03, 2015 7:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?
Replies: 142
Views: 46537

Re: Truecar -- isn't this just a car buying scam?

I figure it's nothing more than a bait-and-switch scam. If you go to a dealership with a Truecar price you won't get that price unless it's a lousy deal to begin with. Well, you figure incorrectly. I used the Truecar quote to purchase a 2012 BMW X5, and am still convinced that the final deal (a few...
by Wolkenspiel
Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:02 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Fidelity ATM card overseas
Replies: 5
Views: 762

Re: Fidelity ATM card overseas

I don't believe their is a 1% conversion fee, if there is you are getting an excellent exchange rate with the Fidelity ATM card. I use mine and always check in the evening what the rate was and it always seems very close to the spot rate at the time. Its so close I never think about the rate. I hav...
by Wolkenspiel
Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: noise-blocking headphones
Replies: 39
Views: 7991

Re: noise-blocking headphones

I've had an old version of the bose noise canceling over the ear headphones. the black ear pieces disintegrated over time.? The mid-2000s Bose over-the-ear headphones indeed had a problem where the plastic over time became brittle and disintegrated (I've seen many held together by zip-ties and duck...