Search found 251 matches

by skylar
Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: led vs cfl
Replies: 102
Views: 6621

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: 6130

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: 6130

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: 6130

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: 990

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: 10641

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: 9826

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: 151
Views: 11148

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: 539

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: 9007

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: 4907

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: 8096

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: 6974

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: 1862

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: 4201

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: 876

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: 196
Views: 16136

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: 1133

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: 653

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: 1555

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: 10877

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: 3603

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: 350

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: 43728

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: 1994

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: 1124

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: 1355

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: 4255

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: 5813

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: 5813

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: 950
Views: 208621

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: 20131

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: 20131

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: 20131

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: 15090

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: 66
Views: 14578

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: 66
Views: 14578

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: 7298

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: 683

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: 5829

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: 1021

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...
by skylar
Thu Dec 25, 2014 9:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Penfed credit card blocked
Replies: 15
Views: 2541

Re: Penfed credit card blocked

Aside from a small purchase once a year to keep our card active, we use our card exclusively internationally (maybe once every 2-3 years). Penfed has never found that suspicious.
by skylar
Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:22 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: "Chip" credit card for foreign travel
Replies: 105
Views: 17895

Re: "Chip" credit card for foreign travel

We have a Penfed Promise card with a chip, and used it in Canada with no problems as both a chip+signature card, and just a straight signature card.
by skylar
Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: POLL: What are your monthly food expenses?
Replies: 67
Views: 6034

Re: POLL: What are your monthly food expenses?

We spend $300-$400 per month for two people. That's buying mostly organic food at our food coop, or Trader Joes, with some from farmer's markets as well.
by skylar
Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:29 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do you travel with friends?
Replies: 53
Views: 6139

Re: Do you travel with friends?

I'm actually on a trip with a friend now. :)

It's been a blast, but you do need to travel with someone who has similar tastes, budget, and transportation (walking, transit, cab, etc.) preferences.
by skylar
Mon Dec 15, 2014 6:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much is reasonable to spend on vacation?
Replies: 30
Views: 3568

Re: How much is reasonable to spend on vacation?

So far my wife has had only one job that has come with PTO, and that only lasted nine months. Her other jobs have no PTO, and the most recent one has performance metrics that penalize time off. What little time she does manage to take off gets spent visiting family. Unless she gets another job with ...
by skylar
Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:17 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: How do you contribute to your IRA?
Replies: 33
Views: 2038

Re: How do you contribute to your IRA?

My wife and I each contribute the maximum amount to our Roth IRAs on the first market day of the year. 401k, 403b, and 457 contributions happen throughout the year since we don't have a mechanism to lump sum those.
by skylar
Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:15 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: A less common risk to emerging markets value tilting
Replies: 32
Views: 2890

Re: A less common risk to emerging markets value tilting

I cannot quickly find the relevant reference, but IIRC, the DFA "Core" Emerging Markets fund encompasses the elements of a standard EM fund, with additional small cap and value loadings. It is meant truly to be a core emerging markets holding. The "Value" fund still exists (is a...
by skylar
Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Got earthquake insurance?
Replies: 35
Views: 2743

Re: Got earthquake insurance?

As a renter in the PNW, earthquake insurance is super cheap since I don't need to cover any structural damage. For ~$25 extra dollars per year, I get covered for damage to possessions and also alternate living arrangements in the event of an earthquake. I hope I never need it, but the cost/value rat...

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