Search found 1553 matches

by curmudgeon
Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Refinishing Exterior Stucco
Replies: 8
Views: 661

Re: Refinishing Exterior Stucco

I'm no expert (I mostly want to follow this thread to see if I can learn), but I'd be surprised if you could coat a finish stucco layer over the painted surface. If you could, then you wouldn't need to paint again, as the stucco coat itself can be tinted. I have seen people advertising thicker coati...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?
Replies: 6
Views: 843

Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

I run ALL my Android phones in 'debug' mode. Why? Without it they aren't seen as a USB drive. I'd have no hesitation using Debug mode in any car and I've done so for years. (BTW, I stream the audio via BT not USB) Exactly. You used to be able to plug in a USB cable, authorize the access, and have a...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: First time ACA coverage with question
Replies: 18
Views: 1425

Re: First time ACA coverage with question

If you had turbotax last year (or another similar program), I would try doing some dummy tax returns and seeing how it gets calculated. There is a somewhat messy form which handles that stuff, but hopefully TT would populate it for you. If you can figure out where the cliff would be based on using l...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:30 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?
Replies: 6
Views: 843

Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

So I swapped in a new aftermarket stereo into my 10-year old pickup. It's a cheap, off-brand unit from China purchased via Amazon. Works pretty well and adds backup camera, bluetooth phone, and navigation capability. It also, in theory, supports screen mirroring from my phone, which would be nice. T...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Selling old car with Airbag light on
Replies: 9
Views: 690

Re: Selling old car with Airbag light on

Some states have safety inspection requirements on cars (I haven't had to deal with them). Do those states fail cars with the airbag light on? I would expect that a chunk of potential buyers won't consider the car, Maybe 1/3 or more. Others won't care as long as they are getting a discount for that ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Time for my annual sanity check
Replies: 8
Views: 1069

Re: Time for my annual sanity check

Backdoor Roth IRA is not helpful because of large traditional/rollover IRAs. You can search for other postings about it, but basically it generally only works when your only other tax-deferred savings are in 401K (or similar). There can still be times when having a Roth can be helpful, but it's pret...
by curmudgeon
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 3 weeks in Australia
Replies: 21
Views: 1118

Re: 3 weeks in Australia

Everybody is different, but I would probably allocate at least one more day for the Great Barrier Reef, and that area. I really enjoyed Port Douglas and a couple of days out on the reef (and I'm not a regular diver). Snorkeling is great there, and you could also do "resort dive", accompanied withou...
by curmudgeon
Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:54 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 3 weeks in Australia
Replies: 21
Views: 1118

Re: 3 weeks in Australia

Everybody is different, but I would probably allocate at least one more day for the Great Barrier Reef, and that area. I really enjoyed Port Douglas and a couple of days out on the reef (and I'm not a regular diver). Snorkeling is great there, and you could also do "resort dive", accompanied without...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:58 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "Don't Obsess About Expense Ratios"
Replies: 198
Views: 16316

Re: "Don't Obsess About Expense Ratios"

I don't obsess about expense ratios, though I do pay attention to them. But then, I don't happen to own any Vanguard funds at the present either. I've gone out on enough investment limbs in the past that the perpetual discussions on "how do I get Admiral shares" don't even get a chuckle anymore. For...
by curmudgeon
Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:27 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Career Transition after Military
Replies: 12
Views: 912

Re: Career Transition after Military

One area I might look at would be the career center from your college. If you are looking at things like Big4 accounting firms, that might be a decent connection. It's possible they won't be of any help, but it may pay to ask. A second question is whether you are interested in doing GI Bill for a gr...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:53 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: USPS Informed Delivery
Replies: 43
Views: 2943

Re: USPS Informed Delivery

No problem getting signed up. And it's working pretty, maybe even too good. Sold my truck a few weeks ago, and Informed Delivery showed an envelope from my insurance company a few days later. I suspect it was my change of policy notice, but it never got as far as my mailbox. I don't know how the po...
by curmudgeon
Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:48 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retiring from military to federal job
Replies: 15
Views: 1541

Re: retiring from military to federal job

My brother did this. He retired from the Air Force about 4yrs ago after 20yrs, now he works at a different base doing the exact same job but now as a federal employee. I think he took 2 weeks off between positions, so no wait time. There were a few things he had to decide if I remember correctly, w...
by curmudgeon
Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which diet soda pop do you enjoy?
Replies: 110
Views: 4363

Re: Which diet soda pop do you enjoy?

It took a long time for me to work around to tolerating diet sodas. Diet Mt Dew was the only one that tasted reasonable for a long time (and only over ice). It's still my default. I've had to start cutting off caffeine at about 4 in the afternoon to be able to sleep well. Fresca works for me in the ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:20 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Social Security + term life
Replies: 41
Views: 1939

Re: Social Security + term life

Take a look at the scenario where the higher earner (or maybe oldest) defers taking SS until age 70. The other takes SS at 62. The deferred benefit will be nearly 1/3 larger than the FRA benefit, and that larger benefit will ALSO be the survivor benefit for the other spouse, replacing their smaller ...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retiring from military to federal job
Replies: 15
Views: 1541

Re: retiring from military to federal job

Some useful points here. I hadn't heard about the 6 month waiting period before being able to be hired as a DOD civilian. Sort of an odd rule, though I understand the issue they are trying to address. It would definitely make transition planning a challenge if you are targeting a specific area; can'...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:35 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: This Water Leak is Maddening
Replies: 13
Views: 2063

Re: This Water Leak is Maddening

I would look closely at the washer drain. If it has built up some link/gunk, it may have reduced flow. Then when you do an extra-large load of laundry (or some specific combination) and the spin starts, the surge of water draining out could overrun the drain capacity. If this is happening, you shoul...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:30 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: retiring from military to federal job
Replies: 15
Views: 1541

retiring from military to federal job

I'm curious about the implications in retiring from the military (normal retirement after 20 years service) and then taking a federal civil service job. Are there specific issues or decisions in the process? Any "gotchas" that would apply working a federal job vs defense contractor vs more typical c...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:22 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 7-8% SWR/year for first 7 years of Retirement...am I good?
Replies: 22
Views: 2567

Re: 7-8% SWR/year for first 7 years of Retirement...am I good?

I looked back at my data and the 7year bucket is 41% of initial retirement start portfolio value. I have detailed all my current expenses for the last 2 years and added margin. I have run in multiple calculators without SS even and I am still 99-100% success rate. None the less I have the same drea...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Recent Kia Soul obsedrvations
Replies: 5
Views: 886

Re: Recent Kia Soul obsedrvations

Had one as a rental for a few days earlier this year. Overall I thought it was a decent car, with flexible interior space, though not a large interior. My overall driving impressions were pretty good, except I didn't really care for the way the automatic transmission handled downshifts (I've noticed...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:35 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 7-8% SWR/year for first 7 years of Retirement...am I good?
Replies: 22
Views: 2567

Re: 7-8% SWR/year for first 7 years of Retirement...am I good?

...calculate how much it would take to replace that between your retirement age and the starting age. Set that money aside in safe investments (CDs, short bonds, ...). I'm wrestling with this very AA issue. I interpret the above as a bucket strategy. The concern I have is that this CD/Short Bond bu...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:38 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: 7-8% SWR/year for first 7 years of Retirement...am I good?
Replies: 22
Views: 2567

Re: 7-8% SWR/year for first 7 years of Retirement...am I good?

It's not really a "SWR"; that implies a sustained withdrawal rate throughout retirement. It may still be workable, though. My model is to take the SS and/or pension benefit amount at the age you plan to start them, and then calculate how much it would take to replace that between your retirement age...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:00 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Vacation in France in Aug 2019
Replies: 7
Views: 418

Re: Vacation in France in Aug 2019

If you could do the extra time "pre-cruise", you would avoid hitting the peak French vacation month. August will tend to be more expensive/crowded/booked in a lot of areas. I'd agree with Alsace as a gem of a region to visit (though I did find the average cafe or B&B there a bit less likely to have ...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Payroll Issues
Replies: 20
Views: 1105

Re: Payroll Issues

One place this sometimes happens is if you have company paid life insurance. A basic amount is allowed as non-taxable benefit according to IRS rules, but anything beyond that starts getting added to your taxable total as "imputed income". Getting a little older or higher salary can make this number ...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:22 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: size/liquidity of your emergency fund in retirement?
Replies: 9
Views: 1143

Re: size/liquidity of your emergency fund in retirement?

I've never really kept anything that I designate as an emergency fund. In retirement, logically all of our investments might fall into that category, but I do try to avoid a potential tax trap. Since we retired (and are not yet of medicare age), I do watch this more closely. We are currently using A...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:58 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Legacy across generations......
Replies: 66
Views: 4120

Re: Legacy across generations......

I take a somewhat multi-faceted approach to the topic. I think it's great if there can be some chunk of money in the family that serves as a bulwark against bad times. It's not a necessity, but it gives some strength to the family ties. It will almost certainly be spent poorly in some cases, but tha...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:17 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Retiring at 62. Have Healthcare Plan. Is my Plan Sane?
Replies: 8
Views: 1307

Re: Retiring at 62. Have Healthcare Plan. Is my Plan Sane?

Healthcare plan definitely takes careful thought. Not everyone can squeeze under the ACA cliff. Having taxable savings/investments (or Roth) really helps, as does having a paid-off house. Definitely keep the longer timeframe for your wife in mind as well. I'm a bit concerned that you may be looking ...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:51 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Alaska Trip/Cruise Summer of 2020. Help me plan
Replies: 23
Views: 1673

Re: Alaska Trip/Cruise Summer of 2020. Help me plan

It depends a lot on what your priorities are. Obviously a very big state, and hard to see it all. For standard packages and cruises, Costco is pretty good on pricing. A standard package might be to fly into Fairbanks, spend a day or so there, then take train to Denali, stay a day or two, then on to ...
by curmudgeon
Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: FireCalc: How big a grain of salt?
Replies: 58
Views: 4619

Re: FireCalc: How big a grain of salt?

I take all these calculators with a moderate amount of salt, but I appreciate the insights I gain from them. Targeting a fixed percentage draw with 100% success calculations seems generally pretty pessimistic. I use the numbers from various tools for some general boundaries. The key for us is that w...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:55 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Question for pre-ACA Early Retirees and pre-ACA solo folks
Replies: 33
Views: 1930

Re: Question for pre-ACA Early Retirees and pre-ACA solo folks

As an actionable example: In year 2 of retirement, I went over the ACA Subsidy Cliff, and also had a nasty health disaster to the tune of $30,000 or more. As a result. I was "dinged" $30,000 for ACA back premiums. And, to make matters worse, a large portion of the $30,000 out of pocket medical expe...
by curmudgeon
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:17 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?
Replies: 31
Views: 2147

Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

Nothing lasts forever. I've yet to have anyone tell me they flush their WH annually or ever. Unless it is a bad thermocouple that can be replaced there is not much that can be repaired on a WH. Unless you don't mind waking up to a cold shower some morning, replace it. In the past, I never flushed g...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:56 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What are your property taxes?
Replies: 212
Views: 13508

Re: What are your property taxes?

. Now that I'm retired, CA taxes don't hurt so much; while I was working, it was painful. Can you kindly explain how retirement factors into the pain tolerance? CA income taxes are quite progressive, but the progression is at much higher income levels than many other states. Not having a pension, I...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What are your property taxes?
Replies: 212
Views: 13508

Re: What are your property taxes?

$7500 for 2000sf in silicon valley. We bought this place 11 years ago in the housing slump, so appraised value is ~$560K (current market value probably around $975K). The prop 13 tax effects in CA create a lot of odd effects, but at least you can retire in place without being taxed out of your home....
by curmudgeon
Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?
Replies: 31
Views: 2147

Re: Replace water heater at end of warranty or repair?

I would start by flushing it out to clear sediment out of the bottom (if you haven't been doing that). A lot of newer gas water heaters have sensors for pilot light that can be confused by sediment buildup. Double check with the manual, but usually it is a simple as; hook up a hose to the drain valv...
by curmudgeon
Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:40 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Health Insurance for Couple Early Retirement
Replies: 29
Views: 2413

Re: Health Insurance for Couple Early Retirement

I have been reading which income amounts go into the MAGI which determines your eligibility for a subsidy. Since capital gains and such count toward it I was at a loss as to how he reduce his income to qualify. Both of us have inherited IRAs from our parents that require distributions. These distri...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:31 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Retirement spending/ HCOL areas?
Replies: 10
Views: 1946

Re: Retirement spending/ HCOL areas?

There are lots of specific variations, both by location and lifestyle. We can keep our retirement spending baseline fairly modest while living in silicon valley, but there are a number of special considerations which may be specific to our case that help us do it. The following things help to keep t...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:07 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: “Day to kill” in Venice Italy
Replies: 51
Views: 3550

Re: “Day to kill” in Venice Italy

I knew traveling with heavily Americanized (if there is such a term) teenagers was going to present challenges. That said, going to a place where the menus are somewhat hard to read (making for frustrating experiences), breakfasts that were included in the tour consists of lunchmeat and croissants,...
by curmudgeon
Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:53 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Can we afford to drop our 401k contributions to pay for college?
Replies: 17
Views: 2087

Re: Can we afford to drop our 401k contributions to pay for college?

I tend to take the view that money is fungible. Yes, the tax advantages of deferral are nice, but not overwhelming. Even without your contributions, you have more going in to tax-deferred through the employer contributions than most two-income families can put away. I would probably be OK with it, a...
by curmudgeon
Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Juggling ACA premium credit and non-refundable tax credits
Replies: 6
Views: 570

Re: Juggling ACA premium credit and non-refundable tax credits

Interesting concept. I've considered doing solar, but was worried that we wouldn't be able to make use of the credits. A significant portion of our taxable income is a result of Roth conversions, which are not inherently pre-defined at the time of signing up for ACA. For 2018, though, my HDHP HSA pl...
by curmudgeon
Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:33 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: death certificates...hospice and 911
Replies: 32
Views: 3002

Re: death certificates...hospice and 911

It can be a bit messy. I think hospice *should* have a process for ensuring that you get a death certificate. Ask them in advance. If you call 911, it may depend on the capabilities of your local emergency responder; some might have to transport to the hospital for an official declaration. It was a ...
by curmudgeon
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:23 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How much to budget for a week long vacation for 2?
Replies: 79
Views: 4547

Re: How much to budget for a week long vacation for 2?

I put an annual amount for travel as a placeholder in my retirement planning. I don't expect to spend that much most years, but it's there to give me a comfort level that we aren't overspending as long as we stay under it. If I wanted to do something on the unusually expensive side that would overru...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 28, 2018 11:40 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement
Replies: 17
Views: 2980

Re: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement

3) ACA premium subsidies / cost-sharing: If I can solve for #1 above (dividends), it might be possible to qualify for ACA premium subsidies/cost-sharing, assuming (big assumption) that those are still available in several years, but that would limit the 401k-to-Roth conversion amount. Which is bett...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 28, 2018 5:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes
Replies: 29
Views: 1904

Re: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes

My advice for using frequent flyer miles for travel to Europe: 1. Avoid London airports. 2. Avoid British Airways. I flew from the US to Madrid (and back) a few weeks ago using United frequent flyer miles, and the taxes and fees were less than $100. Did you fly United, or use United awards for a di...
by curmudgeon
Mon May 28, 2018 1:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes
Replies: 29
Views: 1904

Re: Using Air Miles and Paying Fees and Taxes

I've found British Airways to be by far the worst for fees on mileage tickets, especially though London. And it's pretty hard to use AA miles to Europe without routing via BA (at least for us in SF bay area). Sometimes the BA fees are almost as much as just buying the ticket. If you dig through the ...
by curmudgeon
Sun May 27, 2018 5:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement
Replies: 17
Views: 2980

Re: Optimizing for the 12% bracket in early retirement

Some of this depends on the absolute scale of where you are relative to RMDs and sizes of Roth/tax-deferred. Also where your expenses are at (paid off house can really help) and single/married. For my wife and I, right now we are choosing to fit just under the ACA cliff. We use dividends from taxabl...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 25, 2018 11:22 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Earphones for iPhone?
Replies: 20
Views: 1488

Re: Earphones for iPhone?

I'd like to use my iPhone for listening to various items on my commute. Can someone recommend a decent pair of iPhone compatible earphones? lightweight, good audio, reliable? I am not able to wear ear buds, it's a long story. Thanks Not a driving commute, hopefully. Many (most/all?) states have law...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 25, 2018 10:48 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Magic Jack Go vs Obihai obi200- which one as landline replacement?
Replies: 30
Views: 3391

Re: Magic Jack Go vs Obihai obi200- which one as landline replacement?

I may go for one of these myself. I appreciate the references on how different ones do spam management, as our landline number is valuable for many old contacts, but also gets lots of spam calls.
by curmudgeon
Fri May 25, 2018 10:35 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Earphones for iPhone?
Replies: 20
Views: 1488

Re: Earphones for iPhone?

I'd like to use my iPhone for listening to various items on my commute. Can someone recommend a decent pair of iPhone compatible earphones? lightweight, good audio, reliable? I am not able to wear ear buds, it's a long story. Thanks Not a driving commute, hopefully. Many (most/all?) states have law...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 18, 2018 10:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Nephew graduating high school & joining military. Gift Ideas?
Replies: 29
Views: 1755

Re: Nephew graduating high school & joining military. Gift Ideas?

Don't want to take anything valuable to basic training. A watch is helpful, but it should be a cheap casio/armitron/timex digital. Cheap prepaid cell phone is best as well (phones are normally locked away and doled out on Sun afternoons). A moderate value prepaid visa gift card to use in the px migh...
by curmudgeon
Fri May 18, 2018 9:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Xfinity Mobile phone service
Replies: 8
Views: 779

Re: Xfinity Mobile phone service

I've definitely been tempted. The international roaming seems pretty good as well. Biggest nuisance for me is that they don't support my phone, and I'm not really in the market for a new one. I'm kind of in-between on phones; I like a decent camera, but I prefer to stay under $200 so I don't grumble...
by curmudgeon
Thu May 17, 2018 4:37 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tips on Buying a Class-B RV
Replies: 116
Views: 11343

Re: Tips on Buying a Class-B RV

We are still uncertain about whether or not to pull the trigger on the whole RV'ing idea in retirement, and if so, whether to go with a B-van or something larger. Currently in the process of selling our main home and relocating to what was previously our second home (to become our primary home). Wo...