Search found 2871 matches

by psteinx
Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Gas leak detector?
Replies: 21
Views: 1091

Re: Gas leak detector?

For stuff like this, think in terms of monetary and non-monetary* costs, in relation to the likelihood of preventing death, injury and/or property damage. * Things like the time to research, purchase and deploy one or more such devices, to maintain them over the years, and so on. I haven't researche...
by psteinx
Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Alternative investments - Art, memorabilia, artifacts, antiques
Replies: 17
Views: 1132

Re: Alternative investments - Art, memorabilia, artifacts, antiques

There have been past threads on collectibles, antiques, and the like. I would be very cautious about accepting the claim of one collector, and extending that broadly - i.e. that you can get market-beating returns by collecting this or that. I've spent probably more time than I should both watching T...
by psteinx
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:29 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Gifting Shares - ETFs vs. Conventional Mutual Funds
Replies: 14
Views: 710

Gifting Shares - ETFs vs. Conventional Mutual Funds

To what extent do ETFs and conventional mutual funds differ in the ease of gifting shares (with basis intact - i.e. without simply selling them first)? My wife and I have a donor advised fund, and to date, that has been funded, I think, with shares (not ETF shares, but shares of companies). That's b...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Utility usage way up
Replies: 45
Views: 2584

Re: Utility usage way up

You can audit your own utility usage by using 2 tools: 1) Find your electric meter, figure out how to convert dial spins or whatever to KwHs used, then power your house down and slowly turn back on major systems. Be aware that this is a crude tool at best for certain major systems that only kick int...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 401k "advice" to my associates
Replies: 51
Views: 2074

Re: 401k "advice" to my associates

If they abstained from 1 micro-brew visit and 1 Starbucks (located next door to our office) trip per week, they could be well on their way to funding their retirement! I'm frankly tired of these "skip a Starbucks a day and in 30 years you'll be a gazillionaire!" type stories. The AFTER-INFLATION, p...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 529 & my kid in college
Replies: 8
Views: 565

Re: 529 & my kid in college

Even if you get no state tax credit/deduction, 529s are still favorable much of the time. The growth of the money, if used for qualifying purposes, should be tax-free (i.e. much better than just tax deferred). So, if you're adding money now that will be used by her in ~3 years, then you get 3 years ...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Utility usage way up
Replies: 45
Views: 2584

Re: Utility usage way up

For example my total bill for August 2018 was $123.96 and for August 2017 it was $104.75 My billing days for August 2018 was 30 and for August 2017 it was 31 My kWh usage for August 2018 was 1,017 and for August 2017 it was 887 My degree days for August 2018 was 458 and for August 2017 it was 403 O...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:32 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: My daughter's inheritance.
Replies: 63
Views: 7977

Re: My daughter's inheritance.

1) Many folks here on BH will post that it is easy and obvious - you should do X, Y, and Z. 2) But, the specifics of X, Y, and Z will vary, perhaps dramatically, among these posters. 3) In the outside world, a similar phenomenon will exist. Whether you're talking to specific financial advisors, or r...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:01 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Auto sale to relative - sales agreement form?
Replies: 10
Views: 401

Re: Auto sale to relative - sales agreement form?

I'm not a lawyer, but mentioning in a (potentially very brief) sales contract that the sale is "as is" might be helpful.

Also, consider encouraging the relative to get an inspection prior to the purchase. It may have problems that even you don't know about.
by psteinx
Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Mr.No - another should I pay off my mortgage, post
Replies: 31
Views: 2590

Re: Mr.No - another should I pay off my mortgage, post

So: Income, $155K base + bonus = close to $300K recently, but the bonus is obviously less secure and has been much lower in the past. Assets: Taxable $400K, 75/25 equity cash Emergency funds: A bit unclear - Is this the 25% AMEX savings, or more on top of that? Tax deferred $625K 529s (for 3 kids) ~...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Mom died, financial guidance welcome.
Replies: 14
Views: 2229

Re: Mom died, financial guidance welcome.

Did she have a surviving spouse? If so, then much of the burden is presumably on him. But you'd probably have mentioned if she was married, so... Are you close to her home? Is your sister? Are their other sibs/close relatives? Are relations between siblings good? I'm not a lawyer nor an expert on th...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:13 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Vacation house? Need objective third party
Replies: 66
Views: 5570

Re: Vacation house? Need objective third party

Echoing other posters: When I was growing up, my parents had 2 vacation properties. First, some undeveloped, but pretty land about 2 hours from our house that we would use for camping. It was fun and well used, for about 4 years. There is certain flexibility you get from owning your own camping land...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: basic 529 questions for a friend's new born
Replies: 5
Views: 524

Re: basic 529 questions for a friend's new born

I'm in Missouri, not WA or OR. We have a state tax, and it affects 529 decision making. That said, 529s have appealing features that go beyond any state tax benefits. Growth in 529s is federally tax-free, if used for qualifying purposes (basically, most costs of attending standard US colleges). Not ...
by psteinx
Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:13 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling a car to CarMax
Replies: 74
Views: 5715

Re: Selling a car to CarMax

Unless things have changed in the last decade or so, Missouri also allows one to credit a private party sale against another purchase for sales tax purposes. IIRC, a sale around 6 months before or after the purchase can be used, and in case the private party sales was, say, 4 months after that purch...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Electric dryers more efficient than gas?!?!?!?
Replies: 22
Views: 2651

Re: Electric dryers more efficient than gas?!?!?!?

neilpilot - OK, I understand what you're saying. And per the information on the energystar site describing the ratings, it seems (though I'm not certain) they're converting energy usage, not dollar cost, so yeah, you could be using more energy but less dollars running a natural gas unit. If true, th...
by psteinx
Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Electric dryers more efficient than gas?!?!?!?
Replies: 22
Views: 2651

Electric dryers more efficient than gas?!?!?!?

TLDR: It seems that electric dryers are, per the energystar.gov site, generally (always/almost always?) more efficient than natural gas dryers. This goes strongly against my instincts. Is it correct? Details: OK, so shopping a little today for a clothes dryer. Per the salesman at the big box store, ...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:12 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much do you spend on kids extracurriculars?
Replies: 85
Views: 4603

Re: How much do you spend on kids extracurriculars?

Playing around the neighborhood seems to be much less of a thing than it was a generation ago. I attribute this to: 1) There are a lot less kids than a generation earlier - smaller households, fewer kids per family, etc. That lowers the kid density in a given neighborhood. When I was a kid, it was p...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Establishing residency after relocation
Replies: 14
Views: 724

Re: Establishing residency after relocation

What's VA tax rate - maybe 6-7%? So on, say, $70K annual income, that's $70,000 * (1/12) * ~6.5% = ~$379/month. Given that relatively few folks will be itemizing in the future, that's effectively after tax cost. That's a non-trivial sum - worth researching and jumping through some hurdles to get rig...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Dealing with paper EE bonds with elderly parent
Replies: 18
Views: 1169

Re: Dealing with paper EE bonds with elderly parent

Why not cash 6 months worth at a time? Maybe you can accompany your MIL to the bank so the bonds do not get misplaced. You don't have to wait until the bond reaches final maturity to cash it out. Consider taxes too. MIL will get a 1099 for the tax year. This is all good information. Depending on th...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Talk me out of buying a house
Replies: 28
Views: 2404

Re: Talk me out of buying a house

Managing 2 units of a duplex that you no longer live in will likely be more than 2x more frustration and effort versus managing 1 unit of a duplex where you live on the other side.
by psteinx
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Establishing residency after relocation
Replies: 14
Views: 724

Re: Establishing residency after relocation

You could research the specifics that Virginia considers for this, but to be safe, I'd think about transferring as much stuff as possible to Washington registration, as soon as possible. This would include driver's license, car registrations, registrations for financial accounts and the like, and so...
by psteinx
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much do you spend on kids extracurriculars?
Replies: 85
Views: 4603

Re: How much do you spend on kids extracurriculars?

Youngest daughter - currently weekly 60 minutes of piano, 30 minutes of saxophone. I don't know what these cost (my wife pays these bills) but I'm guessing on the order of $25-30 per 30 minutes, so perhaps ~$80 weekly. She's also heavily into robotics, but my wife coaches/co-coaches that team, and t...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:38 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: how much more we should put in 529?
Replies: 24
Views: 2952

Re: how much more we should put in 529?

We have 3 kids, so our expected educational costs are a bit more diversified :) One way to think about it is to weigh the marginal benefit of each extra dollar that goes into the 529 that DOES get used for a qualified educational expense, versus the marginal cost of each extra dollar that is excess,...
by psteinx
Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Post Mortem Settlement
Replies: 59
Views: 4538

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

The only aspect I could figure out was the amount paid out from June of 2015 to June of 2025 of $581 a month. She bought the annuity in 1995, so it was deferred for 20 years, and as stated before, was a surprise to all of us. The total payout will be $69,720 on an initial premium of $48,000. By my ...
by psteinx
Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:41 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Varying college costs across kids in the same family
Replies: 92
Views: 5144

Re: Varying college costs across kids in the same family

Some follow-ups: 1) To be clear, the specific schools mentioned in my OP are unlikely to be in major play for our family - they were examples. Though who knows what schools our younger kids will actually apply to or be accepted at... 2) A complication for those who say something like - we've budgete...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:34 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 529 Withdrawal of Basis
Replies: 13
Views: 739

Re: 529 Withdrawal of Basis

I'm not looking at the forms or anything, nor am I an accountant, but I *really* doubt it works the way you think it does. If it did, it could potentially be abused as a HUGE backdoor tax-deferral system. Think your 3 kids will need $500K for college? Put $500K into 529s now, let it double over 15 y...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 2:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?
Replies: 53
Views: 4333

Re: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?

Keep in mind that many may be inclined to use a 529, for its tax benefits. But alongside of those tax benefits, there is, I think*, less flexibility, than a trust that might be able to move money between kids and/or across generations, AFTER the one funding it has died, as well as handle other scena...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 2:00 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Varying college costs across kids in the same family
Replies: 92
Views: 5144

Re: Varying college costs across kids in the same family

Turning it around a little - have folks been the kids in this situation, how was it handled, and did you notice it or did it have any sibling or other relationship effects down the line? I'm one of multiple siblings. One went in-state, two out of state. Parents paid basically everything except perso...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Varying college costs across kids in the same family
Replies: 92
Views: 5144

Re: Varying college costs across kids in the same family

While I frankly haven't put a great deal of thought into this, I'm not really thinking that we would be writing a 6 figure check, at age 22, to a kid who economized in college - that just feels way over the top and inconsistent with my values and perspective. That said, there are some choices that, ...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?
Replies: 53
Views: 4333

Re: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?

That's rather harsh, researcher. The poster you've responded to has, apparently, provided an amount sufficient to get a quality (presumably) education at a state university. I suspect that's a lot more than most students get from their grandparents. The presumption is that if they want a pricier cho...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:01 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Varying college costs across kids in the same family
Replies: 92
Views: 5144

Varying college costs across kids in the same family

Given: A family has the financial resources such that they can comfortably afford even pricey college options for their kids. The kids are all normal, high achieving kids who have (or likely will have) many 4 year college options, including pricey ones and relatively inexpensive ones. The family pla...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 12:41 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?
Replies: 53
Views: 4333

Re: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?

I am not a grandparent yet. But if I were, and were in this situation, I would think that I'd want to fund basically the same level per grandkid. Take things to (semi) extremes - if one child has 5 kids, and the other has an only child, do you want to shower cash on that last kid while leaving the f...
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 12:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?
Replies: 53
Views: 4333

Re: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?

(And yes, more grandchildren, planned or not, may also be a complication...)
by psteinx
Wed Aug 22, 2018 12:29 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?
Replies: 53
Views: 4333

Re: Suggestions for a Generous Grandparent?

It would be pretty hard to be "even" across grandkids of different ages. On the one hand, the same amount today, to a younger child, has more time to compound. On the other hand, tuition and other costs rise over time. And particularly, measuring the rate of rise of tuition and the like is difficult...
by psteinx
Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Oversimplifying expected return on rental properties
Replies: 12
Views: 1115

Re: Oversimplifying expected return on rental properties

I'd be reluctant to assume that property prices on the typical small (rental) buildings that folks here mostly talk about will keep up with inflation, on average. I know that goes against the grain of folks who think that not only will they keep up with inflation, but that they will actually beat in...
by psteinx
Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:55 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)
Replies: 45
Views: 2663

Re: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)

Thanks again all. The depth and breadth of knowledge here is great.
by psteinx
Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)
Replies: 45
Views: 2663

Re: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)

So the actual ships that use nuclear propulsion are pretty much just the subs and (I think) carriers, right? Not the mid-sized stuff (destroyers, support ships, etc.)?
by psteinx
Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)
Replies: 45
Views: 2663

Re: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)

Thanks too to Grogs and others who responded.
by psteinx
Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:29 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)
Replies: 45
Views: 2663

Re: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)

Thanks jsprag. BTW, I think the basic commitment for the navy (officer program I guess) is 5/3 (years regular, reserve). I'd had that kind of botched in my post earlier. So, if a nuclear engineer joins the Navy and trains for and is assigned to a sub, say, then what's their role? Is there one (nucle...
by psteinx
Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Excess withholding of foreign taxes (Japan) on ADR for US citizen
Replies: 1
Views: 232

Excess withholding of foreign taxes (Japan) on ADR for US citizen

I'm a US citizen, holding, among other investments, ADRs for a Japanese company (Toyota), at Fidelity. When dividends are paid, foreign taxes are withheld. But I think they're withheld at the wrong rate. It's a bit hard to understand and research this. I'm not a lawyer or CPA, so please don't take m...
by psteinx
Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)
Replies: 45
Views: 2663

Re: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)

Yeah, when my son started talking a lot about nuclear engineering a while back, and it didn't pass, over time, I was kind of worried about this too. Nuclear generation seems to be in stagnation/decline in the U.S. That said, some basic internet research suggested to me that as far as starting salari...
by psteinx
Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)
Replies: 45
Views: 2663

Military career/college options (engineering - nukes?)

Background: I've got 3 kids, and I suppose the military is at least an option for any of them, but it's my middle kid I'm thinking about now. Military experience in our broader family is slim, so we lack some of the "stories around the dinner table" type experience that some have, as well as some of...
by psteinx
Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:27 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Investing in Opportunity Act
Replies: 0
Views: 195

Investing in Opportunity Act

So, late in 2017 (I think), among other tax changes, there was something called the Investing in Opportunity Act Some discussion links here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewyang/2016/04/28/investing-in-opportunity/#2fb6223b1f1f https://www.nixonpeabody.com/en/ideas/articles/2018/01/18/investing-i...
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?
Replies: 61
Views: 5531

Re: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?

Cost/fee waivers are available I think. Of course, it's possible one may not qualify for one, but still... In the right situation, paying $75 or whatever it is, to boost one's score by 1-2 points (assuming one is successful), *might* help produce scholarships vastly higher than the extra test fee pa...
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:47 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Boy's first job
Replies: 38
Views: 3758

Re: Boy's first job

I don't think I would rush to sign a ~16 year old kid up for a 401k. A lot of first jobs don't last long, for a variety of reasons. See if he's still there after 3-4 weeks and likes it.
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dual language vs Traditional Public School
Replies: 23
Views: 1318

Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Elementary school, in the US, is customarily about K-5 (ages 5-10, roughly). Sometimes K-4, sometimes K-6.
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?
Replies: 61
Views: 5531

Re: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?

Frankly despite what many say ACT is simply not considered the same league as SAT. As a result high act scores are less relevant for the most competitive institutions even if they affirm that both are accepted and treated “equally”. They arent. What's your basis for this claim? Seems out of line wi...
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dual language vs Traditional Public School
Replies: 23
Views: 1318

Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

My gut would tell me to put the kid in mon-lingual, unless there was an unusual reason not to. Reasons to perhaps, prefer dual-lingual: 1) Spanish spoken at home 2) Perhaps, if not 1, heavily Spanish environment (neighborhood, extended family, etc.) 3) Living overseas in Spanish speaking area now, o...
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?
Replies: 61
Views: 5531

Re: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?

ACT vs. SAT, scholarships: You'd have to dive into the details of particular scholarships to get a better understanding, but there are instances where one or the other would be preferred (or required) for a particular scholarship. 2 examples - one requiring SAT, one tilting towards ACT... 1) Nationa...
by psteinx
Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?
Replies: 61
Views: 5531

Re: ACT test - got 34, try for 36?

Oh, and generally, College Confidential has the go-to forums for these kinds of questions.