Search found 569 matches

by dsmil
Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:38 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best Gutter Guard?
Replies: 15
Views: 1165

Re: Best Gutter Guard?

Have you tried any DIY gutter cleaning methods? I purchased a huge extension pole and a gutter cleaning tool which grabs the leaves, and it has been a huge help. $90 could significantly help the situation... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IY6IE0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 htt...
by dsmil
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Kevin O'Leary: owning a car is a terrible idea
Replies: 43
Views: 3319

Re: Kevin O'Leary: owning a car is a terrible idea

They are a terrible idea for his reasons. However he neglects the fact that in most cases an automobile is a net contributor to your income: that is, you often can't get to a job and make money without incurring transportation costs. You could live in the city and walk, however it is more likely yo...
by dsmil
Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Insignia TV Has Black Screen
Replies: 32
Views: 1654

Re: Insignia TV Has Black Screen

Have you tried using a different HDMI input?
by dsmil
Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:11 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: PSA: Don't buy a big house
Replies: 248
Views: 25693

Re: PSA: Don't buy a big house

Low ceilings have been great for our utility costs. I figured that our costs would go up after moving from a townhouse to a single family, but they've gone down, and I think that the low ceilings are a contributing factor. With an underground basement and 7.5 ft ceilings throughout, it really keeps ...
by dsmil
Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:50 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Car servicing
Replies: 48
Views: 3525

Re: Car servicing

I like going to local mechanics, like a shop at a gas station. I've been using a couple of local mechanics for the past 5 years, and they've been very reasonable and only charge me for things that I need. The dealers and the big chains like Pep Boys have always found ways to charge me for unnecessar...
by dsmil
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How Much Is Your Sewer Bill?
Replies: 78
Views: 4121

Re: How Much Is Your Sewer Bill?

In Maryland, we average $35 per month for our water/sewer bill, of which $10 is for some environmental/restoration fees. $3k gallons per month.
by dsmil
Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:50 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Offer 3.5% to entice buyers agent
Replies: 12
Views: 1502

Re: Offer 3.5% to entice buyers agent

I wouldn't pay more than 3%. Many buyers are finding the houses that they want to visit on their own anyway, using sites like Redfin and Zillow, so I don't think bumping up that commission would yield more interest. It sounds like you are leaning towards sale by owner, but don't assume that you woul...
by dsmil
Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:04 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 401K loan
Replies: 7
Views: 529

Re: 401K loan

Sounds like a reasonable plan to me, as long as your 401k loan interest rate is comparable to what you'd get elsewhere. I like the idea of borrowing from the bond allocation of the 401k because the potential lost market gains are smaller. If borrowing from stocks, you have the possibility of missing...
by dsmil
Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Chipotle question
Replies: 73
Views: 4556

Re: Chipotle question

Bowl with a tortilla = maximum food
by dsmil
Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:07 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Fidelity Files for Four Fidelity ZERO℠ Funds (0.00% ER)
Replies: 754
Views: 75982

Re: Fidelity Files for two Fidelity ZERO℠ Funds (0.00% ER total stock and total international mutual funds)

I'm going to wait and see if Vanguard counters but what Fidelity is offering is very compelling. They are consistently beating Vanguard's Admiral Funds without any minimums! As someone who has some investor level funds, the savings will be even greater. https://www.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/investin...
by dsmil
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:03 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Consistently over budget on food - what are you guys eating?
Replies: 70
Views: 6284

Re: Consistently over budget on food - what are you guys eating?

$700 per month for groceries plus eating out seems fine. Of course you could cut down on eating out or buy cheaper groceries, but I don't think your spending levels are something to be worried about. Some easy fixes that I can think of are buying store brand items, packing a lunch, buying less meat,...
by dsmil
Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:28 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dealing with HOA Notice
Replies: 118
Views: 10105

Re: Dealing with HOA Notice

My last townhouse had a HOA and they gave notices for violations but never followed up. I'm sure that each one is different.
by dsmil
Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:55 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best Movies of 2017
Replies: 42
Views: 4653

Re: Best Movies of 2017

I admit to only seeing a handful of movies last year, but Get Out was awesome. I had no expectations going in and I can't remember being that into a movie in a long time.
by dsmil
Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:13 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Salary vs. Lifestyle
Replies: 142
Views: 17855

Re: Salary vs. Lifestyle

I think that I could definitely jump ship and make some more money, but making "enough" with little stress and good hours is good enough for me. With young kids, this is probably the time of my life where I'll have the least amount of free time, so I want to keep as much of it as I can. When I'm nea...
by dsmil
Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Xfinity Mobile
Replies: 134
Views: 19025

Re: Xfinity Mobile

We brought our phones over to Xfinity Mobile a few months ago and our bill is now less than half of what it was with Verizon. Not paying for line fees saves us $40 per month. We also pay a little less for data even though we are using more for some reason. We are supposed to pay $12 per GB but Xfini...
by dsmil
Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Flaunt Your High-Mileage Car
Replies: 433
Views: 57428

Re: Flaunt Your High-Mileage Car

We're using 3 old cars between the 2 of us:

'97 Acura Integra - 170k
'00 Toyota Rav4 - 180k
'01 Toyota Rav4 - 150k

The Integra has had by far the most problems, but it's my high school car and I just can't give it up!
by dsmil
Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:00 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: College savings plans - Roth vs. 529
Replies: 32
Views: 2709

Re: College savings plans - Roth vs. 529

If I saved enough to fill up two Roths with retirement contributions, I'd use the 529 for college. Until then, I'm using the Roths for college.
by dsmil
Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which Supermarket are you?
Replies: 155
Views: 9453

Re: Which Supermarket are you?

Wegmans is my favorite. Price, selection, and the fact that they carry all of the other random things that you need on a daily basis. The Wegmans brand products are always great values. We aren't foodies but I could see foodies enjoying the variety of products offered. We recently moved further away...
by dsmil
Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Boring Job
Replies: 64
Views: 7888

Re: Boring Job

I personally wouldn't quit out of boredom, but a lack of advancement opportunities for a young person is a detriment. If there aren't advancement opportunities or this job doesn't lead to a better job at another company, it might not be the best place for you. I have a boring job but they pay me wel...
by dsmil
Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What is your Take Home Pay / Gross Pay ratio?
Replies: 89
Views: 8229

Re: What is your Take Home Pay / Gross Pay ratio?

75% here. 8% for fed/state, 7% for SS/Med, 7% for health/dental, 3% to 401k. We won't owe or receive a refund at tax time.
by dsmil
Fri May 25, 2018 10:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do people still use AAA?
Replies: 293
Views: 25904

Re: Do people still use AAA?

We use the heck out of AAA. Two old cars and a ton of flat tires! My guess is that we've been using them 3x per year for the last few years. In a stressful situation when the car won't start, you get a flat tire, or you lock your keys in the car, it's nice to have AAA and not add to that stress.
by dsmil
Wed May 16, 2018 1:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying off Debt vs. Investing
Replies: 25
Views: 1764

Re: Paying off Debt vs. Investing

Yes, I agree with your post, and this is why we haven't rushed to pay student loans at the cost of investing for retirement. Making the minimum $300 per month student loan payment means that they money is tied up and put to good use. Freeing up that $300 opens up the possibility of increased spending.
by dsmil
Wed May 16, 2018 12:02 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Fellow non-529ers
Replies: 43
Views: 3408

Re: Fellow non-529ers

My primary strategy is to use Roths for college before 529's. $11k per year of contributions should get us pretty far, followed by cash flow, and tapping into home equity if needed. We're 15 years away but this is the plan for now.
by dsmil
Tue May 15, 2018 8:58 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Advice for first time homebuyer
Replies: 12
Views: 1180

Re: Advice for first time homebuyer

I'd make sure that the major systems in the home are in working order before spending a ton of money on appearance upgrades. We immediately spent $10k on carpet and paint, and then realized that the roof was on it's last legs and that the home could use some insulation/sealing upgrades It might be g...
by dsmil
Mon May 14, 2018 7:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Sumitomo Tires
Replies: 8
Views: 1466

Re: Sumitomo Tires

I have some Sumitomo HTR A/S tires and they were reasonably priced and I've been happy with them. So far they've gone 4 years and 40k miles. I know nothing about tires though, so you can take my positive experience with a grain of salt.
by dsmil
Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: new thinking under 2018 tax law?
Replies: 21
Views: 3526

Re: new thinking under 2018 tax law?

Nothing other than adjust my paycheck withholdings. Our overall tax bill goes down but our marginal rate goes up from 15% to 22%, so I'll continue to put a premium on tax deductible contributions.
by dsmil
Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Student Loan Re-financing (SoFi, others?) for friend
Replies: 6
Views: 908

Re: Student Loan Re-financing (SoFi, others?) for friend

My wife and I used SoFi to refinance student loans and it was a smooth process. I think that they'll have to do everything separately as we did. We were not offered close to the lowest rate as marketed on their website (the 3.25% that you mention) even though we have great credit scores, so I'm not ...
by dsmil
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Effects of 20% Down payment over time, thoughts?
Replies: 19
Views: 2789

Re: Effects of 20% Down payment over time, thoughts?

Can you get a non-FHA with 3.5%? If not, PMI is now for the life of the loan on FHA, I believe. Did you add that in? The big idea behind 20% down, I think, is that you avoid PMI and your dollars build equity quicker. So even if you move before the lines cross, assuming they are correct, you are sti...
by dsmil
Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:49 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Effects of 20% Down payment over time, thoughts?
Replies: 19
Views: 2789

Re: Effects of 20% Down payment over time, thoughts?

I don't mind putting less than 20% down on a house because I've done it twice and have been happy with my decision. That being said, I don't think it makes sense to ignore the equity in the home, because you are recovering that additional $41,250 upon selling.
by dsmil
Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:54 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How old are you and how much do you save for retirement a year
Replies: 244
Views: 32801

Re: How old are you and how much do you save for retirement a year

Me: 30
Wife: 29

We save around $14k per year, which comes to 12% of gross income. 6% to the HSA, 3% to the 401k, and 3% employer contribution.
by dsmil
Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:01 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: First iPhone upgrade for VZW Post Contract Subsidies: Where to Buy?
Replies: 6
Views: 560

Re: First iPhone upgrade for VZW Post Contract Subsidies: Where to Buy?

If you do an internet search, you may find deals here and there from the various companies. I also think that you'll be able to make payments on the phone over a period of 2 years, rather than paying for the whole thing up front. The cheapest deals are by finding people who are selling their phone l...
by dsmil
Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How Far is too Far, Commuting?
Replies: 211
Views: 15121

Re: How Far is too Far, Commuting?

A long commute is definitely a negative, so there needs to be something making it worth it (pay, hours at work, job). I'm in the car for 2 hours a day, but I get home before 5 everyday, have a ton of vacation days, a low stress job, and the total time commitment (job + commute) is 50 hours per week,...
by dsmil
Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:20 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Maintenance/Upkeep Guide or Planner
Replies: 1
Views: 357

Re: Home Maintenance/Upkeep Guide or Planner

I recently bought "How to Operate Your Home" upon moving into my new house and I really enjoyed it. It summarizes the components of the major systems in the home and provides advice regarding maintenance. https://www.amazon.com/How-Operate-Your-Home-Professional/dp/098320182X https://htoyh.com/ http...
by dsmil
Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:36 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should you always use a 529?
Replies: 31
Views: 3018

Re: Should you always use a 529?

Are you already maxing a Roth? I like the idea of filling the Roth first, since there is less restrictions on the money. You'll only be able to pull out contributions tax free, but since your earnings will stay in there for retirement, you can decrease your retirement contributions during their coll...
by dsmil
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Could you support family on 1 income?
Replies: 88
Views: 7070

Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

My wife has stayed home since our first child was born 3 years ago, and the plan is for her to stay home for the foreseeable future, unless she wants to go back or we have money issues. She always wanted to stay home, but we didn't really think it would be possible. Luckily, my career has gone bette...
by dsmil
Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: To HSA or HSA -- explain like I'm 5.
Replies: 32
Views: 3221

Re: To HSA or HSA -- explain like I'm 5.

It seems like you have low healthcare costs and you'd be getting a free $1,440 of contributions from your employer, plus saving $1,800 in premiums. To me it seems like a slam dunk to do the HSA. You say that you are not in a position to use the HSA as a retirement savings vehicle, but a lot of peopl...
by dsmil
Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:15 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Structuring Newlywed Finances for Fairness and Less Arguments
Replies: 84
Views: 7295

Re: Structuring Newlywed Finances for Fairness and Less Arguments

I think that you always want to communicate that you are on the same team financially, and try to make things as even as possible. While it might be "fair" to say that you work harder and should be able to spend more money, I would only do that if your wife is ok with this. Maybe you start at the sa...
by dsmil
Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:00 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling audio gear on ebay, 7-day auction or "30-day Buy it now"?
Replies: 20
Views: 1521

Re: Selling audio gear on ebay, 7-day auction or "30-day Buy it now"?

For items that won't get a lot of clicks, buy it now is probably the way to go.
by dsmil
Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:00 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cash flow problems - best way to handle?
Replies: 151
Views: 12071

Re: Cash flow problems - best way to handle?

I don't think 401k loans are a terrible idea, if you can pay it back and have a stable job. Just find a way to have the loan come from your bond holdings, so you aren't losing possible stock gains.
by dsmil
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:45 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: House down payment - Smart for anything between 3.5% and 20%?
Replies: 23
Views: 2069

Re: House down payment - Smart for anything between 3.5% and 20%?

If the house is affordable for you, go ahead and pay PMI if you have to. 4% interest rates with some PMI on top is still a great deal historically. If you are putting <20% down, I'd recommend putting 5%, 10%, or 15% down because these amounts will get you to the lower PMI tiers. I did a 3.5% FHA loa...
by dsmil
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:04 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Thoughts on approach to student loans
Replies: 16
Views: 1251

Re: Thoughts on approach to student loans

I think a lot depends on what other assets you have (emergency funds, retirement, etc.) If you are light on savings and you wipe out all of the debt, you could be unprepared for an emergency situation. If you are meeting your goals in those other areas, it makes wiping out the debt look better.
by dsmil
Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:12 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: HOA vs No-HOA
Replies: 94
Views: 13401

Re: HOA vs No-HOA

A lot has to do with the value per dollar that you are getting with the HOA. In my old townhouse, $75 per month got us common area maintenance, pool membership, tennis courts, and a playground. My sister paid $250 per month for a similar deal, without a pool, so to me that would not be worth it. You...
by dsmil
Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How Do You Value Your Home for Net Worth Purposes?
Replies: 150
Views: 11371

Re: How Do You Value Your Home for Net Worth Purposes?

I calculate my net worth with and without the value of my home/mortgage. I used the zillow estimate until I recently moved to my new house, since the zillow estimate isn't very accurate with this one. I'll just use my own estimate until zillow catches up.
by dsmil
Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:37 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?
Replies: 247
Views: 16472

Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

That's double what we were paying at Wegmans before we had kids. Whole Foods is on the expensive side but Trader Joe's is usually well priced. Are you buying a lot of expensive meat? Substituting expensive meats for things like eggs, rice, beans, or plain greek yogurt is a way to keep the foods heal...
by dsmil
Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:57 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Savannah or Charleston?
Replies: 49
Views: 4773

Re: Savannah or Charleston?

We went to Charleston for a few days a couple of years ago and it was a great visit. Our son was 9 months old so we mostly walked around, went to the shops and out to eat, and did a couple of tours. I just sent an email to a co-worker and recommended Charleston so here is what I recommended: “Free” ...
by dsmil
Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "free" ticket w/ miles or pay $?
Replies: 24
Views: 2777

Re: "free" ticket w/ miles or pay $?

I'd go with miles, personally, but not everyone likes playing the credit card game. We're about to pay $4k on some work that was done in the house, and I'll open up a Chase Sapphire to pay for it, which will earn us 60k Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. Those are worth about $1,200 and will pay for one...
by dsmil
Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:36 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Best utilization of an HSA? Reimbursements?
Replies: 7
Views: 535

Re: Best utilization of an HSA? Reimbursements?

If you aren't able to max the Roth and the HSA, you can pay medical expenses out of pocket, withdraw funds from the HSA, and deposit them into the Roth. So you are getting the up-front tax break with the HSA, and the flexibility of the Roth. This is better than leaving the money in the HSA and not m...
by dsmil
Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:17 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying Points on Purchase Mortgage - Worth It?
Replies: 28
Views: 2965

Re: Paying Points on Purchase Mortgage - Worth It?

I'd rather add $8,800 to the down payment, rather than paying points, to lower the payment. I just feel weird about paying money like that to the lender without having to. Lowering you mortgage liability looks good on the net worth side of things, and will lower you payment in a similar way to payin...
by dsmil
Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of College vs Starting Income
Replies: 94
Views: 5179

Re: Cost of College vs Starting Income

I've heard a rule of thumb to not take on more college debt than what your expected starting salary after graduation will be. It seems like a reasonable rule to take note of. I took on $40k of debt (parents paid other $80k) and my starting salary was $52k.
by dsmil
Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:18 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: # X Gross = Home price?
Replies: 81
Views: 6826

Re: # X Gross = Home price?

We just bought a house at 4x gross, in an area where housing prices are 2x the national average. I think that this ratio is less meaningful at higher income levels, because there is more money left over after making the mortgage payment to pay for the rest of your living expenses. Plus, those living...