Search found 3652 matches

by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 11:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is Real Estate Market going crazy again?
Replies: 32
Views: 2749

Re: Is Real Estate Market going crazy again?

Yes, it is, but it's completely local. In east San Jose where I live, most house prices are still a little below 2007 peaks. There are still foreclosed properties that have been listed for years. And even some new ones. My local Safeway closed, Subway sandwich place closed, my hair salon has been re...
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 11:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which mortgage loan interest to pursue?
Replies: 15
Views: 905

Re: Which mortgage loan interest to pursue?

+1 on the 20% down / 3.375% rate I have a loan at this rate. Refinanced at this rate in 2012. It was only available for a loan balance under $417k (I financed the max). The lender paid all the closing costs, however. Not just waived their own lender fees but inspection, etc. I have never seen no-cos...
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 10:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Fidelity Visa rewards card question
Replies: 15
Views: 837

Re: Fidelity Visa rewards card question

I think you should put Elan in the title, since there are still plenty of us still with the Fidelity FIA Visa. The old card was managed by FIA (ie. BofA) and the new card is managed by Elan. My card has not been converted yet.
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 10:56 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: As bad as I think it is?
Replies: 15
Views: 1253

Re: As bad as I think it is?

It's very bad. Is there a match ? If so, contribute only up to that amount. But even then, it's hard to see where the money should be left. There's not even a stable value fund ? Not a single passive index fund ? Between the fund ER and admin fee, you are looking at 1.8% in annual fees a year, and e...
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 10:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Sell Car, keep car, lease a car what should I do?
Replies: 17
Views: 777

Re: Sell Car, keep car, lease a car what should I do?

One thing I do want to add if you are seriously considering the Volt is that electricity costs are highly variable. You can't assume they will necessarily be lower cost/mile than gas. I have the luxury to have solar PV sized properly to charge my car without any monthly cost. But in some sense, I ha...
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 10:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Sell Car, keep car, lease a car what should I do?
Replies: 17
Views: 777

Re: Sell Car, keep car, lease a car what should I do?

Is the federal tax only the federal WH from my paycheck? If so I think I would qualify I have already paid in 5K. It's how much federal tax you actually owe on an annual basis. Check your 1040 tax return for last year, line 63, "total tax". If that amount is at least $7,500, you are eligi...
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 9:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?
Replies: 90
Views: 3080

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

My goal is strictly to earn cash, no other types of rewards. I only carry 2 credit cards in my wallet : - Fidelity Amex, 2% cash back . I use it everywhere Amex is accepted. - Fidelity VISA, 1.5% cash back . I use it everywhere Amex is not accepted, but VISA is Other credit cards I also use, but don...
by madbrain
Wed May 25, 2016 8:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Sell Car, keep car, lease a car what should I do?
Replies: 17
Views: 777

Re: Sell Car, keep car, lease a car what should I do?

If I were to purchase another vehicle it definitely would not be a truck. In that case, you should probably keep your truck and budget adequately for the major maintenance. But you mentioned that you could fit a bike rack on a sedan for your weekend mountain biking. So, do you ever really need the ...
by madbrain
Mon May 23, 2016 10:56 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is living in the Bay Area this difficult?
Replies: 49
Views: 7339

Re: Is living in the Bay Area this difficult?

Madbrain/others: I am impressed you guys have such a close idea of your expenses. How do you track all of this? I have tried Mint, but don't follow it religiously. Think it comes down to financial discipline that some of us (like me) need. I use Quicken. And I track absolutely everything in it. I u...
by madbrain
Mon May 23, 2016 10:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to buy a good used grand piano?
Replies: 30
Views: 1657

Re: How to buy a good used grand piano?

A piano is very personal. I would recommend you take a look at the PianoWorld piano forums. See http://pianoworld.com and http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forums/1/1/Piano_Forum.html . Personally, for $7k - $10k, I think you will have too many compromises for a grand piano. It will eit...
by madbrain
Mon May 23, 2016 9:49 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is this crazy? [Considering new job with pay cut]
Replies: 11
Views: 1811

Re: Is this crazy? [Considering new job with pay cut]

smartinwate wrote:Must be one great employer match. Federal limit on 401k annual employee contributions is $24k, and that's only with catch-up.


It can be profit-sharing and/or non-Roth after-tax 401k contributions.
by madbrain
Fri May 20, 2016 6:54 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Replacing landline/DSL with cell only
Replies: 35
Views: 1698

Re: Replacing landline/DSL with cell only

5GB/month of data may be enough for mobile, but it's very low for personal computers these days. Especially if it's the day of the forced Windows 10 update. I wouldn't be comfortable with anything under 50GB. Our average usage per our router is over 100GB/month, but we have many computers.
by madbrain
Thu May 19, 2016 8:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is living in the Bay Area this difficult?
Replies: 49
Views: 7339

Re: Is living in the Bay Area this difficult?

2. Would love to hear the group's feedback on some assumptions here ----Modeled tax rate of 45% feels high. Thoughts? It's correct as a marginal tax bracket. Bogus as an average tax rate. For a couple, married filing jointly, earning $250k, the average tax rate should be under 35%. You can check ca...
by madbrain
Thu May 19, 2016 7:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage
Replies: 123
Views: 13747

Re: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage

I would lock in a 30 year and just pay extra if investments are not doing so hot. Is that a bad idea? It's what I'm doing - I think it's a great idea. The 30 year gives greater flexibility in terms of emergency - you can reduce your expenses in a way you can't with the 15 year. That has a cost - th...
by madbrain
Thu May 19, 2016 6:24 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying in Bay Area (redux)
Replies: 72
Views: 9582

Re: Buying in Bay Area (redux)

Non7WoodUser wrote:Usually only consider buying if the price per sq ft is < $100.


In the bay area, you might have to wait until a time machine is invented to get back to the previous millennium to see those prices again.
by madbrain
Wed May 18, 2016 5:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage
Replies: 123
Views: 13747

Re: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage

I wonder, if you had a 0.1% 30yr mtg, would you still aim to be overpaying monthly? All this back patting at paying down the cheapest money you'll ever borrow is all well and good, just recognize there's a point at which it's more emotional than logical. 3.375% fixed mortgage is not the cheapest mo...
by madbrain
Wed May 18, 2016 4:55 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage
Replies: 123
Views: 13747

Re: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage

I refinanced last year to a 15yr note at 3.25% and still add $100 every month to pay down additional principal. Superb. Paid off before you know it :happy I last refinanced in 2012 to a 30 year fixed at 3.375%. Been prepaying $1000 a month ever since. It's automated. My calculations show that the m...
by madbrain
Wed May 18, 2016 4:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage
Replies: 123
Views: 13747

Re: 15 vs 30 yr mortgage

What is THE DIFFERENCE between auto-deducting that $942 form your paycheck for mortgage payment versus Trad. 401K contribution? The answer is NOTHING. Except if your paycheck ever goes down, the difference will become obvious - the traditional 401k contribution is optional, whereas the mortgage pay...
by madbrain
Tue May 17, 2016 7:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Arrgghhh !!! Windows 10 installed overnight
Replies: 72
Views: 5977

Re: Arrgghhh !!! Windows 10 installed overnight

Got me today. I walked away from my computer for about an hour and MS had taken control. Cursed MS and cursed myself for not doing a recent back-up. Well so far no problems. At least I won't have to deal with the annoying pop-ups asking me to upgrade. Just think how life will be when the "Inte...
by madbrain
Mon May 16, 2016 11:00 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Stock Quesiton: AAPL or FB?
Replies: 21
Views: 1552

Re: Stock Quesiton: AAPL or FB?

You are asking this in the wrong forum.
by madbrain
Mon May 16, 2016 9:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Asking for first raise
Replies: 12
Views: 1002

Re: Asking for first raise

Am in as similar situation. I'm in tech. I received one 4% raise in 5 years. Only one $5k bonus. I did get a few small RSU grants, but they aren't worth as much as my original stock grant, which is now fully vested (and sold). I have been asking for raises every year and told my employer that someth...
by madbrain
Mon May 16, 2016 9:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you respond to linkedin recruiters? (Engineer)
Replies: 32
Views: 2688

Re: Do you respond to linkedin recruiters? (Engineer)

I think accepting links from recruiters is a good way to show your connections that you are in demand. Never thought of it that way. I think it's a good way to show your current employer that you are looking to bail from your job :) IMO, many recruiters benefit more from having you as a contact, an...
by madbrain
Mon May 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you respond to linkedin recruiters? (Engineer)
Replies: 32
Views: 2688

Re: Do you respond to linkedin recruiters? (Engineer)

> Has anyone gotten interviews or job offers through this avenue? I got my current job after a Google recruiter contacted me via LinkedIn. I've been happily employed for 8 years now. :) Nonetheless, I typically respond to recruiters with a "Thanks for contacting me. I'm not looking but feel fr...
by madbrain
Mon May 16, 2016 9:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you respond to linkedin recruiters? (Engineer)
Replies: 32
Views: 2688

Re: Do you respond to linkedin recruiters? (Engineer)

Software engineer here. I got my last 2 jobs through LinkedIn, which accounts for the last 6.5 years of my career. Very large tech companies both times.
I always reply to recruiters, usually in the negative, but if the time is right and it's a company I'm interested in, I follow up.
by madbrain
Wed May 11, 2016 8:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Uncooperative insurance company: my car was hit and run.
Replies: 13
Views: 2418

Re: Uncooperative insurance company: my car was hit and run.

File with your insurance company, and then keep going after him for your deductible amount, if you really want to. For $500, I would not.
by madbrain
Sat May 07, 2016 3:47 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: how much cash do you carry in your wallet?
Replies: 152
Views: 13822

Re: how much cash do you carry in your wallet?

On most days, less than a dollar.
by madbrain
Wed May 04, 2016 3:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I pay back my parents back for paying for some my college costs
Replies: 59
Views: 7329

Re: Should I pay back my parents back for paying for some my college costs

No. It sounds like they have a spending problem. You say they both need to downside - it sounds like they have negative cash flow. If so, $8000 is not going to help - it will only delay the inevitable. If you want to help them, pay for some financial education classes for them.
by madbrain
Tue May 03, 2016 6:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Almost perfect credit score (FICO from Amex)
Replies: 30
Views: 3184

Re: Almost perfect credit score (FICO from Amex)

Keep in mind that the credit score doesn't measure who is the lowest risk to lend money to, but who has the potential to be most profitable. The lowest risk is a person who doesn't need credit: good income, high net worth, no debt. However, the most profitable person is someone who has a good incom...
by madbrain
Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:17 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What are Pros and Cons to the "Four Hour Workweek?"
Replies: 99
Views: 11325

Re: What are Pros and Cons to the "Four Hour Workweek?"

...He got started by coming up with an idea for a new app, he had somebody build the idea out, he got massive funding, and launched it... 1) Please tell us the name of the app. 2) How did he "have somebody build the idea out" before he got "massive funding?" I'm going to hazard ...
by madbrain
Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:36 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What are Pros and Cons to the "Four Hour Workweek?"
Replies: 99
Views: 11325

Re: What are Pros and Cons to the "Four Hour Workweek?"

He may have worked very hard(or was very lucky) to build up his nest egg and now his money is working 24 hours a day even if he is only managing it four hours a day. Measuring his percentage return on investment is likely a better metric than his hourly wages. Four hours a day is a lot different th...
by madbrain
Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Solar Price Per Watt?
Replies: 25
Views: 2274

Re: Solar Price Per Watt?

OMG I want to scream! I've had Enphase inverters fail repeatedly. My installer says tech support has long wait times due to high failure rates. Labor has not been reimbursed for the last two I replaced. Sorry you had this experience. I installed 14 D380 (which are dual panel micro-inverters) - cove...
by madbrain
Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Solar Price Per Watt?
Replies: 25
Views: 2274

Re: Solar Price Per Watt?

Great price on parts, high price on labor. I think you can do better today. At the very least, get micro-inverters instead of single inverter, for that price. Micro inverters are supposed to last longer, so you won't have to replace them over the life of your system. Enphase has a 25yr warranty on ...
by madbrain
Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Solar Price Per Watt?
Replies: 25
Views: 2274

Re: Solar Price Per Watt?

Also, unless you have terrible shading issues, micro inverters are a complete waste of money and create many points of failure instead of one. Except with a micro inverter failure, only a single panel will be down, not your whole array, which would happen if you have a monolithic inverter failure.
by madbrain
Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:41 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Solar Price Per Watt?
Replies: 25
Views: 2274

Re: Solar Price Per Watt?

Great price on parts, high price on labor. I think you can do better today. At the very least, get micro-inverters instead of single inverter, for that price. Micro inverters are supposed to last longer, so you won't have to replace them over the life of your system. Enphase has a 25yr warranty on t...
by madbrain
Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:47 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which bank for ATM use outside the US?
Replies: 26
Views: 1699

Re: Which bank for ATM use outside the US?

Also, PNC customer service, operator of the Fidelity visa debt cards, says my card has a daily withdraw limit of $510. But my online account shows a limit of $1000. I was able to take out more than $700 today. My Fidelity debit card issued by BNY Mellon , not PNC. When did you get yours ? Maybe the...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which bank for ATM use outside the US?
Replies: 26
Views: 1699

Re: Which bank for ATM use outside the US?

The Fidelity Cash debit card works fine for me as an ATM card - no fees, reimburses all third party ATM fees, always got a great exchange rate. Strange... I called them today because the web-site only talks about domestic. They said that they would NOT refund the ATM fees when outside the US and th...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:47 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which bank for ATM use outside the US?
Replies: 26
Views: 1699

Re: Which bank for ATM use outside the US?

Right now, Schwab seems to have a good deal on 0% currency fee and refund of unlimited ATM fees in the Visa network (including outside US). I checked Fido & eTrade where I already have a brokerage accounts but their offering is blah. The Fidelity Cash debit card works fine for me as an ATM card...
by madbrain
Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:31 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: guaranteed 5% vs stocks?
Replies: 174
Views: 20606

Re: guaranteed 5% vs stocks?

With NetSpeed, it seems the only option to withdraw your money is by ATM (with fees, on both ends) or request a check (with a single fee, 3-4 weeks). That does not seem like a good idea.
by madbrain
Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Healthcare Sharing Ministry A No Brainer?
Replies: 66
Views: 7062

Re: Healthcare Sharing Ministry A No Brainer?

Actually, it does, its down in the 250 or so page number where he concludes it a useful option and definitely NOT a scam. As people use them, and have been using them for years, I am going to suggest that those who are claiming this, are speaking of something they know nothing about. When you are u...
by madbrain
Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco
Replies: 69
Views: 17062

Re: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco

BTW, Discover and the Delta AMEX both have no foreign transaction fees. Don't know about the Discover's acceptability overseas so it will be the Fidelity Visa and the Delta AMEX taking the ride. Both are good shipboard. I don't think there is much point in bringing a Discover card abroad. If you br...
by madbrain
Mon Mar 28, 2016 9:02 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Healthcare Sharing Ministry A No Brainer?
Replies: 66
Views: 7062

Re: Healthcare Sharing Ministry A No Brainer?

sfatula, For an in depth report of these types of heath sharing ministries, see this lengthy paper http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1341&context=jlh which concludes there is no scam here. Pretty good paper. This is indeed a very lengthy paper, but it seems mostly...
by madbrain
Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:02 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying Marriage Penalty Tax vs. Cohabitation
Replies: 99
Views: 8539

Re: Paying Marriage Penalty Tax vs. Cohabitation

I think you are missing the forest before the tree. Never mind issue about inheriting retirement accounts. What about other property, like your home ? If you are inheriting a home from a non-spouse, you will have to pay taxes on it. Even if you own it jointly 50-50, you will have to pay taxes on the...
by madbrain
Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:07 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Thoughts on Housing Prices Trajectory in the Bay Area?
Replies: 77
Views: 6187

Re: Thoughts on Housing Prices Trajectory in the Bay Area?

[ The 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on April 18 with an estimated "moment magnitude" of 7.8 and a maximum "Mercalli intensity" of "XI" ("Extreme"). <snip> As a result, about 3,000 people died and over 80% o...
by madbrain
Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:59 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Finance new home but keep the old - sell taxable, HELOC, cash out refi?
Replies: 12
Views: 993

Re: Finance new home but keep the old - sell taxable, HELOC, cash out refi?

Oops, sorry about that - income is about 165K plus 10K or so in 1099 income, most of which gets erased by expenses. About 30K of that 165 is received at year-end as bonuses, though, so I prefer not to count it in our monthly cashflows, but I know lenders will look at the full amount so I assume get...
by madbrain
Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco
Replies: 69
Views: 17062

Re: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco

and add in the 6% CASH back on groceries AMEX Blue Cash Preferred. Well, if you shop for groceries mostly at Costco, as we do - and I suspect many in this thread also do, this card would not give you 6% back on groceries. And of course, you won't be able to use AMEX after june. I think you may be c...
by madbrain
Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:49 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Finance new home but keep the old - sell taxable, HELOC, cash out refi?
Replies: 12
Views: 993

Re: Finance new home but keep the old - sell taxable, HELOC, cash out refi?

You don't state your income, so it's a little difficult to give advice. One thing that strikes me is : why do you have a mortgage at 5% on your co-op ? This is a really high interest rate. Is this because of bad credit ? If so, that's going to be an issue if you want to keep your old home. If you ha...
by madbrain
Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco
Replies: 69
Views: 17062

Re: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco

4% back on gas purchases at Costco and other gas stations (on up to $7,000 spent per year) PenFed has a 5% Cash Back Gas Card that does not have a spending maximum Is the $7,000 of gas limit really an issue for anyone ? That would be 2000 - 3000 gallons. Unless you have a whole family of Hummer dri...
by madbrain
Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:24 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco
Replies: 69
Views: 17062

Re: Liking the new Citi CC at Costco

and add in the 6% CASH back on groceries AMEX Blue Cash Preferred. Well, if you shop for groceries mostly at Costco, as we do - and I suspect many in this thread also do, this card would not give you 6% back on groceries. And of course, you won't be able to use AMEX after june. The only 2 Amex I ha...
by madbrain
Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do escrow accounts in California earn interest?
Replies: 9
Views: 872

Re: Do escrow accounts in California earn interest?

Hi, Do mortgage escrow accounts (for property taxes and insurance) in California earn interest? If possible, please provide a link. Some have stated in this forum that California pays 2% interest on escrow accounts. However, the comments were from past years. Thanks. Yes. I get about $100/year in i...
by madbrain
Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:16 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Thoughts on Housing Prices Trajectory in the Bay Area?
Replies: 77
Views: 6187

Re: Thoughts on Housing Prices Trajectory in the Bay Area?

What's the plan for when an earthquake levels the whole city? Is earthquake insurance pretty standard in that region? That has never happened, and no, earthquake insurance in the bay area is by and large unaffordable. For me, it's a no-brainer - the $14k/year premium with a $270k deductible makes z...

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