Search found 1519 matches

by curmudgeon
Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:31 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Retirement spending/ HCOL areas?
Replies: 10
Views: 1837

Re: Retirement spending/ HCOL areas?

There are lots of specific variations, both by location and lifestyle. We can keep our retirement spending baseline fairly modest while living in silicon valley, but there are a number of special considerations which may be specific to our case that help us do it. The following things help to keep t...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:07 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: “Day to kill” in Venice Italy
Replies: 51
Views: 3171

Re: “Day to kill” in Venice Italy

I knew traveling with heavily Americanized (if there is such a term) teenagers was going to present challenges. That said, going to a place where the menus are somewhat hard to read (making for frustrating experiences), breakfasts that were included in the tour consists of lunchmeat and croissants,...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:53 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Can we afford to drop our 401k contributions to pay for college?
Replies: 17
Views: 2002

Re: Can we afford to drop our 401k contributions to pay for college?

I tend to take the view that money is fungible. Yes, the tax advantages of deferral are nice, but not overwhelming. Even without your contributions, you have more going in to tax-deferred through the employer contributions than most two-income families can put away. I would probably be OK with it, a...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Juggling ACA premium credit and non-refundable tax credits
Replies: 6
Views: 508

Re: Juggling ACA premium credit and non-refundable tax credits

Interesting concept. I've considered doing solar, but was worried that we wouldn't be able to make use of the credits. A significant portion of our taxable income is a result of Roth conversions, which are not inherently pre-defined at the time of signing up for ACA. For 2018, though, my HDHP HSA pl...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: death certificates...hospice and 911
Replies: 32
Views: 2914

Re: death certificates...hospice and 911

It can be a bit messy. I think hospice *should* have a process for ensuring that you get a death certificate. Ask them in advance. If you call 911, it may depend on the capabilities of your local emergency responder; some might have to transport to the hospital for an official declaration. It was a ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:23 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much to budget for a week long vacation for 2?
Replies: 79
Views: 4275

Re: How much to budget for a week long vacation for 2?

I put an annual amount for travel as a placeholder in my retirement planning. I don't expect to spend that much most years, but it's there to give me a comfort level that we aren't overspending as long as we stay under it. If I wanted to do something on the unusually expensive side that would overru...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 28, 2018 11:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement
Replies: 17
Views: 2910

Re: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement

3) ACA premium subsidies / cost-sharing: If I can solve for #1 above (dividends), it might be possible to qualify for ACA premium subsidies/cost-sharing, assuming (big assumption) that those are still available in several years, but that would limit the 401k-to-Roth conversion amount. Which is bett...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 28, 2018 5:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes
Replies: 29
Views: 1837

Re: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes

My advice for using frequent flyer miles for travel to Europe: 1. Avoid London airports. 2. Avoid British Airways. I flew from the US to Madrid (and back) a few weeks ago using United frequent flyer miles, and the taxes and fees were less than $100. Did you fly United, or use United awards for a di...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 28, 2018 1:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes
Replies: 29
Views: 1837

Re: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes

I've found British Airways to be by far the worst for fees on mileage tickets, especially though London. And it's pretty hard to use AA miles to Europe without routing via BA (at least for us in SF bay area). Sometimes the BA fees are almost as much as just buying the ticket. If you dig through the ...
by curmudgeon
Sun May 27, 2018 5:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement
Replies: 17
Views: 2910

Re: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement

Some of this depends on the absolute scale of where you are relative to RMDs and sizes of Roth/tax-deferred. Also where your expenses are at (paid off house can really help) and single/married. For my wife and I, right now we are choosing to fit just under the ACA cliff. We use dividends from taxabl...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 25, 2018 11:22 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Earphones for iPhone?
Replies: 20
Views: 1385

Re: Earphones for iPhone?

I'd like to use my iPhone for listening to various items on my commute. Can someone recommend a decent pair of iPhone compatible earphones? lightweight, good audio, reliable? I am not able to wear ear buds, it's a long story. Thanks Not a driving commute, hopefully. Many (most/all?) states have law...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 25, 2018 10:48 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Magic Jack Go vs Obihai obi200- which one as landline replacement?
Replies: 30
Views: 3023

Re: Magic Jack Go vs Obihai obi200- which one as landline replacement?

I may go for one of these myself. I appreciate the references on how different ones do spam management, as our landline number is valuable for many old contacts, but also gets lots of spam calls.
by curmudgeon
Fri May 25, 2018 10:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Earphones for iPhone?
Replies: 20
Views: 1385

Re: Earphones for iPhone?

I'd like to use my iPhone for listening to various items on my commute. Can someone recommend a decent pair of iPhone compatible earphones? lightweight, good audio, reliable? I am not able to wear ear buds, it's a long story. Thanks Not a driving commute, hopefully. Many (most/all?) states have law...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 18, 2018 10:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Nephew graduating high school & joining military. Gift Ideas?
Replies: 29
Views: 1682

Re: Nephew graduating high school & joining military. Gift Ideas?

Don't want to take anything valuable to basic training. A watch is helpful, but it should be a cheap casio/armitron/timex digital. Cheap prepaid cell phone is best as well (phones are normally locked away and doled out on Sun afternoons). A moderate value prepaid visa gift card to use in the px migh...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 18, 2018 9:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Xfinity Mobile phone service
Replies: 8
Views: 736

Re: Xfinity Mobile phone service

I've definitely been tempted. The international roaming seems pretty good as well. Biggest nuisance for me is that they don't support my phone, and I'm not really in the market for a new one. I'm kind of in-between on phones; I like a decent camera, but I prefer to stay under $200 so I don't grumble...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 17, 2018 4:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tips on Buying a Class-B RV
Replies: 115
Views: 10164

Re: Tips on Buying a Class-B RV

We are still uncertain about whether or not to pull the trigger on the whole RV'ing idea in retirement, and if so, whether to go with a B-van or something larger. Currently in the process of selling our main home and relocating to what was previously our second home (to become our primary home). Wo...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 16, 2018 10:27 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: ?$ Bid for Upgrade to Business Class (per flight hour)
Replies: 17
Views: 1541

Re: ?$ Bid for Upgrade to Business Class (per flight hour)

I usually take a look at seatguru.com to see how the plane is configured. Not 100% reliable (sometimes a plane is switched on a route), but pretty good information. You can see which airlines have crammed extra seats into the plane by skimping further on legroom or hiproom. I've noticed this on Unit...
by curmudgeon
Tue May 15, 2018 10:44 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Travel trailers RVs etc
Replies: 14
Views: 1617

Re: Travel trailers RVs etc

There are a lot of compromises involved in RVs, so it's important to understand those will work for you with your particular preferences. At 6'6", bed size, ceiling heights, toilets, and showers can be pretty limiting in actual use. I see lots of people who shift around (at substantial cost) to diff...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 14, 2018 10:22 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 1031 Exchange- Complex question
Replies: 9
Views: 876

Re: 1031 Exchange- Complex question

You could move into your rental, make it your primary residence and sell your current home. You'd take a $500K exclusion to the sale of your current primary. Buy your new house with the proceeds, reno it, living in your rental for two years, making that your primary, then sell it and take another $...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 11:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: First time seller interviewing realtors--what to ask?
Replies: 19
Views: 1698

Re: First time seller interviewing realtors--what to ask?

OP here. Thanks for the suggestions (and good idea about only doing listing for 90 days). And yes, I'll ask if fee is negotiable. One of the realtors I'm considering, who lives in my building and recently sold a friend's apartment, makes it a selling point that he charges 4%; the other two charge t...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 10:16 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Semi-windfall for a long-time Boglehead
Replies: 23
Views: 3063

Re: Semi-windfall for a long-time Boglehead

If you can move some of the initial investment before cashing in, at a very low basis, but high current value... The way things are set up, this isn't really possible. I currently have preferred stock which isn't publicly traded, so the current market value is undefined until and unless the company...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 9:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Semi-windfall for a long-time Boglehead
Replies: 23
Views: 3063

Re: Semi-windfall for a long-time Boglehead

If you can move some of the windfall into a donor-advised fund, that could be very effective. How so? I think it would be more effective to keep assets in a taxable account where in the future they could be donated to a donor-advised fund, and then practically immediately to charity. That way, the ...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 9:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)
Replies: 70
Views: 4774

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Here in Silicon Valley, I would probably avoid the highest ranked schools. They can be really high pressure/stress on the kids, and I've seen a number of co-workers come to regret going for them. Too many kids doped up with dubiously prescribed ADHD drugs, higher suicide rates, early burnout, no out...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 8:58 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Semi-windfall for a long-time Boglehead
Replies: 23
Views: 3063

Re: Semi-windfall for a long-time Boglehead

Thanks everyone for the responses. In response to some of the questions: low seven figures -> mid seven figures One thing that will happen is that my portfolio will go from being about 50:50 taxable/tax advantaged to mostly taxable, so I may want to change how I allocate the tax-advantaged space. F...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 8:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Refinance house to defer more?
Replies: 34
Views: 1698

Re: Refinance house to defer more?

Refinancing the mortgage will probably cost you $1600 per year in additional interest. That's money gone that you will never see again. You aren't going to defer that much in taxes, much less come out ahead, by putting the difference in payments from a 30-year refi into a 401K when you are in 12% ma...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 12, 2018 12:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rental property Capital gain tax
Replies: 3
Views: 716

Re: Rental property Capital gain tax

One more point. If it's taxable when you sell, remember that CA has no break for cap gains in income tax rates; it will all be taxed at your marginal CA rate (or may bump you up higher). It might bump you into some funky fed tax territory as well (Pease/PEP etc). There's no simple obvious answer, bu...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 11, 2018 3:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Please Advise on My/My Spouse’s Social Security Claiming Strategy
Replies: 10
Views: 1301

Re: Please Advise on My/My Spouse’s Social Security Claiming Strategy

I'm not an expert in this area, but I would consider whether your wife would automatically be enrolled in medicare when she started SS. That would presumably limit your HSA deduction to the individual limit (roughly half). I suspect it still makes the most sense for her to claim at FRA, even if the...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 11, 2018 12:22 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: When to exercise options at public company?
Replies: 6
Views: 595

Re: When to exercise options at public company?

If your options still have years to go before expiring, you are giving away quite a bit of the option value by exercising now. I tended to get nervous when I got to within a year or two of expiration, but I never felt like I needed to exercise as soon as they vested. RSUs were a different story, I m...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 10, 2018 11:44 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rental property Capital gain tax
Replies: 3
Views: 716

Re: Rental property Capital gain tax

1) if it qualifies for exclusion, that would apply to CA tax as well. 2) depreciation recapture is handled separately (but if you weren't able to deduct all the depreciation and had suspended passive loss, it tends to balance out). 3) If you go back to primary residence use, you would have a new 2/5...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 10, 2018 5:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Please Advise on My/My Spouse’s Social Security Claiming Strategy
Replies: 10
Views: 1301

Re: Please Advise on My/My Spouse’s Social Security Claiming Strategy

I'm not an expert in this area, but I would consider whether your wife would automatically be enrolled in medicare when she started SS. That would presumably limit your HSA deduction to the individual limit (roughly half). I suspect it still makes the most sense for her to claim at FRA, even if the ...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 10, 2018 12:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which City to spend 4-6 weeks?
Replies: 47
Views: 4648

Re: Which City to spend 4-6 weeks?

I would probably take London since it has quite a few low cost carriers which would make plane travel easy, but you would probably want more than a day wherever you go from there. Rome would be great as far as things to do and some day trips are possible from there. In Italy, I would take Florence ...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 09, 2018 10:27 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Pay capital gains now, avoid ACA cliff later?
Replies: 22
Views: 2735

Re: Pay capital gains now, avoid ACA cliff later?

If you intend to use this fund to cover living expenses, you might sell it and replace it with a municipal-bond fund (and, if appropriate for allocation reasons, sell bonds to buy stock in your other accounts). This will avoid generating taxable income while you keep the fund, which could hurt you ...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 05, 2018 9:50 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying house from 1977
Replies: 20
Views: 1627

Re: Buying house from 1977

The only specific thing I would watch out for in that timeframe would be aluminum wiring in the walls. This was somewhat common in the 70's, and can be a fire hazard (there are ways to mitigate the issue, but it's still something I would generally avoid). Otherwise, the issues are more along the lin...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 05, 2018 9:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Odd CA tax return
Replies: 8
Views: 792

Re: Odd CA tax return

I had CA mix my return with another taxpayer (one digit different SSN) once. In my case, they sent us the right refund, but tracked it under the wrong SSN. I didn't notice until I was filing the next year. It took a couple of letters/calls to straighten out, but not too bad. I would follow up, but y...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: WALK ME Appearing on URL Bar [during Fidelity login]
Replies: 26
Views: 3086

Re: WALKME Appearing on URL Bar

Fidelity Response to my inquiry on WalkMe. I have not included my name or the Fidelity representative. "ElectronicChannelSupport.HNW@fidelity.com Apr 26 (2 days ago) to me Dear .........: Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience with WalkMe on the Fidelity web site. Our technolo...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:35 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Wells Fargo (again!) - DOL: "WF pushing 401k's to IRA's"?
Replies: 20
Views: 2460

Re: Wells Fargo (again!) - DOL: "WF pushing 401k's to IRA's"?

Every broker I've dealt with has pushed rolling over 401Ks to IRAs with them. Fidelity in particular. My prior employer 401K (at Fidelity) has reasonable options and costs, but I will likely roll it over at some point (not concerned about extra legal protection, don't need early access for distribut...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Sound Proofing Upstairs Rental Unit
Replies: 9
Views: 1233

Re: Sound Proofing Upstairs Rental Unit

This can be a definite challenge, but condo complexes deal with this a lot. I've heard that many more lightly built buildings (but with different units above) actually don't allow replacing carpet with laminate flooring because it transmits sound too much. You really have two issues, one with just g...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying credit card debt for a CA estate
Replies: 3
Views: 530

Re: Paying credit card debt for a CA estate

A couple of thoughts for you: 1) if there was an ambulance involved, the medical care might well fall under the category of "emergency care", which might well be fully covered by Kaiser, depending on the plan. DON'T pay any medical bills until there has been a full and complete accounting with Kaise...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cashing out of the Bay Area
Replies: 84
Views: 10695

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: 19
Views: 2167

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: 2917

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: 69
Views: 5690

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: 3587

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: 817

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: 1469

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: 4401

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: 4401

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: 1070

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: 467

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: 1276

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...