Search found 1109 matches

by curmudgeon
Sun May 28, 2017 4:56 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cell phone service abroad
Replies: 42
Views: 3524

Re: Cell phone service abroad

There are a few factors to get straight first, and a big one is to verify which radio bands your phone supports. Some phones try to save on costs (usually chip license fees) by only supporting a US subset of the worldwide bands. And then there is CDMA vs GSM even in US. Once you know the phone can c...
by curmudgeon
Sun May 28, 2017 1:47 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Idea for Fun Money Account, Good, Bad or Ugly?
Replies: 32
Views: 1515

Re: Idea for Fun Money Account, Good, Bad or Ugly?

Sounds like the typical active fund, but without the ER (or the research resources). I guess the concept could be thought of as trying to "front-run" the indexers by getting declining companies out of your portfolio before the market weighting moves them down. If some stock prices are bein...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 27, 2017 1:04 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Need help before receiving inheritance
Replies: 13
Views: 1755

Re: Need help before receiving inheritance

She should be having quite high medical expenses, so that deduction may offset some of the tax cost for Roth conversion. Since she is fairly close to the estate tax exclusion, there are some options. You would also want to pay attention to the potential for state estate/inheritance taxes. If her inh...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 26, 2017 10:11 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Can I really pay no capital gains on $100k?
Replies: 26
Views: 4497

Re: Can I really pay no capital gains on $100k?

In the past I used TaxCaster a lot. But about a year ago it adopted a question-and-answer interface that I find cumbersome. Also, if doesn't yet seem to let one choose 2017 as the tax year. These days I generally just use my spreadsheet. If you download the apple app, that's still mostly the old st...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 25, 2017 10:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: How to calculate the top of the 15% bracket?
Replies: 23
Views: 2188

Re: How to calculate the top of the 15% bracket?

Also, remember that she needs to pay taxes on the conversion, so that money needs to come from somewhere and will count against the 15% limit. Not sure I follow the "count against the 15% limit" part? I haven't researched the whole process yet, but I thought she would just write a check (...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 20, 2017 2:56 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What are your priorities for retirement?
Replies: 56
Views: 4990

Re: What are your priorities for retirement?

Having just started on my retirement, I have some priorities, but I'm also open to see what comes to us and sticks. For a few months I'm taking it fairly unstructured, but I expect some volunteer work later this year or sometime next year. Current priorities: 1. Continue to spend plenty of time with...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 17, 2017 7:04 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: House Sale in Year of Divorce
Replies: 15
Views: 2099

Re: House Sale in Year of Divorce

We signed a Certification for No Information Reporting on the Sale or Exchange of a Principal Residence form at the time of the sale in 2016, so no 1099-S was issued. The point of this is so that you do not need to report ANYTHING about the house sale on your taxes. The IRS will not know anything a...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 17, 2017 5:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Anyone else agree with my logic on silicon valley housing?
Replies: 84
Views: 6739

Re: Anyone else agree with my logic on silicon valley housing?

Heck my wife and I are not in tech, and we still have enough income to qualify for $600k mortgage, not too hard at today's interest rates. I mean if I was interpreting those numbers I'd say short of some kind of major 2000-style tech implosion, home prices are not really in danger of a huge decline...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 17, 2017 3:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Delay SS, but claim if market plunges
Replies: 49
Views: 3994

Re: Delay SS, but claim if market plunges

I am currently planning to delay to age 70, but I do consider that there are non-trivial political risks to doing so, especially given the SS funding challenge that is visible down the road. It's not worth going off into the weeds with political speculation, but I keep it in mind, especially the po...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 17, 2017 11:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Delay SS, but claim if market plunges
Replies: 49
Views: 3994

Re: Delay SS, but claim if market plunges

I am currently planning to delay to age 70, but I do consider that there are non-trivial political risks to doing so, especially given the SS funding challenge that is visible down the road. It's not worth going off into the weeds with political speculation, but I keep it in mind, especially the poi...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 11, 2017 10:42 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How I use I-ORP, and who shouldn't
Replies: 36
Views: 2663

Re: How I use I-ORP, and who shouldn't

I tried i-Orp a few years ago but found that their tax algorithms were simplistic and flawed. perhaps they have enhanced them since then. +1 I found also that the suggested approach was way too aggressive (like converting TIRAs to Roths within the first 2 years and a number of other odd directions....
by curmudgeon
Wed May 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Renting correct size car
Replies: 31
Views: 2164

Re: Renting correct size car

The Escape got downsized several years ago; it might be tight for 3 in the backseat as well (maybe a bit smaller than the Camry). You could always drop by a Ford dealer to take a look at one. And beware that the rental companies may substitute "equivalent" cars. It depends a bit on the car...
by curmudgeon
Tue May 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Time savers - life on automation
Replies: 57
Views: 7238

Re: Time savers - life on automation

Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light,...
by curmudgeon
Tue May 09, 2017 8:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Help my friend give away his estate
Replies: 34
Views: 4040

Re: Help my friend give away his estate

A relative mentioned at various times to her kids that she was not making specific charitable bequests in her estate planning, but that she would like her children after her death to review her regular charities, and each select several to make donations to out of her inheritance (she suggested 10% ...
by curmudgeon
Sun May 07, 2017 1:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: United Mileage Plus CC - worth it?
Replies: 25
Views: 1697

Re: United Mileage Plus CC - worth it?

United miles DO expire in 18 months if there is no activity in the account , so that is a drawback. I have gotten this card in the past for the sign up bonus, but did not keep it because of the annual fee. I still have the lower-end United card without an annual fee, which only gives .5 miles per do...
by curmudgeon
Sat May 06, 2017 1:33 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Acceptable Success Rate to Retire using Firecalc
Replies: 41
Views: 2991

Re: Acceptable Success Rate to Retire using Firecalc

What would be consider a good or acceptable success rate in FIRECalc? What do you need to have to feel you are definitely without a doubt ready to go for retirement? When I look at my original spending target I have zero failures or 100% success rate but when start pushing the envelope a bit I get ...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 05, 2017 12:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Fairness in College Savings
Replies: 47
Views: 2906

Re: Fairness in College Savings

Couple of thoughts on this: 1) When and if kids go to college, just pay a fixed dollar amount of their expenses directly to the college. Or like someone I knew, offer to pay their books and materials expenses, IF they will send you a copy of the receipts each term. If your age and health is a concer...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 05, 2017 12:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: have you accepted a lower cost lifestyle to retire early?
Replies: 71
Views: 8777

Re: have you accepted a lower cost lifestyle to retire early?

Gave some serious consideration to going to a significantly lower cost lifestyle to retire in our late 40's. I was burned out, and took 9 months off from working at that time. Eventually got a bit bored, and I took a job with focus on people and projects that I enjoyed, rather than highest pay. I ca...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 04, 2017 2:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying Self-Employment Taxes - questions
Replies: 10
Views: 375

Re: Paying Self-Employment Taxes - questions

Adjusting withholding at your wife's job is probably the simplest. Most HR systems deal with it pretty well, but the timing of when it applies may not be exact. You could probably just do it in October/November, as a fixed additional amount per pay period, but then you would need to set it back the ...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 04, 2017 12:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Vexing electrical problem in the house
Replies: 54
Views: 3546

Re: Vexing electrical problem in the house

I'm not an electrician, I'm just speaking from a experienced homeowner perspective... From the photo, that panel looks like a real hodge-podge of different breaker types. Seems like circuits have been added at various times. I'm not a big "replace it all" type, but in this case I might giv...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 03, 2017 11:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Vexing electrical problem in the house
Replies: 54
Views: 3546

Re: Vexing electrical problem in the house

I like the above answers of corrosion in the panel on the buss bars as a good candidate. I suppose the corrosion might transfer to the breaker contacts as well. How was that fixed? Had to replace the panel, or just shut everything down and wire brush the corrosion away? It has been 30 years, but my...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 03, 2017 10:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Vexing electrical problem in the house
Replies: 54
Views: 3546

Re: Vexing electrical problem in the house

Had a problem similar to this years ago, and it was a bad connection in the breaker panel. Connections on one side had gotten some corrosion on the metal bar that the breakers snap onto, which caused some heating and burning of contacts. You could get some odd behavior when a 220v appliance was turn...
by curmudgeon
Wed May 03, 2017 11:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Mail Order Pharmacy for my Mom?
Replies: 39
Views: 1674

Re: Mail Order Pharmacy for my Mom?

Prescriptions that are likely to be stolen (pain meds) generally have to be signed for in person. Unless there is a general problem with stolen mail in her area, I don't think I would fret about mail theft too much. Most folks I've known with long-term prescriptions have been pretty happy with mail-...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 01, 2017 12:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Six Flags or Gilroy Garden for 4 and 7 year old
Replies: 5
Views: 600

Re: Six Flags or Gilroy Garden for 4 and 7 year old

Gilroy Gardens is a pretty good fit for that age range, but not much older. Pretty low key, food is expensive, not much in shows/entertainment. Like a lot of these places, you can buy an annual pass for not much more than a single day admission. The premium pass includes parking and 20% discount on ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Los Angeles house buying
Replies: 32
Views: 3068

Re: Los Angeles house buying

I've done pretty well with CA home buying over the years. Bought our first one at age 24 - a big stretch financially, but we felt like we had a good picture of our ability, backup resources, and the tax benefits that made it worthwhile. There was a good point made earlier, though, don't worry about ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Likely buying new vehicle(s) - Some Qs
Replies: 10
Views: 1221

Re: Likely buying new vehicle(s) - Some Qs

I don't think buying two cars is likely to make much difference in pricing. Maybe if there was potential for a few more later there might be some fleet dealing to be done. Occasionally there are special financing-related deals, but often the $xxx rebate if financed through xyz has fine print that me...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Major appliances - when would you buy/upgrade?
Replies: 20
Views: 941

Re: Major appliances - when would you buy/upgrade?

On the question of replacing if they are still working; not generally. If an appliance is still working well, I will keep it (and repair it sometimes). If there is something I really don't like about the old one (or really do like about a new one), then I might buy something new, but that is fairly ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Sabbatical/year away plans-- what to consider?
Replies: 7
Views: 637

Re: Sabbatical/year away plans-- what to consider?

A few thoughts... You may want to look hard for the right (known) renter, at a below-market rate, rather than leave the house vacant. Vacant houses attract vandalism and other problems, and often are a challenge to insure. If you explore through your network of family and friends, maybe you can find...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Major appliances - when would you buy/upgrade?
Replies: 20
Views: 941

Re: Major appliances - when would you buy/upgrade?

A few points to consider... 1) did you actually try running your current machine through a full wash cycle before cancelling the order? I think most will pump out water first in a separate process before doing the spin to wring out more water. If the water level is too high, they won't spin. Just be...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying weekend home: suburbs or rural? (yard privacy important)
Replies: 24
Views: 2159

Re: Buying weekend home: suburbs or rural? (yard privacy important)

In addition to the security issues mentioned earlier, I would also keep aware that the maintenance issues will add up (in time and energy, not just cost). Even when not occupied (maybe especially), a place will require cleaning, repair, and maintenance. If you've been living in a rental apartment fo...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Are CCRCs a good deal? [Continuing Care Retirement Community]
Replies: 30
Views: 2682

Re: Are CCRCs a good deal?

We've had three family members (or couples) in the older generation of our family go this route. I think all have been pretty well satisfied with their choice. It's definitely something to approach with some care and investigation about the specific facility. You need to look not only at the space, ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: More advice for BigLaw Survivor, please?
Replies: 178
Views: 19519

Re: More advice for BigLaw Survivor, please?

For a true master class in tax avoidance, you can lease your primary residence, move into your condo for two years claiming that as your primary residence, sell it without tax consequences, move back into the old place and reclaim it as your residence. W B They closed that particular loophole about...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:16 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: More advice for BigLaw Survivor, please?
Replies: 178
Views: 19519

Re: More advice for BigLaw Survivor, please?

For a true master class in tax avoidance, you can lease your primary residence, move into your condo for two years claiming that as your primary residence, sell it without tax consequences, move back into the old place and reclaim it as your residence. W B They closed that particular loophole about...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: More advice for BigLaw Survivor, please?
Replies: 178
Views: 19519

Re: More advice for BigLaw Survivor, please?

I'm sure after years of paying six figures in taxes, it was really nice to have a zero tax bill this year. As others have mentioned, though, it's probably not the optimal thing to do over the medium/long term. Once you stop living off of the return of your law firm capital, much of the money for you...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Obamacare Tax Penalty when insured through a foreign insurer
Replies: 12
Views: 1420

Re: Obamacare Tax Penalty when insured through a foreign insurer

Of course, Obamacare rules are throwing me a curve ball. I am now looking into starting a religion that objects to the use of health insurance, which would exempt me from the penalty :) I was amused to note that the local welfare office isn't sending the certificates of insurance required by ACA to...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New phone..any advantages to buying at Costco?
Replies: 24
Views: 3293

Re: New phone..any advantages to buying at Costco?

I think Costco still only sells contract phones. That's generally a way too be locked into an overpriced plan. If you want something simple and straightforward, Consumer Cellular has decent phones, plans, and good service. You can either buy the phone outright, or pay for it over time. There are che...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:00 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Capital Gains on Real Estate Sale
Replies: 6
Views: 772

Re: Capital Gains on Real Estate Sale

It really helps to set up a dummy tax return in tax software for this. There are a lot of odd interactions and phaseouts that come in and out in that income range. This, of course, assumes that tax rules stay the same from year to year, which is by no means a given at this point. Perkunas estimate s...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: You can never go "home" - retirement
Replies: 85
Views: 12514

Re: You can never go "home" - retirement

I think about it occasionally. My home town ticks a lot of retirement bullet items, and I see it mentioned on here sometimes as an ideal spot for retirement. It's expensive, but less so that our current location. But travel connections are poor (which helps preserve it from overbuilding), and we exp...
by curmudgeon
Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to get out of ACA limbo situation?
Replies: 12
Views: 1111

Re: How to get out of ACA limbo situation?

Thanks for the feedback. CoveredCA actually has a plan in my area that I am perfectly happy with; I actually prefer it slightly over my previous employer plan, and the cost after subsidy is pretty low. I know this isn't necessarily likely to last, but it will work for this year. The piece I needed t...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to get out of ACA limbo situation?
Replies: 12
Views: 1111

Re: How to get out of ACA limbo situation?

If you think you will not get a subsidy for 2017, you can go directly to the insurers who will sell you ACA compliant health insurance for a straight monthly premium. That's what I have done for the period between full-time employment and Medicare. Good luck. I have the ability to "manage"...
by curmudgeon
Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:29 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to get out of ACA limbo situation?
Replies: 12
Views: 1111

How to get out of ACA limbo situation?

The Setting: I have just retired, and I thought the short term health insurance situation was settled, even if the medium term (until medicare) is still somewhat cloudy. The plan was to switch to an ACA plan through CoveredCA using the special enrollment period corresponding to my employer coverage ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: HVAC H-E-L-P! Water leaking from intake (return)
Replies: 12
Views: 595

Re: HVAC H-E-L-P! Water leaking from intake (return)

You can get a remote camera on a probe to look around up there. You can even just wave your smartphone around and take some pictures to start with. That might give you some more clues. Sometimes the flashing around the roof opening is just not quite right, and water is getting underneath it from fur...
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Calif Tax Refund Length of Time to Receive
Replies: 19
Views: 1124

Re: Calif Tax Refund Length of Time to Receive

I e-filed CA in early March, got a check in about 3 weeks. Up until a few years ago they were pretty quick on dealing with paper filings as well, but it wouldn't surprise me if they have gotten slower now.
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amazon Fire HD 10" tablet
Replies: 8
Views: 855

Re: Amazon Fire HD 10" tablet

If you are satisfied with the limitations of the Amazon app store, it would be fine. I found the app limits a bit of a nuisance, so my smaller fire tablet mostly gathers dust. If you only use a few apps, it may be fine.
by curmudgeon
Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help on how to spend more on myself (First World Whine)
Replies: 93
Views: 5652

Re: Help on how to spend more on myself (First World Whine)

Jonathan Clements has a book titled How to Think About Money . He has some ideas on how to squeeze out more happiness out of the dollars you have. Just to be clear, I am not unhappy nor do I feel deprived. Frankly I am as content as I have ever been almost zen like for the most part except in traff...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Enjoying the journey to retirement
Replies: 23
Views: 2398

Re: Enjoying the journey to retirement

It's kind of funny. I was on a similar path of knowing I was getting closer to retirement, doing some specific planning and preparation, but reasonably content and occupied by my work. The finances were pretty well in place, and I sometimes joked that I was only continuing to work so we could fly bu...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: replace or keep car with 60k miles?
Replies: 39
Views: 3079

Re: replace or keep car with 60k miles?

To my mind, transaction costs are what really gets you in changing cars. Unless you are a really great horse trader and willing to spend a fair amount of time, you are better off keeping a car that is reasonably meeting your needs than trying to optimize to some ideal. If you suddenly shifted to a 1...
by curmudgeon
Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)
Replies: 36
Views: 2861

Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

I will agree the dealing with odors (or possibly allergens) can be a challenge. Carpeting can be a likely source (either pet/whatever in the old carpet or off-gassing from new carpet). If it is just the carpet, it might be manageable, but sometimes it is into the subfloor or walls and would be a maj...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Did you and your spouse have different opinions on retirement income need?
Replies: 31
Views: 2502

Re: Did you and your spouse have different opinions on retirement income need?

For most of us, there are a set of trade-offs around various luxuries in our lives. Keeping up a second home, whether an apartment in the city, or a beach cottage, or a mountain cabin, is a luxury that has to be balanced against other priorities. Retiring early could be another luxury, or extensive ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe Cell Roaming after July 2017 Question
Replies: 18
Views: 707

Re: Europe Cell Roaming after July 2017 Question

Hopefully you will get some more current info; this is something I will want to track for myself as well. Even 18 months ago, the roaming charges for voice and sms were pretty minimal. Data was the challenge across country boundaries. We were buying in Spain, and most available plans only supported ...

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