Search found 99 matches

by MJS
Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: $540 a month on food for graduate student budget too much?
Replies: 60
Views: 4021

Re: $540 a month on food for graduate student budget too much?

An intermediate step between fast food & home cooking is pre-made food. Burritos, subs, tacos, pizza can be found in the freezer case. Try different brands for a couple of weeks. Learn to check out the nutrition info on each box. Add some pre-cut veggies and a container of dip or salad dressing from...
by MJS
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:31 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 70 yr old about to take 1st RMD
Replies: 9
Views: 1416

Re: 70 yr old about to take 1st RMD

Will you be taking RMDs solely from Traditional IRAs? No 403b, 401k or 457b? If you have any other must-RMD accounts, the IRS rules are a bit challenging https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/retirement-plans-faqs-regarding-required-minimum-distributions#5 Can an account owner just take a RMD from on...
by MJS
Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:36 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Can you help me figure out how much emergency fund $ I REALLY need?
Replies: 38
Views: 2838

Re: Can you help me figure out how much emergency fund $ I REALLY need?

I think having $10k in the top (panic) tier of your emergency cascade is acceptable. I recommend adding two or three more tiers: - $5k+ for expected but unknown-when events (going to a parent's funeral, big car repair / new car, replacing appliances) Those might be considered emergencies. - $5k+ fo...
by MJS
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:21 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Can you help me figure out how much emergency fund $ I REALLY need?
Replies: 38
Views: 2838

Re: Can you help me figure out how much emergency fund $ I REALLY need?

I think having $10k in the top (panic) tier of your emergency cascade is acceptable. I recommend adding two or three more tiers: - $5k+ for expected but unknown-when events (going to a parent's funeral, big car repair / new car, replacing appliances) - $5k+ for vacations or luxuries - $40k+ for down...
by MJS
Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:19 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What to add to the baby registry?
Replies: 20
Views: 1224

Re: What to add to the baby registry?

1. Microwave. Instant pot / slow cooker.
2. Pre-portioned one-handed meals - lots of Internet info.
3. Weekly delivery of pre-cut veggies & fruit for one or two months.
4. CostCo membership?
by MJS
Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:04 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: What’s your plan for a market downturn?
Replies: 114
Views: 9501

Re: What’s your plan for a market downturn?

Maybe it's market timing ... I'm retired with a pension. After 3 months of 10%+ stock downturn, I'll start Social Security early & invest it in Total Stock Market instead of rebalancing. After 11 months max, I'll stop SocSec & let it go back to earning 8%/year. Are you sure you can do that, start t...
by MJS
Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:42 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Health Care in "Early" Retirement
Replies: 50
Views: 4741

Re: Health Care in "Early" Retirement

willyd123 wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:16 am
Very helpful. I'll go with an ACA plan.
Good luck & best wishes. May your health insurance investment be utterly unnecessary!
by MJS
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Rodents ate my car!
Replies: 61
Views: 5386

Re: Rodents ate my car!

One suggestion is to leave your hood up to make the space less cozy, especially on cold nights when a nice warm engine is very inviting. You can also, um, invest in predator marking: wolf or coyote urine sprays are available through Amazon & other Internet stores. A little spray on the floor every o...
by MJS
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: International Vacation Ideas
Replies: 47
Views: 3138

Re: International Vacation Ideas

[quote=coalcracker post_id=4000026 ti
Nepal. Cheap, beautiful. No brainer if you like hiking.
[/quote]

+1. History, architecture, gardens, hiking, food, and you'll be helping people recovery after the 2015 earthquake.
by MJS
Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: What’s your plan for a market downturn?
Replies: 114
Views: 9501

Re: What’s your plan for a market downturn?

Maybe it's market timing ... I'm retired with a pension. After 3 months of 10%+ stock downturn, I'll start Social Security early & invest it in Total Stock Market instead of rebalancing. After 11 months max, I'll stop SocSec & let it go back to earning 8%/year.
by MJS
Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:14 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Does It Make Sense to Wait to Claim SocSec?
Replies: 62
Views: 6772

Re: Does It Make Sense to Wait to Claim SocSec?

If she files early, her widow's benefit will be reduced by the same percent as her FRA.
by MJS
Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:02 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Recent widow: When to take Social Security?
Replies: 17
Views: 1381

Re: Recent widow: When to take Social Security?

Most importantly, if she started collecting a small amount of the widow benefit before her FRA, would she still be eligible for the full amount as soon as she reaches her FRA? In other words, is there any penalty for filing for the widow benefit now ? According to Mr Kotlikoff, yes: "If you start d...
by MJS
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:23 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Used vs New - always buy new once you get to a certain point?
Replies: 31
Views: 2974

Re: Used vs New - always buy new once you get to a certain point?

Different calculations for different types of goods. Delivery & installation costs are an issue for me: not a DIYer. Appliances - floor models or new. Upholstered goods - new always. Bedbugs ... Casegoods - custom or Ikea'ish. Fixtures - went new, but I did look at old sinks & tubs at Habitat for Hu...
by MJS
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please help find these shoes for an old lady
Replies: 32
Views: 3565

Re: Please help find these shoes for an old lady

If you write to the company, you might also ask if other shoes are made on the same last. Many shoemakers use only 10-20 lasts. While the decorative variations may have some effects on comfort, the soles/fit remain the same.
by MJS
Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:08 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Is this all investing is?
Replies: 38
Views: 3772

Re: Is this all investing is?

Postpone FIRE to 45, and use the next 3-4 years to save for your GTI . Buy it. Go on a road trip, or commute to work for 26 years in a car you love. The best teacher I ever had loved her car, and received great satisfaction from it. http://legacy.sandiegouniontribune.com/uniontrib/20080614/news_lz1d...
by MJS
Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What commuter car provides the best long term financial value?
Replies: 84
Views: 6763

Re: What commuter car provides the best long term financial value?

Honestly, the best value is the one that is comfortable to drive . That's a very long time to be in a sitting position, by any measure. +1. Prius, Volt, Civic, Corolla... will all be roughly the same over 10-15 years (until gas hits $8/gallon.) Sit in the 2018 models, assess seat comfort, view line...
by MJS
Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Indexing will fail investors in next decade
Replies: 57
Views: 9072

Re: Indexing will fail investors in next decade

Actually absolutely true ... if investor=investment advisor. Passive indexing will severely damage Mr. Jensen and his ilk.
by MJS
Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:05 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much to budget for a week long vacation for 2?
Replies: 79
Views: 4465

Re: How much to budget for a week long vacation for 2?

When you're retired, you can vacation during the off- or shoulder season. You're probably a member of AAA, AARP, CostCo or other discount travel services. You probably own luggage, travel clothes, and sufficient numbers of souvenir glasses. Clearly, travel will be cheaper. When you're retired, you m...
by MJS
Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Top Shelf Liquor Overrated?
Replies: 191
Views: 16795

Re: Top Shelf Liquor Overrated?

Vodka is 60% water, and some waters are _much_ better tasting than others. Multiple filterings and really good limestone spring water makes for better vodka, although whether $20 worth... I've never tried the Brita filtering trick, but it is reported to help with the really bottom shelf brands.
by MJS
Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Advice for assisting 18 year old son after high school
Replies: 70
Views: 5344

Re: Advice for assisting 18 year old son after high school

Regarding the graduation gift: siblings compare themselves to each other. My sense of sibling fair play is to give him now what you will give the others. Even if it's wrong in the short term, 20 years from now there could be lingering hurt feelings. Good luck, and best wishes to you all.
by MJS
Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: June in Paris: What to (or not to) wear, see and do?
Replies: 53
Views: 2947

Re: June in Paris: What to (or not to) wear, see and do?

Visit food stores - markets, shops, supermarkets - and put together a picnic. Bring a shopping bag. Take the picnic to Jardin des Plantes or another public garden.

Say: S'il vous plaît, je ne comprends pas le français. Anglais? ... Sil vu play, zhe ne[r] compren pa le[r] fransay. Anglay?
by MJS
Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Interior painting - Sherwin Williams color recommendations
Replies: 28
Views: 2336

Re: Interior painting - Sherwin Williams color recommendations

Eggshell or even satin sheen in places where the wall is likely to be touched by humans, cats, dogs, Roombas or spilled food/drink. Flat is hard to clean, and can stain easily.
by MJS
Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Travel advice for an engineer
Replies: 65
Views: 4355

Re: Travel advice for an engineer

Notable engineering, but not necessarily grand.
Newgrange in Ireland
Fogous in Cornwall
La Mezquita in Spain
by MJS
Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Top Shelf Liquor Overrated?
Replies: 191
Views: 16795

Re: Top Shelf Liquor Overrated?

I've always found some challenges to exploring this question: 1. How much side-by-side testing can you do? Let's say I want to decide which tequila I like the best. I buy four bottles and compare them. Now I have more than a half-gallon of tequila, which will last some time. One can go to a bar tha...
by MJS
Thu May 31, 2018 9:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Top Shelf Liquor Overrated?
Replies: 191
Views: 16795

Re: Top Shelf Liquor Overrated?

I notice the difference in liqueurs, even when adding 1/2 oz to cocktails.
Luxardo maraschino, Cointreau, Kahlua
... all much better than any house brand.
by MJS
Thu May 31, 2018 4:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Oatmeal suggestions
Replies: 159
Views: 23588

Re: Oatmeal suggestions

I prefer savory foods for breakfast, so I top my oats with a yoghurt-based dip like Ranch or spinach. My dad had his oats with ground pepper & butter, but he also liked butter in his coffee.
by MJS
Tue May 29, 2018 8:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Thinking past results are reliable
Replies: 10
Views: 853

Re: Thinking past results are reliable

hoops777 wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 5:20 pm
Houston,on their home court missed 27 consecutive 3 point shots and lost to the Warriors.I cannot even fathom the probability of that happening.
1 in 72,000 according to 538. It's a bevy of Black Swans. Perhaps Houston needs new uniforms.
by MJS
Tue May 29, 2018 12:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cruise ships for multi-generational family
Replies: 61
Views: 3264

Re: Cruise ships for multi-generational family

You mentioned one sibling is more financially challenged. If possible, sail out of a port near them. If you're a CostCo member, check their website for some idea of itineraries & costs. If your parents get a nice suite, that can be family headquarters. Inside cabins for kids may help with bed time a...
by MJS
Tue May 29, 2018 10:26 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Financial plan review for a widowed mother
Replies: 18
Views: 1859

Re: Financial plan review for a widowed mother

Most, but unfortunately not all, asbestosis settlements are tax free. If this is one of the rare cases where tax is due... It's worth checking now rather than later. Also, purchased annuities are taxed as ordinary income, while the settlement annuity (probably) won't be. For the total cost of a chea...
by MJS
Sat May 26, 2018 5:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please help with grocery budget
Replies: 51
Views: 4389

Re: Please help with grocery budget

Are two of the four teenaged boys? Because then the most efficient way to reduce your food budget is to wait for them to move out.

What percent of your budget is spent on non-meal food such as jerky, snacks or sweets? Putting a monthly limit on them might help, if that's an issue.
by MJS
Mon May 21, 2018 1:51 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Newly widowed, how do I invest 1.5 million life ins. proceeds
Replies: 72
Views: 8178

Re: Newly widowed, how do I invest 1.5 million life ins. proceeds

Sympathy for your loss. Admiration for the way you are taking care of your family!

Another thing to discuss with a fee-only planner is your level of life insurance, and if that should change now.
by MJS
Sat May 19, 2018 3:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Enclosed Porch Addition - Good or Bad Idea?
Replies: 16
Views: 1136

Re: Enclosed Porch Addition - Good or Bad Idea?

You can get a reasonable screen room / shelter / tent from Home Depot for about $200, plus another $200 for air conditioning. Why not test the waters for a couple of years to see how you'll use the addition, then invest your $35k in an addition (+10% surprise! + increased property tax + added home i...
by MJS
Mon May 14, 2018 2:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?
Replies: 49
Views: 3222

Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Consider renting one of the Canyon rim cabins at Bright Angel Lodge: dawn & sunset are fabulous. If you are any kind of foodie, walk over to El Tovar for breakfast. You might enjoy hiking the Canyon one way and taking a mule the other ... unless you object to profound vertigo.
by MJS
Sun May 06, 2018 9:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tea supplier comparison
Replies: 20
Views: 1430

Re: Tea supplier comparison

Another Upton's fan. Their infusers & filters are good quality - http://www.uptontea.com/teaware-accesso ... s-filters/

For a variation on Earl Grey, try Upton's Saint Isaac's Blend. And their range of oolongs is amazing.
by MJS
Fri May 04, 2018 8:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Family vacationing
Replies: 41
Views: 4218

Re: Family vacationing

Consider taking the train from the nearest station to Chicago or St Louis or Atlanta - ask your kids. (Have them navigate the Amtrak website for a lesson in frustration.) Go carriage class (bring a cooler of food) and do history lessons on what trains were like 100 - 150 years ago: Wooden seats and ...
by MJS
Fri May 04, 2018 1:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Moving downtown Chicago. Should I sell my car?
Replies: 41
Views: 2770

Re: Moving downtown Chicago. Should I sell my car?

Sell the car ... one month after moving. During the first month when you're buying rugs or have to run back to the old neighborhood, a car is like insurance: expensive, hopefully unnecessary, but fantastic if you need it.
by MJS
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]
Replies: 126
Views: 6522

Re: Learning to drive stick

The Azores drive on the right side of the road, while the USA drives on the left. Combining stick with "wrong side" driving with local custom is very challenging. My car has a manual transmission, but I rented an automatic in New Zealand (Right side drivers). Having one less distraction was cheap in...
by MJS
Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:24 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Family trip, Southwest USA
Replies: 27
Views: 2346

Re: Family trip, Southwest USA

Instead of Amtrak, consider local scenic trains such as - Verde Canyon, near Sedona, Jerome - Grand Canyon Railway, from Williams to South Rim ... Amtrak's Southwest Chief leaves Flagstaff around 9pm, so it's pretty dark westbound. The eastbound arrives in Flagstaff around 4:30am, so only the last h...
by MJS
Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: BH travel tips?
Replies: 193
Views: 15243

Re: BH travel tips?

moehoward wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 am
many good ideas here, I'll try to add some:
-Whatapp (all europeans have WhatsApp)
Splendid list, moehoward!

[Note that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook & shares data with them. I decided that I would just have to use email to communicate with European friends. ]
by MJS
Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:47 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Good Dad, Bad Dad [pay for son's driving expenses (or not)]
Replies: 49
Views: 3820

Re: Good Dad, Bad Dad [pay for son's driving expenses (or not)]

Data makes decisions easier: Get a couple of quotes on car insurance comparing on-parental-policy vs teenager on his own. Get the campus parking costs & policies. $200/mo at (minimum wage minus taxes) is about 10 hours/week. Or, if the bus commute+wating for bus is 60 minutes each way, 5 days per we...
by MJS
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:27 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Total Cost of Car Ownership over 10 years
Replies: 40
Views: 3649

Re: Total Cost of Car Ownership over 10 years

Like Edmund's, Kelly Blue Book does 5 year cost of ownership
https://www.kbb.com/new-cars/total-cost-of-ownership/

In Arizona, it's $36, 441 for a Toyota Camry LE 2018.
by MJS
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Yellowstone time needed
Replies: 22
Views: 2455

Re: Yellowstone time needed

Given your limited time, consider leaving Thursday evening instead of Friday morning. Many of the Eastern sites can all be reached before 10pm by car. Take a redeye flight if flying.
by MJS
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cruises: How to Value Onboard Credit
Replies: 29
Views: 1817

Re: Cruises: How to Value Onboard Credit

Holland America has always refunded unexpended OBC to my credit card. CostCo has [historically] provided more OBC than other travel agencies/cruise lines ... and will match your best price for the cabin.
by MJS
Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Free 2017 Tax Software Suggestions
Replies: 12
Views: 506

Re: Free 2017 Tax Software Suggestions

patrick wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:32 pm
... Taxhawk (another name for Freetaxusa) .
+1 Freetaxusa / Taxhawk
by MJS
Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Persian Rug Passed Down From Grandmother
Replies: 28
Views: 2357

Re: Persian Rug Passed Down From Grandmother

If you have a smaller room where you would actually _love_ to use your grandmother's too-large Persian rug, consider having a professional remove a bit of the edges, then bind or fringe them. For heirlooms, sometimes love & usefulness are more important than investment value. Storing something you d...
by MJS
Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:44 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Parents have zero savings. What can I do?
Replies: 168
Views: 15928

Re: Parents have zero savings. What can I do?

No one else has mentioned (and it doesn't seem to apply in the OP's case,) but if the parents-in-law wasted their money buying expensive educations for the kids, providing professional & safe cars to the kids, paying for lavish weddings for the kids, funding 529s for the grandkids, and not rationall...
by MJS
Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:44 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tequila and Magaritas
Replies: 75
Views: 6878

Re: Tequila and Magaritas

Generally, I recommend that people setting up their home bar first add the ingredients for the 3-4 drinks they prefer, then add the 3-4 drinks their family & friends love most. Who exactly will you be serving margaritas to? If it's me... I like tequila -- & a bottled mix+Sauza margarita would be, ah...
by MJS
Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Convert attached carport to Living Space
Replies: 16
Views: 1384

Re: Convert attached carport to Living Space

If you plan to sell the house in three years, then the conversion will need to be up to code - not just "good enough for us." Garage, carport & patio floors usually lack the waterproof barrier & insulation required for living spaces. Check with your county/city/builder, not just your neighbor.