Search found 431 matches

by brianH
Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Any males in their late 40’s recently shop life insurance?
Replies: 29
Views: 3474

Re: Any males in their late 40’s recently shop life insurance?

My husband, age 47, purchased 30 year term insurance around 10 years ago. He has 750,000 coverage for $1000/year. That was the preferred rate. My insurance cost $361/year for a million dollars for comparison. I do know woman pay less but I feel like we pay so much for so little but don’t really kno...
by brianH
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: First time home insurance claim, help appreciated
Replies: 9
Views: 1022

Re: First time home insurance claim, help appreciated

The experience really sucked, but the insurance company came through. I still have them, rates have gone up some, but so have others in the area. Who is your insurance company? I hear horror stories of HO insurance companies dropping after too many claims and threatening to cancel policies based on...
by brianH
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:47 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Real Estate Negotiation Came to a Halt
Replies: 67
Views: 5781

Re: Real Estate Negotiation Came to a Halt

You got some really great advise in this thread. I just wanted to remark that this is why, as a seller, listing too high (dream price) can be problematic. Some sellers think that a high price is just the start of a negotiation, and that offers will potentially come in lower and they can adjust. Ofte...
by brianH
Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:57 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Are you getting rid of your gas appliances?
Replies: 43
Views: 3436

Re: Are you getting rid of your gas appliances?

Are properly working gas appliances really a significant contributor to carbon emissions? Not really, but one hugely underestimated and under-reported issue is the problem of methane (natural gas is primarily methane) leaks in end-use equipment, infrastructure and pipelines. This is actually a bigg...
by brianH
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:46 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Are you getting rid of your gas appliances?
Replies: 43
Views: 3436

Re: Are you getting rid of your gas appliances?

I don't think you'll miss gas for any of those appliances. Induction stoves are great. Much safer than regular electric (cooktop stays cool, no burns) or gas (fire). Bay Area has the perfect climate for a heat pump. Now, if you are serious about cutting your carbon footprint rather than aesthetics,...
by brianH
Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: New Construction - Things to look for?
Replies: 13
Views: 1042

Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Ensure that the builder will allow *your* inspector to do inspections at various stages in the build process: after foundation pour, before the drywall is put up, and after finish work. Make sure he has a copy of the options/configuration changes you've made so that he can ensure things aren't missed.
by brianH
Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:08 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Wife (teacher) and I are trying for a baby. What are some "must-knows" and other tips?
Replies: 127
Views: 12712

Re: Wife (teacher) and I are trying for a baby. What are some "must-knows" and other tips?

Only buy pajamas that have zippers.

Every time I'm fumbling to snap the 6+ snaps on my son's (8 mo) PJs, in a dim room, as he flails around and screams because he wants me to finish and give him a bottle, I curse what a poor engineering decision snaps on Pjs are.
by brianH
Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:30 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: First Home Purchase - Disagreement on Appraisal Contingency
Replies: 81
Views: 4109

Re: First Home Purchase - Disagreement on Appraisal Contingency

Studies have shown that Realtors keep their own homes on the market longer, and get higher values for them. Most buyers/sellers only do these transactions once per 7-8 years and act out of emotion. To be fair, though, that emotion can act both ways. It's pretty common to see a seller list at a 'sho...
by brianH
Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:36 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Oil to natural gas conversion anyone?
Replies: 43
Views: 2522

Re: Oil to natural gas conversion anyone?

slightly reduced electric cost. An oil burner has what's called a gun. It looks like a big industrial sized blow dryer. This is running and using electricity whenever your burner is on. It is necessary to take the oil from it's liquid state and atomize it so it can be burned. Being gas is already p...
by brianH
Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Strength training is like investment
Replies: 46
Views: 3888

Re: Strength training is like investment

Don't get me wrong, I love the compound lifts but my torn bicep tendon, sore hips and toe joints like them less. After several years I have learned to dial it back a bit. I'll turn 40 this year and now rarely squat or deadlift out of fear of further injury. I never made it past intermediate numbers...
by brianH
Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: finding transformer in attic with insulation (edited for correct name of component)
Replies: 36
Views: 3051

Re: finding junction box in attic with insulation

Another method I have used is to drill a small hole and stick a wire up through the hole into the attic. (recycled utility marking flags work great for this.) Then you just head up to the attic and find where the wire is sticking up. Patch the hole with a small dab of spackle. If you ceiling is whi...
by brianH
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Water Heater Anode Replacement
Replies: 32
Views: 3443

Re: Water Heater Anode Replacement

how long does it take a 50 gallon hot water heater to 'cool off' once you throw the breaker? You've discovered one of the myths used to sell tank-less water heaters: that tank models consume tons of energy to keep the water in the tank warm. Most newish (last 5 years) tank water heaters use a surpr...
by brianH
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: my best new travel tip only $2 per day more [airport parking]
Replies: 59
Views: 7155

Re: my best new travel tip only $2 per day more [airport parking]

ON a side note about a long true story. Has anyone else lost their car in remote parking when traveling? I usually try to park right near one of the lightpoles with the lot letter/number code sign on it, and snap a picture of the sign with my phone before I hop on the bus. The photo gets synced to ...
by brianH
Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: my best new travel tip only $2 per day more [airport parking]
Replies: 59
Views: 7155

Re: my best new travel tip only $2 per day more [airport parking]

The Philadelphia airport, surprisingly considering how many things it sucks at, gets this right. The long-term lot is only $11/day (all taxes included), and the bus to take you there comes frequently, 24/7, and isn't typically filled. I've done the off-site economy lots, and they don't usually work ...
by brianH
Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Open-source notepad with password encryption
Replies: 25
Views: 2175

Re: Open-source notepad with password encryption

Would you be able to help me understand this part (if you are knowledgeable on this): What is the difference between: OpenPGP symmetric encryption (which can also use AES-256) and AES-256 through Winzip/7-zip? I mean you can encrypt a file with an OpenPGP program like GnuPG, using AES-256 symmetric...
by brianH
Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Open-source notepad with password encryption
Replies: 25
Views: 2175

Re: Open-source notepad with password encryption

I would just use the free-text 'notes' field in Keepass for your use-case. There's no limit to the size, and it doesn't sound like you actually need rich document formatting features. Due to how it works, you'd never have an unencrypted version of the file floating around on disk, and the encryption...
by brianH
Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Open-source notepad with password encryption
Replies: 25
Views: 2175

Re: Open-source notepad with password encryption

The 'been around forever', open-source, and not going anywhere Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG) can do symmetric encryption. Here's NASA's page that explains the simple command-line options: https://www.nas.nasa.gov/hecc/support/k ... a_242.html
by brianH
Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hybrid Water Heater
Replies: 22
Views: 1951

Re: Hybrid Water Heater

perhaps a mini-split This would likely be the way to go. Assuming a single-story, outside wall, and available power (usually at least a 240/20 amp dedicated circuit) you can DIY a minisplit. The electrical hookup and pad for the condenser are the most involved parts. Many videos online DIY installi...
by brianH
Sun Jul 07, 2019 6:36 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Refi at this rate?
Replies: 31
Views: 3506

Re: Refi at this rate?

I’d youre paying down principal that fast, why do you even care about the rate? I will slow down now. A chunk of that was from the sale of our previous house, which we did after purchasing the new one. I may not keep a 15 for the full term, but it would be nice to have some flexibility in the month...
by brianH
Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Refi at this rate?
Replies: 31
Views: 3506

Re: Refi at this rate?

What is everyone's balance on the mortgage or percentage paid? I'm looking to refi, but only have about 9 years left on a original 30 year (opened 1 year ago.) Most of my quotes for refinance aren't much lower than 4, while my current rate is 4.3. I'm wondering if higher balances give the lower rates.
by brianH
Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Hybrid Water Heater
Replies: 22
Views: 1951

Re: Hybrid Water Heater

I like the Rheem models of HPWHs (Home Depot) better than the AO Smiths sold at Lowes. I bought and installed my own 50g in a basement. It's more involved than a most electric/gas heaters, because the inlet/outlet pipes are not on top. Additionally, they are freaking heavy. I think my unit was North...
by brianH
Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Tell me about ventless gas burners for a fireplace
Replies: 19
Views: 863

Re: Tell me about ventless gas burners for a fireplace

We had a chimney sweep inspect the fireplace and discovered that parts of each flue are exposed brick with missing/cracked segments, and he recommended not using it to burn gas or wood until we have it relined. This is the classic response from every chimney sweep in existence. Biggest bunch of cro...
by brianH
Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Appliance Replacement
Replies: 10
Views: 1134

Re: Appliance Replacement

The two things I learned from that workshop was that our gas water heater was only costing us like $9/month, and to run away if someone was trying to sell me an all electric house. You must live in an area with especially high electric prices and especially low gas prices. Using the standard number...
by brianH
Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:21 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: hybrid or plug-in electric car
Replies: 106
Views: 10396

Re: hybrid or plug-in electric car

The Kids are Alright, yes, but we are gifting them a planet which is seriously awry. I would highly recommend reading one of Steven Pinker's books: The Better Angels of Our Nature or the more recent and broad Enlightenment Now . While not without some criticism, I think he generally does a good job...
by brianH
Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:10 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: hybrid or plug-in electric car
Replies: 106
Views: 10396

Re: hybrid or plug-in electric car

Order of magnitude less??? Tesla owners seem to say their cars require practically zero maintenance. When we bought the Kia EV, the dealership was like, "We hope you'll bring it back for regular maintenance, we'll need to, um, uh, .... Hmm, we'll probably umm, wait... Oh we can rotate your tires, t...
by brianH
Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:27 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: HSA - 2 parts: contribute and spend. When to spend?
Replies: 73
Views: 4072

Re: HSA - 2 parts: contribute and spend. When to spend?

And don't forget, you can reimburse yourself for medical expenses you've incurred throughout your working years after you established your HSA as long as you've saved the receipts. Though I certainly don't have a crystal ball, I have a hard time believing that this 'trick' will always be available....
by brianH
Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:03 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Doing Your Own Taxes
Replies: 36
Views: 3767

Re: Doing Your Own Taxes

I've also been a happy user of FreeTaxUSA for the past few years (after TaxAct jacked up prices.) They usually send out a discount code towards the end of the year (10% off), which makes Fed+1 State cost $13. I've always done my own taxes, so I know far more about the tax code than I would like to, ...
by brianH
Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration Renewal - 2 year option
Replies: 51
Views: 10261

Re: Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration Renewal - 2 year option

If only they switched to inspections every 2 years (or never). A lot of data/studies on states without frequent inspection requirements, and there's very little value to requiring inspections (especially annual inspections). Agreed, 100% Better yet, do what Delaware does and have the (basic) inspec...
by brianH
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:21 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: With hindsight, what signs indicated you were about to lose your job?
Replies: 127
Views: 14074

Re: With hindsight, what signs indicated you were about to lose your job?

Small tech company (~30 people) was purchased by a larger tech company, mostly for our IP. Been down this road a few times. If you're part of a small software team and you get acquired (most do, or they fold), start sending feelers out to your network. It's likely that once the acquiring firm extra...
by brianH
Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:26 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying for rent is throwing away money...myth?
Replies: 302
Views: 22052

Re: Paying for rent is throwing away money...myth?

A small anecdote to the discussion of renting while kids are living at home: My brother-in-law and SIL own a house in a (V)HCOL area with primarily owner-occupied single family homes (i.e. not a ton of houses for rent.) They were renting out their place to a family with 3 children IIRC, and all the ...
by brianH
Thu May 30, 2019 10:56 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Extra Payments on Monthly Mortgage Considerations
Replies: 37
Views: 3746

Re: Extra Payments on Monthly Mortgage Considerations

Recasting does not reduce the length of your loan, it simply reduces the payments each month. You pay less interest overall, yes, but the payoff date is the same. It's just a re-amortization. If someone has the money to pay EXTRA (as opposed to wanting to pay LESS), then a refinance is the better o...
by brianH
Thu May 30, 2019 8:36 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Extra Payments on Monthly Mortgage Considerations
Replies: 37
Views: 3746

Re: Extra Payments on Monthly Mortgage Considerations

One thing that seems to get frequently forgotten in these discussions is that many (most?) lenders offer a 'mortgage recast' option for a small fee ($250-$500). If one has been aggressively paying down the mortgage principal balance, recasting the loan is the equivalent of taking out a new mortgage,...
by brianH
Tue May 28, 2019 7:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: tankless water heater?
Replies: 37
Views: 4111

Re: tankless water heater?

This sounds like a tankless water heater marketing brochure. Not to mention that modern (built in the last 5 years) tank water heaters have much more and better insulation. The standby losses (heat from it maintaining water temp) is a very minimal component of its energy use, usually between 5-10%....
by brianH
Fri May 24, 2019 8:08 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone else looking forward to Game of Thrones?
Replies: 90
Views: 9569

Re: Anyone else looking forward to Game of Thrones?

The final season was arguably the worst, but still worth watching. Given the constraints it was an impossible task. If you really want to wind things up in 7 episodes there's no way to do it in a way that made the show good. The sad thing about this is that HBO was totally pushing to have more epis...
by brianH
Fri May 24, 2019 7:31 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: PA 529 thoughts
Replies: 13
Views: 1209

Re: PA 529 thoughts

Some additional PA State Benefits: What benefits can I get by saving in the PA 529 Program that I can’t get from any other 529 program? As a Pennsylvania resident, you get special treatment. Not only are your contributions deductible from your Pennsylvania state income tax, the entire value of your...
by brianH
Tue May 14, 2019 11:29 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Heating with propane?? Good idea?
Replies: 38
Views: 2456

Re: Heating with propane?? Good idea?

It's worth noting as well that a hybrid setup (e.g. heat pump + propane/oil furnace) is difficult to tune to achieve the lowest energy consumption, because typically when the furnace is on, the heat pump can no longer operate. With the electric strips on a HP, the HP and electric can work in concert...
by brianH
Thu May 09, 2019 2:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: House selling - modern norms
Replies: 36
Views: 5856

Re: House selling - modern norms

It makes me laugh to remember some of the sale houses we looked at in the 80s, where the sellers didn't even bother to clean up their messes and they expected to sell with pet feces all over the yard, broken fences, appliances and HVAC units on their last legs, roofs leaking, etc. Today if you try ...
by brianH
Fri May 03, 2019 3:35 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Recast - How to calculate and when is it worth it?
Replies: 9
Views: 1378

Re: Recast - How to calculate and when is it worth it?

I thought about recasting as well ($250 fee from my lender), because I purchased a new house before I sold the old one. However, as others have mentioned, once I thought about it, it's no different from just making an additional, large principal payment assuming you don't pay less each month (i.e ar...
by brianH
Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:53 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Housing market bubble
Replies: 27
Views: 6499

Re: Housing market bubble

The problem as I see it is that many builders will not build small houses. They might build town-homes but not single family homes. The reason is the cost of land and improvements (many mandated by the local government) are so high that if they build a small house on the property they still need to...
by brianH
Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:50 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Housing market bubble
Replies: 27
Views: 6499

Re: Housing market bubble

Latest stats I have seen is that Millenials are, indeed, moving to the suburbs. The economic problems until lately delayed that compared to the earlier generation, but it hasn't stopped it. I agree that what Millenials seem to want is neighbourhoods like the suburban one my parents moved to - what ...
by brianH
Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: In search of a dishwasher that dries plastics well...
Replies: 80
Views: 4801

Re: In search of a dishwasher that dries plastics well...

Somewhat related, but I really don't understand the point of dishwashers. They are not economical (most at least), take a long time to load and unload, and don't even wash well. You often need to pre-wash also for many dishes or scrub all of the debris off before the actual washing. I'm one of thos...
by brianH
Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How far would you commute?
Replies: 104
Views: 6078

Re: How far would you commute?

Are they flexible with start/end times? It sounds like they may not be, given the sudden rule shift. In some areas, avoiding the 7:30-8:30AM, and corresponding 4:30-5:30PM blocks can make a huge difference. Around Philly, the later block seems to work better (e.g. work 10-6), because those that comm...
by brianH
Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Soon to be dad, how to prepare
Replies: 127
Views: 7940

Re: Soon to be dad, how to prepare

I don’t think lactation consultants actually get any formal and consistent training. I definitely have some issues with how lactation consultants heavily push breastfeeding, but many LCs are board certified by an international body requiring 1000 hours of clinical experience and a 2/4 nursing degre...
by brianH
Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Water Heater Anode Replacement
Replies: 32
Views: 3443

Re: Water Heater Anode Replacement

criticalmass wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:26 pm Why wouldn’t BH have electric hot water? Cheapest option by far for many.
Especially if it's one of the newer heat pump water heaters. Those are typically more cost effective than basic gas models, and even can beat the super-high efficiency condensing gas models in many scenarios.
by brianH
Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Shut off water before a vacation
Replies: 78
Views: 7064

Re: Shut off water before a vacation

I actually have a "water key" in my car at all times. The T looking metal tool that I use to turn water off at the street. Agree...turn it off at the street. If for some reason your shut off at the house looks dodgy, I would suggest getting a plumber to replace it with a new ball valve shutoff. Cos...
by brianH
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:38 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: OK to give adult offspring job but not unearned salary?
Replies: 9
Views: 1491

Re: OK to give adult offspring job but not unearned salary?

I am much more nervous about lump sum 7-figure gifts as more prone to irrevocable abuses. This seems a bit specific to your personal situation, and it would be difficult to advise without knowing what you know. Do you believe that your adult children are likely to abuse the inheritance? Are there w...
by brianH
Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Lock Strategy for New House
Replies: 40
Views: 3381

Re: Lock Strategy for New House

I don't do anything special for the locks or doors since it would be far easier for a burglar to just break a window to get in if he didn't feel like kicking the door in. Any burglar who makes it into my home would be severely disappointed in the contents anyway. That's pretty much my thinking. Unl...
by brianH
Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee
Replies: 34
Views: 3821

Re: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee

rkhusky wrote: Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:55 pm The fact that people are not paying 6% is evidence for market forces at work.
That's irrelevant to an antitrust lawsuit.

Far more relevant is whether or not the actions of the Assoc. of Realtors restrict free trade in a way that ultimately hurts consumers.
by brianH
Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee
Replies: 34
Views: 3821

Re: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee

Every industry is subject to competition and disruption. Why don't one of you disrupt it since most think it's such a rip off in current state. That is the whole point, though. Disruption due to competition has not occurred and can not occur due to the alleged collusion of the National Association ...
by brianH
Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee
Replies: 34
Views: 3821

Re: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee

Best to allow market forces determine the right commission for a particular area, rather than the courts or government. The suit alleges, though, that we aren't dealing with pure market forces. There's a bunch of shady policies and rules surrounding how buyer's agents commissions are non-negotiable...