Search found 87 matches

by LeftCoast
Mon Jun 01, 2020 2:28 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling a house - should it be staged or left empty?
Replies: 48
Views: 4068

Re: Selling a house - should it be staged or left empty?

My brother and I bought, renovated and sold a condo in a HCOL area in Southern California. We looked into staging, but it was very expensive, and had a three month minimum. We decided on virtual staging. The pictures looked surprisingly good. When people came to visit, they saw the empty unit and co...
by LeftCoast
Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:32 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Put checking accounts in living revocable trusts?
Replies: 47
Views: 8146

Re: Put checking accounts in living revocable trusts?

Our checking account has been in the name of our living trust for the last 25 years. We've never had a problem. We expect that our structure will avoid probate and function well in the event one or both of us becomes disabled. You should never rely upon a bank to honor a Power of Attorney to take co...
by LeftCoast
Fri May 22, 2020 3:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Better to rent through Airbnb or VRBO?
Replies: 10
Views: 916

Re: Better to rent through Airbnb or VRBO?

We had the same experience -- a vacation rental that was available on both Airbnb and VRBO. The price and fees were about the same. However, the cancellation policy was much better through Airbnb, so we booked through that site. Not sure if these policies have changed since COVID-19.
by LeftCoast
Sat May 16, 2020 10:41 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Self-Transferring Real Estate into Revocable Trusts
Replies: 3
Views: 242

Re: Self-Transferring Real Estate into Revocable Trusts

I'm not in Virginia, but in my state, I would recommend getting professional help in drafting and recording the deed. In my state, if you mess up the deed, the result could be (1) a reassessment of your home for property tax purposes, (2) a large transfer tax when recording the deed, and (3) voiding...
by LeftCoast
Tue May 12, 2020 1:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Asking renter to obtain renter's insurance; what benefits to highlight?
Replies: 18
Views: 944

Re: Asking renter to obtain renter's insurance; what benefits to highlight?

I've always advised my tenants that "my insurance doesn't cover your stuff." Most tenants these days have expensive laptops, phones, TVs, etc. I think most policies also contain "off premises" coverage, in case their laptop is stolen from a hotel room, etc. Also, renter's insurance is really inexpen...
by LeftCoast
Wed May 06, 2020 1:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 2020 travel plans
Replies: 95
Views: 4430

Re: 2020 travel plans

We had big travel plans for this year -- Spain and Italy in May (as in today), and London in September. Both trips cancelled. Got refunds on flights and lodging, but could only get credits for train fares in Italy. Not going on any significant trip until there is a vaccine.
by LeftCoast
Sat May 02, 2020 6:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Coronavirus Flight Cancel Thread
Replies: 224
Views: 13357

Re: Coronavirus Flight Cancel Thread

Air New Zealand cancelled my flight from L.A. to London scheduled for September (they have decided to discontinue the route). I called their toll-free number to ask for a refund. They picked up immediately, and they approved a full refund without an issue. Three days later, the refund showed up on m...
by LeftCoast
Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Coronavirus Flight Cancel Thread
Replies: 224
Views: 13357

Re: Coronavirus Flight Cancel Thread

In January I booked a non-refundable flight from Madrid, Spain to Bologna, Italy for mid-May on Iberia Airlines. Last week I received an email saying that the flight had been cancelled. I called Iberia today, and the rep said that I could either (1) reschedule the flight, or (2) get a credit that i...
by LeftCoast
Thu Apr 23, 2020 5:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: DAF - Vanguard or Fidelity? (donor advised fund)
Replies: 35
Views: 3642

Re: DAF - Vanguard or Fidelity? (donor advised fund)

A significant distinction between the two DAFs, and one that I've not seen mentioned in this thread, is the minimum size of the grant to a charity. The Fidelity DAF will distribute as little as $50, while Vanguard Charitable requires $500 or more. $500 eliminates a LOT of small "spontaneous" donati...
by LeftCoast
Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Zoom meetings
Replies: 39
Views: 3139

Re: Zoom meetings

I have a related Q - for those of us who do not have a mic and camera installed on our desk top computer, what do you recommend we purchase to add to our computer so we have zoom access via mic and camera? We are able to hear what's on zoom via our computer speakers, and we can type into zoom to pa...
by LeftCoast
Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: If you had to buy one new car which of these three would you buy Corolla, Camry or Prius? You only have these three to
Replies: 131
Views: 6159

Re: If you had to buy one new car which of these three would you buy Corolla, Camry or Prius? You only have these three

We recently looked at all three, and bought the 2020 Camry.

The new Camry replaced a 2000 Camry that had been a solid performer.
by LeftCoast
Tue Apr 14, 2020 3:12 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Coronavirus Flight Cancel Thread
Replies: 224
Views: 13357

Re: Coronavirus Flight Cancel Thread

In January I booked a non-refundable flight from Madrid, Spain to Bologna, Italy for mid-May on Iberia Airlines. Last week I received an email saying that the flight had been cancelled. I called Iberia today, and the rep said that I could either (1) reschedule the flight, or (2) get a credit that is...
by LeftCoast
Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Should I cancel my travel in France and Belgium in mid May?
Replies: 75
Views: 5547

Re: Should I cancel my travel in France and Belgium in mid May?

Last December, we booked a trip to Spain and Northern Italy for May, and we have decided to cancel the trip. We already cancelled the AirBnB stays and got a full refund. We are waiting to cancel the plane flights, as we want a refund rather than a credit. We had no trouble getting a full refund on t...
by LeftCoast
Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:25 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Help for Landlords in the Stimulus Bills?
Replies: 198
Views: 13411

Re: Help for Landlords in the Stimulus Bills?

First, I don't think small landlords are getting any help in the stimulus bills. It looks like you need to have employees to get any help. Second, in my jurisdiction (California), tenants who have been laid off, are ill, or are taking care of children while schools are closed, can't be evicted for f...
by LeftCoast
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:15 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Choosing CA municpal bonds, go it alone or Schwab fixed income specialist?
Replies: 14
Views: 1367

Re: Choosing CA municpal bonds, go it alone or Schwab fixed income specialist?

I guess I'm the outlier on this topic. I buy individual California municipal bonds, rather than bond funds. I use Fidelity's bond screening tools, which are excellent. You can see the thousands of bonds that are held by various dealers. You can also use the EMMA site to research the bonds. Most bond...
by LeftCoast
Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Updating my estate documents in COVID19 time
Replies: 25
Views: 1771

Re: Updating my estate documents in COVID19 time

When I was in law school (more than 40 years ago), the professor in Wills and Trusts class explained the origins of the procedures for signing wills. These procedures were developed in England hundreds of years ago. The basic idea is that the person signing the will must do so in front of two indepe...
by LeftCoast
Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why are bonds falling?
Replies: 236
Views: 5681

Re: Why are municipal bonds down 5% today?

I think there are several reasons for today's big decline in muni prices. First, some people are selling everything, so there are more sellers than buyers. Second, yields had gotten very low, so even if yields are slightly better, they still aren't great. Third, the risk of default has gone up. For ...
by LeftCoast
Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:10 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: H&R Block Software Will Not Allow me to File Electronically
Replies: 3
Views: 632

Re: H&R Block Software Will Not Allow me to File Electronically

H&R Block software wouldn't allow me to file my return electronically either. I found a math error in their Form 8995 (QBI computation). I reported it to them, and they opened a case. They told me to override their error by right-clicking and entering the correct number. However, when I went to file...
by LeftCoast
Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What To Do? Home Purchase
Replies: 15
Views: 1802

Re: What To Do? Home Purchase

If you like the house, you should buy the house. Mortgage rates are low, and if they go even lower you can refinance. I don't agree with people who say that you should continue renting because renting is $100 per month cheaper than owning. Owning a home has many benefits such as a yard for kids, nob...
by LeftCoast
Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Getting through to Equifax
Replies: 34
Views: 1933

Re: Getting through to Equifax

Equifax is a horrible company. I got through on the telephone, only to be told that I can't have an online account to unfreeze and re-freeze my credit file. Equifax wouldn't say why I can't have an online account, only that I am banned for life, with no appeal. I sent an email to their head of custo...
by LeftCoast
Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Recommendation for battery-powered fire alarm (not hardwired)
Replies: 14
Views: 869

Re: Recommendation for battery-powered fire alarm (not hardwired)

Landlord here. I've never had a tenant who installed his own detectors -- good for you. For battery-only locations, I've been using First Alert BRK SA350B smoke detectors. They use dual detectors to cut down on false alarms, and contain a 10-year lithium battery in a locked battery drawer. I get the...
by LeftCoast
Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What is the best concert you ever witnessed?
Replies: 385
Views: 27393

Re: What is the best concert you ever witnessed?

Bruce Springsteen and E street Band. New Years Eve 1980, Nassau Coliseum, famous bootleg. 4.5 hours I've heard that recording and agree that show is a classic. For me, it was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, River Tour, Halloween 1980, Los Angeles Sports Arena. They played for over 3 hours.
by LeftCoast
Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Optimizing Costco Tire Purchases
Replies: 53
Views: 3707

Re: Optimizing Costco Tire Purchases

I really wish Costco did alignments, if so I would buy there for sure. Broken Man 1999 That is one of the reasons that I prefer to buy from Costco. It seems other chains can get close to Costco's price knowing that the mark-up will come from getting you for a alignment whether or not you really nee...
by LeftCoast
Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Realized we made a major mistake and feeling really sick.
Replies: 162
Views: 14317

Re: Realized we made a major mistake and feeling really sick.

Hey OP, at least you netted $850K. I used to work for "Megabank". In 2006, my stock options were worth $500K. The bank had a long history of solid financial performance. Then the financial crisis hit, and the stock price fell from 55 to 5. My options went to zero. They never recovered. Fourteen year...
by LeftCoast
Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Please vote for a car option
Replies: 57
Views: 4575

Re: Please vote for a car option

Just bought a 2020 Camry LE (replacing a 2000 Camry). The 2020 has Android auto (the 2019 does not). It has the latest safety features, a new car warranty, and 2 years of free service. Used the Costco program and got a huge discount off the sticker price. We keep our cars for a long time, so it does...
by LeftCoast
Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Should I buy a new or used Toyota Camry?
Replies: 83
Views: 4368

Re: Should I buy a new or used Toyota Camry?

We just bought a 2020 Camry LE last month. We used the Costco discount, plus a $500 Toyota factory incentive. We paid $22,200 before taxes and fees. We considered buying used, but decided to buy new because (1) the new safety features are important to us, (2) we usually keep our cars for a very lon...
by LeftCoast
Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Should I buy a new or used Toyota Camry?
Replies: 83
Views: 4368

Re: Should I buy a new or used Toyota Camry?

We just bought a 2020 Camry LE last month. We used the Costco discount, plus a $500 Toyota factory incentive. We paid $22,200 before taxes and fees. We considered buying used, but decided to buy new because (1) the new safety features are important to us, (2) we usually keep our cars for a very long...
by LeftCoast
Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Favorite stock(s) and why
Replies: 131
Views: 8413

Re: Favorite stock(s) and why

Mister Softey (MSFT), I like a comeback. Yes, good old Microsoft which was a big disappointment during the first seven years that I owned it. It even was proudly featured as one of the four fallen angels from the 1990's purchased at "bargain" prices in the early 2000's and dubbed "The Four Horsemen...
by LeftCoast
Sat Nov 30, 2019 11:35 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Credit freezes
Replies: 35
Views: 2453

Re: Credit freezes

We had no problems freezing our credit with the big three agencies, and no problem with Experian or TransUnion in creating accounts that allow us to temporarily unfreeze our accounts. However, I had a terrible experience with Equifax in trying to set up a "MyEquifax" account to temporarily unfreeze...
by LeftCoast
Sat Nov 30, 2019 3:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Credit freezes
Replies: 35
Views: 2453

Re: Credit freezes

We had no problems freezing our credit with the big three agencies, and no problem with Experian or TransUnion in creating accounts that allow us to temporarily unfreeze our accounts. However, I had a terrible experience with Equifax in trying to set up a "MyEquifax" account to temporarily unfreeze ...
by LeftCoast
Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rental payments electronic transfer alternatives
Replies: 14
Views: 1126

Re: Rental payments electronic transfer alternatives

+1 for Zelle. I have 4 tenants who send me rent through Zelle. They don't know my bank account number, or even the name of my bank, but instead direct their payment to an email address that is associated with my bank account. When a tenant first uses Zelle to send rent, the application may limit the...
by LeftCoast
Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Homebuying in Los Angeles - Advice Needed
Replies: 77
Views: 8223

Re: Homebuying in Los Angeles - Advice Needed

We were in your exact position, except 25 years ago. We bought the house in a nice part of L.A. for the anxiety-inducing price of $500K ($100K down with a $400K mortgage), which was a big stretch for us. However, it got us in a great school district, provided a yard for our young son, and gave us th...
by LeftCoast
Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Flooring
Replies: 19
Views: 1256

Re: Flooring

Landlord here. We stopped installing carpeting some years ago. We are replacing carpet with "luxury vinyl" planks that come with an attached underlayment pad to reduce sound transmission from an upstairs unit to a downstairs unit. It's waterproof, so we can run the flooring into the kitchen and bath...
by LeftCoast
Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:54 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Go BIG or go home... [Sell employer stock?]
Replies: 19
Views: 1699

Re: Go BIG or go home... [Sell employer stock?]

Here is my story about company stock/options. I worked for "Megabank," and over a period of ten years accumulated stock options worth $500k. Like other senior employees, I didn't cash out my options because I didn't want to pay the tax, and because Megabank was a solid company whose stock price went...
by LeftCoast
Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:33 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Buying Munis at discount brokers
Replies: 4
Views: 499

Re: Buying Munis at discount brokers

Fidelity has excellent tools for buying muni bonds in the secondary market. First, you can see not only the bonds in their inventory, but also bonds offered by other dealers as well. You can see the recent purchase and sale transactions for each bond. You can search for bonds that meet specific char...
by LeftCoast
Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:27 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Fine Art Investments
Replies: 77
Views: 5355

Re: Fine Art Investments

In the 1980's, I collected prints by famous artists. About 20 years later, I tried to sell some of them to dealers, but received only low-ball offers. I ended up using a famous auction house in New York to sell the prints. The auctioneer took 30%. The auction process took about six months. I made a ...
by LeftCoast
Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:19 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Municipal Bond Now vs In Retirement?
Replies: 12
Views: 1272

Re: Municipal Bond Now vs In Retirement?

I am retired, and I continue to invest in municipal bonds over taxable bonds. The primary reason is that my taxable income in retirement is higher than I expected (thank you rental property and deferred comp plan). Also, I live in a state with high state income taxes. In addition, I expect that inco...
by LeftCoast
Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Sudden Death: Sorting Estate in sorrow
Replies: 17
Views: 6610

Re: Sudden Death: Sorting Estate in sorrow

Just throwing out an idea (I'm not a lawyer, no real experience here). If the fiance and mother are on good terms, it might be helpful if they were able to go together to consult estate lawyers or whoever else is able to give initial legal advice regarding the estate. Once the status of any account...
by LeftCoast
Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Breakfast Menu After Retirement
Replies: 73
Views: 10810

Re: Breakfast Menu After Retirement

Breakfast hasn't changed since retirement: Oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts. Now I have the time to go to Costco for the blueberries! I used to add a splash of milk, but I've changed to either soy milk, almond milk or Oatly.
by LeftCoast
Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:24 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Real Estate Investment vs More stocks and bonds
Replies: 2
Views: 399

Re: Real Estate Investment vs More stocks and bonds

We have three rental properties, and are happy with them. The income is good, they are hedges against inflation, and they help diversify our portfolio. That being said, I wouldn't have a 4% interest in real estate. You don't have control over decisions, and it is hard to exit at a fair price.
by LeftCoast
Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Step Up in Basis (Community Property State)
Replies: 8
Views: 628

Re: Step Up in Basis (Community Property State)

You need to talk to an estate planning attorney. Personally, I've done #2 and expect to get a step up in basis upon the death of the first spouse. There is some talk in Congress about doing away with the step up in basis (which would be a disaster for my family).
by LeftCoast
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:36 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Who has the best (easiest) Donor Advised Fund
Replies: 57
Views: 3299

Re: Who has the best (easiest) Donor Advised Fund

In five years, we haven't had a single problem with Fidelity's DAF. Of course, our other accounts are there, so transfers of appreciated securities are easy.
by LeftCoast
Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:45 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Forex Trading
Replies: 31
Views: 2626

Re: Forex Trading

I provided professional services to a major FX dealer for over 20 years. It was common knowledge that non-professional FX traders rarely make money. I knew of one FX dealer that specialized in servicing retail FX traders. That dealer was constantly struggling to recruit new retail clients, as about ...
by LeftCoast
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Extended warranty for kitchen appliances
Replies: 31
Views: 2155

Re: Extended warranty for kitchen appliances

I reached the conclusion a year ago that extended warranties, trip protection, and the like are categories where I'm better off self-insuring. I decline every such option and record down the amount saved in a "self insurance savings" spreadsheet. When I eventually have an expense that would have be...
by LeftCoast
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Medical Evacuation Insurance
Replies: 14
Views: 1408

Re: Medical Evacuation Insurance

Look at GeoBlue. It's affiliated with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I have an annual policy that covers both medical expenses and medical evacuation, but only outside of the U.S. Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance won't cover you outside the U.S. This will. This is not travel insurance (lost bag...
by LeftCoast
Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Hitting Critical Mass and then dealing with those feelings of Surreal
Replies: 51
Views: 7140

Re: Hitting Critical Mass and then dealing with those feelings of Surreal

It's great when your hard work pays off. I worked hard for 35 years to hit Critical Mass. When I hit my number, I retired and never looked back. What is surreal is that our assets have kept growing. I'm still passing up the Prime Rib, but only because I'd rather have salmon. Good luck to you!
by LeftCoast
Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Trex decking or alternatives?
Replies: 44
Views: 4932

Re: Trex decking or alternatives?

We've had our Trex deck for 16 years, and we haven't had any mold or warping. No problems whatsoever. We're in So. Cal. I love that it's zero maintenance. I'm not thrilled with the grey color, but that's about all they had at the time. If I recall, they have both 1 inch and 2 inch thick planks. You ...
by LeftCoast
Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Purchasing Major Appliances from Costco
Replies: 43
Views: 13565

Re: Purchasing Major Appliances from Costco

We bought an LG washing machine from Costco. It was about the same price as Home Depot, but we got a 4-year warranty through Costco and the Costco VISA card, plus Costco included delivery, installation and the hoses. Installation was fine. We've used it heavily for a year, and so far the washer is f...
by LeftCoast
Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:10 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How did you all do in the month of May, 2019
Replies: 126
Views: 11506

Re: How did you all do in the month of May, 2019

Equities down $50K for the month, but offset by a gain of $50K from large portfolio of muni bonds. Muni bond yields plunged during the month, which increased bond prices. Incoming rents from income property stayed the same. Diversification works!
by LeftCoast
Thu May 23, 2019 1:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Windows for Noise Reduction
Replies: 36
Views: 2807

Re: Windows for Noise Reduction

We replaced old single pane windows in a rental property with Milgard double-paned windows (their Tuscany line). The tenant tells us that there was a significant decrease in road noise. He used to sleep with earplugs, and now he doesn't need them.