Search found 206 matches

by cbeck
Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Self Driving Cars
Replies: 51
Views: 2191

Re: Self Driving Cars

I think the whole push for SDCs is misguided and unfortunate. The drive should be to develop public transportation with its lower energy costs per capita and reduced impact on the environment. Accompanied by increased urbanization. Automobiles enable wasteful suburbanization. SDCs merely perpetuate ...
by cbeck
Tue May 31, 2016 7:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Uber Car and the real cost of driving
Replies: 71
Views: 9091

Re: Uber Car and the real cost of driving

Another benefit of foregoing car ownership for Uber use is that you no longer have liability. For most of us, car crashes are the biggest financial risk we face by far. It's a relief to become a passenger with no responsibility. Here in Bangkok Uber is a game changer. The taxi drivers are usually po...
by cbeck
Mon May 30, 2016 1:03 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to buy a good used grand piano?
Replies: 35
Views: 2553

Re: How to buy a good used grand piano?

I used to be a piano tuner-technician some years ago in New York City. I can tell you that all of the above advice is either wrong or beside the point. The OP is unable to evaluate the condition of a used piano, which is a technical, not a musical matter. The best approach is to find a piano that yo...
by cbeck
Wed May 18, 2016 8:44 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Expat American investing in Singapore
Replies: 12
Views: 985

Re: Expat American investing in Singapore

Also, if you currently live in a state with an income tax, make sure that you understand and comply with the tax domicile regulations of your state and cut your ties completely with the state, i.e. surrender driver's license, deregister from voting, sell your car, sell property. Provided that you do...
by cbeck
Wed May 18, 2016 8:39 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Expat American investing in Singapore
Replies: 12
Views: 985

Re: Expat American investing in Singapore

To the OP, Make sure you have plenty of US bank accounts that include features like free ACH and billpaying, since you will not be able to open a new US bank account from abroad. Any monies going into or out of Vanguard should go through your US bank accounts. You should never disclose your expat st...
by cbeck
Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Social Security question
Replies: 9
Views: 988

Re: Social Security question

Thanks a lot, plannerman. That section is very interesting. Am I correct in reading "NH" as "number holder," i.e. wage earner?

I'll pass this along to my friends and urge the husband to apply for the new spousal benefit immediately.
by cbeck
Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:03 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Social Security question
Replies: 9
Views: 988

Re: Social Security question

You didn't address my question: The question is how does he go about claiming the new spousal benefit that begins about a year from now.
by cbeck
Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:50 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Social Security question
Replies: 9
Views: 988

Social Security question

Two of my friends recently married. He is 75 years old and receiving a widower's benefit on his late wife's earnings. She is 68 and has not yet filed for SS benefits. He will be eligible for a higher, spousal benefit on his new wife's earnings after they have been married for a year. The question is...
by cbeck
Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What online Email do you use
Replies: 59
Views: 5619

Re: What online Email do you use

tutanota.com - free, secure, encrypted email.
by cbeck
Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:07 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Encryption of Data
Replies: 34
Views: 2993

Re: Encryption of Data

Always, always, always people start with their favorite solution, in this case, file encryption. But that's backwards. They should start by stating the problem in clear terms, in this case, what is the risk you are trying to protect against? Is it loss of critical data from fire or theft of the comp...
by cbeck
Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:53 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to learn a second language
Replies: 103
Views: 9801

Re: How to learn a second language

How quickly you can become fluent in a language depends on your own aptitude (which is actually measurable, for example via the MLAT test) Is there a way for me to take the MLAT test if I don't work for an employer that uses it? I always did reasonably well in my language classes in school, but att...
by cbeck
Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:23 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: W-4 -- Can I Take 99 Allowances
Replies: 14
Views: 1515

Re: W-4 -- Can I Take 99 Allowances

I currently make over $500K and plan on leaving my job in mid February. My income tax liability for the year is going to be close to zero, yet my company is going to withhold taxes like I'm making $500K. I plan on maxing out my 401(k) in my first paycheck, also doing a deductible IRA and HSA contri...
by cbeck
Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:21 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Ooma Phone Service - I Do NOT Recommend
Replies: 34
Views: 2954

Re: Ooma Phone Service - I Do NOT Recommend

I'm curious if people have had any issues porting their number out of Ooma. I have the original hub and never ported my number to them because I was worried about this. Ooma ported my number back in 2008. Don't remember how long it took, but it was completely painless. Before the switch your ooma s...
by cbeck
Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to learn a second language
Replies: 103
Views: 9801

Re: How to learn a second language

How quickly you can become fluent in a language depends on your own aptitude (which is actually measurable, for example via the MLAT test), your age, and how hard the language is to learn for someone who grew up speaking your mother tongue. All are important. ... This is the most intelligent post o...
by cbeck
Fri Dec 25, 2015 6:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to learn a second language
Replies: 103
Views: 9801

Re: How to learn a second language

Am very grateful for everyone's feedback. Herewith a suggestion for people learning a second language and the vocabulary thereof......build a spreadsheet in something like Excel. I know that sounds strange on first hearing but if you think about it the idea is very useful. I simply don't get the s/...
by cbeck
Fri Dec 25, 2015 2:53 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to learn a second language
Replies: 103
Views: 9801

Re: How to learn a second language

It depends on whether you are just looking for a hobby so that learning a few phrases to enhance your next vacation or if you want to become fluent. If fluency is your goal then books and tapes are not going to get you there. Here in Thailand there is endless discussion among various expats about th...
by cbeck
Fri Dec 25, 2015 1:59 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Interested in driving,] Any Uber drivers here?
Replies: 32
Views: 3742

Re: Any Uber drivers here?

i don't have any issues with uber -- but if i owned a taxi company that paid 6 figures for a medallion i sure would. i don't understand why or how uber gets away with that. of course the answer is to do away with medallions but until that happens... Of course all companies would like to be monopoli...
by cbeck
Fri Dec 25, 2015 1:44 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Interested in driving,] Any Uber drivers here?
Replies: 32
Views: 3742

Re: Any Uber drivers here?

Here in Bangkok Uber has been transformational for us. The taxicabs are regarded as too dangerous to use by women. There are stories of attacks by cab drivers including a video that was circulating a while ago showing a cabbie attacking his customer with a samurai sword. The Uber drivers, by contras...
by cbeck
Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Security on the phone
Replies: 7
Views: 628

Re: Security on the phone

Tell them you'll call them back and then used the published number to do so.
by cbeck
Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:50 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "Why Have TIPS Been Such Poor Performers?"
Replies: 13
Views: 2597

Re: "Why Have TIPS Been Such Poor Performers?"

After the crisis in 2008 I checked on TIPS off and on for several years, expecting them to be cheap because who wants inflation protection when there is so little inflation? I was always surprised that TIPS appeared consistently overpriced. I think it was due to the entirely wrong expectation among ...
by cbeck
Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:56 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please help me improve my online security
Replies: 24
Views: 2980

Re: Please help me improve my online security

Don't store password databases, even encrypted ones, in anybody's cloud. Change passwords frequently and never use a password for more than one site. In addition to a virus checker, install an adware checker, such as the one from malwarebytes.org. Browse the internet only from a virtual machine, pre...
by cbeck
Thu May 21, 2015 9:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Career Advice: Follow "Passion" or Follow the Money?
Replies: 74
Views: 6102

Re: Career Advice: Follow "Passion" or Follow the Money?

I cringe whenever I hear someone talk about his "passion" as though the mere assertion of what is no more than someone's preference should privilege the speaker in special ways, such as implying that having to earn a living is a crass concern by comparison. Happily, the OP does not demonst...
by cbeck
Wed May 06, 2015 11:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67
Replies: 2
Views: 571

Re: retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67

Turns out that he cannot start a new defined benefit plan in any variety of self-employment. If he were to become an employee of a company of which he owned less than 40%, then he could participate in a new DB plan.

The solo 401k is indeed available to him.
by cbeck
Tue May 05, 2015 9:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67
Replies: 2
Views: 571

retirement funding options? self-employed, age 67

My friend is self-employed as a sole proprietor. He previously setup a defined-benefit plan for himself. Now at age 67 that plan is fully funded so that he cannot make any more contributions. However, since his income is still quite good and he will be facing RMDs starting at age 70, he fears the so...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:26 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation?
Replies: 40
Views: 4901

Re: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation

IIRC, public debt is similar to post WWII levels as well, but unlike private debt, there was a sustained effort to pay it off after WWII, so over the past half century plus it's looked more like a "U" than the steady increase in private debt/wages. We never paid down any of the WWII debt,...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:45 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: In 39% Tax Bracket does a Roth make sense?
Replies: 18
Views: 3470

Re: In 39% Tax Bracket does a Roth make sense?

No one has mentioned the estate planning implications of a Roth. In general, the value of a Roth depends on the lifespan of the Roth account itself. Most discussion focuses on the owner's life span, but if there are to be heirs it changes the picture. The value of the Roth also depends on the rate o...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:15 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation?
Replies: 40
Views: 4901

Re: The Most Likely Portfolio Peril — Inflation or Deflation

I agree, however there are some industries where deflation in prices would be a good thing for the economy at large. Let's start with the ridiculous education and healthcare costs in this country. The next place where a bit of deflation could help is in the level of taxation in general. We are alre...
by cbeck
Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: basic Medicare question
Replies: 1
Views: 423

basic Medicare question

Can someone confirm or correct my understanding that Medicare Part A pays for hospital services, not including surgeons, anesthesiologists, or doctors of other types and that those services are only covered by Part B or additional insurance programs like Medicare Advantage? The question arises in a ...
by cbeck
Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Choosing between learning a language/learning martial art
Replies: 20
Views: 1459

Re: Choosing between learning a language/learning martial ar

The main reason that people fail to learn second languages is not lack of ability, but insufficient motivation. Learning a language is a long, hard grind. Korean is at the very top of the pyramid of difficult-to-learn languages (for English speakers) to learn according to the Foreign Language Instit...
by cbeck
Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:42 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Advice needed on lawyer's retainer agreement
Replies: 12
Views: 1406

Re: Advice needed on lawyer's retainer agreement

So, this lawyer dies and goes to heaven and there at the Pearly Gates is St. Peter along with hosts of cherubim and seraphim all singing "Hosanna! Hosanna!" So, the lawyer goes to St. Peter, "What's all this about?" And St. Peter replies well you're the oldest man ever to die and...
by cbeck
Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Ulysses Contract
Replies: 12
Views: 1640

Re: Ulysses Contract

The fallacy is the belief that your information is now complete and that you will refuse to incorporate new information into your decision-making in the future. It worked out well for Ulysses, but in other situations you become a fanatic.
by cbeck
Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Chaos, complexity and entropy [for non-physicists]
Replies: 113
Views: 9499

Re: Chaos, complexity and entropy [for non-physicists]

FYI, in addition to founding information theory Claude Shannon was a successful investor who apparently got very rich on a portfolio of only four or five stocks which he never sold including HP and Motorola. Some even attribute the decline in his scientific output to his absorption in investing. Rec...
by cbeck
Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:52 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis
Replies: 75
Views: 5030

Re: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis

If there were a company created with truly mutual ownership, like Vanguard, that was entirely focused on selling SPIA's at cost, perhaps the price would fall. Well, of course it would - there's that gain the ins cos. are "exacting", net costs. But, how much it would fall, would be interes...
by cbeck
Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:49 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis
Replies: 75
Views: 5030

Re: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis

Well the problem actually becomes is that IF they are wrong about their assumptions (such as the longevity) then the risk will get transferred back to you since an insurance company's guarantee is only as good as their ability to pay the claim. If everyone starts living to be 200 then they arent go...
by cbeck
Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis
Replies: 75
Views: 5030

Re: Are SPIA's fairly priced? - A quick and dirty analysis

The OP's analysis fails in the most fundamental aspect: he has converted a problem with a crucial unknown, actual individual lifespan, into a problem that ignores this aspect completely, a fixed period annuity or mortgage. If we actually knew how long we will live, then financial planning would be p...
by cbeck
Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:40 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Travel Insurance for a "trip of a lifetime"
Replies: 36
Views: 3283

Re: Travel Insurance for a "trip of a lifetime"

I have never bought travel insurance. The risk of medical evacuation would be worth insuring against if it can be purchased as a stand-alone item. However, in my opnion, insuring the costs of the trip itself doesn't make sense. When we insure a house or a car we are insuring against the loss of the ...
by cbeck
Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with Snapfon?
Replies: 3
Views: 795

Re: Experience with Snapfon?

You might not be able to get her to wear it, but you can now buy wristwatches that accept SIM cards and offer one-button emergency calling (or any calling) along with GPS-provided location. http://www.amazon.com/Bracelet-Tracking-Quad-band-Handheld-Navigation/dp/B00HN02XEQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid...
by cbeck
Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deciding
Replies: 52
Views: 15075

Re: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deci

In my experience, the bottleneck for VOIP is not only download/upload speed but also the latency. To get good quality, check the ping time to the VOIP provider IP address. 150ms is acceptable. Higher than that will cause problems in phone dialogue. My experience is that latency doesn't matter. I us...
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]
Replies: 97
Views: 12568

Re: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]

bpp wrote:
normaldude wrote:To be on the safe side, US citizen expats might need to use a US address (not PO box), US phone number, and US VPN.


...in order to attempt to conceal a false declaration?
That seems like an unusual definition of "safe."


What is false, illegal, or unethical about a mailing address?
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:28 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]
Replies: 97
Views: 12568

Re: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]

normaldude wrote:So it's possible that Fidelity is merely targeting non-US citizens. Like someone who came to USA on a student visa or work visa, opened a Fidelity account, and then a few years later moved back to their home country.


Nope. I am a US citizen and they notified me.
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:12 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: US citizens abroad cannot invest through [Fidelity]
Replies: 97
Views: 12568

Re: US citizens abroad cannot invest through a US brokerage

What if I already own the funds and then move abroad? Any difference between an IRA and a taxable account? This is probably more fallout from FATCA. :( It wouldn't matter if you moved after opening the accounts. In fact, if you already live abroad you would probably not be able to open an account w...
by cbeck
Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deciding
Replies: 52
Views: 15075

Re: I am thinking of buying Ooma or Magicjack need help deci

I bought Ooma. It did not work for me. It needs QoS to work properly. That is priority ordering of packets over the internet. Since I had A T&T DSL with a Gateway (combination of router and modem in one box), and it does not support QoS, the outgoing sound was bad. If you have a router that sup...
by cbeck
Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Biology of Risk
Replies: 91
Views: 5820

Re: The Biology of Risk

cbeck, you're speaking to the choir. :happy Hey, risk is actually risky, and it's the reason why I never recommend 100% stock to anyone. The problem with selling in a greatly depressed market locks in losses and converts what Bernstein calls shallow risk into deep and permanent risk. I can say that...
by cbeck
Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Annuitizing for retirement - what if the market is down?
Replies: 43
Views: 4345

Re: Annuitizing for retirement - what if the market is down?

However, SPIA rates at the date(s) of annuitization are also affected by current market conditions. The payout by the SPIA depend on the rates prevailing at the time, but those rates are only one factor in determining the payout. The other main factor is the mortality credit which is not affected b...
by cbeck
Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:09 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Biology of Risk
Replies: 91
Views: 5820

Re: The Biology of Risk

Having said all this, I can say that investors can train and condition themselves to remain rational. It happened to me. I retired in 1998 and found the Bogleheads (diehards) in 1999. When the tech crash hit, I had an extremely hard time staying the course. I worried, I lost sleep, I got an upset s...
by cbeck
Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:19 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: A $1000 lesson on how manipulative salespeople can be?
Replies: 107
Views: 19175

Re: A $1000 lesson on how manipulative salespeople can be?

I view nearly all salespeople as my enemies. My immediate goal in interacting with them is to break their script. They have strategies for manipulating me which includes getting me to say yes, making me feel like their "friend", creating a sense of urgency with a one-time price reduction, ...
by cbeck
Mon May 26, 2014 8:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Pre-nup at only $1M networth, do I need it?
Replies: 199
Views: 14697

Re: Pre-nup at only $1M networth, do I need it?

I teach engineers about defective analogies. You don't have a relationship with an insurance company. Did you have a severance pay discussion at your hiring interview? There's a defective analogy right there. The relationship between a company doing a hiring interview and an interviewee is profound...
by cbeck
Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:44 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Death of co-worker
Replies: 94
Views: 11350

Re: Death of co-worker

This discussion is a good example of availability bias. The OP has encountered an example of unexpected, early death in his workplace and he is making the mistake of overweighting that risk because it is available. The other side of the risk is people who are very old and have outlived their resourc...
by cbeck
Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:44 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 60 Minutes 3-30-14: Michael Lewis book "Flash Boys"
Replies: 70
Views: 5171

Re: Is The US Stock Market Rigged? ~ 60 Minutes March 30, 20

I saw the 60 Minutes show. A good reason to use index funds and avoid market timing. The rapid traders were front running and skimming a little bit off of every trade made. Even if you held only index funds, you were still impacted, although the low turnover of index funds would lead to fewer trans...
by cbeck
Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Friend possibly victim of real estate dual agency
Replies: 27
Views: 3094

Re: Friend possibly victim of real estate dual agency

A fiduciary obligation would require that the agent not put his own interest before those of his client. RE agents do not have a fiduciary obligation to their clients in NY. In fact, few agency relationships of any kind are held to this very high standard. Brokerage firms were able to fend off attem...

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