Search found 184 matches

by brianH
Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Home Purchase Price vs. Gross Income
Replies: 59
Views: 4272

Re: Home Purchase Price vs. Gross Income

First house (age 23), a townhouse, was about 3x salary, but I did have enough saved for a 20% down payment. Second, and hopefully forever (until downsizing at least) is also about 3-4x salary, but I did have another 20% DP and the proceeds from the townhouse sale (paid off mortgage) that made it mor...
by brianH
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:33 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000-$20,000 to fix
Replies: 58
Views: 6190

Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

A little off topic but this thread just reminds me that with both septic and sewer issues can happen that can be very expensive. Our previous house had a septic system which upon inspection when we went to sell it was found to have a leak and required fixing to the tune of $7k. Everyone seems freak...
by brianH
Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:41 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Air heat pump questions (any experts in the community?)
Replies: 24
Views: 1848

Re: Air heat pump questions (any experts in the community?)

I am surprised that more than a few HVAC techs don't really understand how to maximize heat pump efficiency. My guess is that since they don't pay the bills they just supply easiest answer when customer complains - just turn on the aux strip heaters faster and customer will get plenty of heat. I th...
by brianH
Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dual Monitor Set up
Replies: 52
Views: 2814

Re: Dual Monitor Set up

Whatever setup you choose, I recommend trying some blue-blocking monitor glasses. I currently use the Gamma Ray brand with no magnification (I have LASIK corrected vision): https://www.amazon.com/Protection-Computer-Readers-Glasses-Shatterproof/dp/B00BQ7KBV4 It's amazing how the glare and blue wavel...
by brianH
Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Air heat pump questions (any experts in the community?)
Replies: 24
Views: 1848

Re: Air heat pump questions (any experts in the community?)

While modern heat pumps can still produce heat efficiently (>1 coefficient of performance) at sub-freezing temps, that doesn't mean that they output the required BTU to maintain a certain temp for a given structure (balance point.) If you had natural gas available, it would probably be worth conside...
by brianH
Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Good Windows PC for programming / development
Replies: 23
Views: 1391

Re: Good Windows PC for programming / development

Definitely going to throw out the recommendation that unless you absolutely need the portability, that you consider a desktop machine instead. Laptops will cost 2-3x as much as a desktop for performance, and you'll still want a dock/extra monitors for development use. If your laptop just sits docked...
by brianH
Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Furnace Filter for Allergy
Replies: 6
Views: 681

Re: Furnace Filter for Allergy

It can. Furnace filters are really designed to prevent dust and gunk from building up on the heat exchanger or AC/heat pump coils. Too much restriction can result in reduced efficiency (blower works harder) or in extreme cases, a heat pump may lock out due to high head pressure from the reduced airf...
by brianH
Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best MVNO for Verizon Network - any updates?
Replies: 30
Views: 1981

Re: Best MVNO for Verizon Network - any updates?

totalwireless.com I've also had good experiences with Total Wireless. I recently realized that I don't use very much data (most always on Wifi), so I use the $23.70/m unlimited talk/text and I just buy 5GB of data for $10 when necessary. The data purchased as a block rolls over for as long as your ...
by brianH
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Homeowners Insurance Claim-Experiences?
Replies: 22
Views: 2042

Re: Homeowners Insurance Claim-Experiences?

Not that I'm adding value to the question asked, but it's a good reminder to always turn the house water supply off if you plan to leave for more than 24 hours. There are so many fittings, hoses, connections, and pipes that can fail at any time, and if you're there, you'll stop it at a nasty flood, ...
by brianH
Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: sell current home before buying new home?
Replies: 17
Views: 1419

Re: sell current home before buying new home?

It worked well for me that way back in March. The huge advantage of buying first was that we could move stuff over and start to empty out the old house before painting/fixing and listing. I decided to leave major furniture for the listing, but all the smaller stuff and clutter was gone. Everyone tha...
by brianH
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: which snow blower ?
Replies: 58
Views: 3525

Re: which snow blower ?

If you live somewhere around the Philly/NJ/NYC or further South area, I'm going to recommend the Toro Snowmaster. It's the recommendation on The Wirecutter review site (https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-snow-blowers/) and many others. It's especially a good pick for novices, because it controls...
by brianH
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Finally cutting cable -- is 40mbps enough for streaming services?
Replies: 38
Views: 4098

Re: Finally cutting cable -- is 40mbps enough for streaming services?

Netflix has a guide: https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306 as does youtube TV: https://support.google.com/youtubetv/an ... 9766?hl=en

In short, 40mbps is more than enough for even the best quality settings.
by brianH
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Add-on Hot water Heat pump
Replies: 12
Views: 908

Re: Add-on Hot water Heat pump

If gas is not an option for HW heating or you live in New England where gas is expensive then it might well pay off. It almost definitely pays off if your only other option is electric elements. The prices of HPWH have come down enough that unless you're paying some super-cheap electric rates, you'...
by brianH
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: cost to rebuild hvac return in crawl space
Replies: 8
Views: 927

Re: cost to rebuild hvac return in crawl space

It really depends on your area, but in much of the country, business for the trades is booming. Between real estate flippers, older houses needing work, economic prosperity, and lack of actual people entering the trades (somehow seen as a bad choice over going to college), many contractors won't bot...
by brianH
Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:30 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 401k has high fees
Replies: 15
Views: 1092

Re: 401k has high fees

Also I noticed my HSA is charging me $4/mo now that I left my previous employer. I have $992 in the HSA and $21,589 in investments. Anyone know of any HSA accounts that I can transfer to with no fees? I certainly know the feeling. My 401K has a bunch of expensive managed junk in it, but fortunately...
by brianH
Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: AC or DC motor ceiling fan
Replies: 8
Views: 1069

Re: AC or DC motor ceiling fan

The DC motor isn't worth it, IMHO. A 52" (for example) modern fan (regular AC motor) only uses around 40 watts on high, while an equivalent DC motor fan uses around 30. Even if you ran the fan on high, 24 hours a day, the DC motor would only save you about $0.86 a month at an average electric cost. ...
by brianH
Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: PSA: Don't buy a big house
Replies: 248
Views: 25862

Re: PSA: Don't buy a big house

Plastic straws and plastic bags are low hanging fruit, and are frankly inexcusable; how hard is reusing a bag made of recycled plastic or cloth for your groceries? Our milk comes in a glass bottle (with a $2.50 deposit, so it's easy to remember 8-) ) from a local farm. Our eggs are placed in the em...
by brianH
Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: PSA: Don't buy a big house
Replies: 248
Views: 25862

Re: PSA: Don't buy a big house

But yet developers still build nothing but big houses :oops: Either that, or premium townhouses (sorry, carriage houses.) My personal theory is that in many HCOL areas the biggest expenses to building are land, utility hookups, and permits/roads/government hoops. It just isn't economical for builde...
by brianH
Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: any recommendations for vacation stay in Punta Cana
Replies: 15
Views: 1361

Re: any recommendations for vacation stay in Punta Cana

The wife and I did a week at Paradisus Punta Cana, and it was our favorite of the various all-inclusives we stayed at (including Playa del Carmen, Bahamas.) One tip I have is if you're going as a couple, it's totally worth the extra daily charge for "VIP" access (Paradisus called it "Royal Service")...
by brianH
Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: House has major repair issues right after buying... options
Replies: 27
Views: 2324

Re: House has major repair issues right after buying... options

It's always a good idea to use one of the free online sites (or MLS) to view the price/sales history for a house you're considering. If you see a sale less than a year ago for substantially less than the property is going for now, you can almost guarantee it's a flip. A flipper (real estate investor...
by brianH
Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Keep a backup hot water heater?
Replies: 104
Views: 5682

Re: Keep a backup hot water heater?

Of course I understand not all houses are build like mine, you might need a body to help. I think that's probably the biggest issue: many plumbers don't do time and materials, so they have to price for the worst-case scenario. I just put in a hybrid 50 gal myself, and let me say, I would've charged...
by brianH
Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Gas Fireplaces
Replies: 22
Views: 1707

Re: Gas Fireplaces

I'm having a direct vent gas insert installed in a week, so I don't have personal experience, just tons of research. 1. I would go with, and did go with, the electronic ignition. There's never anything stopping you from manually lighting the fireplace with a lighter if power was out, and for me, wit...
by brianH
Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Sold Home - 2 days after buyer claims they found an issue with A/C
Replies: 119
Views: 12045

Re: Sold Home - 2 days after buyer claims they found an issue with A/C

In my state, PA, the buyer could try to sue in small claims court (<$12,000), but the court still highly recommends that you (the buyers in this case) send a certified letter first demanding payment and expected repayment date. It also requires an $80 filing fee and for the notice to be served (more...
by brianH
Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Help Me [Recover] My Bitcoin!
Replies: 93
Views: 13557

Re: Help Me Cash Out My Bitcoin!

That 2.5 billion dollar wallet is protected by a private key. The private key is the ONLY thing that protects that 2.5 billion Whoa, that seems like pretty good incentive to throw a lot of computing power at it to hack the private key. How many bytes is a bitcoin private key, and are there mechanis...
by brianH
Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Password Management and Safekeeping
Replies: 80
Views: 9533

Re: Password Management and Safekeeping

With Keepass, if you store your password DB file in the cloud, be sure to also use the key file option in addition to a master password. Never sync the key file using a cloud account. Without the key file, it would be virtually impossible to brute force your pw database, even if your master password...
by brianH
Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Prenup
Replies: 139
Views: 17980

Re: Prenup

What harm is there in both parties attending a consultation with a divorce attorney well-versed in prenups? All of their individual or joint concerns can be addressed and discussed at length, and if it is deemed worthwhile, they can find separate representation and get a prenup drawn up. If nothing ...
by brianH
Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:44 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ad Blockers
Replies: 41
Views: 5011

Re: Ad Blockers

Another vote for uBlock on Chrome here. I moved away from ABP after the "whitelist" nonsense. I, as a software dev, don't have an issue with people making money off software, but writing software that removes the potential revenue stream from a website and then allowing certain ads based on the dive...
by brianH
Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:48 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: non-compete question
Replies: 23
Views: 2954

Re: non-compete question

The lawyer is a good, and necessary, step. While my legal understanding (met with lawyers about this topic but IANAL) of NCs is similar to yours, you can be sued by the 'damaged' company, even if they don't have a snowball's chance of collecting. Not only would you be forced to pay to defend yoursel...
by brianH
Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:55 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Target Date Fund vs. 3 Fund Portfolio
Replies: 45
Views: 16228

Re: Target Date Fund vs. 3 Fund Portfolio

34 y/o, still contributing: I used mostly target date funds until I started to amass a good amount of money in taxable and complexity in my accounts. I wanted the flexibility to keep tax efficient funds in the taxable, and vice-versa, without changing my overall allocation. I also hit the level wher...
by brianH
Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:41 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Best online checking account
Replies: 59
Views: 12027

Re: Best online checking account

Another vote for Fidelity. I guess the best thing about it that hasn't been mentioned: nothing has changed (negatively) since I opened it many years ago. I use it as my primary, and changing certain auto-deducted bills (utilities) and work's direct deposit involves paper, yes, paper, forms and is a ...
by brianH
Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:38 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Am I a job hopper?
Replies: 50
Views: 6132

Re: Am I a job hopper?

Job-hopping is an abusive term invented by HR managers to describe at-will employees who suddenly realized that loyalty only goes one way. Very well said. I don't have any doubt that an employer would let me go if the budget got tight, work dried up, or a million other things outside of my control....
by brianH
Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:02 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Girlfriend with a LOT of Student debt.
Replies: 166
Views: 19611

Re: Girlfriend with a LOT of Student debt.

To repeat other posters: do not commit through marriage or other joint property to this woman. I don't subscribe to the belief that love can conquer all. The amount of debt being considered is so substantial, it would delay or make retirement impossible at your current levels of income. Worse, it ma...
by brianH
Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Boglehead Beer
Replies: 837
Views: 156221

Re: Boglehead Beer

Currently drinking a Troegs Mad Elf (PA - Dark Belgian Ale), which is my favorite Winter seasonal. It's not cheap -- at about $56 a case -- but considering it's double the potency of most regular beers (11%), that works out to the equivalent of a $28 case. My usual cheapies are PBR and Miller High L...
by brianH
Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with Target Redcard?
Replies: 43
Views: 7499

Re: Experience with Target Redcard?

I use the credit card version. Reasons: 5% back, free shipping on any size order online, and has automatic payment of CC bill on the website. I'm not a huge TGT shopper, but I do buy some clothing there, and I can buy most of it online in the size I need with free shipping.
by brianH
Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Electricity costs going up
Replies: 46
Views: 5532

Re: Electricity costs going up

When PA did this, it was a big whammy for me. The utility used to offer breakpoints for high electric use in the winter for homes heated with heat pumps (like mine.) This allowed the utility to avoid running gas lines, and it allowed the builders to avoid messing with oil - everyone was happy. As pa...
by brianH
Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:22 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Invest in Bowflex Max Trainer?
Replies: 25
Views: 13759

Re: Invest in Bowflex Max Trainer?

I second this. Machines are prone to breaking. A good bar, plates, and a power rack (or squat stands) make for a better purchase if you're serious about resistance training. 3rd'ing (4th'ing?) this. For $1000, you should be able to get a complete setup. My current equipment: Power rack ~$300 (700lb...
by brianH
Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:22 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Costco:is it worth it for just two people?
Replies: 143
Views: 18155

Re: Costco:is it worth it for just two people?

Not Costco, but Sams Club, as a single man, and I find it to be worth it. I don't eat many packaged/processed foods, but I can still find enough value that my membership pays for itself. Certain things that I buy regularly, like frozen/fresh veggies, eggs, dairy products, OTC medications, chicken, b...
by brianH
Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:07 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Programming and Database Classes
Replies: 15
Views: 1531

Re: Programming and Database Classes

I think the academic side does have value to professional programmers. For example, someone might learn that the order of columns in an index matters for queries, but without understanding how indexes are built using b-trees and what a b-tree is, the 'why' is never truly understood. I freely admit t...
by brianH
Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:47 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: does frugality result in lower career ambition?
Replies: 113
Views: 13016

Re: does frugality result in lower career ambition?

Probably, at least in my case. Of course, like others in the tech field, rejecting advancement (management roles) this isn't much of a penalty, and can actually be a positive. Tech may be one of the few fields where one can earn a very respectable income (low 6 figures) as a senior-level software de...
by brianH
Mon May 26, 2014 11:53 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Pre-nup at only $1M networth, do I need it?
Replies: 199
Views: 17180

Re: Pre-nup at only $1M networth, do I need it?

I teach engineers about defective analogies. You don't have a relationship with an insurance company. Did you have a severance pay discussion at your hiring interview? Imagine my employer's shock if he was told that after I quit, he was required to continue paying me such that I maintain a lifestyl...
by brianH
Fri May 09, 2014 9:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: I would like to make more money and move up
Replies: 11
Views: 2239

Re: I would like to make more money and move up

Neither of those degrees will give you a better understanding of how computers work or how the software programs you use work in any practical sense. I have a computer science degree and don't have a clue how computers work. I'm good at building software systems, though. I'm surprised your CS progr...
by brianH
Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: POLL: what's the deal with Tuna Fish?
Replies: 48
Views: 7998

Re: POLL: what's the deal with Tuna Fish?

I prefer canned salmon or sardines over tuna. At bit more fat (and way more Omega 3s) and tastier. I get the salmon with bones (tons of calcium) and skin...crunch, crunch.

You're right about the crap oil they usually use. Look for olive oil or just packed in water and add your own oil later.
by brianH
Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Implementing Two-Factor Authentication for Fidelity Accounts
Replies: 48
Views: 19894

Re: Implementing Two-Factor Authentication for Fidelity Acco

Thanks for the tips on this; I didn't know they offered it. I wish they used the more standard TOTP protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-based_One-time_Password_Algorithm) used by Google, Lastpass, etc, but I guess I can understand why a large bank would go with a 'big-name security company' ...
by brianH
Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:38 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: KeePass vs LastPass
Replies: 105
Views: 17707

Re: KeePass vs LastPass

A couple tips for the one-time-passwords (Google Authenticator.) there's actually an open source, free OTP generator for Android (IOS coming soon) that is far more customizable than the Google Auth one: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.fedorahosted.freeotp In addition to the ability...
by brianH
Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: KeePass vs LastPass
Replies: 105
Views: 17707

Re: KeePass vs LastPass

I'd let KeePass generate the keyfile for you. It will be a string of characters that is cryptographically random. If you are worried about losing it, print it out and store in a safe deposit box (never store it with the database file in Dropbox/Google Drive/etc.) I'm writing up a blog post about how...
by brianH
Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Boxed Wines
Replies: 29
Views: 4100

Re: Boxed Wines

Serious talk about boxed wine is an April fool's day joke isn't it. Carlo Rossi is just nasty cheap junk undeserving of even being classified as wine. Barefoot isn't far behind either - another el cheapo plonk. Actually - most Californian wine (available via export) is junk IMHO closely followed by...
by brianH
Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Boxed Wines
Replies: 29
Views: 4100

Re: Boxed Wines

I find the Bota cab (3L) and Carlo Rossi Founders Bland cab (5L) to be very drinkable. The Carlo Rossi is an especially good deal, because it is available in a 5L box. Both are around $18 in my neck of the woods. Certainly the Boglehead way to do it, of you drink a bit (too much.) Many other box-o-w...
by brianH
Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:09 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tree stump removal
Replies: 25
Views: 2986

Re: Tree stump removal

Ash trees tend to have a shallow root system (along with things like pine and cherry), so I can't imagine a small, 5-year tree has crazy roots to dig out. Depending on your level of fitness, I'd probably give it a shot on digging it out. At a minimum, you'll need a big pickax and a sharp shovel. Som...
by brianH
Sat Mar 29, 2014 3:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cloud storage advice?
Replies: 22
Views: 3135

Re: Cloud storage advice?

How secure are these services? Would you store a doc with your social security number in it? I know, never store a social security number in a document on any computer. However, it can happen inadvertently... Possibly low risk. Not ruling Cloud Storage out. Just curious. A better solution for encry...
by brianH
Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:56 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Three-Fund Portfolio
Replies: 2340
Views: 1467223

Re: The Three Fund Portfolio

Also, Vanguard appears to offer some kind of institutional shares or some kind of arrangement they can whip together for employer accounts. On occasion we seem them posted here @ ER 0.11% and 0.8%. For example: https://institutional.vanguard.com/iippdf/pdfs/FS1477.pdf This is true, and a point I fo...