Search found 132 matches

by SmallSaver
Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Whole Bean Coffee: Worth the effort?
Replies: 63
Views: 2381

Re: Whole Bean Coffee: Worth the effort?

We accidentally bought whole bean coffee at Costco. We don’t have a coffee grinder. Return the coffee or is getting a coffee grinder worth it? It is for me, absolutely. There's a real difference in taste, and the extra effort involved is pushing a button and waiting 10 seconds, so it's kind of a no...
by SmallSaver
Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Visiting Buffalo,NY / Niagara Falls area - things to see and do?
Replies: 46
Views: 2105

Re: Visiting Buffalo,NY / Niagara Falls area - things to see and do?

The Albright-Knox art museum in Buffalo is incredible. I'm not even an art guy, but it's a great collection and really amazing to see in person. Highly recommended. (edited:maybe not just modern art, see point about being totally naive).

And eat some wings, of course.
by SmallSaver
Sun Jul 07, 2019 12:50 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Self directed IRA
Replies: 7
Views: 369

Re: Self directed IRA

Any other suggested resources to read or use to better educate myself ? I spent a lot of time looking, and that book above was far and away the best. I also found the following GAO report helpful Retirement Security: Improved Guidance Could Help Account Owners Understand the Risks of Investing in U...
by SmallSaver
Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:44 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Self directed IRA
Replies: 7
Views: 369

Re: Self directed IRA

Hello I was considering using a self-directed ROTH IRA to invest in a business opportunity. It would be in a medical business (an outpatient facility - like a surgi-center, an endoscopy suite, a radiology center, or dialysis facility, etc). This seems like a good idea as the opportunity seems like ...
by SmallSaver
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:52 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Vanguard Prime Money Market yield over 2.5%
Replies: 231
Views: 49007

Re: Vanguard Prime Money Market yield over 2.5%

VUSXX compound yield is 2.31%. Your tax equivalent yield is 2.54% = 2.31% / (1 - (22% + 7.05%)) * (1 - 22%). How do the IRS and state know not to charge tax on VUSXX at tax time? My understanding is that they do not, you have to figure it our yourself when you file state taxes. One reason I persona...
by SmallSaver
Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:49 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Applied for an account at CU and the CD rates dropped the next day
Replies: 11
Views: 663

Re: Applied for an account at CU and the CD rates dropped the next day

This is really a customer service issue. Credit Unions are businesses just like any other, and have different approaches. This is one reason I don't rate chase too much on the day to day stuff--I'd rather stick with a CU that I like. I'd at least give them a chance though.
by SmallSaver
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?
Replies: 50
Views: 3423

Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again? or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much? My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money. Are there any gen...
by SmallSaver
Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:03 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Single cup coffee/espresso options, 2019
Replies: 84
Views: 5436

Re: Single cup coffee/espresso options, 2019

Home-brewed coffee is easy. Home-brewed espresso is hard. If there's a <$200, no-prep way to make a cappuccino at home (or even a good espresso), I've never heard of it. A pourover cone filter will make coffee as good as anywhere, and is cheap and easy. French press is also good. Aeropress and Moka ...
by SmallSaver
Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to start outsourcing?
Replies: 21
Views: 2041

Re: How to start outsourcing?

No personal experience, but after the cleaner (best value, I bet) I'd think about food? Eating well takes a lot of time, and also has one of the biggest impacts on your quality of life & fitness. Maybe a meal service of grocery delivery?
by SmallSaver
Fri May 24, 2019 3:56 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Is the housing market starting to collapse?
Replies: 122
Views: 12603

Re: Is the housing market starting to collapse?

I'd like to point out that lots of young people are probably not excited to purchase homes they can barely afford with 5% down, they just don't have a lot of other options for homeownership. It's not like they're passing up on the $150k starter homes, those just don't exist anymore (anywhere I've ev...
by SmallSaver
Wed May 08, 2019 1:44 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Going solar
Replies: 29
Views: 2334

Re: Going solar

I've spent a fair bit of time on this question, and wrote up this guide . It's specific to the state of Montana, but the principles are the same. There's no one answer to the payback, but the major variables are the system size, the cost, the annual production, and the specifics of your electric rat...
by SmallSaver
Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:50 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Compound Interest Calculation
Replies: 29
Views: 1372

Re: Compound Interest Calculation

"Calculating APY https://www.depositaccounts.com/blog/understanding-interest-rate-and-apy.html Most banks publish the APY for their accounts just as prominently as the interest rate so it’s rare that you would ever need to calculate it, but I know there are some math junkies out there who want a si...
by SmallSaver
Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:17 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: New Hampshire PhD student – Rent or Buy
Replies: 13
Views: 695

Re: New Hampshire PhD student – Rent or Buy

Most PhD programs I'm familiar with (sciences) are more like 5-6 years, which may change the calculation. Longer for the humanities. Most of my colleagues had roommates as well, including some married couples.
by SmallSaver
Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:55 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The $4,026,858.95 Car or a Worry-Free Retirement?
Replies: 245
Views: 12144

Re: The easiest way I know to save money for retirement is to own an inexpensive automobile.

I haven't seen the original post, but my take on this is that it illustrates a larger point: for many consumption items, once a basic utility is reached, the marginal improvement of much more expensive versions might be small. The difference between a $30,000 car and a $100,000 car is largely aesthe...
by SmallSaver
Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: College cost trends - 2018 report
Replies: 116
Views: 3528

Re: College cost trends - 2018 report

Interesting read that I wanted to share with the community here. https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/2018-trends-in-college-pricing.pdf What surprised me was this: In 2018-19, full-time students at private nonprofit four-year colleges must cover an average of about $27,300 in tuitio...
by SmallSaver
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:16 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Retirement Calculators: variances in output
Replies: 13
Views: 1349

Re: Retirement Calculators: variances in output

All models are wrong, some are useful. Retirement calculators are predicting the future, which takes lot of assumptions. Understanding what those are and how they influence the result could be the useful part.
by SmallSaver
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:50 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Yet another solar panel bid
Replies: 10
Views: 1542

Re: Yet another solar panel bid

One thing to keep in mind when comparing financial quotes from different installers is that there are a number of assumptions that make a big impact on the final number and may be more or less hidden, e.g. how fast electricity prices go up. It's not hard to juice the numbers a little bit. If you're ...
by SmallSaver
Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Objective news source?
Replies: 69
Views: 1637

Re: Objective news source?

No offense meant at all to SerenityBlue, but that chart shows the futility and hidden assumptions that go into this kind of thing. Saying that MSNBC, Slate, and Huffington Post are similarly left to Jacobin, Alternet, and Democracy Now! is a highly ideological move.
by SmallSaver
Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Objective news source?
Replies: 69
Views: 1637

Re: Objective news source?

It was eye-opening to me to come around to the idea that there is no such thing as "objective news," nor should that necessarily be the ideal. Every decision has ideology, and as long as the reporting is truthful and accurate you may be better off with outlets that do not try to hide their politics....
by SmallSaver
Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:10 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Vanguard VMMXX vs Am Express Savings vs CD
Replies: 4
Views: 496

Re: Vanguard VMMXX vs Am Express Savings vs CD

The spread between all three of those is 50 to 75 bucks a year, so I'd go with whatever's the easiest and least complicated. Personally, I use VMMXX because I already have a Vanguard account and put a pretty high value on keeping things simple and streamlined. (Note also that the yield on VMMXX is a...
by SmallSaver
Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:44 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: [2018 tax return - How does it compare to previous years?]
Replies: 441
Views: 31680

Re: [2018 tax return - How does it compare to previous years?]

Just curious what people are using to calculate their effective rate: federal income tax alone? Fed + state? Fed+state+SS+Medicare?

Using that latter our effective rate went from about 18% to 17%. Similar income, essentially all W-2.
by SmallSaver
Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:02 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Black Fly Protective Head Gear
Replies: 16
Views: 1208

Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

OP, no recommendations on specific brands, other than to get something with a fine enough mesh. In my experience, when bugs get really bad, the trick is to cover up completely: pants tucked into your socks, long sleeves tucked into gloves, collared shirt tucked into pants with the collar up, and a h...
by SmallSaver
Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5 vs 3.6
Replies: 56
Views: 10670

Re: 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5 vs 3.6

Do you want to accelerate going up hills? I have an older (2004) 4-cyl outback and drive in the mountains all the time, often with lots of people and gear. It works fine, but I don't pass a lot of people going uphill. I also generally don't drive the speed limit around here (80 mph). If you're a "ca...
by SmallSaver
Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tips/suggestions for skiing out west?
Replies: 46
Views: 2730

Re: Tips/suggestions for skiing out west?

I'm afraid I don't have much advice for big resorts, but if the cost starts to get eye-watering you could pick a smaller mountain with no crowds and a funky feel. Lost Trail in MT has $45 tickets and you won't stand in a single line; a week-long VRBO in Hamilton or Salmon is probably the cost of a s...
by SmallSaver
Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best weather sites
Replies: 28
Views: 2174

Re: Best weather sites

Whatever app you use, the best thing I've found is to read the "scientific discussion" / NWS forecaster's notes. Twice a day when they update the forecast they write a couple paragraphs about what's happening, what's coming, and what they do and don't know (when the models are in agreement, when the...
by SmallSaver
Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:15 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia
Replies: 55
Views: 3147

Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Getting closer to pulling the trigger. After sleeping on this, I decided to go ahead and make an investment in a piece of winter outerwear that will last me a while and am down to three contenders. Patagonia Powder Bowl has a lifetime warranty, much heavier poly thread than the cheaper Snowshot, tw...
by SmallSaver
Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia
Replies: 55
Views: 3147

Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

As others have pointed out, there's no real reason to get a 3-in-1, but you absolutely need to be able to layer. I'd recommend a good long-sleeve base layer (modern wool is nice), a puffy coat to insulate, and a relatively thin shell that will fit over everything. That'll cover you for just about a...
by SmallSaver
Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:59 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia
Replies: 55
Views: 3147

Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

As others have pointed out, there's no real reason to get a 3-in-1, but you absolutely need to be able to layer. I'd recommend a good long-sleeve base layer (modern wool is nice), a puffy coat to insulate (e.g. patagonia nanopuff or micropuff), and a relatively thin shell that will fit over everythi...
by SmallSaver
Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:55 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Victim of my own success! How to deal with a complex life?
Replies: 103
Views: 9138

Re: Victim of my own success! How to deal with a complex life?

From my experience (disclosure: no kids) after a point you need to pay for time. There are lots of things I'm capable of doing myself but I'm getting better at outsourcing - just because I can figure out how to fix something on my car, work on my bike, repair something around the house doesn't mean ...
by SmallSaver
Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:29 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia
Replies: 55
Views: 3147

Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

This stuff can be absurdly expensive. If you're just starting to ski, I'd follow the approach of buying something inexpensive, then if you wear it out get the high end. That said, it does need to be basically acceptable or you'll be miserable. You don't need top of the line, but I would recommend a ...
by SmallSaver
Wed Jan 16, 2019 3:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Why are you NOT buying rental properties?
Replies: 555
Views: 49372

Re: Why are your NOT buying rental properties?

Why not buy your RE ETF with 5x leverage?
by SmallSaver
Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:00 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you manage credit card use with monthly budget
Replies: 37
Views: 2478

Re: How do you manage credit card use with monthly budget

+2 for YNAB. Basically, the trick is that when you buy something with a credit card you immediately take the money out of your budget and stash it in an envelope which you will then use to pay the cc bill. I was never able to keep track of credit cards, work reimbursements, non-monthly recurring pa...
by SmallSaver
Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How do you manage credit card use with monthly budget
Replies: 37
Views: 2478

Re: How do you manage credit card use with monthly budget

+2 for YNAB. Basically, the trick is that when you buy something with a credit card you immediately take the money out of your budget and stash it in an envelope which you will then use to pay the cc bill. I was never able to keep track of credit cards, work reimbursements, non-monthly recurring pay...
by SmallSaver
Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:02 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: U.S. stocks in free fall
Replies: 11060
Views: 1940179

Re: U.S. stocks in free fall

CNBC allowed one of their respected in-house experts to share his thoughts on the requisite steps to reverse the current unpleasantness: "This is genuine bear market behavior," Cramer argued. "It needs to stop going down before we can get a sustained rebound in the averages." Now who can argue with...
by SmallSaver
Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:30 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: safest downhill ski helmet
Replies: 31
Views: 1333

Re: safest downhill ski helmet

As I've had it explained to me, most sport helmets protect against skull fracture but don't do as much against concussion. Enter MIPS, which is designed to be more protective against concussion. So short of a full-face, the safest is probably one with MIPS that's so comfortable you don't mind wearin...
by SmallSaver
Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Climate Concerns re: small Jersey Shore Vacation Home
Replies: 54
Views: 3091

Re: Climate Concerns re: small Jersey Shore Vacation Home

In case anyone is interested, the sea level rise chapter of the just-released National Climate Assessment is available here.
by SmallSaver
Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:42 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Climate Concerns re: small Jersey Shore Vacation Home
Replies: 54
Views: 3091

Re: Climate Concerns re: small Jersey Shore Vacation Home

I'm afraid I don't have much info for your specific situation, but I think you are wise to at least consider it. Two points I would like to make: 1) Sea level change of x amount does just mean everything increases by x, it generally makes the probability of floods much higher. I.e. an increase of si...
by SmallSaver
Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: First Triathlon. What bike to buy?
Replies: 33
Views: 1971

Re: First Triathlon. What bike to buy?

A comfortable, inexpensive one. Just about everyone is going to try and sell her a $3,500 bike with 23mm tires and 11-speed shifting that will be less comfortable, harder to handle, and need more maintenance than a $1,500 aluminium/steel bike with >28mm tires and some reasonable number of gears. Bes...
by SmallSaver
Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:16 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Guy's Western US Ski Trip - suggestions?
Replies: 44
Views: 2622

Re: Guy's Western US Ski Trip - suggestions?

Tahoe or Whistler? Both should have great nightlife, and just playing the odds you're more likely to get snow there than CO. Crested Butte is a cool town and great hill, but seems more like an apres beers scene than a swinging night life.
by SmallSaver
Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do value the cost of commuting?
Replies: 54
Views: 3611

Re: How do value the cost of commuting?

3 hours of commuting is crushing. I can't imagine doing it with kids. Financially don't forget to factor in the true cost of the additional commute (much more than just gas!). Health-wise, sitting for those three additional hours and probably knocking back some road food is going to build up and it'...
by SmallSaver
Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:47 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Solar Panel Installation?
Replies: 19
Views: 1651

Re: Solar Panel Installation?

Joel, The finances will depend very much on your utility, namely (1) the interconnection agreement (net metering); (2) the rate structure (e.g. tiered pricing). Interconnection agreement How are you compensated for times when your system is producing more electricity than you are using? For example,...
by SmallSaver
Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:20 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amex premium car rental insurance not kicking in
Replies: 31
Views: 3403

Re: Amex premium car rental insurance not kicking in

When I signed up they told me if I booked through a third-party site I would need to give them a call and have them apply the insurance. Haven't tested it, but I'd try giving them a call.
by SmallSaver
Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: solar panels with payback of 8-10 years?
Replies: 24
Views: 2406

Re: solar panels with payback of 8-10 years?

also you cant look at it as an IRR that way because whatever you paid for the panels increases the value of your house, so it isn't a suck cost. If you pay 15K and you get back 30% from the govt in taxes, then you paid $10.5K but the value of your house now has gone up $15K, so you are net positive...
by SmallSaver
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: solar panels with payback of 8-10 years?
Replies: 24
Views: 2406

Re: solar panels with payback of 8-10 years?

Glad it was useful. Do note that the calculation assumes you are net metered, you're credited at the full retail rate of electricity, and it's a simple rate (no time of use pricing, no tiered use)--all of which are true in MT. A lot of details I know, and if you don't want to get into the weeds I'd ...
by SmallSaver
Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: solar panels with payback of 8-10 years?
Replies: 24
Views: 2406

Re: solar panels with payback of 8-10 years?

If your utility doesn't have net metering that's a pretty big deal. Production (obviously) follows the sun, but load doesn't at all, and actually probably peaks in the morning and evening, unless it's really hot and you have a high AC loan, and, and and....those mismatches are pretty important--any ...
by SmallSaver
Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:03 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Pitfalls of real estate investing
Replies: 39
Views: 4923

Re: Pitfalls of real estate investing

I recommend the book "What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow." Real estate is often presented as a sort of no-brainer, can only go up investment but this obviously isn't the case, and the book does a good job of laying out all of the various considerations.
by SmallSaver
Wed May 23, 2018 8:59 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Three steps forward, two back with saving
Replies: 26
Views: 3793

Re: Three steps forward, two back with saving

I suggest using YNAB (You Need a Budget), a budgeting app. You are able to create money "buckets" within the app, so there is no need to create additional savings accounts. I have used this app for the past two years and have had great success. They offer a free trial if you want to try it out for ...
by SmallSaver
Thu May 17, 2018 5:56 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are you including annual increases in contributions in your projections?
Replies: 36
Views: 2185

Re: Are you including annual increases in contributions in your projections?

if you're already maxing your 401k and IRA, that annual increase doesn't matter for those buckets... Sure it does. Both 401k and IRA limits increase over time. Maybe not in real dollars? To answer your question OP, I do not factor in future increases in (real) contributions for two reasons. First, ...
by SmallSaver
Thu May 17, 2018 5:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Solar panels
Replies: 96
Views: 10819

Re: Solar panels

As for energy inflation....I would not be surprised if it was negative over the next 10-20 years. Numerous new ways of making energy cheaply have been fielded recently, and are being rapidly built out. What do you expect to happen in that case? Interesting. I have always taken the opposite view: at...
by SmallSaver
Thu May 17, 2018 5:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Solar panels
Replies: 96
Views: 10819

Re: Solar panels

I've spent a whole lot of time looking into it. A good report on the financial aspects of residential solar and calculator to go with it, are available here (look for "Financial Analysis of Residential Solar" and "Residential Solar Model Spreadsheet"). The question is what you mean, mathematically, ...