Search found 705 matches

by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wintering in Australia - Any Financial Tips or Others ?.....
Replies: 10
Views: 1286

Re: Wintering in Austraila - Any Financial Tips or Others ?.....

Oh, a couple of additional points: Make sure you understand your visa limitations. There can be stay limits, and Australia does (or did) actually do some level of check before granting it; it's not just a stamp on entry. Probably not an issue, but worth being sure. I've heard that there can be signi...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wintering in Australia - Any Financial Tips or Others ?.....
Replies: 10
Views: 1286

Re: Wintering in Austraila - Any Financial Tips or Others ?.....

I don't have much to offer here, but I will be interested to follow along this thread, as we are keeping an eye on this type of option for the future. A couple of stray points: you can sometimes hit decent flight options through New Zealand, and throw in a stopover there on the way to Oz via AirNZ (...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling a house with solar panels
Replies: 38
Views: 3345

Re: Selling a house with solar panels

My understanding is that solar panels that have a leasing agreement actually decreases the value of the house. It can actually be a hassle to get the new owner to accept the agreement, and if they don't you have to buy out the lease. Where as, solar panels that have been purchased outright, slightl...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Online Tax Filing Hitch - cannot locate any tips or help
Replies: 3
Views: 283

Re: Online Tax Filing Hitch - cannot locate any tips or help

Sometime the "efficient" electronic mode is not worth hassling that much. Just print the form, fill it out by hand, and mail it in.
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Tax Question: Renting out and renting
Replies: 7
Views: 471

Re: Tax Question: Renting out and renting

There are some gotcha's if you have significant gains or losses in the value of the place when you finally go to sell. Right now, gains up to $250K (single) would be tax free. If you keep it as a rental several years, those gains would become partially to fully taxable as long-term capital gains (an...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 08, 2016 2:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Projecting taxes in retirement
Replies: 23
Views: 2226

Re: Projecting taxes in retirement

I would sit down for an hour or two with taxcaster, running a variety of scenarios and making notes. Very straighforward to use if you have fairly standard income sources like you described. Then maybe spend an hour with i-orp to get a feel for what it recommends. If you do that before you talk to y...
by curmudgeon
Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:14 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 1st time Roth Conversion-- Can I use funds from brokerage account?
Replies: 5
Views: 432

Re: 1st time Roth Conversion-- Can I use funds from brokerage account?

Unfortunately, Simple IRAs have special rules on conversion or rollover :( I think the bottom line is that you have to wait at least two years from when you opened it before doing a rollover/conversion, else you will face a significant penalty. You should do a little digging on this point for yourse...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Independent up sell? Balancing Tires / Cleaning Brakes?
Replies: 15
Views: 888

Re: Independent up sell? Balancing Tires / Cleaning Brakes?

Overall seems doubtful to me. I'd probably keep looking for another place. I'm personally in the habit of always changing filter along with the oil, as are many folks, so that is pretty normal. But I only rebalance wheels if there is a clear sign of issues, either vibration or wear pattern on the tr...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:30 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Fisher Investment
Replies: 26
Views: 2486

Re: Fisher Investment

I randomly get fancy-looking marketing materials from them. It just goes straight to the recyle bin unopened along with the timeshare pitches. I don't know anything explicitly wrong with them (other than the amount they spend on marketing), but I have no interest in their services. When/if I want in...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:28 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Strategy Games
Replies: 31
Views: 6065

Re: Strategy Games

I'm glad you resurrected this thread. There were a lot of old PC-based strategy games which had pretty good playablity, but haven't survived the operating systems upgrades (and sheer speed of cpus) over the years. Newer games have whizzier graphics, but not better playability. I'll have to take a lo...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:13 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Withdrawal Strategies for Larger Purchases after Retiring
Replies: 39
Views: 2628

Re: Withdrawal Strategies After Retiring

People like to say "money is fungible", but when it is in tax-deferred accounts, that's not so true, is it? When you have much of your retirement funds wrapped by a tax cost to withdraw, it definitely takes some thought about what is the right way to fund big one-time expenses. I would spe...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: housing: am I just being too picky?
Replies: 60
Views: 6357

Re: housing: am I just being too picky?

typical fees locally are $20,000 to do a short plat (fewer than 10 lots). There is city water, sewer, electricity, and cable right at the street. There would need to be a small road. We can afford the house as is but we would be paying a premium to own a superhuge lot in a desirable area where the ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: housing: am I just being too picky?
Replies: 60
Views: 6357

Re: housing: am I just being too picky?

On subdividing: Definitely one of those cases where specific local knowledge is key. I would take the time to actually go and talk to the relevant city/county office, to get some perspective, but they very possibly won't want to make any specific statements beyond what is written. RE agents are a bi...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Windows 10
Replies: 54
Views: 5121

Re: Windows 10

I upgraded a low-end (2Gb ram) laptop from Win 8.1 to Win 10 a few weeks ago. I didn't have a ton of apps on it, so didn't really care one way or the other about the user interface. Win 10 just seemed (in) consistently slower, especially on startup. I ended up reverting it back to Win 8.1 I did con...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Windows 10
Replies: 54
Views: 5121

Re: Windows 10

I upgraded a low-end (2Gb ram) laptop from Win 8.1 to Win 10 a few weeks ago. I didn't have a ton of apps on it, so didn't really care one way or the other about the user interface. Win 10 just seemed (in) consistently slower, especially on startup. I ended up reverting it back to Win 8.1 I did cons...
by curmudgeon
Tue Mar 15, 2016 3:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is California income tax-friendly for early retirees?
Replies: 71
Views: 6053

Re: Is California income tax-friendly for early retirees?

One more note about COL for California. While the income tax is not necessarily that bad for a retiree, there are also a lot of what I would call "unfunded mandates" involved in living in CA. There are various "good things" that either the electorate, the legislature, or the bure...
by curmudgeon
Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is California income tax-friendly for early retirees?
Replies: 71
Views: 6053

Re: Is California income tax-friendly for early retirees?

California tax brackets spread quite a bit wider than most states, so there are definitely income ranges where the CA income tax bill will be lower than some "low tax" states. Note that capital gains in CA are taxed as ordinary income, so that can be tricky at times if your sources of cash...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Seeking Advice On An HOA Special Assessment
Replies: 22
Views: 2415

Re: Seeking Advice On An HOA Special Assessment

This was an interesting thread. I have always considered galvanized iron pipes as guaranteed to leak/fail in 20 years or so, but figured copper was much better. Certainly the 60-year old copper piping in my mother's (central CA) house was completely trouble free for the lines, though valves and such...
by curmudgeon
Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:02 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Property tax California
Replies: 11
Views: 1169

Re: Property tax California

While the baseline property valuation and assessments are held to prop 13 limits, the bay area has picked up a lot of various special assessments and parcel taxes over the years that add quite a bit to the baselines. This is likely what happened here (and maybe some misremembering of the initial tax...
by curmudgeon
Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Has your number changed?
Replies: 52
Views: 5940

Re: Has your number changed?

Never really had a "number" for most of the time. We just practiced moderation in spending and save/invest the rest. When we hit mid-40's, we started to look a bit closer. Figured out we had enough for a very low-key retired lifestyle, but decided that wasn't what we wanted yet. Since then...
by curmudgeon
Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Want to buy 2014 Acura TSX - turned in lease
Replies: 44
Views: 4235

Re: Want to buy 2014 Acura TSX - turned in lease

You might try spreading your CPO search to a much broader area; many brands have ability to do this type of search through the dealership networks. This would give you more of a picture on what is really out there now, even if you don't want to fly 1000 miles to go pick up the car.
by curmudgeon
Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:29 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Exercise stock options to hold while price is lower?
Replies: 9
Views: 775

Re: Excercise stock options to hold while price is lower?

Pre-IPO ISOs can be a special case. I've know companies to make particular efforts to allow employees to get the exercise of options on the books relatively early, to lock in favorable capital gains treatment. I've also seen a pile of messy accounting result when an acquisition resulted in *lower* v...
by curmudgeon
Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon Free Shipping Is Now $50....
Replies: 74
Views: 9638

Re: Amazon Free Shipping Is Now $50....

Does anyone ever feel morally conflicted for buying a product online for a couple bucks cheaper and thus not supporting a local business? Not a bit, if the local business would lower their price to match the product online and if they are conveniently located, then fine. Otherwise, they don't get m...
by curmudgeon
Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:24 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retiring to San Diego: Manufactured Home?
Replies: 8
Views: 1275

Re: Retiring to San Diego: Manufactured Home?

Lots of horror stories (over many years) of people with mobile homes in CA getting squeezed by either large increases in lot rent or the property being redeveloped (and thus being forced into a difficult and expensive attempt to find a new place to move their MH - often parks won't accept older mode...
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: 17
Views: 1754

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: 1219

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: 1658

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: 1882

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: 732

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: 3738

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: 1481

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: 1923

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: 564

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: 1139

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: 958

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: 1243

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: 5080

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: 910

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: 3753

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: 3478

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: 1443

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: 1351

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: 2546

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: 3736

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: 2009

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: 818
Views: 125754

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: 6511

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: 1066

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: 1240

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: 651

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 ...

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