Search found 3584 matches

by madbrain
Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Switched employers, have a funded FSA and HSA. How to use?
Replies: 14
Views: 1002

Re: Switched employers, have a funded FSA and HSA. How to use?

JoeJohnson wrote:In 2014 I had a FSA, left that employer and was specifically told I had until the end of the year to spend the money.


You have until the end of the year to file claims, but the claims must be for services rendered before your termination date.
by madbrain
Mon Feb 01, 2016 6:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

madbrain, Regarding your $60k in prescription drugs being based on the "sticker price," consider that those under HDHPs are paying far below sticker price as well in many cases since their insurers also likely negotiate rates. It's true that before the deductible in the HDHP you would pay...
by madbrain
Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:30 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

The devil is in the details. If I went on a traditional plan, I would pay an additional $4k in premiums. And instead of a maximum family OOP of $4k with the HDHP, I would pay $8k with the traditional plan. Under the traditional plan, my maximum exposure would equal CURRENT PREMIUM + $4k additional ...
by madbrain
Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

One should not look only to the tax benefits of the HSA. There are drawbacks to HDHPs. The tax benefits of the HSA may be there, but the HDHP one needs to have to open and contribute to an HSA often has much higher out of pocket costs than traditional plans. Unless you never see a doctor and don't ...
by madbrain
Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:40 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

Madbrain, agree in your case it looks like the HSA is not the way to go. What would the math look like if you assumed you don't need the HSA money to pay for your medical expenses every year, I.e. have more money for investing? Great question. If assuming $0 out-of-pocket costs for both plans, the ...
by madbrain
Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:53 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

If you are in the 25% federal bracket or higher and sometimes, states allows a deduction for HSA contributions, those tax savings coupled with the savings on the premiums that the employee pay would be higher than the amounts you'd be saving by having a PPO or HRA. I am a CPA and trust me, I ran th...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 30, 2016 5:19 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I switch to a HSA?
Replies: 15
Views: 1100

Re: Should I switch to a HSA?

Not enough information. I think you meant "switch to an HDHP". An HSA requires an HDHP. What kind of coverage do you have now ? What are the deductibles for your old plan new plan ? Maximum out of pocket ? Any copays/coinsurance also for things like doctor visits, lab test, drugs, etc. Esp...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 30, 2016 5:09 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

From my experience, its either an HSA or a PPO. I think you mean HDHP or PPO. HSA is entirely optional - you could have an HDHP without an HSA, though it may not be the best idea. I haven't heard of many HMOs in recent years. I wish my company still had the HMO. Bad stories of not a lot of good doc...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:09 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

Time and time again, people who never see a doctor do better with a HDHP. Also, people with chronic conditions who use a lot of healthcare ALSO benefit as their out-of-pockets are less than the traditional plans. We have many chronic conditions include HIV, which are very expensive. The meds alone ...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:40 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Vanguard introducing 0.01% expense ratio funds
Replies: 24
Views: 4615

Re: Vanguard introducing 0.01% expense ratio funds

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-29/vanguard-to-offer-its-lowest-fee-ever-0-01-to-big-investors?cmpid=yhoo.headline Total Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and S&P 500 index funds to get "Institutional Select" share class with minimum investment of $3 billion Any takers h...
by madbrain
Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s
Replies: 21
Views: 3353

Re: WSJ: HSAs Offer Tax Benefits Beyond 401(k)s

One should not look only to the tax benefits of the HSA. There are drawbacks to HDHPs. The tax benefits of the HSA may be there, but the HDHP one needs to have to open and contribute to an HSA often has much higher out of pocket costs than traditional plans. Unless you never see a doctor and don't t...
by madbrain
Thu Jan 28, 2016 5:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is Comcast Blast Helpful with WiFi?
Replies: 17
Views: 1427

Re: Is Comcast Blast Helpful with WiFi?

The Gigabit Ethernet standard was introduced over 15 years ago and was found on most new systems more than a decade ago. Unless the OP is using an old machine, I think it's safe to assume the hard-wired ports are Gigabit Ethernet. The computer may be Gigabit Ethernet, but many Wifi routers still fe...
by madbrain
Thu Jan 28, 2016 4:28 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is Comcast Blast Helpful with WiFi?
Replies: 17
Views: 1427

Re: Is Comcast Blast Helpful with WiFi?

If you're in a region where Blast is supposed to be 150Mbps and you ran speedtest while hard-wired to the cable modem, you're not getting what you paid for. But this does not play into your WiFi issues. You just may be paying more unnecessarily. I am, and I get 170 - 180 Mbps download with Comcast ...
by madbrain
Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Amex/Costco Customer Retention Offer
Replies: 16
Views: 2855

Re: Amex/Costco Customer Retention Offer

I have not received any offer either. I don't have any other Amex account.
My average spending on the Amex costco card is $10/month, so that probably has something to do with it.
by madbrain
Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cutting Cable Cord Only to Strengthen Internet Cord
Replies: 53
Views: 3221

Re: Cutting Cable Cord Only to Strengthen Internet Cord

I'm paying $49.99/month for 150 Mbps down / 10 Mbps up, Internet only with Comcast . This is a 12 month promotion. I bought the modem separately on day 1 for $70 , so no rental fees. I think after 12 months, it will go up to $82, but I will either downgrade the speed or cancel at that point. $49/mon...
by madbrain
Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:42 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Unexpected Costco cash card and letter in the mail
Replies: 8
Views: 1831

Re: Unexpected Costco cash card and letter in the mail

I would go ahead and call them to ask if the blackberries you purchased on <date> are ok to eat since you got a letter. But most likely, the sub-standard blackberries were sold a while back, like a month or two ago because it would take a while for them to realize the problem, then figure out what ...
by madbrain
Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:13 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Unexpected Costco cash card and letter in the mail
Replies: 8
Views: 1831

Unexpected Costco cash card and letter in the mail

I received a letter from Costco on wednesday that states : "At Costco, we pride ourselves on purchasing the highest quality produce from our partners - the best growers in the business. Your recent purchase of #791185 Organic Blackberries did not meet our high quality standards. We are sorry fo...
by madbrain
Sun Jan 17, 2016 6:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [Fidelity drops AmEx, Bank of America credit cards]
Replies: 116
Views: 10588

Re: [Fidelity drops AmEx, Bank of America credit cards]

We will just have to disagree. The bofa visa returning 2.6% in combination with the Fido Amex is a better deal, in my opinion. That level of rewards requires $100k in investments held with BofA - certainly not worth the extra 0.6% . Avoiding a direct relationship with BofA is well worth switching t...
by madbrain
Sun Jan 17, 2016 6:55 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [Fidelity drops AmEx, Bank of America credit cards]
Replies: 116
Views: 10588

Re: [Fidelity drops AmEx, Bank of America credit cards]

Has anyone seen what the foreign transaction fee will be for the new Fidelity Visa card (from Elan/USBank)? I believe it was 3% on the old one (from FIA/BofA). It is 1%, unchanged. No, it was 3% for the Fidelity FIA VISA. 1% for the Fidelity FIA Amex. With Costco switching to VISA, I was looking fo...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 16, 2016 11:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom
Replies: 127
Views: 12273

Re: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom

In my case I started with market weight first, then decided to have 5%-6% allocation then increased to eventually around 9% overall. I also re-balance when it get out of bands, that helps me sell high and buy low. Dollar weighted returns are around 3.91% at end of Dec for 11 year period, again noth...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:28 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom
Replies: 127
Views: 12273

Re: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom

Edit: Growth of $10,000 = $20,600. Original investment doubled in 11 years. Not bad. It really all depends at what price you bought. I bought a big chunk of VWO in my 401k brokerage window, average cost $44 per share. No TLH possible there with that chunk. Frankly I don't know if it will ever make ...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 16, 2016 6:57 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom
Replies: 127
Views: 12273

Re: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom

I'm contemplating TLH (again) from FTSE-EX to Emerging Markets in my Taxable Account. This would be a Boglehead sin. Please help me with some perspective. Thanks. If you are changing from one asset class to another, it isn't TLH . TLH would be from, say, IEMG to VWO, as I did earlier this week. I j...
by madbrain
Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:56 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom
Replies: 127
Views: 12273

Re: I'm Calling an Emerging Markets Bottom

Fat-Tailed Contagion wrote:I'm contemplating TLH (again) from FTSE-EX to Emerging Markets in my Taxable Account.

This would be a Boglehead sin.

Please help me with some perspective.

Thanks.


If you are changing from one asset class to another, it isn't TLH .

TLH would be from, say, IEMG to VWO, as I did earlier this week.
by madbrain
Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much House can I afford with an income of $98,000? My husband gave me a bizarre number
Replies: 110
Views: 12662

Re: How much House can I afford with an income of $98,000? My husband gave me a bizarre number

Hello. Hopefully someone can give me a hand. My husband's income is $98,000 per year. I'm raising our kids and caring for an aging parent. I found a house that would work well for us--it's $359,900. We have no credit card debt, 2 car payments that amount to $700 per month, and $110,000 saved. The b...
by madbrain
Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Dealing with extremely delayed medical billing
Replies: 29
Views: 2899

Re: Dealing with extremely delayed medical billing

I had an MD retire last year and instead of sending out ordinary bills, they were all just turned over for collection. :annoyed Is that even legal under the Fair Credit Billing Act ? Even assuming it is, if you dispute the bill within the first 30 days of receipt, the collection agency may lack the...
by madbrain
Fri Dec 25, 2015 8:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?
Replies: 1431
Views: 272865

Re: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?

I am going to see Star Wars in IMAX 3D at the Chinese theater (where I think it premiered in 1977, Hayden. Can't wait! My son tells me it is one of only 7 such theaters showing Star Wars in the country and only 14 world wide. Your son is in error. There are more than 7 IMAX 3D theaters showing Star...
by madbrain
Fri Dec 25, 2015 5:36 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?
Replies: 1431
Views: 272865

Re: What Movie Have You Recently Watched?

The Big Short . Highly entertaining. I haven't read the book, but I would be surprised if it has the comic tone of the movie. ... Please do read the book, especially for the humorous side that grows so naturally out of the characters. It's a wonder how Lewis found the perfect characters to reveal t...
by madbrain
Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Jet.com
Replies: 56
Views: 7068

Re: Jet.com

fidobogo wrote:Competition for Amazon is good for the consumer, but Jet.com is not ready to compete.


Agree. Their homepage was unreachable the first time. It loaded the second time. Then I entered a query, and the resulting page said "This website is offline". So much for jet.com .
by madbrain
Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:12 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Satellite Radio for a Car Not Specifically Wired
Replies: 15
Views: 1216

Re: Satellite Radio for a Car Not Specifically Wired

I had a free trial subscription in a new car and just let it expire. It wasn't long before I had email solicitations and telephone calls offering special prices if I would subscribe. After a month or so I called and got 6 months for $28. It will expire in a couple of months and I'll try again. I go...
by madbrain
Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:59 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Huge credit on Costco AMEX card, can't get rid of it
Replies: 40
Views: 4792

Re: Huge credit on Costco AMEX card, can't get rid of it

It is possible that the vendor already complained to Amex about a missing payment to someone and Amex made them whole. It is possible that it is cheaper for Amex to let you keep the money, than to try to fix it. If they are that badly run, it's no wonder their card processing fees are so much highe...
by madbrain
Sun Dec 06, 2015 2:46 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Best credit card for cash back
Replies: 49
Views: 8209

Re: Best credit card for cash back

This post comes up many times on many personal finance boards and I'm always the only he to mention the best card out there: capital one spark cash. 2% cash back at time you make the charge, no fx fees, cash back is automated and happens every $25. The Capital One Spark Cash seems to be a business ...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

Drovor wrote:Have you tried rebooting the cable modem and Ooma device? This might have been the first thing support suggested but wasn't stated. Possible an issue with the Ooma hardware.


Yes, I have tried.
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

With voip.ms there are no monthly taxes or add on fees, just the cost of calls. IIRC I deposit $25 each year which covers my costs but we don't make international calls. I don't know that the OBI 100 is still available but the OBI 200 is an updated version and was on sale for $29.99 recently. Do yo...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

Also, for fax, have you tried *99 to tell it you're sending a fax? I just had to do that for the first time in about a year, dusting off my fax machine, but worked just like before. Actually, I had this prefix setup in the machine's admin UI, but not in the Brother PC-Fax software. It needs to be t...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

Have you looked into MagicJack? I've been using it for years and it works great. It's also very reasonable for both the device and annual charges. They have a Christmas special going on now where the device and the first two years of service has been reduced. I just read some reviews of MagicJack, ...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

You say you've done some Ooma troubleshooting, but let me offer a couple of additional tips in case you haven't tried it yet. Besides bandwidth, latency, jitter and other factors may impact voice quality. I'm having trouble with this VOIP test, but you might check that it isn't something other than...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

I've been using voip.ms with an OBIhai 100 for the past 2 years with no problems. I think I paid $30 for the OBI device and I pay a few dollars a month from a prepaid account for U.S. calls. International calling is cheap but is charged by the minute. I connect my Canon printer/fax to the OBI and m...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

VOIPo ( http://www.voipo.com ) is an amazing service: 2 years of unlimited domestic calling for $150. They have free fax-out service through their website (you scan the document and then provide the recipient's fax number). They also have 1200 minutes (20 hours) of international calling for an addi...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Re: Looking for new VoIP provider

There are online fax websites that work. I use pamfax.com for the few faxes I send. Does Pamfax show up as a native Windows printer ? The Brother MFC fax does, and that is very convenient. Or do you have to use the Pamfax app to send a fax ? This would entail an extra step in my workflow, and would...
by madbrain
Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for new VoIP provider
Replies: 23
Views: 921

Looking for new VoIP provider

I have been using Ooma for the last 5 years. The call quality has significantly degraded. I have opened cases with their support, but I am not very hopeful that the issue will be resolved. I still need home phone service for several reasons : - to send claims to medical providers by fax. Only fax an...
by madbrain
Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:33 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

itstoomuch wrote:The promise of qualified accounts is that you can postpone paying taxes and defer gains - but not realize losses.


Well, you can certainly realize losses in a tax-deferred account, you just don't get any tax benefit from doing so.
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

Now as some people point out there can be ACA issues. How do you work around them? You do one big ROTH conversion. For example you convert 200k and pay 23% in taxes + like 8k lost ACA subsidy. The if you want to live on 50k, you are good for like 10 years (use the roth money and 20-30k/yr of tira d...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:14 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

QUACK , qualified account trap. The recent inheritance and conversion of the cash to rental income, will put most of IRAs, that were contributed at 15% marginal, will come out at 25% -28% marginal. :oops: Even if we never received the inheritance, we would be looking at high edge of 25% marginal. :...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

I guess I didn't explain the concept clearly. When you retire and leave your job, you can either leave your 401K with your employer or you can roll it over to an IRA and take it with you. Roll it over to an IRA. Let's call it "IRA rollover." Then create a new IRA account. Let's name it &q...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:02 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

1) I do not face the same problem because I am a cheapskate. My annual expense for the whole family is approximately 70K with mortgage payment. If I payoff the house, my annual expense is approximately 50K. So, I do not need to generate much Roth conversion for my living expense. I may have a rever...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:46 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

or the ACA subsidy to be significant, one's income needs to be fairly low. I disagree. The ACA subsidy can make a very large difference even if one's income is not low - unless you consider an AGI of $62k - $101k to be "fairly low". See the spreadsheet I posted a couple posts above in thi...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

It is 15 years. Too far away. Even in the worst case, you will only be paying tax at 25% Feb rate for part of your money. Meanwhile, the tax bracket and ACA limit will change substantially in 15 years. I really do not see how this medical insurance / expense bubble can be sustained for another 15 y...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:18 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

It is 15 years. Too far away. Even in the worst case, you will only be paying tax at 25% Feb rate for part of your money. Meanwhile, the tax bracket and ACA limit will change substantially in 15 years. I really do not see how this medical insurance / expense bubble can be sustained for another 15 y...
by madbrain
Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:39 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?
Replies: 115
Views: 11096

Re: Too much in tax-advantaged accounts?

2) So, you are at 25% Fed marginal tax rate now. Correct. <<25% is close to the marginal rate I expect in retirement when combining federal and state - 15% federal, and 9.3% state.>> 3) So, you will be 15% Fed marginal tax rate when you retired early. It is still worthwhile to put maximum money int...

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