Search found 497 matches

by Startled Cat
Fri May 10, 2019 10:05 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Relationship mortgage discounts for moving a million assets
Replies: 465
Views: 70609

Re: Relationship mortgage discounts for moving a million assets

A sescond thing I want to clarify: The first guy I called at BofA over their phone line didn't know these discounts even existed. The second person I called at BofA was a direct referral from a senior exec at my work. This contact works in Palo Alto, the center of wealth in Silicon Valley. She was ...
by Startled Cat
Fri May 10, 2019 9:49 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Relationship mortgage discounts for moving a million assets
Replies: 465
Views: 70609

Re: Relationship mortgage discounts for moving a million assets

I'm kicking myself for not knowing about these relationship discounts when I last refinanced. I bought a home not long ago and my initial mortgage rate was 4.5%, then I refinanced shortly after at 4.125% (lender paid the closing costs). It happens that I moved some assets to Merrill Edge at about th...
by Startled Cat
Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:30 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Timing the mortgage market
Replies: 26
Views: 2717

Re: Timing the mortgage market

I've been pondering this as well. I bought a home in November 2018, financed with a 4.5% 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage, and then immediately turned around and did a no-cost refinance at 4.125% because rates fell significantly by the time the loan closed. When I checked a few days ago it looked like I...
by Startled Cat
Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:33 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Time to Scrap 'Emerging Markets'? WSJ article
Replies: 38
Views: 5650

Re: Time to Scrap 'Emerging Markets'? WSJ article

Reminds me of "death of equities". Bring it on!
by Startled Cat
Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: HEDGEFUNDIE's excellent adventure [risk parity strategy using 3x leveraged ETFs]
Replies: 3353
Views: 401044

Re: HEDGEFUNDIE's excellent adventure [risk parity strategy using 3x leveraged ETFs]

As a casual observer, my gut feeling is that this strategy will underperform the S&P 500. The reliance on backtests, dismissal of non-flattering data, and line of people jumping on the bandwagon to get rich all don't bode well. So far I haven't noticed anyone replicating the backtest results in out-...
by Startled Cat
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:36 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: That's enough for me in 2019
Replies: 906
Views: 124144

Re: That's enough for me in 2019

There are definitely a lot of reasons to think this could be a smart call. On the other hand, the bear case I find most persuasive rests on stretched valuations in US equity markets after an intense and unrelenting long-term bull market. If you look at a chart of VEA or VWO since, say, 2011, you'll ...
by Startled Cat
Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:05 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Vanguard Municipal Money Market VMSXX 1.39%
Replies: 455
Views: 76557

Re: Vanguard Municipal Money Market VMSXX 1.39%

Cool spreadsheet. I recently switched to VCTXX from VUSXX for a slight TEY increase, but now it's a dead heat per the spreadsheet: Vanguard CA Muni Money Market 2.82% Vanguard Muni Money Market 2.82% Vanguard Treasury MM 2.83% I'll probably switch back to VUSXX if the muni fund yields keep dropping....
by Startled Cat
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:41 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Help starting a T-bill ladder for EF.
Replies: 13
Views: 1019

Re: Help starting a T-bill ladder for EF.

Not to be dismissive of your question, but why do you want do create this T-bill ladder instead of putting the cash in a money market fund or an FDIC-insured savings account? There would be hardly any difference in yield, and you could avoid a lot of complexity.
by Startled Cat
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:35 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Debt Pay Down Strategy
Replies: 35
Views: 3171

Re: Debt Pay Down Strategy

The HELOC has the highest balance and the highest interest rate (and it's adjustable), but am wondering if I should pay off my lower balance / lower interest rate debts first, and quickly, to free up cash flow, which would then get directed towards the HELOC. If you have extra cash flow you can dir...
by Startled Cat
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:26 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Refinance worth it? with closing costs vs no cost
Replies: 9
Views: 1967

Re: Refinance worth it? with closing costs vs no cost

A no-cost refinance will have a slightly higher interest rate, all other things being equal. You can ask your current lender what rate they would charge for a no-cost refinance, and also shop around with other lenders. I like no-cost refinances because you never know what will happen to interest rat...
by Startled Cat
Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:33 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: BIL, puzzling T-bill ETF: why have people put $7.9 billion into it?
Replies: 24
Views: 4477

Re: BIL, puzzling T-bill ETF: why have people put $7.9 billion into it?

It's just curiosity but it really does puzzle me. Why would anyone invest in BIL rather than a plain old money market mutual fund? In reviewing "money market alternatives," should I even bother to include it, as it will require saying so many times "except for BIL." I moved some assets to Merril Ed...
by Startled Cat
Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Reminder: phaseouts contribute to marginal tax rates
Replies: 3
Views: 532

Reminder: phaseouts contribute to marginal tax rates

I realized just recently that my marginal tax rate is slightly higher than I thought. California has a phaseout of itemized deductions based on federal AGI, which is effectively a 0.6-0.7% surtax. This is a relatively minor difference, but it would push me towards tax-exempt fixed income/cash option...
by Startled Cat
Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:21 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: ST Cash Instrument - ICHS?
Replies: 10
Views: 1307

Re: ST Cash Instrument - ICHS?

It's in https://us.spdrs.com/public/SPDR_ICI_Tax_Summary_Secondary.xls , dated 1/22/2019. Found in the "Related Documents" tab at the BIL page. BIL is line 57, exempt federal security percentage is column K. Cell K57 is 99.903954% (I hope that's enough digits for your purposes...). So you may not b...
by Startled Cat
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:53 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: ST Cash Instrument - ICHS?
Replies: 10
Views: 1307

Re: ST Cash Instrument - ICHS?

I've been using BIL for this purpose, but I'm thinking of switching to SHV because I can't find "federal source income" information anywhere for BIL, so I'm not confident I'll be able to exclude the income from my state taxes.
by Startled Cat
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:27 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Bonds in taxable or not, my scenario
Replies: 14
Views: 2035

Re: Bonds in taxable or not, my scenario

My rule of thumb is to assume that bonds of the same risk will have the same after-tax yield in a moderate tax bracket; therefore, I don't recommend munis in a 22% bracket unless you get a state tax exemption as well, and they are marginal in a 24% bracket. I worry that this is putting too much tru...
by Startled Cat
Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:00 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Bonds in taxable or not, my scenario
Replies: 14
Views: 2035

Re: Bonds in taxable or not, my scenario

Thus: 37% tax bracket: As much in CA munis as you can tolerate, national munis in taxable for the rest 24-35% tax bracket: As much in CA munis in taxable as you can tolerate, taxable bonds in tax-deferred, national munis in taxable only if tax-deferred is all bonds and you still need more munis 22%...
by Startled Cat
Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:47 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: SHV and tax treatment
Replies: 3
Views: 1337

Re: SHV and tax treatment

Replying to an old thread - I have the same question about the similar BIL ETF from State Street. I wasn't able to find a statement of tax information from State Street like those readily available from iShares and Vanguard. Does anyone know where I can find the fraction of income derived from gover...
by Startled Cat
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit
Replies: 58
Views: 5829

Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet. My electric rate is $0.21/kWh up to the 260 kWh per month "baseline" (239 kWh per month in summer). Between the baseline and 400% of baseline, the marginal rate is $0.28/kWh. Above 400% of...
by Startled Cat
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:59 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit
Replies: 58
Views: 5829

Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

California does not have humid summers? If you have to run your AC at night you would spend that kind of money. Also how about the desert? 110 in the shade? In addition a lot of Texas probably use heat pump for winter heat. That's common in the South. I (London England) burn 250 kwhr pcm in electri...
by Startled Cat
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit
Replies: 58
Views: 5829

Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet. My electric rate is $0.21/kWh up to the 260 kWh per month "baseline" (239 kWh per month in summer). Between the baseline and 400% of baseline, the marginal rate is $0.28/kWh. Above 400% of ...
by Startled Cat
Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:29 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Excessive mortgage payoff fee
Replies: 15
Views: 2197

Re: Excessive mortgage payoff fee

The lender finally agreed to reduce the fee to $30. They were openly unhappy about the situation, as I am refinancing with another lender very soon after I completed refinancing with them, and mentioned they were losing money on my loan. The bogus fee was apparently an attempt to recoup the loss. It...
by Startled Cat
Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:45 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Excessive mortgage payoff fee
Replies: 15
Views: 2197

Re: Excessive mortgage payoff fee

Thanks for the advice. I've been trying to get a breakdown of the fee as a next step. The lender hasn't been very responsive and it's taking awhile to get this information. I'll report back once I figure out the details.
by Startled Cat
Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Excessive mortgage payoff fee
Replies: 15
Views: 2197

Excessive mortgage payoff fee

I'm in the process of refinancing a mortgage, and noticed that the old mortgage servicer wants to charge a "administrative & legal fees" of $990 to receive the mortgage payoff. This came as a surprise to me, since the mortgage claims to have no prepayment penalty. I can't see how a fee to pay off th...
by Startled Cat
Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Took on too much mortgage, seeking advice on where to put money going forward
Replies: 46
Views: 5677

Re: Took on too much mortgage, seeking advice on where to put money going forward

Getting to 20% equity and then possibly refinancing to a lower rate should be a priority. At current rates, you should be able to do better than 5%. My situation may not be directly comprable, but I'm working on a 4.125% no-cost refi (30 year fixed) right now. When the time comes, you should conside...
by Startled Cat
Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:05 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Final, Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfer Bonuses
Replies: 2176
Views: 379575

Re: The Final, Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfer Bonuses

Does anyone have experience with You Invest yet? Online reviews seem to suggest it has very limited functionality. I'm curious if it supports margin accounts and selling specific tax lots. I don't want margin to use for leverage, but I find margin accounts more convenient because they avoid confusi...
by Startled Cat
Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:52 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Final, Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfer Bonuses
Replies: 2176
Views: 379575

Re: The Final, Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfer Bonuses

I'm finally about to jump on some of these offers. I'm thinking of using the $1000 Merrill Edge promo twice (IRA, and taxable), and also opening a You Invest account to hold funds for the 60,000 UR Sapphire Banking promo. Does anyone have experience with You Invest yet? Online reviews seem to sugges...
by Startled Cat
Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:23 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Paying Down an Interest-Only ARM
Replies: 9
Views: 885

Re: Paying Down an Interest-Only ARM

I would be tempted not to pay any extra principal. 2.75% is a pretty good rate, even at the margin where you can't deduct interest. The option value in keeping liquidity is pretty big. If rates go up from here, you're not far from beating the mortgage rate with relatively low risk FI investments. If...
by Startled Cat
Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:02 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Individual Disability Insurance Quote Evaluation Needed
Replies: 16
Views: 1224

Re: Individual Disability Insurance Quote Evaluation Needed

At first I was going to suggest that the quotes seem expensive. I'm paying $155 per month for a similar individual disability policy with a $7200/month maximum monthly benefit, and my age is about the same. My rate is a unisex rate, so gender shouldn't be a big factor (I've heard that normally women...
by Startled Cat
Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is an ARM always a bad idea?
Replies: 43
Views: 4897

Re: Is an ARM always a bad idea?

Due to a reduction in income I'm seriously considering a 10 year ARM, even though it is at the same 4.125% interest rate as our 30 year. Am I missing any Pros or Cons? We plan to move within 10 years. Pro: monthly expenses are reduced by at least $600....reduced income requirements. More flexibilit...
by Startled Cat
Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: United, American Airlines, Delta--about the same?
Replies: 144
Views: 8931

Re: United, American, Delta--about the same?

I think you're broadly correct. These airlines have very similar service levels and there won't be much difference in the product. Frequent flyers will strongly prefer their airline of choice because of the elite benefits they receive - for example, my girlfriend goes through great lengths to always...
by Startled Cat
Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:24 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Maximizing mortgage interest deduction for unmarried couple
Replies: 5
Views: 565

Maximizing mortgage interest deduction for unmarried couple

I recently purchased a home with my unmarried partner. Since we are not married, my understanding is that according to a Ninth Circuit court decision , we are each able to deduct mortgage interest on a balance up to $750k, rather than having a combined limit of $750k as a married couple would. The 2...
by Startled Cat
Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:08 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: My 401k has no bond index fund options
Replies: 15
Views: 1260

Re: My 401k has no bond index fund options

I think you are lucky to have bond fund options even if they are not index funds. My 401k has no bond funds; only TR funds and a few equity funds.
by Startled Cat
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:17 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Uber Cash Discount
Replies: 4
Views: 1286

Re: Uber Cash Discount

There are often opportunities to stock up on discounted Uber gift cards at around 20% off. Blogs like Doctor Of Credit highlight these deals. So far I've been able to get enough gift cards at significant discounts that I'm not interested in buying more at only 5% off.
by Startled Cat
Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:51 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Who is buying SCV, EM, Intl SC
Replies: 41
Views: 3144

Re: Who is buying SCV, EM, Intl SC

I'm buying international developed and EM, slowly. I have past experiences buying too aggressively at the beginning of a downturns, and conscious of that, I'm trying to pace myself. I'm making small purchases every few weeks.
by Startled Cat
Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Window condensation
Replies: 15
Views: 2245

Re: Window condensation

Unfortunately, ventilating the home daily and running a dehumidifier hasn't been enough to fully solve the problem. I can bring the humidity down to 47% or so in the bedroom in the late evening, and then turn off the dehumidifier to sleep. By morning, the humdity will be back up to 60% or even highe...
by Startled Cat
Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Home Purchase Price vs. Gross Income
Replies: 59
Views: 4797

Re: Home Purchase Price vs. Gross Income

Reading threads with conversations about setting yourself/family up for financial success even through hard times, I’m curious what other Boglegeads ratio of home purchase price is vs. gross income and whether you live in a LCOL, MCOL or HCOL. For my family, it was about 1.93% at time of purchase a...
by Startled Cat
Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Window condensation
Replies: 15
Views: 2245

Re: Window condensation

Thanks for all the tips! A quick update: There was a lot of condensation last night (not surprising since it was a relatively cold night). This was despite running the heat more than I normally would and avoiding closing any pleated blinds completely. The master bedroom was the worst affected, as al...
by Startled Cat
Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Window condensation
Replies: 15
Views: 2245

Re: Window condensation

We have the same problem, and solved it. We have double paned windows too. We have pleated blinds on the windows. If we lower the blinds all the way down to touch the sill, there is no circulation over the glass and condensate forms. However, if we leave the blinds up about an inch, or so, from the...
by Startled Cat
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Window condensation
Replies: 15
Views: 2245

Window condensation

I recently bought a condo and moved in, and I'm very excited to finally have my dream home. So far there has only been one major issue, and I could use some advice for dealing with it. Often when I wake up in the morning, I find large amounts of condensation on the bedroom windows and metal window f...
by Startled Cat
Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:53 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Affordable Furniture for first adult apartment
Replies: 29
Views: 2918

Re: Affordable Furniture for first adult apartment

I just recently purchased my first home and had to deal with furnishing it over the past two weeks. It was a challenge since we moved from a dramatically smaller apartment and needed lots of new and different pieces of furniture. Craigslist was a godsend. My girlfriend invested lots of time poring o...
by Startled Cat
Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:31 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Help with down payment versus co-buying
Replies: 5
Views: 514

Re: Help with down payment versus co-buying

I very recently bought a home, and my parents surprised me by raising the possiblity that they participate in the purchase as co-tenants as a way of helping out. This idea had some good qualities - it could potentially avoid gift tax, my parents would be able to participate in any appreciation that ...
by Startled Cat
Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:39 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Ally Banking 1% extra back up to $1,000 on new money deposited
Replies: 621
Views: 74488

Re: Ally Banking 1% extra back up to $1,000 on new money deposited

The No Penalty CD seems to be up to 2.20% now. Time to break those CDs and reinvest?
by Startled Cat
Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:37 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 2019 Expenses > 2019 Income – Help us close the gap
Replies: 128
Views: 9334

Re: 2019 Expenses > 2019 Income – Help us close the gap

As I stated above, I think it is perfectly reasonable to temporarily reduce your savings rate for this period to a still-healthy rate. Since you framed it as a cash flow problem, people are treating it as an exercise in cutting expenses. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it's particularly n...
by Startled Cat
Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:14 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Hedging tomorrow's tax rates
Replies: 32
Views: 2916

Re: Hedging tomorrow's tax rates

I know it's akin to saying "let them eat cake", but since you mentioned 20 more years of savings, is it possible that over that time you'll increase your earnings enough to run out of tax-advantaged space and be forced to direct some of your savings to taxable accounts anyway? If that's a realistic ...
by Startled Cat
Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 2019 Expenses > 2019 Income – Help us close the gap
Replies: 128
Views: 9334

Re: 2019 Expenses > 2019 Income – Help us close the gap

marcopolo wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:55 pm
To be honest, in your situation, I would not hesitate to simply pull the $10k out of your taxable savings for the next 2 years. It will be an unnoticeable blip in the long run.
So many judgemental and condescending posts in this thread even though this is clearly the right answer.
by Startled Cat
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:02 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Hedging tomorrow's tax rates
Replies: 32
Views: 2916

Re: Hedging tomorrow's tax rates

So I was doing online calculators figuring what our future marginal tax bracket would have to be for us to break even on using tax-deferred vehicles such as a tIRA or 401k vs. sticking it in a brokerage account and ponying up on taxes today. This premise doesn't seem right. The taxable scenario als...
by Startled Cat
Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:20 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Doubling down on EM [Emerging Market]
Replies: 55
Views: 7426

Re: Doubling down on EM [Emerging Market]

I have a similar portfolio to yours, around 60% EM, mostly EM value, which I've had since 2016. I respect your openness and, for the most part, agree with your reasoning. I'm not too cute with my overweight, I simply picked an allocation I can live with and looked for the cheapest and simplest way ...
by Startled Cat
Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:35 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Doubling down on EM [Emerging Market]
Replies: 55
Views: 7426

Re: Doubling down on EM

Well, I suppose you've asked — and answered — the key question here: "What if I'm wrong?" The risk of a less comfortable retirement is not one I'd be comfortable taking, but it might be appropriate for you, depending on your circumstances. This might be a bit hyperbolic. I think I'll manage either ...
by Startled Cat
Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:21 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Doubling down on EM [Emerging Market]
Replies: 55
Views: 7426

Doubling down on EM [Emerging Market]

I’ve always had an EM-heavy portfolio, but during the recent decline in EM stock markets I’ve been adding to my holdings considersably. Particularly now with VWO under $40, it’s hard to resist buying EM for the long haul. The long run of underperformance in EM has definitely been frustrating, but I ...