Search found 122 matches

by Gretchen
Wed Dec 16, 2020 10:21 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: The pros and cons of gifting money to children early?
Replies: 155
Views: 9782

Re: The pros and cons of gifting money to children early?

In mid 2019, we gifted 30-ish son and DIL the down payment on their three-bedroom townhome. The condition was that they had to qualify on their own for a payment they felt they could handle. (Thanks to this forum for discouraging us from co-signing!) We had a special reason for doing this. Husband w...
by Gretchen
Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: medicare without supplement
Replies: 41
Views: 3402

Re: medicare without supplement

I totally agree that extra coverage is a must. Husband had a three-year battle with colon cancer, which he ultimately lost. This involved surgery, two rounds of chemo, two exploratory surgeries to see if specialized treatments could work, two five-day hospitalizations for complications, and five wee...
by Gretchen
Thu Nov 12, 2020 12:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: If your net worth is over $3 million, how did you do it?
Replies: 523
Views: 135048

Re: If your net worth is over $3 million, how did you do it?

Stock in a closely-held company. Neither of us was very sophisticated about finance. By the time I learned I shouldn't have left so much of our net worth in a single company, it had sold as a twenty-bagger. Bought a house in SoCal before the big run-up. Bought Apple at 12 in my IRA. Put the max into...
by Gretchen
Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Vacationing safely in the era of Covid - How did you do it?
Replies: 124
Views: 9913

Re: Vacationing safely in the era of Covid - How did you do it?

We would like to spend a week or so at the beach this fall staying in a hotel or rented house (no RV). But we are concerned about how to be virus safe. There is information online about this situation. However I would like to hear from folks who have vacationed safely and what they did to be safe. ...
by Gretchen
Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:34 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Calm Post - Stay the course thread.
Replies: 529
Views: 50515

Re: The Calm Post - Stay the course thread.

I can see a retiree having some angst over this, everyone else...meh We're retired, ages 69 (me) and 72 (DH). Rather than having a specific AA in mind, I have five rules. 1) If the market is subjectively high, take all IRA distributions from stock. 2) Make all charitable donations as Qualified Char...
by Gretchen
Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Roth conversion planning in a bear market
Replies: 63
Views: 4448

Re: Roth conversion planning in a bear market

... This specific example is intended to illustrate the general (theoretical) question about revisiting Roth conversion strategies to take advantage of a large market drop. Most of us don't plan such drops, but we realize that they do happen and assume that a recovery will follow during the next ye...
by Gretchen
Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: When did (will) your accumulation phase end?
Replies: 36
Views: 3458

Re: When did (will) your accumulation phase end?

We are trying to decumulate in retirement, but the market is currently outrunning our spending.
by Gretchen
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:39 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: HELOC or not?
Replies: 33
Views: 2017

Re: HELOC or not?

I'm very happy that we got a HELOC right before I retired in late 2014. DH had retired several years prior. Our cash flow requirements are averaging around 4% of our portfolio, but our needs are lumpy. When we're right below a tax bracket bump, it's often cheaper to take a one-year fixed on the HELO...
by Gretchen
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Examples of Low Tech Improving Your Life
Replies: 216
Views: 19421

Re: Examples of Low Tech Improving Your Life

Low-tech: I got a cast-iron skillet a year ago and I love it. Our old nonstick skillets are now just for unusually complex meals that need more than one. This doesn't happen often. We've always had manual thermostats, one each upstairs and down, mostly off. We have a very well-insulated house in SoC...
by Gretchen
Fri Jan 31, 2020 6:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: For those of you that include your vehicle(s) in your net worth, how do you determine its value?
Replies: 66
Views: 2769

Re: For those of you that include your vehicle(s) in your net worth, how do you determine its value?

HoosierJim wrote: Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:03 am Just as some people on this site, we drive our cars until they don't move anymore so the asset value depends on how much gas is in the tank.
We had a car that was so old that it had a negative value, even with a full tank. My goal is to get there with the current vehicles as well.
by Gretchen
Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Considering an iPad. Is it worth it?
Replies: 116
Views: 7197

Re: Considering an iPad. Is it worth it?

My wife too, although she bought it herself. I would feel the same way as you if she were watching cat videos, but she's reading the same books she used to read on paper. Now she can get any book she wants much quicker than paper books from the library, change the font and look up the definition of...
by Gretchen
Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:24 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Life advice for recent graduate
Replies: 67
Views: 5321

Re: Life advice for recent graduate

First, the obvious ones. 1. Marry someone who makes you happy. If you have any taste for dramatic, conflict-filled romance, get it out of the way early. Then marry someone who makes you happy. 2. Do work you enjoy and are good at. You are going to spend a lot of time doing it. 3. If you want childre...
by Gretchen
Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:55 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: SECURE Act and RMDs
Replies: 62
Views: 7023

Re: SECURE Act and RMDs

dodecahedron wrote: Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:28 am
Gretchen wrote: Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:16 am Did the QCD age go up to 72 along with the RMD age?
No. Or, as the Kitces blog puts it, "An emphatic no." QCD age remains 70 1/2.
Thanks for this. I'd been hunting around and couldn't find the answer.
by Gretchen
Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:16 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: SECURE Act and RMDs
Replies: 62
Views: 7023

Re: SECURE Act and RMDs

We have been using DH's IRA to make Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) for the full RMD amount since he turned 70 1/2. We have several organizations we want to support. I intended to switch to using my own IRA for QCDs when I turn 70 1/2 in a couple of years. This doesn't matter for our financ...
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: 2963

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: 6859

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: 6859

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: 6859

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 ...
by Gretchen
Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:18 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Helping Kids with Home Purchase
Replies: 77
Views: 6859

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: 4077

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: 3381

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: 23800

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: 8013

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: 786

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: 14241

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: 3517

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: 808

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: 3517

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: 37664

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: 7715

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: 10537

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: 65
Views: 8575

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: 1096

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: 1082

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: 1883

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, a...
by Gretchen
Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Just purchased the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler
Replies: 30
Views: 4084

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: 3980

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: 2782

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: 5113

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: 8221

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: 28687

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: 9360

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: 9165

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: 727

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: 11252

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: 2868

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: 6335

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: 440

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: 6527

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: 17987

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...