Search found 146 matches

by bryansmile
Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:07 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Paris hotel recommendations for young family
Replies: 13
Views: 982

Re: Paris hotel recommendations for young family

I've never been there, just did lots of research for my family's trip. My conclusion is to stay away from districts 9-10, and 17-20. Those districts are dangerous. There might be pockets in those districts that are less rough, but for simplicity, that's the basic guideline I followed. According to a...
by bryansmile
Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone make their own tortillas?
Replies: 37
Views: 3265

Re: Anyone make their own tortillas?

8foot7 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:15 pm
I will say that the uncooked flour tortillas you can buy by the relatively large bag at Costco are very, very surprisingly delicious.
Where in Costco do you find them?
We also buy uncooked tortillas, from Super Walmart. Agree they are very good, and easy to cook.
by bryansmile
Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:05 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Evaluating Insurance Companies
Replies: 2
Views: 367

Re: Evaluating Insurance Companies

Check their JD Power rating. If you can't find it, ask your agent.
I mainly focus on their claims rating. Other things like interaction or billing process don't matter, that's what the agent is for.
by bryansmile
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:59 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 40+% increase in auto policy (GEICO) - normal?
Replies: 74
Views: 4607

Re: 40+% increase in auto policy (GEICO) - normal?

Many, many decades ago - I had 12 month policies - but with State Farm - for the past 45+ years, I believe all have been six months. Do some (or many) companies commonly offer 12 month policies? Yes, amica, liberty mutual, etc. And some regional companies I know that only do business in the east co...
by bryansmile
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:38 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 40+% increase in auto policy (GEICO) - normal?
Replies: 74
Views: 4607

Re: 40+% increase in auto policy (GEICO) - normal?

Try to avoid 6 month policies. We all know price will increase at every renewal. With an 1 year policy, the price is locked in for one year, even if you have an accident during the year (east coast winters are bad and there're many crazy drivers here too). And, you'd only have to price shop once a y...
by bryansmile
Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:02 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Left MegaCorp, Disadvantages to Rolling 401K & Pension to Self-Directed Solo 401K?
Replies: 28
Views: 1959

Re: Left MegaCorp, Disadvantages to Rolling 401K & Pension to Self-Directed Solo 401K?

Completely agree with Spirit Rider's assessment of MySolo401k. I have a plan through them and I've received blatant misinformation on serious matters. When asking them about my allowed contribution limits, I got two terrible answers. First, they had no idea that a profit-sharing contribution reduce...
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:20 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?
Replies: 3887
Views: 721733

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

I have actually. But I'm trying to figure out the time period between cards that they require. For example, my wife has had a BOA Cash Rewards that I've been an AU on for several years. When I moved everything to ME and BOA, I opened a Cash Rewards card in my name. About a month later, I tried to o...
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:09 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Shopping insurance? How often?
Replies: 15
Views: 958

Re: Shopping insurance? How often?

RubyTuesday wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:57 am
Do those of you who quote many carriers every year or so have a streamlined approach of providing the information to receive the quote?

Thanks
RT
I work with a local independent agent. They can get quotes from 6-10 insurance companies easily. I'll just handle the rest such as Geico and Amica.
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:02 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Good Rx
Replies: 36
Views: 3201

Re: Good Rx

One thing to keep in mind for those with high medical costs, for those who are likely to reach your OOP (Out Of Pocket maximum), in which case you would want "everything to count", so you hit that max and then pay nothing for the rest of the year. At least in our case, meds purchased out of our Rx ...
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?
Replies: 3887
Views: 721733

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

I have actually. But I'm trying to figure out the time period between cards that they require. For example, my wife has had a BOA Cash Rewards that I've been an AU on for several years. When I moved everything to ME and BOA, I opened a Cash Rewards card in my name. About a month later, I tried to o...
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:30 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: College Credits to stay on Parents Health Insurance
Replies: 17
Views: 1393

Re: College Credits to stay on Parents Health Insurance

Yes, to be an HSA eligible individual, you can not be a dependent, must be covered under an HDHP and have no "other coverage". Also, since the "rules for married people" do not apply, their contribution is not limited by their parent's contributions. A non-dependent child covered by a parent's HDHP...
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:23 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Passport photos cheap
Replies: 55
Views: 3092

Re: Passport photos cheap

have read (bad) stories of folks taking their own photo then 'sending in' a passport renewal only to get it back after an extended period of time as the pictures weren't to spec. On that note I personally wouldn't use a cell phone to take my own photo. I need to do this later this year. People who ...
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:00 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Shopping insurance? How often?
Replies: 15
Views: 958

Re: Shopping insurance? How often?

Once a year. The key is to work with an independent agent who will rate shop for you. At the same time, you also call and get quotes from companies that do not work with agents, such as Amica.
I switch when I can save $50 or more a year.
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:52 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: College Credits to stay on Parents Health Insurance
Replies: 17
Views: 1393

Re: College Credits to stay on Parents Health Insurance

Spirit Rider wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:09 am
In fact, if the parents have a family HDHP, a non-dependent child can make their own HSA contributions up to the full family plan contribution limit.
Can you explain this a bit more? If my non dependent child is on my family plan and I max out the HSA to 7k, can my child contribute extra?
by bryansmile
Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:12 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Passport photos cheap
Replies: 55
Views: 3092

Re: Passport photos cheap

Take your own picture, upload to epassportphoto.com for proper formatting, then print it at cvs/walgreens for $0.19 on a 4x6 sheet (it'll contain 4 photos). I've been doing it for years.
by bryansmile
Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:43 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: How are “high earners” (HCEs) eligible for Mega-backdoor Roth?
Replies: 12
Views: 1263

Re: How are “high earners” (HCEs) eligible for Mega-backdoor Roth?

Have you read through your plan's "summary plan description"? It'll tell you the specific rules around HCEs contributions.

The reason some are able to max out is because their plan caps HCE contributions at a percentage of pay, and their pay is high enough. Think 250k*20% + company match.
by bryansmile
Fri May 31, 2019 1:50 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Blinds for Windows - Where is the best value ?
Replies: 30
Views: 2333

Re: Blinds for Windows - Where is the best value ?

I bought all of my blinds online from jcpenney.com, over a period of time.
A good thing about jcp sales is the extra 25%/30% is off the already discounted sale price, not the original price, so their final price is very competitive. Also, stick with their house brand for best value.
by bryansmile
Fri May 31, 2019 10:55 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Blinds for Windows - Where is the best value ?
Replies: 30
Views: 2333

Re: Blinds for Windows - Where is the best value ?

I put cordless cellular shades on all my windows. I got good deals from two sources-JC Penneys when they had a sale, and Ebay where you can often find the same blinds. +1 on JCP sales. I replaced 23 mini blinds with 2.5" wood and faux wood (bathrooms) blinds from JCP. Their house brand, all good qu...
by bryansmile
Mon May 06, 2019 3:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: College credit for HS courses or not?
Replies: 49
Views: 2296

Re: College credit for HS courses or not?

My son started college with 60+ credit hours from high school. Here's what the upperclassmen told him which seems to be the consensus on campus: a lot of the freshmen level courses (physics, chem, bio, calc I II III) are "weed out" classes, so they are made exceptional hard, harder than necessary. w...
by bryansmile
Mon May 06, 2019 1:38 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer
Replies: 89
Views: 4073

Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

OP, First of all, if your son is disappointed at his school, he can always apply to transfer to GT/UM. Start early, his chances will be high if he does well in freshman year. If he's not looking at grad school, then internships are very important. But freshmen typically do not get the offer. My son ...
by bryansmile
Wed May 01, 2019 9:14 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chiropracter career no longer lucrative...what other job options are there?
Replies: 41
Views: 5429

Re: Chiropracter career no longer lucrative...what other job options are there?

The way patients seek out chiropractor is through word of mouth, and social media is the best channel. One successful chiropractor I know has his own office, works Monday - Saturday, will give patients a free t-shirt if they write a good review on Yelp.com. He currently has over 1,000 good reviews o...
by bryansmile
Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:43 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Switch auto insurance?
Replies: 18
Views: 1844

Re: Switch auto insurance?

I used to shop for insurance every year. Not this year.
Last year for the first time I switched to a regional insurance co. (good rating in jd power), this year I got my renewal notice, a "huge" 3% increase! For the first time in a long time I am not insurance shopping while doing my taxes.
by bryansmile
Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:35 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: College admission inputs - Purdue vs local SJSU vs others
Replies: 58
Views: 3540

Re: College admission inputs - Purdue vs local SJSU vs others

As another poster said, SJSU is a commuter college. Does your child want a traditional college/univ experience? Also if he changes major down the road, Purdue is a much better option overall. I don't recommend the "transfer in 2nd year" option. Transfer students have very different and often difficu...
by bryansmile
Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:03 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: next dollar of savings
Replies: 39
Views: 3384

Re: next dollar of savings

I want to revive this thread after reading this thread about after-tax 401k contributions in this thread: https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=278923&newpost=4496659 I looked at my company's 401k plan and it looks like I have the option for after-tax contributions, though I have nev...
by bryansmile
Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:21 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Bogleheads, why won't anyone hire me?
Replies: 194
Views: 17966

Re: Bogleheads, why won't anyone hire me?

OP, I didn't read all the replies but your story reminds me of my son's soccer coach from 10+ years back. He's a great volunteer coach (no pay, just reimbursement for gas, food, etc) and well liked by the kids and parents. At the time he's working full time at an indoor soccer place while finishing ...
by bryansmile
Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: physics/math major looking for programmer/analyst job?
Replies: 111
Views: 9291

Re: physics/math major looking for programmer/analyst job?

There are online MS programs in CS from top universities. You live at home and just pay tuition and small fees. If instate, it's even cheaper. So check your State U. The student can work part time in the mean time.
by bryansmile
Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:45 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Paris - Is It Safe?
Replies: 143
Views: 9099

Re: Paris - Is It Safe?

I was there a few years back and at the time it was safe on the streets except for the usual [(removed) --admin LadyGeek] , tramps and thieves looking to pick your wallet. A while after that I saw they closed the Louvre as there were so many pickpockets [(removed) --admin LadyGeek] hanging out ther...
by bryansmile
Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:33 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Are academic enrichment courses for school age kids worth it
Replies: 61
Views: 3218

Re: Are academic enrichment courses for school age kids worth it

When my son was getting 70s in his first grade math, I started reviewing math with him before each test - after all, we parents know elementary school math. It helped a lot, both my son and myself. After a year, he no longer needed my help in math, but as he discovered his love for soccer we started...
by bryansmile
Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Preventive Care and Annual Physical 100% Covered but Charged?
Replies: 62
Views: 4039

Re: Preventive Care and Annual Physical 100% Covered but Charged?

OP, you are still lucky. When I took my son to see his doctor who then ordered an x-ray at the medical center next door (in network), besides all the charges for dr's visit and x-ray, the medical center also billed me a $350 "facility charge", for using their x-ray facility. I called and was told th...
by bryansmile
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:59 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ever heard of dentists sedating toddlers to fill baby teeth cavities?
Replies: 28
Views: 2483

Re: Ever heard of dentists sedating toddlers to fill baby teeth cavities?

I did not have my child's baby tooth fixed when it showed decay. It fell out eventually.
by bryansmile
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: One week family vacation in Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area
Replies: 38
Views: 2200

Re: One week family vacation in Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area

Folks, I assume that the toll tag with the rental car is registered to the rental car company. When I return the rental car, the rental car company will record the return data and time and send me a bill or charge me for the toll later. How do I verify that the rental car company did not make a mis...
by bryansmile
Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:40 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Passport Photos ?
Replies: 85
Views: 3829

Re: Passport Photos ?

If you want something done right, do it yourself. Another vote for epassportphoto.com But I am an amateur photographer, so I am using a DSLR with an external flash bounced off the ceiling with the subject against a white wall that is out of focus. That gives almost studio-like quality that no drug ...
by bryansmile
Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:12 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

Let me add one more point. Intuitively, I think my understanding makes sense. Let's say you have a senior and freshman in college and they both have 529 plans that they own. Being that they are both 18, they both can take that money and do whatever they want with it. They can buy a car or whatever....
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

Let me add one more point. Intuitively, I think my understanding makes sense. Let's say you have a senior and freshman in college and they both have 529 plans that they own. Being that they are both 18, they both can take that money and do whatever they want with it. They can buy a car or whatever....
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:09 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

If a child is the owner of the 529 account, then the question answered in your quote is whether to report it as a parent asset or a child asset for that child's financial aid forms. It is not answering the question of whether it is considered a parent asset of another child's 529 owned account. It ...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

Although this is generally true, there are some strategies where money in a 529 will count less than taxable. For example, depending on who is the owner of the 529 could determine how it affects financial aid. If you have 2 kids, by taking some 529 money and having it in a 529 owned by the younger ...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:27 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 2 years in community college, then transfer? need opinion please
Replies: 118
Views: 5765

Re: 2 years in community college, then transfer? need opinion please

I took care of most of my GE and prerequisites (physics, chemistry, bio, match) before I start taking my core engineering courses after I transferred. What will happen is that your nephew will be "cramming" 4 years worth of core courses in 2 years. It took me 4.5 years to get my electrical and comp...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do YOU buy a car? (TrueCar, Costco, Carvana, etc)
Replies: 75
Views: 8548

Re: How do YOU buy a car? (TrueCar, Costco, Carvana, etc)

Carite. They carry popular cars at low mileages - honda, toyota, etc. Prices are fixed, lower than dealer prices. They have all inventory online, with carfax reports. Their employees do not earn commissions, there's no pressure on customers. You browse their inventory online, identify a few listings...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:19 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

The taxable will count just as much in the finaid calculations as a 529. Although this is generally true, there are some strategies where money in a 529 will count less than taxable. For example, depending on who is the owner of the 529 could determine how it affects financial aid. If you have 2 ki...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:13 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 2 years in community college, then transfer? need opinion please
Replies: 118
Views: 5765

Re: 2 years in community college, then transfer? need opinion please

I guess I go against the general opinion. I am faculty in Chemistry at a R1 public research university, getting lots of transfer students from local and regional community colleges, many of them trying to save money going that route. I teach a 300 level course, getting several of these students rig...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:58 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

The taxable will count just as much in the finaid calculations as a 529. Although this is generally true, there are some strategies where money in a 529 will count less than taxable. For example, depending on who is the owner of the 529 could determine how it affects financial aid. If you have 2 ki...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:44 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

I mostly agree with Klang, but I've also funded 529 accounts for my kids since I've had extra income and state tax breaks. Don't forget that when you try to catch up on 401k contributions in your later years (when kids go to college), those contributions get added back to your income by college fina...
by bryansmile
Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:22 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 2 years in community college, then transfer? need opinion please
Replies: 118
Views: 5765

Re: 2 years in community college, then transfer? need opinion please

I'll share a different opinion. In college, students become buddies mostly in freshmen year since everyone is new, which is why a lot of colleges require freshmen to live in dorms. These relationships become important throughout college, in their coursework and social life. It doesn't mean students ...
by bryansmile
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:23 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Whats better to hold, Roth dollars or Tax-deferred dollars ?
Replies: 84
Views: 5676

Re: Whats better to hold, Roth dollars or Tax-deferred dollars ?

F150HD wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:07 pm

if you choose tax deferred (no Fed or State taxes up front) then when retiring you move to a state w/ no State income tax, that's a huge bonus.
This is exactly what I plan to do :D
Only saves on state income tax though.
by bryansmile
Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of college and 529
Replies: 642
Views: 25855

Re: Cost of college and 529

If your kid is smart and becomes NMF (not that hard to do, single test in junior year of HS) snowman, This must be a joke! In order to be an NMF, you have to be the top 7,500 out of 1.6 million nationwide. Aka, top 0.5%. If you are an NMF, you have many places to go with a full-ride scholarship. My...
by bryansmile
Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:11 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Saying hello and hoping for guidance
Replies: 95
Views: 5209

Re: Saying hello and hoping for guidance

Am I the only one who thinks the 401k fund they are in is too aggressive? I think they need to switch to another Target fund. Maybe 2035?
From OP's earlier post:
"Domestic Stock 54.09%, Foreign Stock 36.99%, Bonds 4.49%. Short term 4.31%, Other 0.13% and Unknown -0.01%"
by bryansmile
Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New England Winter Getaway in Feb with two small kids
Replies: 10
Views: 677

Re: New England Winter Getaway in Feb with two small kids

Thanks BryanSmile. Which GreatWolf have you been to? We've been to a Great Wolf Lodge in the midwest and a Great Escape Lodge in Queensbury, NY. But I see there's a Great Wolf in Pocono Mountains, PA and one outside of Boston. They are all the same. Besides the water park, they have activities for ...
by bryansmile
Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should you always use a 529?
Replies: 63
Views: 8524

Re: Should you always use a 529?

I removed an off-topic interchange regarding scholarship qualifications based on racial background. The discussion was getting derailed. Please stay focused on the investing aspects. I'm sorry to hear that it was removed. It is relevant to each individual whether or not and how much they should inv...
by bryansmile
Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should you always use a 529?
Replies: 63
Views: 8524

Re: Should you always use a 529?

Proof that more than 90% of all scholarships out there specifically exclude based on gender and race? Actual experience. The University of Wisconsin does not provide scholarships, but they do provide access to the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub. This database contains 1400+ scholarship opportunities. Wh...
by bryansmile
Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New England Winter Getaway in Feb with two small kids
Replies: 10
Views: 677

Re: New England Winter Getaway in Feb with two small kids

Great Wolf Lodge is good for small kids. It's easy and relaxing for parents too. Bring sandwiches for lunch as food there is expensive.
If you go with friends, more fun for kids and parents. You can take turns to cook and have simple dinners together.