Search found 108 matches

by Gretchen
Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to find a reliable car service center?
Replies: 45
Views: 2358

Re: How to find a reliable car service center?

We've had great luck with https://www.cartalk.com/mechanics-files. We found them when a wheel bearing died on an out-of-town trip. Per Cartalk, there was a top-rated shop a few miles from our hotel. The owner told us that Friday was his usual day off, leaving his adult sons in charge and a bit under...
by Gretchen
Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:36 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Helping Kids with Home Purchase
Replies: 77
Views: 6167

Re: Helping Kids with Home Purchase

Thanks to everyone who provided input. Here's an update. -- They found a place where they have qualified for the mortgage on their current income without a co-signer. It's a townhome under construction, expecting to be complete in early summer. They've had a mid-construction walkthrough and it's on ...
by Gretchen
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:33 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Helping Kids with Home Purchase
Replies: 77
Views: 6167

Re: Helping Kids with Home Purchase

DH and I had a good talk with son and DIL yesterday. We figured out what amount they might qualify for on their own, assuming a bank would approve 3x, and that was actually more than they are comfortable paying. So they have no desire to add our income to qualify them for an even more unreasonable m...
by Gretchen
Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:25 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Helping Kids with Home Purchase
Replies: 77
Views: 6167

Re: Helping Kids with Home Purchase

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful replies. Re family tradition: my grandfather co-signed for my dad's mortgage, and then he and my aunt moved in upstairs. My dad "lent" me money toward the down payment and then told me not to bother repaying him. Re why we helped them so far: we co-signed for their ...
by Gretchen
Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:18 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Helping Kids with Home Purchase
Replies: 77
Views: 6167

Helping Kids with Home Purchase

We are likely to help our son (31) and DIL (28) buy their first house by co-signing so our income helps them qualify. I would be interested to hear what experience others have had. Better still, if there's a related thread I didn't find, I'd appreciate a pointer. Details: -- We can afford to help, a...
by Gretchen
Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Pre-paying mortgage only in early years
Replies: 51
Views: 3729

Re: Pre-paying mortgage only in early years

When we were working, we each maxed out our 401(K) and then threw a few extra dollars at the mortgage every month. We have an old ARM with four years to go, taken out before they figured out how to make them abusive. Instead of shortening the duration as with a fixed-rate mortgage, extra payments ca...
by Gretchen
Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Airbnb as side gig
Replies: 44
Views: 3184

Re: Airbnb as side gig

The first time we tried to rent through AirBnB, one of the prospective hosts contacted us to say she was sorry, but as a parent with a child at home she just couldn't take a chance on new guests without a track record. She was very gracious and we completely understood and agreed. We found a couple ...
by Gretchen
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:37 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What Happened to you during the Financial crisis of 2007–2008
Replies: 249
Views: 21901

Re: What Happened to you during the Financial crisis of 2007–2008

We were better off than many. We were about 60; DH was retired; and I was working at the peak of my earning power. I had held stock in my previous company, which sold in 2006 near the peak of the market, and put the proceeds in Vanguard. Money markets were paying decently at that time, and I didn't ...
by Gretchen
Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is good, quality luggage worth the price?
Replies: 94
Views: 7313

Re: Is good, quality luggage worth the price?

We're still in the duffel stage. I have two small ones that work as carryons, and two larger ones that can be checked. DH has an LL Bean carryon that he likes for T-shirts, socks, and underwear. We may be looking at soft-sided luggage with wheels once age catches up with us, but we aren't quite ther...
by Gretchen
Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:12 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question about qualified charitable distribution (QCD)
Replies: 11
Views: 691

Re: Question about qualified charitable distribution (QCD)

DH turned 70 1/2 this year, and I submitted the paperwork to his Fidelity IRA for the year's major charitable distributions just a few days later. Everything went off without a hitch. The only wrinkle would have been if we'd wanted to put more than $10K on a single form (we didn't). At that point, F...
by Gretchen
Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition
Replies: 110
Views: 13559

Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

I had an hour-long commute for over 20 years. If I could change one thing about how I've lived my life, I'd change jobs and get rid of the commute.

Also, don't think of housing costs alone. Calculate housing plus transportation when you add another car and commuting expenses.
by Gretchen
Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:01 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Developing Complete Plan for Windfall
Replies: 37
Views: 3300

Re: Developing Complete Plan for Windfall

[/quote] Personally, I'd like to be involved at a close level. Otherwise, I'd rather just pay the taxes. Not to knock charities, but there are quite some foul shenanigans that go on in the 501 world. Unless I can guarantee some level of transparency and oversight, it's not for me. Outsourcing charit...
by Gretchen
Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:46 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Socials Security taxes and Surcharges
Replies: 8
Views: 766

Re: Socials Security taxes and Surcharges

Check your state's taxation strategy so you get all the shocks out of the way at once. Our state (CA) does not tax SS, so those dollars are worth more to us than RMDs.
by Gretchen
Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:42 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Developing Complete Plan for Windfall
Replies: 37
Views: 3300

Re: Developing Complete Plan for Windfall

If you expect to want to make any charitable donations ever, check with your tax adviser on putting some of the new cash into a Charitable Gift Fund at Fidelity or Vanguard right up front. We chose Fidelity because of the lower startup cost, but you are in the league where Vanguard is an attractive ...
by Gretchen
Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [Financial] Habits of the Rich
Replies: 238
Views: 35998

Re: [Financial] Habits of the Rich

1. Two wage earners if it works for your family situation. It did for us, but it doesn't for many. 2. Fund your tax-deferred savings vehicles as early as possible. Then move toward maxing them out. 3. Buy a reasonable home. It's forced savings. 4. Have aging parents live with you if it works for you...
by Gretchen
Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do I need more than Original Medicare?
Replies: 110
Views: 6754

Re: Do I need more than Original Medicare?

We have Medicare and Anthem MedBlue, thank goodness. DH was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, and the combination of surgery plus chemotherapy totaled about $300K. Our share was less than $5K. His checkups so far have been fine, so he's back to spending money on camera equipment. He was actuall...
by Gretchen
Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: retirement travel: RVs vs fly/drive/hotel
Replies: 98
Views: 9810

Re: retirement travel: RVs vs fly/drive/hotel

I got really enchanted with the concept of the Class B motorhome after reading Live Your Road Trip Dream several years ago. I highly recommend the book for the huge amount of practical detail the authors include, including a detailed budget vs. actual for their year on the road. Enchantment met real...
by Gretchen
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: SocialSecurity.tools updated to include spousal benefits
Replies: 56
Views: 6303

Re: SocialSecurity.tools updated to include spousal benefits

Thank you for this! I'm taking spousal while deferring my own. Because I'm already receiving a benefit against my husband's earnings, ssa.gov doesn't let me see my own benefit options. Your tool let me evaluate whether to take my own yet or let it continue to grow. Since I was the higher earner, opt...
by Gretchen
Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:36 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Tax Diversification For Retirees
Replies: 10
Views: 1049

Re: Tax Diversification For Retirees

DH is 70 and I'm 67. I take care of money and investments, including tax planning. I found it helpful to look at our expected tax brackets at several points: retired pre-SS (living only on investments), retired with DH's SS plus my spousal SS, retired with DH's SS plus my spousal SS and DH's RMD, an...
by Gretchen
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:25 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Where to park emergency fund
Replies: 5
Views: 946

Re: Where to park emergency fund

Vanguard Prime Money Market (VMMXX) is currently yielding 2.15%. Federal (VMFXX) and Treasury (VUSXX) Money Markets are yielding 2.03%. Vanguard's tax-free municipal money market funds are inching up toward 1.5%. Any of these would be a good home for your emergency fund. You'll make a little somethi...
by Gretchen
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:16 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Former Employer Contracting Opportunity - Share Your Thoughts
Replies: 29
Views: 1768

Re: Former Employer Contracting Opportunity - Share Your Thoughts

The other day, I get a message from a VP asking if I would be interested in helping them out on a project. I am comfortably retired and don't need the extra money, so anything I earn would be "fun money". This must be going around! Three days ago, I got a call from my previous employer, asking if I...
by Gretchen
Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Just purchased the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler
Replies: 30
Views: 3897

Re: Just purchased the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler

We just passed our 2001 Jeep TJ on to our son with 260,000 miles on the clock. The new one is more of a toy. We have a Fiat 500 we use for everyday driving. DH started down the Jeep trail with a 1974 CJ-6, which we eventually sold for peanuts to an aficionado after it stopped working. After being J...
by Gretchen
Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:31 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Help me manage my day to day bills to save more!!
Replies: 45
Views: 3847

Re: Help me manage my day to day bills to save more!!

See if your electric provider has a time-of-day plan that could benefit you. We switched from flat rate per KW to time of day. In summer, electricity costs twice as much per KW from 2-8PM as it does at night (11PM-8AM), with a lesser saving from 8-11PM and 8AM-2PM. I run the dishwasher and the cloth...
by Gretchen
Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:44 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: You don't get all the rebates if you take the 0% financing
Replies: 18
Views: 2640

Re: You don't get all the rebates if you take the 0% financing

I've always paid cash for cars but was (incorrectly) thinking I might start tapping into my retirement savings (I'm 63 and retired) so I might save some money on taxes by taking the 0% loan and spreading the withdrawals over several years. We've taken a car loan for the same reason, to avoid tax br...
by Gretchen
Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Thank you from a widow
Replies: 24
Views: 4958

Re: Thank you from a widow

I'm so sorry for your loss. I found this forum a dozen years ago when my stock in my previous (privately-held) company suddenly sold for double the most I ever expected. Thanks to this forum, I invested with Vanguard, and we are now retired in comfort. Thank you for sharing your situation. You have ...
by Gretchen
Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:02 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should we temporarily reduce our retirement contributions in order to pay off our $400k mortgage in 7 years?
Replies: 83
Views: 7793

Re: Should we temporarily reduce our retirement contributions in order to pay off our $400k mortgage in 7 years?

I pretty much maxed out contributions to retirement accounts as soon as I had access, over the course of two rather long-term jobs. The account I started in my early 30's is worth almost 4x the account I started at age 50 after a job change, despite increasing contributions as my salary rose. DH sta...
by Gretchen
Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:45 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What is your single most expensive mistake?
Replies: 293
Views: 26864

Re: What is your single most expensive mistake?

Owning and operating inherited rental properties with family members. Came into the situation with family issues, effort in management was one-sided, and the situation ended up in a court-ordered partition by sale during a time period between the financial crisis and recovery that was sub optimal. ...
by Gretchen
Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: I see now why Rollovers can take FOREVER ....
Replies: 74
Views: 8522

Re: I see now why Rollovers can take FOREVER ....

Upon retirement, I rolled over my Schwab 401(K) to Vanguard. I called Vanguard and set up an empty Rollover IRA to receive the funds. Schwab had to liquidate my funds and physically send me a check (despite agreeing to do an electronic transfer). I sent the check to Vanguard by registered or certifi...
by Gretchen
Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:03 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How did you decide when to retire?
Replies: 54
Views: 8657

Re: How did you decide when to retire?

We both retired on timing not of our choosing, but fortunately we were ready anyway. DH was in the youth-oriented film business, and got eased out around age 60. He did some consulting the first year, and never worked for pay since. Now at age 70, he is now so busy with his photography that he wakes...
by Gretchen
Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:28 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: First Week of January West Coast Travel Options
Replies: 8
Views: 662

Re: First Week of January West Coast Travel Options

If you have only a week, I'd vote for Hawaii. Take into account not only travel time, but also jet lag. Costa Rica is also doable. It's lovely and safe. We went nonstop LAX-San Jose, Costa Rica a few years ago. Off topic, we happened to introduce our son to a young American teacher on that trip, and...
by Gretchen
Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:15 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Delaying Social Security Until 70
Replies: 115
Views: 10224

Re: Delaying Social Security Until 70

We took Social Security last year when DH was a few months past 69 and I turned 66. He took his own, and I took spousal. I was the higher lifetime earner, so I'm waiting till 70. We both have parents and grandparents who lived past 90, so we need the higher benefit as longevity insurance. Strictly s...
by Gretchen
Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you handle Healthcare costs in retirement
Replies: 31
Views: 2779

Re: How do you handle Healthcare costs in retirement

Yes, absolutely, do get a Medicare supplement. We have Anthem MedBlue Select HMO at a cost of $0 per month. I think they accomplish that by being the front end authorizer to Medicare. Anthem is pretty aggressive about reminding us about preventive care, which probably keeps short-term Medicare dolla...
by Gretchen
Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Best Checking Account?
Replies: 50
Views: 5017

Re: Best Checking Account?

I'm an outlier, apparently. We've had good service from Wells Fargo since they bought our previous bank some time in the 80's or early 90's. There are no service charges on anything. In addition to checking and two credit cards, we have a HELOC that we got with 0 fees, 0 points, and 0 closing costs ...
by Gretchen
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: TIAA "Vested Balance"
Replies: 4
Views: 371

Re: TIAA "Vested Balance"

DH is retired with TIAA/CREF. If you are seeing your contributions vs account current value, yes, current value should be a lot more. DH has about 6x his original contributions. If you are showing as not completely vested after all these years, there may be an administrative mistake that you should ...
by Gretchen
Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:04 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Comfort level with Credit Card Balance
Replies: 86
Views: 6116

Re: Comfort level with Credit Card Balance

We always pay the statement balance by the due date, except on a 0% interest card. On the 0% interest card, I pay double the minimum payment just because, and then pay it off completely in the couple of months before the 0% expires. We're currently on our third 0% card, and we use the added flexibil...
by Gretchen
Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Will you pay for your kids' college/graduate education?
Replies: 366
Views: 17035

Re: Will you pay for your kids' college/graduate education?

We paid for undergraduate, the same as my parents did for me. He's our only child and we were in our peak earning years, so it wasn't as hard as I'd originally expected. DS briefly flirted with the idea of graduate school in music, but he got sick of school and went on the road performing right afte...
by Gretchen
Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Minivan Vs SUV Experience
Replies: 128
Views: 9677

Re: Minivan Vs SUV Experience

We have a 2013 Toyota Sienna rock-bottom model (manual doors and no luggage rack), purchased when we were 60-something empty-nesters, and love it. We did a two-week Western National Parks blitz trip in it three years ago, carrying six adults and our bags. We've been all over the US in it, and the re...
by Gretchen
Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:45 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Anyone regret paying off mortgage early?
Replies: 505
Views: 130242

Re: Anyone regret paying off mortgage early?

We have an old ARM that we took out before they became abusive. The interest rate on the remaining $23K is 4.5%, adjusting next January, with a little over four years to completion. We have always paid a little extra principal every month, and also maxed out both of our retirement accounts. We could...
by Gretchen
Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:25 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: What’s your plan for a market downturn?
Replies: 114
Views: 10989

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

Do a Roth conversion of $10K stock from my IRA while the price is depressed. Why $10K? We're retired, so we can't fund a Roth from earned income. The tax on $10K is acceptable, and we'd probably get it back in tax-free appreciation at some point. It's big enough to be interesting, and small relative...
by Gretchen
Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: SS taken at 62 vs. 70, but measured from 70+
Replies: 189
Views: 12650

Re: SS taken at 62 vs. 70, but measured from 70+

Two more things to consider. -- If you choose to defer, you can change that decision at any point. Before you turn 62, it's a purely theoretical decision that you can't act on yet. Once you turn 62, you ask yourself at any given time, "Do I want to file this month, or wait till later?" You don't nee...
by Gretchen
Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:11 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retirement Destination - are you happy with your choice?
Replies: 127
Views: 17317

Re: Retirement Destination - are you happy with your choice?

We had that conversation many times and always ended up with, "Why leave? We're already here!" We live in the foothills north of LA, almost always above the smog layer. We bought our house in 1985, pre-Proposition 13, so our property taxes are only double what we paid in our first year -- very affor...
by Gretchen
Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:00 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Social Security advice needed
Replies: 28
Views: 2354

Re: Social Security advice needed

Check on whether your state taxes Social Security. We are in CA, which does not, so that made waiting an even better investment for us. DH took his a year ago January at age 69.3, and I started spousal a month later upon turning 66. I'll probably wait all the way to age 70 because I had higher lifet...
by Gretchen
Mon May 28, 2018 7:38 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please help with grocery budget
Replies: 51
Views: 4902

Re: Please help with grocery budget

Diet Coke can be bought in 2-liter bottles for under $1 when on sale. DH loves his bubbles, so he drinks only about the first third of the bottle. Then it goes flattish and he throws it out. I've spent 34 years of marriage trying to outwit his Diet Coke habit, and cheap twelve-packs seem to be the ...
by Gretchen
Mon May 28, 2018 7:31 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Please help. Private school contract woes.
Replies: 21
Views: 4562

Re: Please help. Private school contract woes.

Anjou – I’m on the Board of an independent (=private) school in CA, so I can tell you a little from the school’s point of view. Tuition constitutes from 70% to over 80% of the typical independent school’s budget. Coming in even one student below projection constitutes a budget problem. If the school...
by Gretchen
Sat May 26, 2018 8:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please help with grocery budget
Replies: 51
Views: 4902

Re: Please help with grocery budget

I cut our grocery bill down somewhat by doing two things. First, I identified inexpensive foods that we like (such as carrots, bananas, tofu, dried beans, and eggs) and planned to eat more of them. Second, I identified one high-leverage item to concentrate on. DH loves Diet Coke (hey, he's 70, this ...
by Gretchen
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them
Replies: 27
Views: 3438

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

I recommend a behavioral approach. 1) Pick something relatively inexpensive that will make both of you happy. Do that first to reward yourselves for getting the emergency fund done, and to establish some momentum. 2) Alphabetize your list. Then examine it and see if any of the ordering makes you rea...
by Gretchen
Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Backpacking in Guatemala and El Salvador?
Replies: 31
Views: 3699

Re: Backpacking in Guatemala and El Salvador?

DH and I went to El Salvador as volunteer election observers a few years ago, working through a well-respected El Salvadoran-US organization, Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS). We had a basic hotel with an armed guard outside the front door. We had a group bus under CIS sponsorship for all l...
by Gretchen
Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:47 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What kind of hotel do you get on business travel?
Replies: 44
Views: 4800

Re: What kind of hotel do you get on business travel?

I stick with Marriott for business and the Choice Hotel family for personal travel. If you pay and get reimbursed, be sure to get and use your hotel chain's branded credit card for your hotel stays. The points stack up fast! I find that hotel points are more valuable than airline points. Hotels char...
by Gretchen
Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:39 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Retired Boglehead obsession with money- devil's advocate
Replies: 66
Views: 9468

Re: Retired Boglehead obsession with money- devil's advocate

Because if you spend at the rate that gives you a high probability of success for a 30-year retirement, you come to believe that you will live for another 30 years.
by Gretchen
Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anybody try out Sodastream?
Replies: 32
Views: 4850

Re: Anybody try out Sodastream?

I use mine for combination drinks -- half OJ and half seltzer water is really good. For diet drinks, drop a bit of Crystal Light powder into your glass and add the seltzer. If there are young children in your life, old enough to use a Sodastream and young enough to be easily amused, let them make th...