Search found 325 matches

by gtaylor
Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Worx 20v battery leaf blower
Replies: 4
Views: 530

Re: Worx 20v battery leaf blower

I have a few worx 20V things. It is convenient to have several and therefore the several batteries from them all. The leaf blower is indeed not very good, I mostly use it to sweep the garage and driveway (for which it is actually perfect). The standard battery lasts about five minutes on high. Low c...
by gtaylor
Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How long have you had, or did you have, your HP-12C calculator?
Replies: 72
Views: 2792

Re: How long have you had, or did you have, your HP-12C calculator?

If anyone wants a shiny new one, check out the clones from https://www.swissmicros.com/ I use a hex/oct/bin "programmer" calculator in my work, so I want to buy one of his HP-16 clones. Sadly he seems to be sold out of that one. He has most of the landscape line HP-15 and siblings, in normal size an...
by gtaylor
Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:51 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dehumidifier and humidity meter recommendations
Replies: 25
Views: 1957

Re: Dehumidifier and humidity meter recommendations

You can get a digital thermostat/humidistat at Lowes/HomeDepot. Look for one that shows current values and the min/max from the last 24 hours, this is good enough to put in in a few spots around the basement and understand what to do. Humidistats in general aren't very good, so expect a variation of...
by gtaylor
Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:40 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Need Health Insurance (Non-ACA Options)
Replies: 80
Views: 5588

Re: Need Health Insurance (Non-ACA Options)

ACA plans will cost my family of 4 over $20,000 per year before we even take into account the over $12,000 deductible. To me this is outrageous, and I am looking into alternatives. I am considering short term plans, church plans, placing the kids on CHIP and not getting insurance for my wife and me...
by gtaylor
Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:04 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Elderly Relative Short on Money
Replies: 98
Views: 8934

Re: Elderly Relative Short on Money

On the expense side in MA, there are subsidies available for heat and electricity: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-home-heating-and-energy-assistance The tests are I think income only, so your mother seems like she would qualify. Probably even with any of the suggested low skill jobs she ought...
by gtaylor
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone have experience with au pairs?
Replies: 21
Views: 4290

Re: Anyone have experience with au pairs?

This depends a lot on the Au Pair but in general the program is meant for 'cultural exchange' and not for lower cost child care or replacing US jobs :-). Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like Au Pair may not be for us. Although I feel there must be many Au Pairs who just want to come to US and ex...
by gtaylor
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:19 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone have experience with au pairs?
Replies: 21
Views: 4290

Re: Anyone have experience with au pairs?

We had au pairs for a couple years recently, and it was very successful. The sort of cross between an exchange student and a nanny was really great for our family. We're in the suburbs in a snowy area, so there was lots of driving, and therefore we selected German girls with some driving experience ...
by gtaylor
Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:50 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Capital gain, safe harbor rule, AMT: advice
Replies: 22
Views: 1136

Re: Capital gain, safe harbor rule, AMT: advice

Schedule AI is a theoretical answer for your situation. If you pay uneven estimated taxes you are supposed to fill out Schedule AI to avoid penalty. But! AI is a bad answer for you, since you would probably end up paying more now than vs the safe harbor amount. Furthermore Schedule AI is an insane n...
by gtaylor
Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:16 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Portable Inverter Generator vs Standby Generator
Replies: 78
Views: 4346

Re: Portable Inverter Generator vs Standby Generator

I've got an EU7000is, which I bought to replace an older Kubota 5500. We seem to have more outages than you, every few years there will be a day or more outage, sometimes up to a week, and usually in winter. The thing is smooth running, quiet, etc. It is fuel-injected unlike most other generators, a...
by gtaylor
Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dehumidifier for humid basement. I want one that lasts.
Replies: 37
Views: 11086

Re: Dehumidifier for humid basement. I want one that lasts.

I also have a Friedrich dehumidifier. I bought it on the strength of my experience with their air conditioners. They are the speed queen of window air conditioners, solid construction, made in the US, etc. Apparently they make them for the army. So if you want a window AC this is the company. The Fr...
by gtaylor
Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Household Employee - Tax Withholding and Payment Questions
Replies: 2
Views: 356

Re: Household Employee - Tax Withholding and Payment Questions

We have an occasional babysitter for days when my wife has freelance work ... ... tax deferred flexible spending account for dependent care ... Not sure if this applies to your wife's gigs, but the fine print on dependent care as well as the related child care tax credit requires the expense to be ...
by gtaylor
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Household Employee - Tax Withholding and Payment Questions
Replies: 2
Views: 356

Re: Household Employee - Tax Withholding and Payment Questions

Oops! Is EFTPS the appropriate site to pay employer taxes from 2017? Not for a domestic. You can pay all the tax due with your regular tax return using Form 1040 Schedule H. See those instructions. Am I going to be substantially dinged for not paying employer taxes in Q1-Q3 of 2017 - I am unsure if ...
by gtaylor
Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Nanny tax for multiple part-time nannies / babysitters
Replies: 8
Views: 777

Re: Nanny tax for multiple part-time nannies / babysitters

I did this when we had twin babies. It's a pain in the rear to have many small-time employees. As you figure it out, figure out how to implement everything with once-per-year reporting / paying rather than on a per paycheck basis. This saves a lot of work. Similarly, it will be much better to have f...
by gtaylor
Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Who has had a pool?
Replies: 79
Views: 5393

Re: Who has had a pool?

Once you know how pools work, you will never be able to trust community or hotel pools again. They need to do nearly as much to keep the chemical balance correct, and do you really think the teenager who checks your pool pass while he's on his phone is up to that? No. Our community pool on a 4th of...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Are 100-year old homes junk?
Replies: 62
Views: 3119

Re: Are 100-year old homes junk?

Some of my coworkers are first generation immigrants, and they all seem to prefer new construction. I guess the theory is that it will be trouble-free, but that's wishful thinking at best, and I expect many of them know that now... In practice, the *building*, if maintained, will last arbitrarily lo...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Humidifier input please
Replies: 48
Views: 3457

Re: Home Humidifier input please

The water quality can be a real hassle. And as others suggested be sure you air seal as much as you can, that'll make a big difference if your house isn't working as a chimney sucking in 0% humidity air from outside all the time as warm moist air escapes through all the cracks. Also if you end up wi...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:23 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What unexpected emergencies require sizeable emergency cash funds available immediately in a checking account?
Replies: 95
Views: 9349

Re: What unexpected emergencies require sizeable emergency cash funds available immediately in a checking account?

I'm right in the middle of one of these situations. Due to a mix of stupid on my part and stupid in the credit card bank software, I accidentally paid my credit card bill twice on the same day. This left my checking account with approximately zero dollars. Very awkward. And it is an online bank so t...
by gtaylor
Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Public and Private Schools in MA - your experience
Replies: 13
Views: 1737

Re: Public and Private Schools in MA - your experience

These are all amongst the highest rated school systems in the State ( as well as all the other school systems you mentioned) It's probably worth mentioning that MA schools are often rated as among the best in the US, so in some sense you're looking at the best of the best. On national lists of scho...
by gtaylor
Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations
Replies: 49
Views: 5619

Re: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations

I was a huge fan of Brooks Brothers “must iron” Supima oxford cotton button down (OCBD) shirts [...] I'm also on the look out for a new source of oxford button downs. Definitely try Mercer and Sons. Everything Brooks' OCBDs used to be, and better. How do you size them compared to BB? Also with BB's...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:53 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: HMO Blue vs. Preferred Blue PPO
Replies: 10
Views: 770

Re: HMO Blue vs. Preferred Blue PPO

Not sure about the referral thing, although specialists sometimes ask us about it, since so many people are in the same boat. For anything routine, I think it's just a routine waste of time. It's when you have something interesting and want a second or third opinion that things get interesting. At o...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 26, have a job, now what?! Seeking advice!
Replies: 43
Views: 2562

Re: 26, have a job, now what?! Seeking advice!

Thank you for giving me a direct strategy. My question with it (because that is what i was doing until recently) is that realistically if I put all my savings and start maxing out my payment toward my loan that'll be like ~6mo away. From then, I have to save up 30-50 K for a down payment on a house...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 26, have a job, now what?! Seeking advice!
Replies: 43
Views: 2562

Re: 26, have a job, now what?! Seeking advice!

What is the market value of the rent you'd be able to charge for the small house? I'm no real estate expert, but feel like I've read on this forum that ideally at a minimum you'd want monthly rent to be 1% of the home's market value (and ideally at least 2% to be "making money" on the rental - mayb...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations
Replies: 49
Views: 5619

Re: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations

I was a huge fan of Brooks Brothers “must iron” Supima oxford cotton button down (OCBD) shirts [...] I'm also on the look out for a new source of oxford button downs. Definitely try Mercer and Sons. Everything Brooks' OCBDs used to be, and better. The shirts looks good. But boy their website could ...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:35 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations
Replies: 49
Views: 5619

Re: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations

stimulacra wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:44 am
I was a huge fan of Brooks Brothers “must iron” Supima oxford cotton button down (OCBD) shirts [...]

I'm also on the look out for a new source of oxford button downs.
Definitely try Mercer and Sons. Everything Brooks' OCBDs used to be, and better.
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 26, have a job, now what?! Seeking advice!
Replies: 43
Views: 2562

Re: 26, have a job, now what?! Seeking advice!

One suggestion for where to put which money: you can put money for a home down payment into your IRAs. This will keep those earnings tax deferred until you do buy a house, whenever that is, and will also keep you from spending that money on anything else. For a regular IRA, you can withdraw up to 10...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:51 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations
Replies: 49
Views: 5619

Re: Men's MUST iron dress shirt recommendations

I hate them, too. It's not a rash I get, it's that the cross-linked fibers inherent in the formaldahyde treatment makes the cotton not breathe, so the shirts are hot and stuffy. I don't understand how so many men put up with these abominations. On the bright side, a lot of true dress shirts, as oppo...
by gtaylor
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:52 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Kenmore Washer Dryer
Replies: 29
Views: 2010

Re: Kenmore Washer Dryer

I think most libraries get Consumer Reports, including the online stuff. We just type in our card number at the sooper-sekret library portal and it's all there. We replaced our dead washer last year. After some research, we found that a) all of these machines have been cost reduced to the point that...
by gtaylor
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:43 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: MA 529
Replies: 3
Views: 353

Re: MA 529

No, it is too late for 2017, at least according to the saving for college website: http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/529-plan-contribution-deadlines-for-state-tax-benefits-877?page=2 I ended up transferring my 529 entirely from Utah, just to keep the account count down. This was not complicat...
by gtaylor
Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: MA Short Term Capital Gains Rate (12%) and Stock Options
Replies: 7
Views: 803

Re: MA Short Term Capital Gains Rate (12%) and Stock Options

I'm hoping I'm way off base. That is what I am trying to determine. I have a colleague whose company got bought out (in MA) and was complaining about her tax hit and "not being able to retire early". I've reached out to her for direct feedback. At a high level though I guess I'm inquiring if option...
by gtaylor
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: MA Short Term Capital Gains Rate (12%) and Stock Options
Replies: 7
Views: 803

Re: MA Short Term Capital Gains Rate (12%) and Stock Options

Odd, what bit of code or instructions are you looking at? I am not aware of any special treatment under MA law for an options same day exercise, there was no such thing in 2008 at least, and there would have been an uproar from the local startup community if it were floated. For a same day exercise,...
by gtaylor
Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:56 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard not letting me convert $5500 tira to backdoor roth?
Replies: 9
Views: 1896

Re: Vanguard not letting me convert $5500 tira to backdoor roth?

Six of one, I guess. If only they would get mobile check deposit on the brokerage accounts. You'd think that would be a standard feature at this point, it's got to save them (us!) some envelope opening expense. You cannot directly transfer from your bank account into your Traditional IRA? My compla...
by gtaylor
Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:12 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Dependent Care Reimbursement Account
Replies: 7
Views: 590

Re: Dependent Care Reimbursement Account

Yes, As Wyatt said, you submit a form to get reimbursed. If your dependent care will be regularly paid, some FSA programs allow you to submit a form for periodic payments once and then they'll automagically reimburse you every pay cycle forever as the dollars become available. We did this for our au...
by gtaylor
Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:02 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard not letting me convert $5500 tira to backdoor roth?
Replies: 9
Views: 1896

Re: Vanguard not letting me convert $5500 tira to backdoor roth?

I just did this. As suggested, it took only a day or two before the convert button worked. The dollars did become available for the conversion several days before the "unavailable shares" end date, and now the same dollars are documented as unavailable in my Roth. It appears that the brokerage settl...
by gtaylor
Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Washington DC Trip
Replies: 25
Views: 2668

Re: Washington DC Trip

That's an OK plan. We did essentially this over the summer with the kids, stayed in Falls Church at a hotel with a shuttle to the Metro. Worked OK. It was better the trip before when I stayed in Arlington a block from that Metro station and had much shorter train ride into town. The private tourist ...
by gtaylor
Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:10 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: PostDoc Grant - No W/H, Didn't Pay Estimated Taxes
Replies: 23
Views: 2581

Re: PostDoc Grant - No W/H, Didn't Pay Estimated Taxes

Could one even have the entire "rollover" withheld (Fed plus state taxes) and then re-deposit "all of it" within 60 days? (This of course assumes one hasn't already done the "once per year" that year already.) The "IRA Distribution Kit" form from Vanguard lets you write in any percentage you want, ...
by gtaylor
Sun Oct 08, 2017 5:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: PostDoc Grant - No W/H, Didn't Pay Estimated Taxes
Replies: 23
Views: 2581

Re: PostDoc Grant - No W/H, Didn't Pay Estimated Taxes

I'm actually in the same situation, with net pay through December of roughly zero dollars due to a withholding muddle over the summer. There is another method nobody mentioned, which can sometimes be used to generate large amounts of withholding late in the year when you hit one of these "whoops" si...
by gtaylor
Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help selling scion xa
Replies: 44
Views: 4456

Re: Help selling scion xa

When you settle on a price, go to the buyer's bank to finish the transaction. Have them issue you a bank/cashier's check. Stand next to the buyer when they're at the teller window. That way you know for sure the check is good. Don't accept a "cashier's check" if you're not with them at their bank w...
by gtaylor
Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:10 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: UPS plug problem
Replies: 8
Views: 1241

Re: UPS plug problem

You might prefer the 1 foot ones. The six inch ones with a transformer hanging on it may not hang down enough for the transformer to be resting on something. I would not trust US plugs to hold the full weight of larger wall warts pulling straight out on the blades instead of perpendicular as with a ...
by gtaylor
Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:55 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Help me decide how my Fidelity 2% Cashback rewards should be invested plz.
Replies: 20
Views: 2489

Re: Help me decide how my Fidelity 2% Cashback rewards should be invested plz.

If you are a MA resident with <= college age children, the 529 answer is a very good one. Fidelity operates the MA state 529 plan. So the 2% rebate can be automatically deposited. Also, effective with tax year 2017, MA allows deduction of these contributions from state income tax. In practice my spe...
by gtaylor
Thu May 25, 2017 4:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Insulating Walls - Worth it?
Replies: 44
Views: 7746

Re: Insulating Walls - Worth it?

Hi, I've done this twice recently, in Massachusetts via MassSave, including in a condo situation. For the condo one, the siding could not be removed because it is asbestos, however the subsidized program was happy to install very deep blown cellulose in the attic (and air seal the attic). This made ...
by gtaylor
Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:31 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Necessary to repair termite damaged woods?
Replies: 6
Views: 2492

Re: Necessary to repair termite damaged woods?

I can't imagine just doing some putty and leaving it, both houses I've had with termite issues turned out to have much more damage than was visible without taking apart that area of the house. Having done the repair, the termite people can treat the new wood before it is covered up, and the new cons...
by gtaylor
Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:01 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Tuition or 401k at 49?
Replies: 7
Views: 1046

Re: Tuition or 401k at 49?

Well, you've got two goals: retirement, and a math degree. The state of your retirement savings is slightly unclear, although you say you started saving late, you might have had lucky growth or not; and your earnings history overall will dictate your social security income come age 62-70. Regardless...
by gtaylor
Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:45 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Intercom Upgrade / Replacement
Replies: 7
Views: 2099

Re: Home Intercom Upgrade / Replacement

I haven't seen one of those since the house I grew up in many decades ago! On the other hand, I have kids, and we do have an intercom capability, without the antique-seeming intercom system. Turns out that many voip phones support paging and auto-answer speakerphone functions. So that is what we use...
by gtaylor
Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Can't get a really good scan of a black-and-white photo
Replies: 15
Views: 1525

Re: Can't get a really good scan of a black-and-white photo

Yes, an expert service is probably the best thing. Certainly if you just want one copy. If you're keen anyway or want to play around at a prosumer / stubborn engineer level: The least bad way with a regular flatbed scanner would be to take a series of monochrome scans. Typically this uses the green ...
by gtaylor
Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Buying my own life, disability, & unemployment insurance?
Replies: 7
Views: 1008

Re: Buying my own life, disability, & unemployment insurance?

On the startup theme, I think they're a bit off-kilter if the plan is to offer no benefits to speak of. Not having the usual suite of cafeteria benefits will make it difficult to hire, and if there's one thing about startups, you've got to hire the right people. While on seed and certainly pre-incor...
by gtaylor
Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:46 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Anyone here knowledgeable about heating degree days?
Replies: 9
Views: 1086

Re: Anyone here knowledgeable about heating degree days?

The industry does really use hdd as a basis for things, so it's at least somewhat workable. The example usage I see is the "K factor" used by oil companies to schedule heating oil delivery. The value of K is simply degree days per gallon. For a while it was printed on our bills; regardless any heati...
by gtaylor
Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:59 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone have a house keeper ("Mommy's" helper)?
Replies: 23
Views: 3181

Re: Anyone have a house keeper?

We had an assortment of mother's helpers and/or part time nannies when the twins were babies. Mostly teenagers, but also one grandmother. Finding a good person is difficult, and with the teenagers in particular there is high turnover. Now we have an au pair. This is a live-in college-aged foreigner ...
by gtaylor
Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hydronic heating: radiant floor vs panels
Replies: 6
Views: 872

Re: Hydronic heating: radiant floor vs panels

I dunno about radiant under wood as a retrofit, wouldn't it be a little thick? I have baseboard radiators and the kitchen is radiant under tile. Nice warm floor, nice steady temperature in the kitchen. My radiant zone does take forever to warm up or cool down. This is sort of the point, but if you d...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:52 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Are two in one Washer/Dryer combos a thing?
Replies: 17
Views: 4000

Re: Are two in one Washer/Dryer combos a thing?

We have one in the kitchen of my mother's cottage. There was no other way to get all laundry functions on one level inside the living space. The washer works fine, it's a conventional front load eco washing machine mechanism. The dryer works, but slowly. The drying capacity is about half the washer ...
by gtaylor
Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Getting rid of mice
Replies: 94
Views: 8032

Re: Getting rid of mice

We (and a few neighbors) have had a pest (well, "wildlife") guy do a bunch of "mouse exclusion". This consists of crawling all over the exterior of the house with metal screening and some heavy spray foam to block all the entrances. Took the guy quite a while, but after the last few were trapped ins...