Search found 681 matches

by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 2007 Prius - To repair or NOT - $3K bill and car worth maybe $6K
Replies: 14
Views: 1106

Re: 2007 Prius - To repair or NOT - $3K bill and car worth maybe $6K

At that age of car, I would probably be using an independent mechanic. Generally substantially lower labor rates.
by curmudgeon
Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Planning European-Southern Germany Road Trip Travel-Hacks Wanted
Replies: 17
Views: 1085

Re: Planning European-Southern Germany Road Trip Travel-Hacks Wanted

A few points: 1) Often there is no one-way surcharge IF you are dropping in the same country. Picking up in one country and dropping in another can have very large surcharge (the rental fleets aren't interconnected the way they are in US states). 2) Automatics are rare, diesels are common. If you re...
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: patio enclosure - advise
Replies: 16
Views: 1517

Re: patio enclosure - advise

For SoCal, it is probably a reasonable application. I would think of it more as a depreciating asset than a permanent improvement, especially if it has lots of moving/motorized parts. That is, think of it as being "used up" in 10-15 years and assign a yearly cost to it.
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Am I Over Insuring My House?
Replies: 17
Views: 1810

Re: Am I Over Insuring My House?

For older houses, sometimes there are building code issues when doing a full rebuild. Your locality might require fire sprinklers, for example, or decide that your foundation is not up to par and must be removed/rebuilt. Some locations this is probably more straightforward than others. Insurance com...
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: United vs Lufthansa on taxes and fees
Replies: 7
Views: 672

Re: United vs Lufthansa on taxes and fees

Yes, substantial difference on fees when using miles. But if you are taking Lufthansa flights using United miles, you still pay the fees (I'm pretty sure that applies even to codeshare flights).
by curmudgeon
Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Nearing retirement but annual contribution still very significant
Replies: 41
Views: 3483

Re: Nearing retirement but annual contribution still very significant

When you are nearing retirement, with a substantial amount of savings, then I view it as more of a tax and lifestyle choice. I might put money into tax-deferred accounts because of my current/expected tax rates, but spend money from other sources because I don't actually *need* to keep saving more. ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Form 1040 - occupation?
Replies: 18
Views: 1340

Re: Form 1040 - occupation?

I've wondered about this one as well. I can see the potential for relevance to self-employment income/deductions being one use. It seems like (at least in the past) there are some potential tax scenarios related to retraining for a new career field as well, which might make use of the occupation fie...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cold spots in certain rooms. Why? How to solve?
Replies: 28
Views: 1846

Re: Cold spots in certain rooms. Why? How to solve?

So do you have the dampers open in the chimneys? That will suck the warmth out of a room. The warm air going up the chimney will be replaced by cold air coming in from outside.
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Next house
Replies: 5
Views: 523

Re: Next house

A mortgage is a tool. Like many power tools, it has hazards, but is very helpful if used properly. I would be more inclined to have my mortgage fit my life, rather than the other way around. That is, figure out my housing affordability, wants and needs in the context of my total financial picture, a...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which type of CCRC?
Replies: 14
Views: 1066

Re: Which type of CCRC?

I've seen several choices for CCRC or retirement living made by different family members and family friends. In general they have worked out pretty well, but it is definitely something that is worth some real thought. Several examples: In-laws retired to an "over-55" retirement condo commu...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon Reviews
Replies: 11
Views: 882

Re: Amazon Reviews

I don't put a lot of faith in Amazon reviews. I see a lot of shill reviews out there, and also a fair bit of what are likely competitor put-downs on the other side. If I look at the reviews, I figure I have to sift through the idiots and the biased. In the end, sometimes I feel like I have found use...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help redeeming frequent flyer points for good value?
Replies: 19
Views: 1177

Re: Help redeeming frequent flyer points for good value?

I will be interested in seeing how this turns out. In the past we tended to use down points typically on economy flights to Europe, and didn't accumulate much beyond that point. We tended to do enough trips to use up what we accumulated that way, and so haven't built up large balances (I avoid busin...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's your company 401k contribution
Replies: 105
Views: 4685

Re: What's your company 401k contribution

3% of base comp (on a 50% matching basis). Done in a totally screwy fashion so that I actually *lose* some of the employer contribution if I use the "catch up" 401K space for over-50. No pension or other deferred compensation options. As others have noted, it is the total compensation (and...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Other cities or countries to visit while on a Barcelona trip in April
Replies: 20
Views: 846

Re: Other cities or countries to visit while on a Barcelona trip in April

Depending on how busy your work will be, you could easily spend the extra time in Barcelona, with a day trip or two to someplace like Monserrat or Figueres/Costa Brava. With a car you might head up to Andorra and Carcasonne. Lots of low cost flight options on Vueling from BCN. Last fall we got $100 ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Smartphone security 101?
Replies: 45
Views: 3586

Re: Smartphone security 101?

I regard typical smartphones as being only loosely secured. I think the Windows phones are a bit more secure, but still not great. Even though I have never lost a cell phone (and almost never lost track of one for any significant time), I still prefer to keep arms length on any significant financial...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Building a new small home
Replies: 37
Views: 3282

Re: Building a new small home

It might be worth considering "factory built" houses in this scenario. One of the problems with mobile homes is that they are often built to a lower construction standard (camping trailer), rather than meeting local building codes. Even higher quality mobile homes often have somewhat awkwa...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cheap source of Science Diet Optimal Care cat food?
Replies: 25
Views: 1319

Re: Cheap source of Science Diet Optimal Care cat food?

For quite a few years we gave our cats pretty generic grocery store kibble (supplemented by the occasional mouse, rat, or canned food treat), without any noticable negative effects during their fairly long lives. We avoided sticking to any one brand in particular, though, on the thought that at leas...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Nature vs Nurture
Replies: 27
Views: 1311

Re: Nature vs Nurture

I would tend to believe (from examples I am familiar with), that a large portion of differences in spending habits are nature. But I think that nurture/environment can have a impact on a smaller scale. Maybe something like: nature will define which quartile of spending habits you are likely to fall ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: umbrella insurance - why so expensive?
Replies: 34
Views: 2410

Re: umbrella insurance - why so expensive?

Young drivers would likely account for the high premiums. A significant part of what you are really buying with an umbrella policy (from an insurance risk perspective) is additional liability coverage for your driving. Of all the things in our lives that have the potential to expose us to big dollar...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What to do with my Audi A3 TDI
Replies: 54
Views: 3527

Re: What to do with my Audi A3 TDI

As a consumer, I wouldn't see any reason to jump one way or another. There isn't going to be any change in diesel availability at stations. Biggest issue would be if you are someone who tends to turn over cars every 2-3 years; in that case you may take a bigger hit to resale value when the time come...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:55 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Dumping Chase Private Client
Replies: 10
Views: 1809

Re: Dumping Chase Private Client

I notice that one of the free benefits is "No fee for 3x5 safe deposit box (subject to availability); 20% discount for larger boxes." Is that really 3 inches by 5 inches? How tall is it? 3x5 safe deposit box generally refers to the door size; I would expect it to be a slide-out box at lea...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:58 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What are you up YTD? [Year To Date]
Replies: 753
Views: 111449

Re: What are you up YTD? [Year To Date]

For 2015 +2.2% Around 88% large cap US, 10% cash/FI, 2% speculation
by curmudgeon
Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking at the new $49 Kindles...
Replies: 53
Views: 6306

Re: Looking at the new $49 Kindles...

Picked one up (for the $35 deal last month). It's a more solid and usable device than the old cheapo android tablet I bought a couple of years ago (I gave that one away). It's annoying that it is limited to the Amazon app store; I've already found things that I'd like to have on the tablet that are ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:41 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Options for Social Security claiming
Replies: 8
Views: 993

Re: Options for Social Security claiming

Probably worth pushing exact numbers through a SS calculator (maybe investing the $30 or so for one of the online ones). Much depends on the benefit amount specifics and how definite those approximations are, as well as the age differences and relative earnings. What is best for them won't necessari...
by curmudgeon
Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Allocation to 5% Guaranteed Product
Replies: 16
Views: 1186

Re: Allocation to 5% Guaranteed Product

I had a fund like that in my 401K, once upon a time. It seemed like a good deal in a tumultuous market. When the insurance company behind the fund collapsed, it wasn't so great... I think in the end I got back about 85% of my principal in two years, and another 5% over the next ten years. I would lo...
by curmudgeon
Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:52 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with high-speed buying
Replies: 4
Views: 623

Re: Experience with high-speed buying

Like most things in life, "it depends". People who run sites like this for a living (e.g. ticketmaster) have elaborate systems for managing what is called "flash crowds", and will tend to to queue you up pretty randomly at the particular instant they go on sale. Running multiple ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cordless phone batteries
Replies: 18
Views: 693

Re: Cordless phone batteries

Look the batteries up on Amazon; there may well be alternative replacements available much cheaper than OEM batteries. Needed to do this recently; Best Buy had the OEM batteries available for $25ea. On Amazon I got compatible (but higher capacity) batteries at $10 for a 4-pack. They worked great for...
by curmudgeon
Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Paying property tax with credit card to reach spending bonus
Replies: 19
Views: 2160

Re: Paying property tax with credit card to reach spending bonus

I would consider paying the fees for using it on property tax if you don't have another reasonable option to meet the spend requirements. I personally won't do the gift card type of manufactured spend; it's just not worth my time and hassle. Utilities often accept credit cards for payment; often wit...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do "finishes" count in home appraisals?
Replies: 34
Views: 3990

Re: How do "finishes" count in home appraisals?

Appraisals can have significant randomness, even if the appraiser is making a good effort (which isn't always the case). There are typically some standards for finishes and construction quality, but it's sometimes hard for an appraiser to truly know the details of comps, even if they do a drive by. ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Bank CDs in a Revocable Living Trust
Replies: 10
Views: 822

Re: Bank CDs in a Revocable Living Trust

This can differ from state to state, so do a little digging around for your specifics. It will make life easier if you can avoid having too much interest (I don't remember the limit that requires a tax filing) being paid to the trust after his death, as you would like to avoid having to file a tax r...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Term life for stay at home mom
Replies: 22
Views: 1488

Re: Term life for stay at home mom

We generally only buy insurance to the degreee to which we can't reasonably self-insure. The goal of our insurance is not to guarantee that some potential life event has no financial impact, just that the impact would be manageable. Buying insurance for everything under the sun is a great way to cra...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home buying question vis-a-vis septic rating
Replies: 34
Views: 1933

Re: Home buying question vis-a-vis septic rating

Many areas have really tightened down standards for septic systems in recent years. What would have been no problem 50 years ago (or even 20 years ago) now has a lot more restrictions. You have two issues: 1) Will you have operation and/or usability problems with the septic system during your owners...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 30, 2015 1:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Mom's unsafe browsing -- how to protect her accounts
Replies: 65
Views: 7551

Re: Mom's unsafe browsing -- how to protect her accounts

One thing that can be quite worthwhile is to set up a separate admin account (presuming windows), and have her use a non-admin account. That can block a lot of the problems. You can leave the admin password with her if you like, but cover it with a sticky note which says to call you first before usi...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Thoughts on paying Mortgage down vs Investing
Replies: 45
Views: 3244

Re: Thoughts on paying Mortgage down vs Investing

I think this is really a matter of your personal risk profile. If other aspects of your financial life are fairly stable (for example, a lont-term government job, pension, etc), then I think it is reasonable to be taking more risk in other areas (keeping a mortgage to have more stock market investme...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: TV Problem
Replies: 31
Views: 4476

Re: TV Problem

One thing I would suggest before giving up on the old set is to make sure you do a complete power off/on cycle (pulling the plug, not using the remote). It can be amazing how many transient problems in modern electronics can be cured this way. Beyond that, however, there's usually not much worth try...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ATM use in Europe
Replies: 31
Views: 1735

Re: ATM use in Europe

The basic rules for international ATMs are relatively consumer-friendly, but there are traps for the unwary. We use our credit union ATM card, and find it a very low-fee efficient way to get cash. The most important thing is to recognize whether an ATM is a bank ATM or a "convenience" ATM....
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: At what level does the cost of something matter to you?
Replies: 64
Views: 6240

Re: At what level does the cost of something matter to you?

I tend to think (at least a little) about every thing I spend. This is probably most noticable in restaurant meals - the prices play a factor in my decision-making, perhaps more from a "value" perspective than absolute dollars, even though what I spend isn't likely to have a meaningful imp...
by curmudgeon
Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: College Engineering Programs - how different are they?
Replies: 152
Views: 8031

Re: College Engineering Programs - how different are they?

At the big state school, you are a number. At the smaller private school (at least outside of a few that are really full of themselves) you are a customer. This can make a definite difference in your experience when you need something non-standard dealt with. On the other hand, learning how to get t...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dealer selling used car with new rear tires-> Why wouldnt they change the front 2 as well?
Replies: 36
Views: 2575

Re: Dealer selling used car with new rear tires-> Why wouldnt they change the front 2 as well?

Fairly straightforward situation: 1) FWD cars tend to wear front tires more heavily (why it is important to rotate tires periodically if you want max life) 2) FWD cars driven enthusiastically (hard cornering and such) can wear down the fronts even quicker 3) When the dealer got the car, the fronts w...
by curmudgeon
Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 5/1 or 30 year or 15 year mortgage and use the difference to invest
Replies: 16
Views: 1254

Re: 5/1 or 30 year or 15 year mortgage and use the difference to invest

Personally, I would (and did) go for the 15 yr. While you are likely in peak earning years, it's also time to start looking ahead at retirement. To me, that means starting to dial down the risk. I don't do that so much by shifting into bonds as many do here, but by cutting down the leverage of RE lo...
by curmudgeon
Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Asphalt driveway - Temporary patch for depressed area in front of garage
Replies: 24
Views: 1544

Re: Asphalt driveway - Temporary patch for depressed area in front of garage

Sounds like you might need several inches of filler, but cold patch should be fine. For this one, all you need is some yahoo with a pickup truck :happy It doesn't take any fancy roller or anything, but a tamper (square iron plate on a handle) will make it easier to do a smooth job. Any handy type wh...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a Log Home
Replies: 25
Views: 2547

Re: Buying a Log Home

My thanks to everyone for some very helpful feedback. There is a lot of great information you have provided. This gives me a bit more comfort in being open to some of these houses, as well as some of the potential drawbacks to keep in mind when looking at specific homes.
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Another EU vacation, but this time it's ours!
Replies: 37
Views: 2489

Re: Another EU vacation, but this time it's ours!

I should add that personally I would spend more time in fewer cities, and just train or fly between them. As an example, we spent 4+ days in Prague recently, and wouldn't have wanted less. Tickets for sports and music events in Prague are pretty reasonably priced; we caught an opera, a hockey game, ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $50 Amazon Fire Tablet (Initial Impressions)
Replies: 33
Views: 6003

Re: $50 Amazon Fire Tablet (Initial Impressions)

It sounds like a number of stores will have this small Fire tablet for $35 on/around black friday. As long as I can side load apps from google play without too much trouble, I figure it should be reasonably usable for my purposes, so if I can get one without hassle (preferably not on friday itself),...
by curmudgeon
Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Another EU vacation, but this time it's ours!
Replies: 37
Views: 2489

Re: Another EU vacation, but this time it's ours!

If you are mostly going for cities with the tour section, I wouldn't want to do it by car. In addition to the driving time, you've got the hassles of finding your hotels and parking. While the roads won't necessarily be horrible, they won't be up to US/Western Europe standards. A lot of western rent...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:56 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a Log Home
Replies: 25
Views: 2547

Re: Buying a Log Home

We lived in a log home for 15 years, in a PNW-like climate. . . Logs are great insulation if the house is well built. You never have to worry about what color to paint the house. The insulation R-values don't back this up: "THE R-VALUE OF WOOD A material’s thermal resistance or resistance to h...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Another EU vacation, but this time it's ours!
Replies: 37
Views: 2489

Re: Another EU vacation, but this time it's ours!

Some good points here: I'll chime it with a few more. 1) I would try to avoid backtracking (i.e. Rome-Venice-Cruise-Venice-Rome). Whether it is flights or trains, it always involves extra packing up, getting to station/airport in advance, waiting around, etc. It's an expensive trip, so treat your ti...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying a Log Home
Replies: 25
Views: 2547

Buying a Log Home

I'm often amazed at the broad range of expertise/experience and quality responses that show up here on Bogleheads, so I thought I'd raise this question here: What should we be aware of if we are considering buying an existing modern (built in past 10-30 years) log home? For some context, we are not ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home water main leak in San Diego
Replies: 8
Views: 866

Re: Home water main leak in San Diego

I would agree that copper would be the most appropriate replacement (the heavier guage suitable for burying). Periodically they come up with a new "wonder building material" to save costs (either material or installation). Sometimes these work out in the long run, and sometimes large-scale...
by curmudgeon
Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Estate Sales
Replies: 6
Views: 997

Re: Estate Sales

I have an acquaintance who is in the business of doing estate sales. There are some properties that she just won't touch, because the disposal bill for all the unsalable (and undonatable) junk is likely to be higher than the actual returns from the sale (after all the sorting, pricing, selling, and ...

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