Search found 894 matches

by curmudgeon
Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Loan on $1.3MM Fixer-upper
Replies: 59
Views: 4857

Re: Loan on $1.3MM Fixer-upper

A few thoughts based on 70's CA construction. 1) copper water service and abs drains would normally still be fine. I don't think they had started using the really thin copper at that point. Specific conditions or local scenario might affect this (water chemistry that attacks copper), but I would be ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Loan on $1.3MM Fixer-upper
Replies: 59
Views: 4857

Re: Loan on $1.3MM Fixer-upper

Be careful about your loan expectations. Just because the loan officer you are dealing with says some basic conditions are all you need to meet doesn't mean that someone further up the line in the loan review won't suddenly get much more picky. Probably a bigger issue with loans that are going to be...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ER and the ACA [Expenses in Retirement]
Replies: 4
Views: 457

Re: ER and the ACA [Expenses in Retirement]

One reference point would be how many different insurers (not plans) are available in a given location. If there is no competition, that is a sign of problems. The map in this link shows the number by each county for 2017: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/20/upshot/obamacare-options-in-many-parts-of-c...
by curmudgeon
Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:41 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: HSABank: How to withdraw money and reflect it in taxes?
Replies: 49
Views: 2551

Re: HSABank: How to withdraw money and reflect it in taxes?

It seems too simple, and I am still wondering if there is a catch. 1. So, I can just withdraw money from HSABank, receive a tax form from them for 2016, and put the same amounts for "distributions" and "qualified medical expenses" on Form 8889 lines 14a and 15, respectively. 2. ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Rollover IRA to Roth IRA conversion - tax free?
Replies: 8
Views: 595

Re: Rollover IRA to Roth IRA conversion - tax free?

I think others have covered the taxability aspect fairly well; Roth conversions generate taxable income, so you generally want to spread them out over a number of low income years by doing partial conversions each year. Depending on where you plan to draw living expenses from, some other things you ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What's the smallest signup bonus that you'd take on a new credit card?
Replies: 27
Views: 1823

Re: What's the smallest signup bonus that you'd take on a new credit card?

These days I would probably hold the line at about $300 cash, or $500 in easily used (by me) value in the form of air miles I don't really care about the credit score stuff, but it is dealing with another account to track (and risk making late payments, etc). I regularly turn down the $500 bonuses f...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Twin home burns down and one owner won't rebuild. What happens?
Replies: 25
Views: 2942

Re: Twin home burns down and one owner won't rebuild. What happens?

The general term I am familiar with when the land ownership is is separate, is "zero lot line" SFR. At least in CA, these are different than townhomes (which may still have specific land ownership, but have stronger HOA bonds among the ownership group). Given land prices in Silicon Valley,...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:13 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Strategy to buy expensive house
Replies: 67
Views: 5304

Re: Strategy to buy expensive house

We bought the $140K house (good area, but cosmetic disaster), lived there for two years spending quite a bit of sweat but very little $. Sold it for $200K and bought the $260K "raise the family" house (walking distance to all levels of good schools). 14 years later, finances have gotten ea...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Changing Mortgage Servicer
Replies: 13
Views: 832

Re: Changing Mortgage Servicer

Sometimes I feel like there should be a required $500 kickback to the borrower every time the mortgage servicing gets sold. It seems to always end up being a PITA time-suck to deal with the errors that happen along the way. There seems to be something about some of these lowest-rate mortgage broker ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:39 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Roth IRA and income
Replies: 5
Views: 633

Re: Roth IRA and income

As long as you have earned income, then she can contribute to an IRA (Roth or otherwise) as a "spousal" IRA. Still subject to the max income caps as a couple for Roth contributions.
by curmudgeon
Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Traveling to Italy and renting a vehicle -- auto insurance?
Replies: 21
Views: 1742

Re: Traveling to Italy and renting a vehicle -- auto insurance?

It looks like Italy requires much of the insurance (including theft insurance) to be included in every rental. As such, it is much more competitively priced than typical rental insurance add-ons. When you get your quotes, just make sure you get an out-the-door quote with all taxes and fees. I did a ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:17 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Early Retirement - Planning Questions ... UPDATE
Replies: 48
Views: 5809

Re: Early Retirement - Planning Questions ... UPDATE

The simple answer is, "yes, you have enough". I'll pick an example of when you bring in various income streams (one that I might choose, hard to say if it is optimal). 1) Treat your mortgage as a simple subtraction from your savings; i.e. $1m minus $180K equals $820K savings. In reality, t...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:06 pm
Forum: Forum Issues and Administration
Topic: How To Downsize Image To Use As Avatar?
Replies: 4
Views: 273

Re: How To Downsize Image To Use As Avatar?

The paint program can resize for you. Just open with paint, then use resize and save.
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Trip to Germany
Replies: 22
Views: 1797

Re: Trip to Germany

Walkable Munich central lodging during Octoberfest was all likely booked long ago. If you want to be there during that time, I suspect staying further out and using public transit will be your best option. The S-bahn and U-bahn work very well for tourists. Pick a hotel based on how convenient it is ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:39 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Pillow Top" only (part of mattress) ?
Replies: 6
Views: 564

Re: "Pillow Top" only (part of mattress) ?

Several years ago we bought a fairly firm mattress which seemed good for a few days. We later realized that we really wanted it a bit softer, though in our case not memory foam and not the full "pillow top". We bought one of those foam "egg crate" style pads, about 1.5" thic...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Trip to Germany
Replies: 22
Views: 1797

Re: Trip to Germany

A great time of year for the area. Salzburg and St Wolfgang in Austria are very nice this time of year if you like the mountains. Chiemsee and the palace on the island (Herrenchiemsee) is another nice location to visit. Cesky Krumlov, just over the border in Czech Republic is also a good option. For...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: buy one ticket twice rather than two at once: United Airlines
Replies: 6
Views: 1634

Re: buy one ticket twice rather than two at once: United Airlines

I have seen this a few times. The other point sometimes is that if you wait another week for the second ticket, it might come back down in price to what you paid for the first one (or not...). The airlines often trickle out lower cost seats over time.
by curmudgeon
Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Oops - Enrolled in Medicare While Still in HSA, Need to Unenroll
Replies: 23
Views: 1585

Re: Oops - Enrolled in Medicare While Still in HSA, Need to Unenroll

If your wife is still under a HDHP, then it should be possible to continue contributing based her single coverage into an HSA. On a theoretical basis, that might mean that you could contribute around 70% of the max this year, and 50% next year (but look into the details) Whether you could still be p...
by curmudgeon
Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Blocking robot calls.
Replies: 61
Views: 4798

Re: Blocking robot calls.

We've been getting more junk calls lately. I realized that now we have voip home phone (uVerse), and that I could use nomorobo. Pretty straightforward to set up, though you have to log into both nomorobo and your phone service web portals. Junk calls ring once and cut off. So far, so good. It seems ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What to do with my underwater house, sink or swim?
Replies: 29
Views: 3444

Re: What to do with my underwater house, sink or swim?

Key question is whether you can come up with the cash to get into a conventional mortgage. At least it sounds like it wasn't a negative amortization loan, but it is definitely still a challenge. IF you can come up with enough cash to do a refi (not just 10% or 20% "down", but also enough t...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:28 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: combo oven microwave, want to replace microwave
Replies: 15
Views: 960

Re: combo oven microwave, want to replace microwave

The key question, which still isn't clear, is whether it is actually a true "combo" unit, all in one piece with a single electrical connection, or whether it is a single wall electric oven with a separate built-in microwave installed above it. It sounds like it might be the second case, wh...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hawaii anniversary trip suggestions
Replies: 31
Views: 2511

Re: Hawaii anniversary trip suggestions

Maui is definitely pretty popular, for a reason. If the classic swim-able beaches and snorkeling in front of your hotel is a priority, it is still the likely choice. You can find those on other islands, but they tend to be more limited because of rip currents or shoreline characteristics. If you go ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:25 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Car purchase - Cash vs Finance
Replies: 8
Views: 972

Re: Car purchase - Cash vs Finance

I read the OP as someone with a good, but limited, credit history considering using the loan primarily for the purpose of a longer term improvement to their credit rating. There is certainly a reasonable argument to be made in favor of this; a longer term payment schedule and a different type of cre...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: AC blower motor died. need replacement
Replies: 20
Views: 1149

Re: AC blower motor died. need replacement

Grainger can be a good source for HVAC parts, depending on how close they are. They won't be the absolute cheapest, but they have real stores so you can actually eyeball the part before accepting it.
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Rented a car on business, received a parking ticket 11 months later?
Replies: 29
Views: 2425

Re: Rented a car on business, received a parking ticket 11 months later?

I think San Francisco puts any unpaid parking tickets against the vehicle registration without sending further notice. So the owner may not be aware until registration comes up for renewal. In the past it was clear that they just went by license number without correlating other details, so a transcr...
by curmudgeon
Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: cost to build a deck?
Replies: 10
Views: 1020

Re: cost to build a deck?

I paid about $6500 labor for my deck replacement four years ago. About 15' off the ground, a bit smaller but with a staircase so probably somewhat more labor, re-used the iron railings though and just added a new wood cap to them so less work there, re-used existing footings which are quite deep and...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Has a SUV helped anyone's back?
Replies: 22
Views: 1434

Re: Has a SUV helped anyone's back?

Nissan brags about their zero gravity seats. You could ask on a Nissan forum whether they help. http://www.nissanusa.com/blog/zero-gravity-seats We have these seats in the Nissan Rogue (weren't directly part of our buying decision). Both my wife and I have commented that these seats are definitely ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Aug 21, 2016 12:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Early planning for ACA 2017
Replies: 11
Views: 1459

Re: Early planning for ACA 2017

It seems like there is really a two-sided dance to all this. On the one side are the intertwining of income, prices, and subsidies. The second half is the makeup of the specific plans themselves. I'm concerned that there is a "race to the bottom" going on in terms or provider networks (and...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tips for a 1000 miles car trip with toddler and baby
Replies: 100
Views: 4102

Re: Tips for a 1000 miles car trip with toddler and baby

We did plenty of roadtrips with our kids. Different modes work for different families. We had some sets of activities, kids books and books on tape. My wife did a couple of pretty long trips with just the kids (about 1,3,5 at the time); south Forida to New Brunswick, and south Florida to California,...
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:20 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: credit score hit when closing cc accounts?
Replies: 11
Views: 667

Re: credit score hit when closing cc accounts?

If you can answer any of these questions with a "yes", then you should just hold on to them: 1) Is either card a significant percent of your available credit? 2) Is either card your oldest account? 3) Are you potentially going to use your credit score soon? (house, car, etc) Fees start to...
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Efficient way to build credit
Replies: 21
Views: 917

Re: Efficient way to build credit

I'm not an expert on this, but I don't think churning the balance multiple times a month is going to do anything (and it's probably best to make sure you don't actually hit the limits). Part of the question will be what factors went into the current score. Specific black marks - many late payments, ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Keep working and how much beach house?
Replies: 30
Views: 3066

Re: Keep working and how much beach house?

We gave serious consideration to beach or mountain houses at one time. On the financial side, there are tons of variations to consider: base cost, ongoing taxes/insureance/upkeep, do you rent in out etc. If you keep your head on straight, you probably won't get into trouble on the finance side. The ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Water pressure in the master bathroom
Replies: 10
Views: 590

Re: Water pressure in the master bathroom

Depending on where you live and the type/age/condition of your water supply pipes you may have mineral buildup restricting the water flow. In our area of CA, houses that were build with galvanized iron water pipes often have this problem. After 30-40 years, the water flow area can be squeezed down v...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Roth conversion & state income taxes
Replies: 12
Views: 1014

Re: Roth conversion & state income taxes

So it's pay 24% now to (probably) save 34% later, with a whole lot of uncertainty about where the tax code will be in 10 years thrown in. Paying taxes earlier than you have to is no fun.
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:23 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Roth conversion & state income taxes
Replies: 12
Views: 1014

Re: Roth conversion & state income taxes

It might be worth combining your conversions with a "bunching" strategy for deductions. If the state tax rate is fairly level across a wide range of income, you might try to pull some property tax payments ahead, maybe a DAF donation as well, combined with the higher estimated state tax pa...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:07 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Understanding I-orp Logic
Replies: 22
Views: 2140

Re: Understanding I-orp Logic

Why would the Roth earn higher rates of return that an IRA or taxable account? You enter pre-tax returns and it applies the specified tax rates to the earning. At least, that is my understanding of what the instructions say. You might choose to hold more (or less) aggressive allocations in the Roth...
by curmudgeon
Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:05 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Anyone else noticing the economy improving?
Replies: 78
Views: 4425

Re: Anyone else noticing the economy improving?

Seriously, other than the gas cost, I would assume the "normal" commute for an American is 45-60 minutes each way? America is a very spread out country, and people live in places like Atlanta where the traffic is diabolical (also true of LA, SF Bay, NYC, Washington DC, Seattle?). There ha...
by curmudgeon
Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:00 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: High Annual Mileage Bogleheads?
Replies: 20
Views: 2088

Re: High Annual Mileage Bogleheads?

25000 miles of city driving says "Prius" to me. Or one of the other similar hybrids if you prefer a different body style. That's the type of usage model where you should actually come out ahead with a hybrid, and is why you start to see lots of Prius taxicabs.
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:49 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Refinancing mortgage to 15-year vs. college savings
Replies: 22
Views: 1446

Re: Refinancing mortgage to 15-year vs. college savings

There's a lot of interest rate speculation involved, and it's difficult to predict whether rates will normalize in the next few years or not. Some of us have inflation scars that influence us, just as an older generation had great depression scars. These can cause us to skew our choices; I may be in...
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much vacation time do you get at work?
Replies: 155
Views: 10204

Re: How much vacation time do you get at work?

I get 5 weeks of PTO per year (after 5 years with company) plus another 10-12 holidays. I can carry a portion over from year to year, but can hit accrual limits. This is the most I've ever had while working in a variety of tech companies over the years. I really like taking 3-day weekends that are N...
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:50 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: HSA - Refund from provider
Replies: 3
Views: 302

Re: HSA - Refund from provider

Might be easiest just to pay this one yourself directly (put it on CC?). Then claim reimbursement from your HSA to yourself. Just because your HSA offers a debit card doesn't mean it's the only way to draw payments. My HSA provider lets me do this all online, so I just save up the bills and ask for ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:13 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Recommend some nice, comfy mens work socks
Replies: 16
Views: 726

Re: Recommend some nice, comfy mens work socks

I believe Cool Max and Thorlo are outrageously priced brand names for acrylic, but if not, I'm sure someone will come along and correct me. I paid about $1 per pair for the Cool Max on sale from Kohls. I can live with that. While I like Thorlos, and they wear well, $12-15 per pair was expensive if ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Recommend some nice, comfy mens work socks
Replies: 16
Views: 726

Re: Recommend some nice, comfy mens work socks

I shifted to Hanes "Cool Max" several years ago. My feet sweat easily, and these work well for keeping them dry. I used Thorlo for a long time (they are more of a hiking style), but they are pretty expensive, so I was open to alternatives.
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying a new home at age 50 in a nicer neighborhood
Replies: 107
Views: 8603

Re: Buying a new home at age 50 in a nicer neighborhood

The advantage of being frugal and saving well is that you have flexibility to choose some luxuries without having them take away your financial security. The key is to choose wisely and not overcommit yourself. We made a somewhat similar move in our mid-40s. I weighed the additional property taxes a...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Activate iPhone 4s without sim?
Replies: 6
Views: 567

Re: Activate iPhone 4s without sim?

You could just stop by Target and buy the cheapest prepaid sim available, probably $10 for tmobile or consumer cellular. Just throw it away afterwards rather than activate it. I did that once when I wanted to make sure that I had gotten through the unlock sequence correctly before travelling overseas.
by curmudgeon
Tue Aug 09, 2016 4:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Friend wants to pay for my kids' college expenses: how best to do this
Replies: 18
Views: 2447

Re: Friend wants to pay for my kids' college expenses: how best to do this

529 seems like a good option. I'm surprised you say you don't expect financial aid. With the income you've listed and the fact that you are now a single parent, your kids would likely qualify for substantial financial aid at undergrad institutions meeting full need. That includes many of the 'elite...
by curmudgeon
Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: European Vacation Cost
Replies: 13
Views: 1428

Re: European Vacation Cost

I like Rick Steves' guidebooks for the big European cities. +1, he will have suggested hotels in different price ranges. I don't know about Paris but when we went to London a few years ago all of the more moderately priced hotels with decent reviews from his book and Tripadvisor were booked up well...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: auto air conditioner recharge
Replies: 15
Views: 1460

Re: auto air conditioner recharge

Used to do it quite a bit, but if a 2012 need recharge, I'd think there is likely a leak that should be fixed first. With modern systems, you do need the pressure guage, not just the old "look for bubbles in the sight glass" of the old 1970's ACs. Take the time to fully understand the dire...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: European Vacation Cost
Replies: 13
Views: 1428

Re: European Vacation Cost

Lots of variability when you get down to the nitty-gritty of food and lodging costs. If you want Hilton/Marriot it will cost you, just like it would in the center of a big US city, or maybe a bit more. We won't stay out in the suburbs while on vacation, but we try not to get hung up on hotel ameniti...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Mounting on Cinder Block
Replies: 15
Views: 1413

Re: Mounting on Cinder Block

Stucco over the cinder block? You could use a backing board for the numbers and then fasten that to the block using conventional concrete fasteners (larger diameter). If the numbers are good quality and should have long life of looking good, I might just use construction adhesive and glue them on.

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