Search found 1387 matches

by curmudgeon
Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Moving utilities underground - any experience?
Replies: 3
Views: 367

Re: Moving utilities underground - any experience?

PGE has a webpage that talks about the process: ttps://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/customer-service/other-services/electric-undergrounding-program/electric-undergrounding-program.page You might want to contact your local planning commission or city government (minutes may be online) that address ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Rome-Florence-Venice-Prague summer vacation
Replies: 8
Views: 385

Re: Rome-Florence-Venice-Prague summer vacation

Train tickets may not be on sale yet for your routes, but it can pay to keep track of when they do become available. Advance purchase tickets for specific trains are often much cheaper than last-minute tickets. Take a look at www.seat61.com for good advice on train travel in Europe. When in Venice, ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:49 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Moving utilities underground - any experience?
Replies: 3
Views: 367

Moving utilities underground - any experience?

Does anyone have an understanding of the feasibility and costs involved in a small-scale project of moving electrical utilities underground and getting rid of the above ground poles/lines? Our current house has great views (city lights, then mountains, with many nice sunsets), but the subdivision wa...
by curmudgeon
Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Advice on 401k [after job loss]
Replies: 1
Views: 162

Re: Advice on 401k [after job loss]

I am 58 years old and I have just lost my job of 13 years. I have a nice 401k, that I don’t want to have to get into. But if I do...what are some options of moving the funds around to avoid the penalties or is that even an option? I am hoping and praying to be back at work somewhere soon...but I ne...
by curmudgeon
Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Third floor too hot with central A/C: options?
Replies: 24
Views: 1462

Re: Third floor too hot with central A/C: options?

For cooling, I might look into whether a booster fan is possible in the ducts going to 3rd floor. Maybe also see whether they need some better air return flow; if the floor is closed off by doors without a return vent, it will have higher air pressure and get less cool air flow out of the vents. May...
by curmudgeon
Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Retiree newbies financial life...
Replies: 4
Views: 1004

Re: Retiree newbies financial life...

3. TSP F vs. G Funds: With prospects of 6% hit to BND (or F fund) principal with every 1% interest rate rise, according to one report(?), and more to come in next 2-3-4, years, does switching to G fund, instead of F, makes sense? Although, G fund is rumored not to survive current congressional wrat...
by curmudgeon
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:43 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Retiree newbies financial life...
Replies: 4
Views: 1004

Re: Retiree newbies financial life...

Holding a mortgage, and at the same time a large BND position in taxable would seem to be somewhat a cross-purposes. 3% is a nice low rate, but the interest is not likely to be deductible going forward, while BND interest would be taxed. And not having a mortgage payment simplifies the cash flow pla...
by curmudgeon
Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:52 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Early retirement guidance on tax advantaged accounts?
Replies: 4
Views: 745

Re: Early retirement guidance on tax advantaged accounts?

About the HSA. The value depends on your typical healthcare usage. Presumably if you go the HSA route, the $1K that your company kicks in would go to your HSA, not directly towards deductible. That means that if you don't have healthcare expenses (beyond the "free" basic stuff), you get to keep the ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Need Help Understanding 2017 ACA Insurance Bill for $28,690 and tax liabilities? Confused? ** How to deduct in 2018??
Replies: 91
Views: 4958

Re: Need Help Understanding 2017 ACA Insurance Bill for $28,690 and tax liabilities? Confused? Help?

A few other thoughts that *might* help for 2018, though they aren't very big levers... 1) You could buy 1 year CDs for your fixed income which only pay interest at end of term (some, but not all 1-yr CDs work this way). That moves the interest into 2019. 2) You could sell bond funds which have a cap...
by curmudgeon
Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Short Term Health Insurance, HSA eligibility
Replies: 3
Views: 238

Re: Short Term Health Insurance, HSA eligibility

I'm not an expert, but I'm afraid any short term policy is unlikely to be HSA eligible. The reason is that there are a bunch of funky restrictions around HSA; it's not just that you have to pay at least the first $X out of pocket, but there also has to be a maximum out-of-pocket limit that is no mor...
by curmudgeon
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Alaska Cruise Suggestions
Replies: 23
Views: 1604

Re: Alaska Cruise Suggestions

We had 9-month and 3-year old grandkids on an Alaska cruise last year. It worked fine. You obviously need to pick and choose a bit what you do, but when you outnumber the baby 4-1, there are lots of options. Some cruise lines are more family-oriented than others, but a 9-month-old isn't going to be ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:47 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI
Replies: 7
Views: 487

Re: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI

A variation on that would be to itemize, but claim the deduction for sales tax, not state income tax. With the low interest rates and occasional irregular investment income, I hadn't worried too much about over-withholding; rather than having to do intermediate calculations about tax due or face po...
by curmudgeon
Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:49 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI
Replies: 7
Views: 487

Re: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI

If a $15K subsidy is at stake this year, and you haven't filed your 2017 taxes yet, an option that might work out is to claim the standard deduction for TY 2017. That way your "substantial" state tax refund for TY 2017 won't count towards your 2018 AGI. You should at least crunch the numbers both w...
by curmudgeon
Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI
Replies: 7
Views: 487

Re: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI

Thanks to all for the clarification. I had looked at this incorrectly when I did a quick search. The refund amount will be reported as income regardless of whether sent to me or applied to 2018 taxes :( I was hoping that the apply to next year would be federal tax invisible (not added to income, not...
by curmudgeon
Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI
Replies: 7
Views: 487

Keeping state tax refund off of ACA MAGI

I retired in 2017. We are late 50's, and using ACA for health coverage for now. Staying under the $64K MAGI "cliff" for ACA subsidies is quite valuable to us. For Tax Year 2017, I pulled all the levers I could (maxed 401K, HSAs, IRAs) and managed to squeak under. One thing that complicated it was th...
by curmudgeon
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Do people still use AAA?
Replies: 267
Views: 18722

Re: Do people still use AAA?

I'm a late comer to AAA, but have been happy with their service. Recently, I went to rent a car, and was blown away by their cost compared to what I was seeing from others. We got a midsize car from SNA (John Wayne Airport - Orange Cty) for $210 for 10 days. This was more than $90 less than what i ...
by curmudgeon
Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:25 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Monthly Stipends (Now) to Future Heirs?
Replies: 10
Views: 1505

Re: Monthly Stipends (Now) to Future Heirs?

I would spend some time thinking about the direction you are trying to go with this, given the scattered heirs. Is your goal to build sustained wealth in the next generation? To make reasonable use of your surplus by improving their lifestyles? How confident are you that your current advantageous ta...
by curmudgeon
Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Rant about relocation mortgage assistance, and a question
Replies: 54
Views: 3017

Re: Rant about relocation mortgage assistance, and a question

Mortgage loan paperwork has gotten really painful in the Dodd-Frank age. We did a couple of loans and refi's over the past 10 years, and it really got on my nerves; stuff like having to explain every significant deposit into our bank accounts for the past few months. If you can do it with a margin l...
by curmudgeon
Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:26 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: what to look for when buying a flipped house
Replies: 27
Views: 1851

Re: what to look for when buying a flipped house

I would definitely consider typical flips as, on average, more risky than the general "owner-occupied" home, and your question is well asked. I don't think that there is a single answer, other than to proceed with special caution. Ask for material specifications and look up permit status for any maj...
by curmudgeon
Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Live / work in California - Technology Career
Replies: 99
Views: 5919

Re: Live / work in California - Technology Career

TANSTAAFL definitely applies to enjoying nice weather in California. It's a set of trade-offs, and some folks move here and thrive while others are ready to head back in a year or two. Housing cost, whether buying or renting, is a big factor, especially if you think of commute time as part of that h...
by curmudgeon
Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:42 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tips on Buying a Class-B RV
Replies: 104
Views: 7604

Re: Tips on Buying a Class-B RV

I don't have a lot to add, but I am interested in the topic for myself. We have friends who have really enjoyed their B over the past 15 years or so. I think the likelihood of it actually suiting you is is definitely dependent on your travel style. If you did years of tent camping when you were youn...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:39 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Variable annuity and ACA subsidy
Replies: 12
Views: 673

Re: Variable annuity and ACA subsidy

My parents are both 61 and retired with 1 dependant. Starting this year they are on the Obamacare bronze plan with a premium subsidy. Their projected AGI for 2018 is $75k. They have $300k in cash that needs to be invested. If they invested it in a taxable account, I could see a big problem with una...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:15 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Trusts for adult Children
Replies: 203
Views: 10614

Re: Trusts for adult Children

Yes, living trust needs a TIN. It generally takes time to wind up a trust/estate, so taxable income/changes come under the TIN (and get reflected to beneficiaries with K1s). I did not know that. Our joint revocable trust does not have a separate TIN. Vanguard sends all trust 1099 DIVs to me, since ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Trusts for adult Children
Replies: 203
Views: 10614

Re: Trusts for adult Children

For those of you who do plan to have distributions to adult children governed by a irrevocable trust, what approach are you taking: - Put your Vanguard accounts into a living trust that becomes irrevocable on your death? - Keep in your own name and list the trust as the "payable on death" beneficia...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Chip architecture vulnerability in pretty much everthing
Replies: 106
Views: 6822

Re: Chip architecture vulnerability in pretty much everthing

Quick question,... Do VMs directly use the chip of the host system? IOW, does a VM use the processor that came with the computer or does it simulate a processor via software? Or is it a combination of both. High-performance VMs directly run on the cpu, with enhanced exception handling to deal with ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Chip architecture vulnerability in pretty much everthing
Replies: 106
Views: 6822

Re: Chip architecture vulnerability in pretty much everthing

Quick question,... Do VMs directly use the chip of the host system? IOW, does a VM use the processor that came with the computer or does it simulate a processor via software? Or is it a combination of both. High-performance VMs directly run on the cpu, with enhanced exception handling to deal with ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: New to HSA's - A Couple of Questions
Replies: 5
Views: 546

Re: New to HSA's - A Couple of Questions

When I was working, my HSA was accessed through the insurance company website. A bit awkward, but manageable. The default model did set a $2K cash component (maybe because the typical non-boglehead needs a cushion like that for medical expenses with a HDHP). As others have noted, saving on FICA is a...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:06 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Pre-Medicare Health Expenses and Savings Multiple
Replies: 9
Views: 700

Re: Pre-Medicare Health Expenses and Savings Multiple

Depending on your income, your Medicare numbers may be low. As I was just discussing in my prior response, I should be OK on IRMMA if I keep taxable income to $77K. I think first step-up occurs at $170K for married, correct? There are a range of different factors that come into play for medical. I'...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:00 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Year 2000 retirees using the '4% rule' - Where are they now?
Replies: 354
Views: 35057

Re: Year 2000 retirees using the '4% rule' - Where are they now?

At some point when you enter the upper middle class (100k+), you rapidly buy everything you want and you have to really work on upgrades (first class instead of cargo, BMW instead of honda) to spend the money. Some people don't want the upgrades even if they can afford them. Other people dream abou...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:39 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Pre-Medicare Health Expenses and Savings Multiple
Replies: 9
Views: 700

Re: Pre-Medicare Health Expenses and Savings Multiple

It is important to realize that health insurance premiums rise significantly with age. Often around 50 or 55 there are large bumps. ACA compresses the age-related premium differences to a max of 3X (my understanding is actuarial cost range is more like 5X). As a baseline, your thought process is rea...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Traveling to Germany (Bavaria) in April/May - Itinerary Help Needed
Replies: 41
Views: 2055

Re: Traveling to Germany (Bavaria) in April/May - Itinerary Help Needed

With that time, I would make a mixed trip of city and country. Spend the first three days (4 nights) in Munich, staying someplace central near the Marienplatz. Easy local transport on the metro. Do things around the city and nearby. If you want to do a beer hall, I liked Augustiner better than the H...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone disenchanted with retirement?
Replies: 184
Views: 20135

Re: Anyone disenchanted with retirement?

Still early days for me (not quite a year). No surprises yet; I miss some of the good aspects (interesting projects, good people), and am glad to be shed of the bad aspects (annoying commute, too many conference calls with a 12 hour time difference). I've thought of doing some random work for entert...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:42 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Spousal benefits and 40 credits question
Replies: 4
Views: 350

Re: Spousal benefits and 40 credits question

My SAH wife has 39 credits, just shy of the 40 needed to obtain her own SS benefit. However, if I understand correctly, she will earn more with the spousal benefit than her own, if she were to work for just 3 more months to reach the 40 credit minimum. This assumes that I don't file until I'm 70 an...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Mom passed, I am successor trustee
Replies: 9
Views: 1330

Re: Mom passed, I am successor trustee

That sounds correct to me. If there was something significant outside the trust, it has to be accounted for with the court. It will mean some paperwork, but shouldn't be too complex for a single small account. If the checking account had "Payable on Death" beneficiaries designated, it would pass dir...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:16 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Trusts for adult Children
Replies: 203
Views: 10614

Re: Trusts for adults Children

It is important to think about the long term effects and maintainability of this stuff. 20 years from now there may have been significant changes to tax and estate law that make your current arrangements counter-productive. The trustees you name now may die or become incapable. The kids you are worr...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:00 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Early retirement and a different angle on paying off the mortgage...
Replies: 8
Views: 2038

Re: Early retirement and a different angle on paying off the mortgage...

We are choosing to keep our MAGI for ACA income under $64K, which gets us a large ACA subsidy. But this depends on being willing to live with the limited plans available on the ACA marketplace. In our case, we get a Kaiser HDHP HSA plan for near $0 premium (but have to pay the first ~$7K out of pock...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Downsizing to one car in retirement...
Replies: 68
Views: 4161

Re: Downsizing to one car in retirement...

I have thought about this. If the costs were important, I might think about going down to one car. My wife is more prone to going out and doing activities with friends, while I like projects around the house and walking in the nearby park system. Stores and such are not really in practical walking d...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:10 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retired, but opportunity to earn $: taxes??????
Replies: 17
Views: 1976

Re: Retired, but opportunity to earn $: taxes??????

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:08 pm
curmudgeon wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:06 pm
I don't think you can do both SEP and 401K
Sure you can.
For the same income?
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retired, but opportunity to earn $: taxes??????
Replies: 17
Views: 1976

Re: Retired, but opportunity to earn $: taxes??????

Can I employ all of these strategies in a given tax year? 1. If salaried, Fund 401K to max value, given age of 63. 2. SEP/IRA ... (I am assuming this may only be used if hired as independent contractor/consultant?) 3. Donor Advised Fund I don't think you can do both SEP and 401K, but you can do ded...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Retired, but opportunity to earn $: taxes??????
Replies: 17
Views: 1976

Re: Retired, but opportunity to earn $: taxes??????

ACA subsidy is based on MAGI (gross, not taxable, income). This means that many deductions (state tax, charitable contributions, etc) don't reduce income for ACA purposes. 401K, IRA, and HSA are the main potential reductions you could use. Also note that tax-exempt bond income (muni's) is added back...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: ID theft and check cashing fraud
Replies: 97
Views: 6005

Re: ID theft and check cashing fraud

Just FYI - in my area, thieves are watching the parking lots of gyms, yoga studios, etc. While the people are working out inside, they are stealing purses, etc from the vehicle. Seems like these businesses need to have better security or lose membership. In this case, the gym was 24-hour fitness. I...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Reducing 2018 Taxes
Replies: 19
Views: 2064

Re: Reducing 2018 Taxes

Max an HSA if you have the option with your medical insurance (and if that plan is suitable to you).
by curmudgeon
Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Extended Stay
Replies: 2
Views: 436

Re: Extended Stay

I am sometimes concerned that Airbnb listings may be violating either their own lease, or local laws. Of course, the same issue can also apply to VRBO/Homeaway. For our rentals in European cities, I've started leaning towards local agencies specializing in short term rentals, which have a local offi...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:37 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Taking Long term gains or converting to Roth
Replies: 6
Views: 378

Re: Taking Long term gains or converting to Roth

I am weighing this exact decision myself. We are MFJ, so the limits are a bit higher. I'm leaning towards Roth conversions, but I still have some more analysis to do. My general model is to try to have tax diversification, so as to better be able to handle whatever a future congress may do to the ta...
by curmudgeon
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:33 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Appliance Install Issues
Replies: 40
Views: 2080

Re: Appliance Install Issues

The latest code gets pretty carried away in requiring so many kitchen circuits. Maybe if you are building from ground up it makes sense, but not for existing real world houses. A few points: As noted, you can't safely split off from the 220v circuit - the breaker would not protect against 110v overl...
by curmudgeon
Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:46 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Your travel tips for Vienna and Budapest?
Replies: 23
Views: 1220

Re: Your travel tips for Vienna and Budapest?

Everyone has different interests and tastes, but with limited time in Vienna, I might skip Schonbrunn (or just pick one between Schonbrunn and Belvedere). I really enjoyed a short visit to the Imperial Library. The treasury and crown jewels were fascinating to me, not so much for a lavish display of...
by curmudgeon
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:38 am
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Changing from 60-40 to 40-60 investment ratio, general strategy
Replies: 15
Views: 1301

Re: Changing from 60-40 to 40-60 investment ratio, general strategy

A few thoughts: 1) In the 12% bracket, you have can choose between Roth conversion (and paying the associated tax) or long term cap gain harvesting (paying 0 fed tax). Both have advantages. 2) If you want to shift your allocation, one way is to do it by shifting where contributions and withdrawals a...
by curmudgeon
Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:10 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Spain Trip: Barcelona & Girona + Cycling
Replies: 11
Views: 681

Re: Spain Trip: Barcelona & Girona + Cycling

Questions: 1) How do these plans overall sound? 2) What month would be best for this? We'd like it to be in the first half of the year in 2018 3) What are some "must do" activities in Barcelona? Last time I got recommendations on this forum for a trip we went to almost every suggested restaurant/ba...
by curmudgeon
Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:10 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Will you donate less to Charity?
Replies: 109
Views: 7780

Re: Will you donate less to Charity?

I wasn't necessarily expecting to itemize over the next few years, so I loaded up the DAF with about six years worth of contributions in my last full year of working even before the new tax law. I don't expect anything different in our donations over the next few years. In the future, I may do an "e...
by curmudgeon
Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:56 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: European Cities that don't interest you
Replies: 187
Views: 12124

Re: European Cities that don't interest you

I've always found it interesting how different cities or regions will take people very differently. I definitely can't reliably pick in advance whether a city will appeal to me. In most European big cities my wife and I can entertain ourselves contentedly for a few days, but some definitely draw us ...