Search found 1481 matches

by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cashing out of the Bay Area
Replies: 47
Views: 4437

Re: Cashing out of the Bay Area

People cash out of the bay area all the time, and have for many years. One thing I've learned in life is to not try to get the absolute lowest (or highest) price when buying or selling. There are just way too many factors that can't be fully predicted. I try to buy or sell at advantageous prices, an...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Retiring soon - health insurance planning Cal-COBRA
Replies: 18
Views: 1874

Re: Retiring soon - health insurance planning Cal-COBRA

We are going to be on COBRA for 10 more months. I wonder if we will be able to get Cal-COBRA once the COBRA benefits are exhausted since the former employer (a large company) was self-insured/self-funded? I don't think the employer would be required by law to offer Cal-COBRA in that circumstance. I...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them
Replies: 27
Views: 2641

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

If the house has gone many years without a water pressure regulator, it will probably survive a few more. A lot of stuff off of home inspection reports is not all that critical. Don't forget it entirely, but I wouldn't fret that much. Pick one "utility" item to get done, then after finishing it, giv...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling a car: how to get paid?
Replies: 64
Views: 4362

Re: Selling a car: how to get paid?

Car sale newbie question here... I never sold a car before and have just been reading about the process a bit. I wonder about the best reasonable approach to assure that I get paid in a private transaction, before giving the title. Articles I read suggest getting a cashier's check and verifying it ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Total Cost of Car Ownership over 10 years
Replies: 40
Views: 3188

Re: Total Cost of Car Ownership over 10 years

Thinking of 10-year ownership costs is an excellent perspective. It really helps to keep your choices in context in terms of car choices, mileage, depreciation. There are details which will vary; for example, some cars use much more expensive tires than others - I sometimes consciously avoid the "up...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Roth conversion timing and ACA subsidies
Replies: 11
Views: 715

Re: Roth conversion timing and ACA subsidies

IF you have the option on your exchange, and are willing to deal with the higher deductible, there may also be the Bronze HDHP/HSA plan from the exchange. In my case this year that means ~$5 premium after subsidy, and the chance to fund the HSA (which means more room for Roth conversion under the AC...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Need help splitting a muni bond ladder 50/50 between heirs and general Schwab Question
Replies: 24
Views: 1256

Re: Need help splitting a muni bond ladder 50/50 between heirs and general Schwab Question

As a side note, you should look into the "SIMPLE IRA" option with your W2 work. Very low overhead from the employer perspective (much less work than a 401K), but higher contribution limit than a regular IRA. Selling the muni bonds gives you a clean slate, which is convenient (but not necessary) for ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:27 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Can I *not* claim all the state tax in my itemized deduction?
Replies: 39
Views: 4064

Re: Can I *not* claim all the state tax in my itemized deduction?

Why? And no, you can’t do that. You don’t have to claim the deduction on the tax withheld, but you do have to pay the tax on the refund. Doesn't that mean the income will be taxed twice? Providing I don't take a deduction for it this year, then that money was already taxed. It already is part of my...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Can I *not* claim all the state tax in my itemized deduction?
Replies: 39
Views: 4064

Re: Can I *not* claim all the state tax in my itemized deduction?

You can choose to take state sales tax instead of income tax (if your state has both). This would keep your state refund for 2017 from being taxable for 2018. It may or may not reduce your taxes overall between the two years, but you can do some estimating. This can also be helpful with the ACA "cli...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where to put TV in living room?
Replies: 12
Views: 955

Re: Where to put TV in living room?

If you use your fireplace like many (most?) people, you could just put the TV in *front* of the fireplace... And when you want a fire, just put a video of one on (lose less heat up the chimney, too). Use a low stand if needed to get the right height.
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Making quarterly estimated payments w/ deductions?
Replies: 11
Views: 398

Re: Making quarterly estimated payments w/ deductions?

It seems you also have employment income with withholding. The simplest thing might be to adjust your W4 with your employer to have more withheld from pay. Usually it is possible to do this for both state and federal, but I'm not familiar with PA.
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:13 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: DAF question
Replies: 18
Views: 1147

Re: DAF question

A key to fulfilling a pledge and using a DAF is whether the pledge is a contractual obligation (legally enforceable). An organization I have been part of for many decades has had campaigns from time to time and requested pledges, but the pledges are absolutely not contractual obligations. I suspect...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Tax emergency--Almost done filing with TurboTax but a couple things are wrong
Replies: 13
Views: 883

Re: Tax emergency--Almost done filing with TurboTax but a couple things are wrong

It's possible that your HSA contribution should be split into two parts, one as HSA, and one as catch-up. I'm not familiar with the online TT, so I can't say for sure. Also make sure that something didn't get double-entered, once from W2 and again as a separate question.
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Spain in May end
Replies: 32
Views: 1734

Re: Spain in May end

I will be in Andalucia in October, how is it driving around Seville, Cordoba, Granada? It depends... The main freeways and roads are fine, and easy driving. Getting into the older portions of some of the cities (and even many smaller towns) can be a distinct challenge with narrow streets and restri...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:23 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Early dispensation to heirs
Replies: 3
Views: 639

Re: Early dispensation to heirs

You can transfer more than $15,000 without paying tax. If you make gifts of more than $15K, you do need to file a gift tax return, and the amount given will essentially be subtracted from estate tax exemption (currently $5 million?) which would apply against your estate whenever you die. Those you t...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Retirees: Who's increasing their equities as they age?
Replies: 74
Views: 5190

Re: Retirees: Who's increasing their equities as they age?

I expect to have an increasing equity allocation over the next 10 years as the result of spending from FI in taxable to cover the time period until we draw SS. I could maintain a particular balance by shifting in my IRA/401K, but I don't choose to. After starting SS, I don't expect to change allocat...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home inspection/negotiation question
Replies: 20
Views: 797

Re: Home inspection/negotiation question

Yes, the sellers will do the cheapest, minimal job for any repairs. On the other hand, the sellers may have considered the relatively low price they agreed to in the sale as covering some of this, and figure if they do the rework, they might get more by going back on the market. If you want to close...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Account for benefit of a relative; doling out funds
Replies: 16
Views: 973

Re: Account for benefit of a relative; doling out funds

A few thoughts here: 1) It's important to differentiate between an actual inheritance vs a gift (or effectively a "pre-inheritance"). Putting an actual legal inheritance for R in your name is problematic. If it's something that was not a formal bequest, it's a bit different. 2) What you effectively ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 07, 2018 4:04 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Undecided students and STEM majors
Replies: 51
Views: 3974

Re: Undecided students and STEM majors

The Efficient Market Hypothesis does not apply to state universities in California. There is a tremendous amount of turf protection and backstabbing going on behind the scenes as departments try to protect their tenured slots and budgets. The needs and interests of the students come way down on the ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: how much would a new kitchen cost?
Replies: 21
Views: 1715

Re: how much would a new kitchen cost?

Take a look at Ikea for one lower-cost reference. There are also sometimes local contractors who will do kitchens using "pre-made" cabinets similar to Ikea. These may have 8 or 10 styles/colors with a much more limited set of specific cabinet sizes. Typically cabinets made in China and shipped flat,...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I invest in an HSA even though I don't go to the hospital much?
Replies: 18
Views: 1722

Re: Should I invest in an HSA even though I don't go to the hospital much?

Precisely the reason you should. You are doing well now, but what about 20 years from now? Having ample HSA funds will help you pay for med expenses then (presumably in retirement) or if an emergency comes along in the interim. But shouldn't I count on Medicare? You have to pay medicare premiums wh...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:30 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Article on "Buckets" at Morningstar. How Does The Bucket Approach To Retirement Allocation apply to you?
Replies: 23
Views: 2363

Re: Article on "Buckets" at Morningstar. How Does The Bucket Approach To Retirement Allocation apply to you?

There are a number of people who like to heap scorn on any approach which doesn't meet their personal approval. It can be buckets, or international, or particular AA choices. I happen to think there are many roads to Dublin, and while buckets don't hold any magic properties, they can be a useful way...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Starting a home search... Late 60s rancher?
Replies: 18
Views: 1518

Re: Starting a home search... Late 60s rancher?

A few thoughts for you: 1) Make sure somebody didn't just swap out 2-prong outlets for 3-prong, without the actual grounded wiring (I've seen it done). For 1968 build, you are probably OK on that, but you can buy a simple $5 tester at Home Depot to check. 2) A bigger concern on wiring would be if th...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:47 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Second home [buy with retirement funds?]
Replies: 51
Views: 2964

Re: Second home [buy with retirement funds?]

You are right to be concerned about the tax hit for a large, lump-sum, withdrawal from tax-deferred funds. On the other hand, you will be hitting some large RMDs soon anyway. You should do some modeling of the tax consequences of various withdrawal amounts over the next few years. One estimator I li...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Want/need some income in semi-retirement
Replies: 90
Views: 6355

Re: Want/need some income in semi-retirement

Some cases that I've see around here: School crossing guard (one of ours is 92 this year) Usher for arena/stadium sporting or other events Guy who cleaned our carpets recently was 85 and very content with the work. Has an old van with the cleaning system, not part of any chain. Doesn't push himself ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:44 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Who uses Schwab and what are the up and downsides?
Replies: 41
Views: 2716

Re: Who uses Schwab and what are the up and downsides?

I use Schwab (and I own Schwab stock, too). They have an excellent platform for managing your own investments, and at the same time, local offices for the occasion when you would like personal service. BUT, they will often soft-sell various expensive AUM services when a simple index fund portfolio w...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Will contributing to a tIRA reduce my MAGI for ACA purposes?
Replies: 10
Views: 982

Re: Will contributing to a tIRA reduce my MAGI for ACA purposes?

Hello I know that I can contribute to a tIRA for my non-working spouse, so $6500 for me and $6500 for her. Does the contribution to my non-working spouse's IRA also reduce my MAGI for ACA purposes. I know mine does. I am the one with the ACA plan. Thanks for your help in advance! As long as the tIR...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:11 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: bear market and rebalancing to lower risk
Replies: 13
Views: 1042

Re: bear market and rebalancing to lower risk

I did a major asset allocation shift when I retired. I eliminated the leverage (mortgages), cut back the silicon valley real estate, and established a fixed income bridge to last me until the point I expect to start SS. Retiring, with the ability to return to highly compensated work fading fairly fa...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cleaning up new house before move in—getting rid of “cat smell”
Replies: 42
Views: 3295

Re: Cleaning up new house before move in—getting rid of “cat smell”

Given that there is no carpet, it's quite possible that the "cat smell" is primarily on the sellers furniture. If the paint is in good condition and colors you like, I'd start with the scrub down of the walls and steam mop of the floors and see where that gets you. Next level would be to prime and p...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Knocking pipes
Replies: 12
Views: 1461

Re: Knocking pipes

TLB wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:18 pm
Washer In the hose bib.
I'd agree with this one as a likely cause. For the trouble of replacing the washer (since you probably have to turn the house water supply off), I'd probably just replace the hose bib with one of the newer 1/4 turn ones.
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Withdrawing from a Roth Account for ACA Subsidy Reasons
Replies: 7
Views: 774

Re: Withdrawing from a Roth Account for ACA Subsidy Reasons

"Yet Another ACA Hack"... I think it works, but I wouldn't talk about it too much around the office. When these things get popular and/or talked about, they can be targeted. In your case, it seems the main reason you can do it is because you are putting so much into retirement accounts (despite havi...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rent or Buy? Military Doc. What would you do?
Replies: 46
Views: 3152

Re: Rent or Buy? Military Doc. What would you do?

One of my military kids bought a house (in that area, in fact). They managed to keep it as a primary residence for the family for almost six years (though with a fair bit of away time for deployment/TDY). It has been rented for about three years now, and they intend to keep it indefinitely. They use...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Venice Suggestions
Replies: 14
Views: 900

Re: Venice Suggestions

My favorite is just to wander, including the slightly newer south end of the city which seems to have more actual residents. There is a bunch of stuff that fall into my "interesting, but not compelling" bucket (if they were compelling, they would likely be on the standard tourist circuit)... Burano ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:00 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question about ACA Subsidy
Replies: 20
Views: 1821

Re: Question about ACA Subsidy

I could use some guidance between these two choices: Option 1 BRONZE HSA HMO Monthly Premium: $3.00 after $841.93 tax credit Primary Care Visits: You pay 40% Generic Drugs: You pay 40% Yearly Deductible $9600 (May Not Apply) Total Expense Estimate: Lower or Option 2 GOLD HMO Monthly Premium: $387.4...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:05 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Drip irrigation or pop-up sprayers for garden?
Replies: 19
Views: 1696

Re: Drip irrigation or pop-up sprayers for garden?

I've used a fair bit of drip irrigation in CA yards. I learned to only use hose with in-line drippers. No little fiddly heads or lots of connections. Run the 5/8 poly hose to the areas where I want water, then run 5-15' lengths of the drip hose out from that. If there's something that needs more wat...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question about ACA Subsidy
Replies: 20
Views: 1821

Re: Question about ACA Subsidy

I went on to the California exchange and entered my income as $80k. It said that my monthly premium for a Bronze 60 HDHP HSA HMO Plan at Kaiser would be $3/month. The subsidy is $841.93. These numbers seem very strange to me. Did I perhaps do something wrong? That is most likely correct, for this y...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Skype on Windows?
Replies: 25
Views: 752

Re: Skype on Windows?

I use skype occasionally, and have so for many years. Mostly when travelling internationally; it has been amazingly helpful on occasion when stuck with fixing travel plans when airline delays messed things up. I last used it several months ago, on a Win 8.1 laptop with no problems for video chat wit...
by curmudgeon
Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Document Retention Question
Replies: 4
Views: 529

Re: Document Retention Question

In the olden days (like when you bought), any gains on a house sale were normally taxable capital gains, except that you could "roll over" the gains into another house which was of equal or greater price than the sale and defer paying any tax. This got superceded by the $250K/500K homeowner gain exc...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Deciding on Nissan Rogue: 2017 SL vs 2018 SV with sun/sound package
Replies: 7
Views: 669

Re: Deciding on Nissan Rogue: 2017 SL vs 2018 SV with sun/sound package

You can generally go on the nissanusa web site and look at exact dealer stock. Maybe even look at the window sticker for anything they have (might see manufacturing date). You get odd things in dealer inventories some times. Maybe one dealer got a special deal from the manufacturer to take some slow...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Can I really target to pay 0% Federal Taxes for 12 yrs of Retirement
Replies: 46
Views: 6133

Re: Can I really target to pay 0% Federal Taxes for 12 yrs of Retirement

If regular income is $24,000, but capital gains are over $77,400, is the 15% capital gains applied only to the amount over $77,400? So for example if I have $78,400 in capital gains, I would only pay $150? That's an excellent question and I'm hoping somebody more knowledgeable than me will answer i...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Deciding on Nissan Rogue: 2017 SL vs 2018 SV with sun/sound package
Replies: 7
Views: 669

Re: Deciding on Nissan Rogue: 2017 SL vs 2018 SV with sun/sound package

I don't drive cars hard and found the engine on the Rogue to be fine in my test drive. Had one for a week as a rental. I did not feel safe with the lack of power and lose steering. With that said, I almost always drive RWD vehicles, so it was quite a difference! I've put 55,000 miles on our Rogue, ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Can I really target to pay 0% Federal Taxes for 12 yrs of Retirement
Replies: 46
Views: 6133

Re: Can I really target to pay 0% Federal Taxes for 12 yrs of Retirement

It is worth doing some estimates of taxes for various scenarios looking ahead. As others have noted, Roth conversions may be a wise choice. In addition, if you are getting ACA subsidies, beware the "cliff", where the subsidy drops to 0. For a couple, the ACA cliff is generally $64,900 in gross incom...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:56 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: SE Washington DC job - where to live?
Replies: 55
Views: 3119

Re: SE Washington DC job - where to live?

At some point, the daily cost of public transit is not that much cheaper than the cost of owning a car Her use of public transit for commuting is probably free. See my comment upstream about the Mass Transportation Benefit Program. If you're getting BAH you should be eligible too. But I agree that ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:01 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Selling farm, what should the family invest the 500k in?
Replies: 8
Views: 1164

Re: Selling farm, what should the family invest the 500k in?

A few thoughts: If the cap gains tax on sale is relatively modest (from step-up basis), I would just pay it so that you can have a clean start with future investments. If the tax was quite large, it still might be worth paying, but the alternative would be to do some form of 1031 exchange. The excha...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Drink package on Royal Caribbean, worth it?
Replies: 73
Views: 6618

Re: Drink package on Royal Caribbean, worth it?

Just returned from a Celebrity Cruise. Prepaid Gratuities and the middle drink package were thrown in. I've been on several cruises before and never had a drink package thrown in. If it was free, it wouldn't have been worth $55 each (plus gratuities) for my wife and me. Since it was thrown in, it w...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:14 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Supporting a High Withdrawal Rate for Medical Care
Replies: 12
Views: 1025

Re: Supporting a High Withdrawal Rate for Medical Care

Like so many things around ALS, there are no easy answers. The timeframes are so uncertain, the strain very high on both MIL and FIL. From an investment point of view, this is time to be quite conservative. At the same time, FIL may want to feel like there is growth potential to "take care of his wi...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: SE Washington DC job - where to live?
Replies: 55
Views: 3119

Re: SE Washington DC job - where to live?

I want to thank everyone for all the great feedback. Lots of great responses, so I won't try to respond to them individually. It seems like there are plenty of viable options to consider, given her general flexibility (not needing to worry about schools, spouse commute, etc). Budget is definitely a ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:53 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: SE Washington DC job - where to live?
Replies: 55
Views: 3119

SE Washington DC job - where to live?

So it looks like my daughter may end up working at Anacostia navy base, in the SE corner of DC. Not having much experience with DC, I thought I'd reach out for suggestions on what might be good options for areas for her to consider when renting an apartment. Single, no kids or pets. Not interested i...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Home equity as part of retirement plan
Replies: 59
Views: 3596

Re: Home equity as part of retirement plan

We owned two houses at retirement time. Both still had mortgages (not huge, but significant). We sold the larger house and downsized to 2000sf. This let us pay off the mortgage and set aside a large pile of cash into taxable FI investments to finance the period until we claim SS, and stay under the ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:33 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Supporting a High Withdrawal Rate for Medical Care
Replies: 12
Views: 1025

Re: Supporting a High Withdrawal Rate for Medical Care

ALS is really tough. While there is some research going on, it doesn't seem like there has been meaningful progress in treatment since the days of Lou Gehrig, 70 years ago. It wasn't quite clear to me, but I'm presuming this was a recent diagnosis. I've been close to two cases of it, and both ended ...