Search found 259 matches

by skylar
Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:28 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Do Bogleheads Budget?
Replies: 104
Views: 12305

Re: Do Bogleheads Budget?

We just track expenses, but have no strict budget. We've always saved 40-60% of our take-home pay, and have very few discretionary expenses. We just have phone, Internet, and rent (no Netflix, no TV, no gym, etc.) as recurring payments, and maybe eat out once a week. We discuss big purchases, but th...
by skylar
Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Emergency radio with hand crank
Replies: 30
Views: 2390

Re: Emergency radio with hand crank

I live in Oklahoma (a.k.a. Tornado Alley), so a decent emergency radio was one of my first purchases when I moved here. Amazon has a variety of decent options from "Ambient Weather". You can get one for less than $30, and most of them all include a flashlight, hand crank, solar panel, AM/...
by skylar
Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tipping Practices
Replies: 18
Views: 1564

Re: Tipping Practices

I don't go out much (cheap + prefer eating in peace&quiet at home most of the time), but when I do I tip at least 15% even for "fast casual" if the service is friendly. None of us live in a vacuum, and I recognize I've been very fortunate and would like to help others less fortunate. I...
by skylar
Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: RFC: WA teacher retirement system, maxing out the 3 plans?
Replies: 5
Views: 387

Re: RFC: WA teacher retirement system, maxing out the 3 plans?

I agree that using the 457 plan is a good idea. I work for WA state as well and max out contributions to that plan since they can be taken out anytime after employment ends, also using the dirt-cheap S&P 500 fund.
by skylar
Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:42 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What is your system for dealing with coins?
Replies: 123
Views: 7733

Re: What is your system for dealing with coins?

We have a bin of coins, and take them with us for public transit when we travel, if it doesn't make sense to get a transit card at the destination. We'll pre-count them into baggies of single trip fares so we're not fumbling when we're paying. Most transit agencies will even take pennies.
by skylar
Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:06 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Any renters just focused on maxing out retirement accounts?
Replies: 13
Views: 1989

Re: Any renters just focused on maxing out retirement accounts?

We did that for nine years - lived in a apartment that was ~50% below market rate due to having a very nice landlady. Eventually she retired and the deal went away but we saved a lot of money while it lasted. Those savings are giving us a lot of flexibility now - it definitely drives home the import...
by skylar
Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Your Favorite Factory Tours?
Replies: 70
Views: 4785

Re: Your Favorite Factory Tours?

Call me crazy, but I really enjoy sewage treatment plant tours. I find the combination of mechanical and biological processes pretty cool, and you get to see the other side of something you do several times a day.
by skylar
Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:57 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How many of you have cut cord?
Replies: 148
Views: 9720

Re: How many of you have cut cord?

Does never having it count as cutting it? We get our entertainment in other ways:

1. We read a lot
2. We get DVDs from the library
3. Occasionally we can find something worth watching on our library's free streaming service
by skylar
Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: led vs cfl
Replies: 102
Views: 7395

Re: led vs cfl

Note that if you're in Seattle, City Light offers discounts on LED bulbs at some retailers: http://www.seattle.gov/light/homelighting/ The discounts can easily bring the up-front cost of a LED down to the cost of a CFL, which makes it definite bargain over the long run. It would be worth checking wi...
by skylar
Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Landlord wont return deposit
Replies: 76
Views: 6566

Re: Landlord wont return deposit

Lesson learned: If you expect a deposit back, you better clean the place and inspect the apartment with the landlord in person. Let them tell you to your face what is wrong. Or just tell them you are moving down the street :D I had a similar experience, though local law gave me some leverage. In Wa...
by skylar
Sat Mar 12, 2016 4:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Landlord wont return deposit
Replies: 76
Views: 6566

Re: Landlord wont return deposit

What you're describing is known as a one-way lease, that is, you're required to give much more notice than the landlord. At least in Seattle, this type of lease is illegal. Month-to-month leases requires only 20 days notice for either party to terminate the tenancy. I would check your local tenant'...
by skylar
Sat Mar 12, 2016 4:10 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Landlord wont return deposit
Replies: 76
Views: 6566

Re: Landlord wont return deposit

What you're describing is known as a one-way lease, that is, you're required to give much more notice than the landlord. At least in Seattle, this type of lease is illegal. Month-to-month leases requires only 20 days notice for either party to terminate the tenancy. I would check your local tenant's...
by skylar
Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:19 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Best 457 plan administrator (I'm looking for one to offer to employees)
Replies: 11
Views: 1116

Re: Best 457 plan administrator (I'm looking for one to offer to employees)

We also have Great West Retirement Services administering our 457b. We don't have any Vanguard or Fidelity funds, but we do have a number of Blackrock CITs (S&P 500, International Index, Small Cap Value Index, Emerging Market Index). The fees are quite reasonable (0.13% admin fee plus a small ex...
by skylar
Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What is your decline in Net Worth as of today?
Replies: 96
Views: 11202

Re: What is your decline in Net Worth as of today?

Started from close to 0 10 years ago, so I'm still up by a lot from there. :)

Not really sure that looking at six weeks of gains/losses is a great use of time, unless you want to rebalance.
by skylar
Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why buy now, why not wait until the market really crashes??
Replies: 79
Views: 10300

Re: Why buy now, why not wait until the market really crashes??

I've already done my and my wife's Roth IRA contributions for the year. Do I wish the market were higher now than two weeks ago? Sure, but here's why I feel OK: 1. I invested according to my asset allocation 2. Historically, stocks appreciate over time. Statistically, buying as early as possible has...
by skylar
Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:53 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard Customer Service
Replies: 174
Views: 14384

Re: Vanguard Customer Service

In almost 10 years with Vanguard, I don't think I've ever had to contact a real person (website was enough). My wife, though, has used the concierge service for rolling a 401k into an IRA three times over the years (last one was middle of last year). My wife is smart but not the money person in the ...
by skylar
Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:08 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: CIT
Replies: 5
Views: 613

Re: CIT

FWIW, I have CITs from Blackrock in my state-run 457 plan. I only use the S&P 500 fund, but its expenses are quite low (0.13%) and it even has been rated by Morningstar in the prospectus so I would assume it's legit. Like others have mentioned, it won't have dividends or capital gains distributi...
by skylar
Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Getting a bonus this year?
Replies: 75
Views: 9481

Re: Getting a bonus this year?

As a public employee, my bonus has been in extra time off that must be used in the current calendar year (regular leave rolls over). Definitely appreciated, especially since it forces me to take a vacation...
by skylar
Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is a $100 drip coffee machine significantly better than a <$50?
Replies: 57
Views: 5361

Re: Is a $100 drip coffee machine significantly better than a <$50?

I'm pretty sure the caffeine extraction levels for drip coffee machines are about the same, so I would go for the cheaper one. I'm with you, where I was honestly surprised to find out that some people drink coffee for the taste rather than the kick. :)
by skylar
Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Mailing tax returns
Replies: 93
Views: 8635

Re: Mailing tax returns

Crow Hunter wrote:I just wanted to say I am not part of the 111%.

I not only mail them, I do them by hand, ON PAPER, with a pencil and pen and a HP 48GX calculator. :twisted:

Oh and I use certified mail too. :D


Me too (aside from the HP 48GX, I'm not that classy :) ). It takes a couple of hours, but it works.
by skylar
Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bicycle commuting
Replies: 91
Views: 7396

Re: Bicycle commuting

I've been commuting by bike for years. As long as you live reasonably close to work, it's not such a big deal and definitely saves lots of money and time. In fact, it can be the fastest way to commute; there's nothing I love more than cruising by stopped traffic in a wide-open bike lane (just be car...
by skylar
Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:25 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do you recommend a bread maker?
Replies: 30
Views: 1987

Re: Do you recommend a bread maker?

We have a bread machine and love it. We make at least one loaf a week, sometimes more. My wife also uses it to start the dough on some bread that she finishes in the oven (like challah). It's a definite time saver for us, since it takes about five minutes of work to make a regular loaf, and we can e...
by skylar
Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:21 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Am I less protected with chip-and-signature?
Replies: 58
Views: 4476

Re: Am I less protected with chip-and-signature?

I tried using a chipped card at Target a couple weeks ago. Either the reader wasn't working, or there was some other technical difficulty, because even after multiple attempts it couldn't accept the card. I ended up using a non-chipped card instead to be kind to the people behind me. Trader Joe's is...
by skylar
Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:02 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Experiences with Washington State Deferred Compensation Program?
Replies: 8
Views: 1125

Re: Experiences with Washington State Deferred Compensation Program?

I use the Washington state DCP and there aren't any kind of gotchas or problems with it. As you said, the expense ratios are pretty good for all of the funds (though you do have to do a bit of digging to figure them out). The only quirk as I see it is that I really don't understand the composition ...
by skylar
Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Would you look down on a co-worker for driving a beater?
Replies: 198
Views: 17704

Re: Would you look down on a co-worker for driving a beater?

I've been riding the same bike for 15+ years. It's probably 30 years old now. I ride it to dept. picnics and other outings. The only notice I get is when I'm the first one to get there, because I don't have to walk to the parking garage and can get around traffic. Then again, I work in academia...
by skylar
Wed May 13, 2015 6:22 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard Total Bond ETF vs Total Bond Admiral Fund
Replies: 10
Views: 1211

Re: Vanguard Total Bond ETF vs Total Bond Admiral Fund

I use both - my IRA and 403b bond money is in the standard mutual fund, and my HSA money is in the ETF because that's all that's available. If I had the option, the HSA money would be in the standard mutual fund too because it's way easier to manage.
by skylar
Tue May 12, 2015 7:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should I get condo earthquake insurance (California)?
Replies: 15
Views: 870

Re: Should I get condo earthquake insurance (California)?

Can you afford to replace your housing if it were to be damaged/destroyed? I'm not an expert on condos, but it seems like you could be facing a greater percentage loss than a regular homeowner, since you only own the unit (which is likely to be damaged/destroyed) but not the land (which is likely to...
by skylar
Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:52 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: HSA Receipt Documentation
Replies: 12
Views: 1811

Re: HSA Receipt Documentation

An EOB or invoice are not evidence of an expense. Only proof of payment does that. I do not know of, or heard of anyone who was asked to justify HSA withdrawals for qualified medical expenses yet. However, I think you are risking future IRS denial, especially if you are following the model of payin...
by skylar
Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:14 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Did you learn anything from 2008?
Replies: 105
Views: 11323

Re: Did you learn anything from 2008?

I found this forum, which taught me to keep it simple, stay the course, and ignore the noise.
by skylar
Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Recurring utility bills - How do you pay?
Replies: 43
Views: 3755

Re: Recurring utility bills - How do you pay?

If I can, I do autopay using a credit card. One bill requires a check - this is generated automatically using my credit union's bill pay. The credit cards are setup to automatically pay the statement balance from my credit union's checking account. I review the statements for anomalies before they'r...
by skylar
Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 457(b) Education
Replies: 3
Views: 368

Re: 457(b) Education

Hi all, My wife and I are looking to save additional money for retirement via a 457(b) plan offered by her employer. We currently max her 403b and my 401k. I just have a few clarification questions to make sure I fully understand what we are doing. 1. In terms of maximum amounts, my employer offers...
by skylar
Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Will you buy an Apple Watch?
Replies: 456
Views: 46751

Re: Will you buy an Apple Watch?

6miths wrote:No. Not a watch person.


No. Not an Apple person. :)
by skylar
Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Is there a point when your HSA balance is so large....
Replies: 13
Views: 2090

Re: Is there a point when your HSA balance is so large....

In addition to Medicare, the IRS allows using HSA funds to pay health insurance premiums for COBRA, and also while you are drawing unemployment. You can use that to count the HSA as part of your emergency funds.
by skylar
Sat Jan 31, 2015 5:14 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: HSA: spend or not?
Replies: 8
Views: 1172

Re: HSA: spend or not?

I save receipts and have yet to reimburse myself. Most of my HSA is invested in TBM, with a small amount of cash (basically whatever I haven't had a chance to invest yet). I consider the unreimbursed portion of my HSA to be part of my emergency fund since I can pull it out immediately with no conseq...
by skylar
Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Are Checking Accounts National?
Replies: 13
Views: 1403

Re: Are Checking Accounts National?

I'll second the credit union recommendation. Many are part of the Co-op Network (https://co-opcreditunions.org) which allows members of one credit union no-charge access to branches and ATMs of any credit union in the network. When you add them all up, the network is about twice the size of Bank of ...
by skylar
Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:23 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Your Minimum Annual Expenses
Replies: 37
Views: 4375

Re: Your Minimum Annual Expenses

Last year my wife and I spent just short of $45k, including taxes. Presumably if I lost my job, I wouldn't be paying much in taxes, so that brings us down to $33k. From there we could definitely get down to around $22k-25k without much additional pain by stopping travel, dining out, dropping cell ph...
by skylar
Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:08 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 250K or more with Vanguard
Replies: 17
Views: 5904

Re: 250K or more with Vanguard

Thanks skylar... MF Global is an example of a company that lost client money in the US a few years back.... Anakin Remember that the money lost with MF Global was brokerage/commodities money, not with any mutual fund. Mutual funds are highly regulated by the Investment Company Act, and it would be ...
by skylar
Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 250K or more with Vanguard
Replies: 17
Views: 5904

Re: 250K or more with Vanguard

Sorry for being unclear... I mean the risk of securities in our mutual fund holdings being lent out, either by Vanguard itself, or by the custodial bank that holds the mutual fund assets. Wondering if we have any documentation from Vanguard to assure us that our mutual funds' underlying stock/bond ...
by skylar
Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best watch for around $5,000?
Replies: 973
Views: 219643

Re: What experts say about $5,000 watches

I love my $20 Timex. What more can you want than two time zones, bright night light, three alarms that can be restricted to run on only weekdays or weekends, stop watch, and is even reasonably accurate? The alarm feature is my favorite, since it means I never have to remember to set an alarm for wor...
by skylar
Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:51 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $7 gas - what would you do?
Replies: 125
Views: 20493

Re: $7 gas - what would you do?

No change - neither my wife nor I have ever owned a car. I can bike (10 minutes), bus (10-50 minutes), or walk (40 minutes) to work. My wife either buses or carpools to work. How does she compensate for never driving the others in the car pool? She pays for gas. All I know is what she pays, though ...
by skylar
Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $7 gas - what would you do?
Replies: 125
Views: 20493

Re: $7 gas - what would you do?

No change - neither my wife nor I have ever owned a car. I can bike (10 minutes), bus (10-50 minutes), or walk (40 minutes) to work. My wife either buses or carpools to work. All of our amenities (grocery store, library, doctor, etc.) are easily accessible without a car. If gas hit $7/gal, nothing ...
by skylar
Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $7 gas - what would you do?
Replies: 125
Views: 20493

Re: $7 gas - what would you do?

No change - neither my wife nor I have ever owned a car. I can bike (10 minutes), bus (10-50 minutes), or walk (40 minutes) to work. My wife either buses or carpools to work. All of our amenities (grocery store, library, doctor, etc.) are easily accessible without a car. If gas hit $7/gal, nothing i...
by skylar
Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:30 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: HSA... any receipt savers?
Replies: 211
Views: 16352

Re: HSA... any receipt savers?

I pay out of pocket and save receipts for my HSA. I scan the receipts, and save the copy in a folder coded by the year. The file names have a prefix to indicate whether the expense was for me or my wife, and a suffix with the date of the expense. My wife has a copy of the folder, and I keep annotati...
by skylar
Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:30 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Health Equity HSA--New Passive Plan
Replies: 76
Views: 16584

Re: Health Equity HSA--New Passive Plan

How much better is HSA Bank than Health Equity now that Health Equity has Investor Choice funds consisting of very low ER Vanguard Index funds (ex. VIIIX) for about a 0.40% fee per year? Is it worth it after transfer fees? Here's HSA Bank's full fee breakdown: http://www.hsabank.com/~/media/files/f...
by skylar
Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:43 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Health Equity HSA--New Passive Plan
Replies: 76
Views: 16584

Re: Health Equity HSA--New Passive Plan

My employer just switched HSA provider from ChaseHSA to HealthEquity. We use HSA as retirement account, maxing every year, never taking anything out and keeping all the receipts. We have about $47k. I wondering am I better off switching to HSA Bank rather than healthequity. Anyone has done that? We...
by skylar
Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What did you enjoy spending money on this year?
Replies: 92
Views: 7657

Re: What did you enjoy spending money on this year?

Travel to visit family and friends.

Nothing else comes close.
by skylar
Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:52 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 403b AND 401k
Replies: 3
Views: 714

Re: 403b AND 401k

Employee contributions to 403b and 401k are indeed under the same IRS limit ($18k for 2015). 457 plans have a separate $18k limit.
by skylar
Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:39 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: What is considered to be a good 401k match?
Replies: 74
Views: 6302

Re: What is considered to be a good 401k match?

I work for a large public research university, and our 403b match is 100% on 5% of contributions for employees below age 35, 7.5% for ages 35-50, and 10% for 50+.

My wife, on the other hand, gets no match at all for her 401k.
by skylar
Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Non-mutual fund retirement trusts.. Safe?
Replies: 10
Views: 1054

Re: Non-mutual fund retirement trusts.. Safe?

This sounds similar to the Collective Investment Trusts I have in my 457 plan. They function like mutual funds, but I have no ticker symbol and only get a brief annual report. I only use the S&P 500 fund and eyeballing the performance history relative to the actual S&P 500 shows that they ar...

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