Search found 1253 matches

by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:21 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Dual Fuel Stoves
Replies: 4
Views: 188

Re: Dual Fuel Stoves

Do you have a propane tank for other purposes? We currently have a dual-fuel range, and I definitely like it, but I don't think I would go to the trouble of installing propane service just for cooking. If we move someplace without gas service, we will try an induction range or cooktop. You can find ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions
Replies: 19
Views: 1830

Re: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions

For 2017 on my bronze HSA plan, I pay about 10% of income between $50K and $64K in premiums (MFJ). If I keep MAGI down to $50K, net premium is approx zero. If I let MAGI run up to $64K, net premium is about $1400/year. Can you explain about net premium? Do you mean the premium you pay after the APT...
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe vacation, family of 5
Replies: 15
Views: 1369

Re: Europe vacation, family of 5

Think about where you want to go, to narrow your focus a bit. Some locations will fit certain styles of travel better than others. Don't spend too much time travelling between cities, as the process of moving around and finding/checking in to your hotels will chew up quite a bit of time. London is a...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: any good credit card sign up bonuses?
Replies: 15
Views: 1314

Re: any good credit card sign up bonuses?

depends on your usage for specialized bonuses. Southwest miles aren't much use if you don't fly them. There was a 60,000 mile SW bonus card offer from Chase recently, but I think it may have expired. My wife just got a targeted offer of 1yr companion pass plus 40,000 miles on SW card, which she plan...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions
Replies: 19
Views: 1830

Re: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions

We don't currently take any prescription drugs, expensive or otherwise, so prescription costs don't figure in my baseline comparison between bronze and silver plans. By going with the bronze plan, I am leaving some premium subsidy on the table (for 2018 rates); there are some other plans (including ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions
Replies: 19
Views: 1830

Re: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions

Thanks for the detailed response! Can you please explain why you think managing income for the CSR's will be short-sighted in the long run? Personally, my retired income is not low enough for CSR's--I think! will have to double check when I dig into this after 11/1. I am retired, with income source...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:32 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions
Replies: 19
Views: 1830

Re: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions

Some of the details for signups and how to fill out the income forms will depend on which state you are in. I would consider seeing if you can use an agent for buying exchange policies in your state; there has been a lot of flux around that, but it can help to have someone experienced in the system...
by curmudgeon
Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:42 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions
Replies: 19
Views: 1830

Re: ACA Subsidies / HSA accounts / advance premium subsidies / Questions

Some of the details for signups and how to fill out the income forms will depend on which state you are in. I would consider seeing if you can use an agent for buying exchange policies in your state; there has been a lot of flux around that, but it can help to have someone experienced in the system ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: First Post (gulp) - Request for Advice on selling inherited home
Replies: 20
Views: 1611

Re: First Post (gulp) - Request for Advice on selling inherited home

If there is a substantial amount of good furnishings and other stuff that you don't want, you can look into hiring an estate sale firm to handle selling the stuff. Typically they would look over the place and bid a percentage or fixed amount to handle the sale AND to clear away anything else. Just m...
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:41 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Managing home equity
Replies: 6
Views: 1037

Re: Managing home equity

I have personally known folks who did this type of thing and ended up losing their home to foreclosure. Very destructive to their personal wealth. The temptation to spend some of that equity rather than invest it is also an issue. High leverage is a major factor in many failures, business and person...
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:22 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 2018 ACA costs arrived
Replies: 88
Views: 10100

Re: 2018 ACA costs arrived

Rates for my plan (Kaiser Bronze HDHP) increased about 7% for 2018. In my area, I think there are 5 total providers, most with multiple plans, though I'm not sure if there are any PPOs left. We can live with Kaiser (though I have found their billing much more annoying now that we are on HDHP vs the ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:44 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Any mileage plan experts?
Replies: 8
Views: 957

Re: Any mileage plan experts?

Depends what your travel usage would likely be. Is it that you don't expect to accumulate much more miles from actually flying, but might still use flights if you had enough for an award ticket? An affiliated credit card is a good way to "top up" a mileage account (or fill it up in the first place)....
by curmudgeon
Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:10 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Refund from Home Closing - 13+ years later (!?)
Replies: 12
Views: 1655

Re: Refund from Home Closing - 13+ years later (!?)

Lots of stuff gets dumped in a file somewhere, and just ignored unless someone complains. First thought is that I would make sure that the transfer was in fact registered correctly and there are no stray liens on the property. Second thought is that these checks could have been laying around at the ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:54 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Costco kitchen Cabinets and design service....
Replies: 4
Views: 989

Re: Costco kitchen Cabinets and design service....

We have been looking at the cabinets ordered through Costco, and will probably go with them. Ikea and the big box stores were other options we considered. In our case, it's not a full kitchen, but an area of supplemental cabinets. A few thoughts: 1) I strongly prefer "no particle board" for my cabin...
by curmudgeon
Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:20 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Barcelona Hotel Recommendations
Replies: 30
Views: 2205

Re: Barcelona Hotel Recommendations

I booked a hotel that has view of La Sagrada Familia but I’m wondering if it’s worth it, maybe I should book near La Barceloneta, nearer to the ocean. But the week I booked was the cheapest and the price jumps to 3 times the week afterwards, I just felt compelled to take advantage of the deal. Barc...
by curmudgeon
Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do you value your time?
Replies: 97
Views: 3905

Re: How do you value your time?

I've always tended to keep a rough mental picture of the value of my time vs tasks that I'm doing. When I was working, I would have happily traded 1/4 of my income for that much more free time, but that wasn't very feasible with my work. I definitely considered the tax burden as well. It's one of th...
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Steep Uneven Floor in an Old House
Replies: 26
Views: 1669

Re: Steep Uneven Floor in an Old House

Personal opinion (not a structural engineer); stick-built houses don't tend to suddenly collapse from slow land movement. There is a lot of redundancy with all the nails and studs, so they tend to split apart and develop gaps over time as one part or another lets go. Hurricane, tornado, or landslide...
by curmudgeon
Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:33 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Retirement contributions - account options after Roth & Employer Plan?
Replies: 12
Views: 535

Re: Retirement contributions - account options after Roth & Employer Plan?

Sometimes government employees have additional tax-deferred options beyond the basic plan; worth investigating, though investment options are not always the greatest. If you don't have tax-deferred space, then here are a few options: 1) pay down mortgage faster (like adding bonds), 2) taxable accoun...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Credit card budget
Replies: 10
Views: 1079

Re: Credit card budget

I'm pretty conscious of our spending, and my first instinct would be to say, "no, credit cards don't affect our spending", but that would actually be wrong. We definitely spend more because we have credit cards. For everyday spending, there is not any real effect. We aren't going to change what we s...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:52 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Soliciting personal recommendations for a Barcelona trip
Replies: 56
Views: 4464

Re: Soliciting personal recommendations for a Barcelona trip

We are due to arrive at El Prat within the week and will be spending time at a seaside resort just west of the city to get over the jet lag before proceeding to Andorra, then into France through the Pyrenees. After meandering through a number of stops, we are due to come back to Barcelona, staying ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:11 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Soliciting personal recommendations for a Barcelona trip
Replies: 56
Views: 4464

Re: Soliciting personal recommendations for a Barcelona trip

We're days away from going. The news is not indicative of a serene environment as bloodshed in the streets of Barcelona is prevalent. If they start shooting at each other in earnest, then I will cancel and lose the money spent on the trip as there is no reason to endanger my family needlessly. Here...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: So... What bond fund or bond-like instrument do you use?
Replies: 47
Views: 4140

Re: So... What bond fund or bond-like instrument do you use?

I'm just starting to figure it out. I haven't held bonds or FI for probably 20 years, but it's more relevant now that I'm retired, and I took in a big slug of cash from selling a house. For the short term I've paid off a mortgage (negative bond), have a short-term bond fund, and am holding the rest ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:27 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Looking for advice on an automotive paint job.
Replies: 20
Views: 1202

Re: Looking for advice on an automotive paint job.

Nothing wrong with MAACO or equivalent in this situation, as long as you understand the limitations. They will put very little hand labor into prepping the car (removing trim, sanding, etc). If you are changing color, things like door edges or inside trunk/hood may not be painted. It's not likely to...
by curmudgeon
Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Consumer Cellular lowers prices or increases benefits
Replies: 14
Views: 1214

Re: Consumer Cellular lowers prices or increases benefits

I've heard people talk about Consumer Cellular. I didn't find the prices that great. I just paid $248 (including taxes/fees) for 12 months on MintSim. 5GB data/mo, unlimited talk and text. CC has never been the cheapest option, but they do combine reasonable prices with good customer service and ex...
by curmudgeon
Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Consumer Cellular lowers prices or increases benefits
Replies: 14
Views: 1214

Re: Consumer Cellular lowers prices or increases benefits

Indeed. I logged on this morning and noticed that my plan had been upgraded to unlimited talk minutes. Also, I noticed that Consumer Cellular now offers international roaming (they previously had no international service). I saw the roaming option recently. It's not super cheap, but not that bad ei...
by curmudgeon
Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Oil stains: How to treat?
Replies: 12
Views: 1422

Re: Oil stains: How to treat?

I've used kitty litter in garage with decent success. It didn't get lily white, but it did make a big difference. I've used on driveway sometimes also with success, but we don't get much rain here; not sure how it would do in a wetter area.
by curmudgeon
Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: International driver license
Replies: 4
Views: 699

Re: International driver license

AAA offices can do them. Just takes a few minutes, as all they really are doing is copying your US drivers license info into a standardized format. edited to add: You don't have to be a AAA member to get the IDP there. They are only valid for a year, which is kind of silly; I don't always bother wit...
by curmudgeon
Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Good camping sleeping pad
Replies: 20
Views: 1394

Re: Good camping sleeping pad

Bought a 1.5" thick memory foam mattress pad from Walmart. Works amazingly well, but it is a little bulky. We got a king size, and just trimmed it to fit the floor space of the tent, so no sliding off or positioning worries.
by curmudgeon
Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Propane Stove For Earthquake Kit
Replies: 24
Views: 1427

Re: Propane Stove For Earthquake Kit

We just keep our car camping gear around. A two-burner coleman stove and 2-3 of the 16oz propane bottles. Would last a week without much problem in my experience. Trying to boil gallons of water can go through fuel faster, but a filter or purification tablets (or the 40 gallons in the water heater) ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:36 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Double checking capital gains taxes due on home sale if a rental or not
Replies: 7
Views: 912

Re: Double checking capital gains taxes due on home sale if a rental or not

I think Mule provides the correct calculation. But just remember that your actual cost basis for gain calculations is what you paid for the place plus improvements, not what it was worth when you converted it to a rental (the basis you depreciated against).
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:28 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: $7 flights on RyanAir
Replies: 36
Views: 3825

Re: $7 flights on RyanAir

I've done some of those cheap flights on RyanAir. Nothing absolutely wrong with them, they got me from A to B, but they aren't my first choice in ways to save money. And they sometimes fly to obscure smaller airports which leave you with more expense and hassle to get into the city (Munich and Venic...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Lifestyle Creep
Replies: 142
Views: 11747

Re: Lifestyle Creep

We are beginning to book longer personal flights Premium Economy. Is that creep or keeping things the same. Because I’m pretty sure Economy is worse than ever, so Premium Economy might be equal to Economy from 20 years ago. Although the iPads and entertainment options have improved massively so not...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is a Roth conversion worthwhile?
Replies: 11
Views: 1298

Re: Is a Roth conversion worthwhile?

Here is another thing I was not aware of....since my income basically pencils out to next to nothing, doing a Roth conversion before I go onto Medicare could increase my premiums: The final gotcha is the premium is based on your income from 2 years prior. Meaning when it hits you it's probably way ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:50 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Age you retired
Replies: 112
Views: 8302

Re: Age you retired

Retired at 58. Could easily have gone a few years earlier or later, as both the work environment and the finances were in good shape, but this felt like the right time.
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is a Roth conversion worthwhile?
Replies: 11
Views: 1298

Re: Is a Roth conversion worthwhile?

You should also look at taxation of Social Security benefits, which can cause a significant higher bump in effective marginal rates (especially as you get older and RMDs increase). Some people will stay comfortably under the SS "hump", while others will be well over it. If you might be in or near th...
by curmudgeon
Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Anyone own a home and drop insurance coverage after mortgage paid off?
Replies: 36
Views: 2442

Re: Anyone own a home and drop insurance coverage after mortgage paid off?

I am considering dropping coverage. But I would want to keep liability coverage (required for my umbrella coverage). Land is probably 75% of my home value, though if you count rebuilding cost, it might be more like 65%. One thing to keep in the back of your mind is that there might be various tax co...
by curmudgeon
Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:12 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Retirees, what is your marginal tax rate?
Replies: 102
Views: 10368

Re: Retirees, what is your marginal tax rate?

Recently retired, late 50's, CA state taxes as well as Fed, MFJ. I have a lot of flexibility in what I choose to recognize as income, as we can live off savings and proceeds from a house sale. I'm keeping under $64K MAGI to preserve ACA subsidies at present. Because of the oddities of ACA rates in o...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Getting over emotional attachment to house
Replies: 70
Views: 5984

Re: Getting over emotional attachment to house

Petrocelli, I am not a homeowner but think I understand this - here goes: your new house has absolutely no impact on the calculation. Neither does your mortgage balance. What matters is your cost basis in the house you are selling, and the sale price (not your proceeds after paying down the mortgag...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:00 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Getting over emotional attachment to house
Replies: 70
Views: 5984

Re: Getting over emotional attachment to house

Do remember that any gains beyond $500K will be taxable as long-term cap gains plus standard CA tax. And no income averaging or other tweaks, so it shows up as a big hit in one year. It can be worth doing a bit of tax modeling to understand the impact. As far as other ways, I haven't paid attention,...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:47 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Can I have 2 HSA accounts
Replies: 18
Views: 1692

Re: Can I have 2 HSA accounts

If there are employer contributions, it might be worth keeping two HSAs. Note that the maximum family yearly contribution would include any amounts from both employers. In order to use the "over 55" extra $1000 of contribution space for both of you, you have to each have an account to contribute to....
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Getting over emotional attachment to house
Replies: 70
Views: 5984

Re: Getting over emotional attachment to house

We actually went through a somewhat similar process this year, though we had only been in the house for 15 years. We had become fairly attached to the house (somewhat to our surprise), but it was a lot of space to clean and maintain for just the two of us. It was really a combination of factors that...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:27 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Selling Mom's condo and capital gains tax after a multi-year absence
Replies: 14
Views: 1331

Re: Selling Mom's condo and capital gains tax after a multi-year absence

I haven't needed to go deeply into this area myself, so take my opinions here with plenty of salt. My general point would be that being a primary residence is not specifically a matter of "which months", but rather the definition of which place was the center of your life. Lots of people have second...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:29 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: What do you do in slow travels?
Replies: 55
Views: 4344

Re: What do you do in slow travels?

Hotels are less than ideal for slow travel. You get a bed, a bathroom, and maybe a tiny balcony. If you're lucky, there might be a refrigerator and microwave, but that seems less common overseas. You need to look at apartments and homes via sites like AirBNB or VRBO. There are weekly and monthly di...
by curmudgeon
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:22 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Relocate for Early Retirement?
Replies: 41
Views: 3770

Re: Relocate for Early Retirement?

It is quite possible that we will relocate in several more years. The tax burden isn't a key motivator, it's more a matter of being closer to family (and getting away from bay area traffic). Right now, the peculiarities of ACA mean that the net effective combined income tax for us (counting ACA sub...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Relocate for Early Retirement?
Replies: 41
Views: 3770

Re: Relocate for Early Retirement?

Well, I relocated about two blocks, does that count? :wink: It was really more of a tax management scenario, selling our prior residence as the gains were approaching the $500K exclusion, and setting up to potentially get a partial exclusion on the other house. It is quite possible that we will relo...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Should I sell a car to simplify?
Replies: 16
Views: 1092

Re: Should I sell a car to simplify?

I don't think I'd keep three cars with your lifestyle. It's just not worth the nuisance. Keep the two you prefer most, and unload the third. Don't obsess over sunk costs (tires, speakers), but evaluate in a forward-looking manner. I kept three cars for quite a while, but one was a 2-seat sports car ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 24 care home care for family member
Replies: 23
Views: 2289

Re: 24 care home care for family member

I've watched four people in our neighborhood go through this mode, though I was not involved closely with them. These were people who had a high sense of ties to the neighborhood (which is not ideal for aging in place in terms of walkability); they had typically built the house with their spouse 50 ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:48 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Another Help Mom (and me ) post
Replies: 18
Views: 1307

Re: Another Help Mom (and me ) post

Age 85 may be getting towards the top of the age range for good SPIA options. I'm not really familiar with that market, but you may want to do some investigations, as well as seeing what is available if age were 87, for example. I think I've seen comments that the age range 70-85 is somewhat of the ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:34 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Medical Insurance between COBRA & Medicare
Replies: 5
Views: 389

Re: Medical Insurance between COBRA & Medicare

I would agree that it is state (and sometimes county) specific in terms of what types of insurance may be available to you. If you are looking three years out, lots may change between now an then as well. A few factors that can significantly influence your options: 1) Are specific doctors important ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Variable Percentage Withdrawal -> Before retirement Age
Replies: 35
Views: 3446

Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal -> Before retirement Age

The key point is that you are allowing for a variable withdrawal with this system. This means that not just the percentage of your portfolio which you withdraw, but also the dollar amount each year will be variable. If you can't handle some variation in the yearly income, then the system won't work ...