Search found 736 matches

by gtd98765
Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 529 savings plan vs. 529 Pre Paid Tuition
Replies: 5
Views: 356

Re: 529 savings plan vs. 529 Pre Paid Tuition

I have done both, and gotten lucky on both. One child attended a state university for which I had purchased prepaid tuition, and I ended up having paid well under half of the rack rate at the time she attended college. We also benefited from the college savings plan, which was invested in an age-bas...
by gtd98765
Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:17 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to use IRS's EFTPS to pay estimated taxes
Replies: 4
Views: 237

Re: How to use IRS's EFTPS to pay estimated taxes

Ah, thanks to you both! Do I also need to mail in the paper 1040-ES, or is paying the bill sufficient?
by gtd98765
Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:59 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: How to use IRS's EFTPS to pay estimated taxes
Replies: 4
Views: 237

How to use IRS's EFTPS to pay estimated taxes

I set up an Electronic Federal Tax Payment System account so I could easily pay my estimated taxes this year. But when I log on and try to select 1040-ES as the tax form I am paying, it is not listed. The IRS website clearly says you can use EFTPS to pay estimated taxes, but does not say how. Any ad...
by gtd98765
Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:43 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Disclaiming inheritance as remainder beneficiary
Replies: 15
Views: 1326

Re: Disclaiming inheritance as remainder beneficiary

I am a super cheapskate, but if taxes and legal situation about $1M were at stake, I would be willing to spend a few hundred/thousand for advice from a qualified lawyer.
by gtd98765
Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:40 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Broken A/C. Next steps?
Replies: 8
Views: 867

Re: Broken A/C. Next steps?

Our household A/C is out of commission. It's an old unit (at least 13 years old). The compressor seems to be running, but the fan isn't spinning. I just learned from my HVAC repair person that the average HVAC system today lasts 20 years. So a 13-year-old system is not "old" no matter wha...
by gtd98765
Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:57 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Pay IRS Estimated Payments?
Replies: 10
Views: 1182

Re: Pay IRS Estimated Payments?

For me, Turbotax for years has invariably overestimated my need for estimated taxes. I have never paid them based on TT and I never had a penalty. I think TT has its estimated tax algorithm tuned for people who like to get big tax refunds.
by gtd98765
Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:03 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Is auto purchase through Costco a good deal?
Replies: 12
Views: 1704

Re: Is auto purchase through Costco a good deal?

If you want a truly no-work option to get a low price, look at Car Bargains. https://www.checkbook.org/carbargains/ You pay them $250 or something, tell them exactly the car you want, and they get you multiple bottom=line bids from local dealers.
by gtd98765
Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:49 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Duolingo
Replies: 41
Views: 3481

Re: Duolingo

My advice as someone who learned and used 3.5 foreign languages as an adult (former diplomat): If it's fun for you, try it out. But if you want to be able to use a foreign language in actual conversation with non-English speakers, you should sign up for a course of some kind, e.g., at a community co...
by gtd98765
Fri Mar 19, 2021 10:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Is Google Advanced Protection the only safe way to use Yubikey?
Replies: 104
Views: 7611

Re: Is Google Advanced Protection the only safe way to use Yubikey?

I use a Yubikey to secure my Google account, but I do not have advanced protection. In addition to the Yubikey you can use an authenticator app like Google Authenticator as a second factor, print out and save backup codes, or use text message for the purpose (however, text message is the least secur...
by gtd98765
Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Network flaw allows SMS hijacking
Replies: 26
Views: 2080

Re: Network flaw allows SMS hijacking

Brian Krebs has an article on this now too: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/03/can-we-stop-pretending-sms-is-secure-now/#more-54819 SMS text messages were already the weakest link securing just about anything online, mainly because there are tens of thousands of employees at mobile stores who can b...
by gtd98765
Mon Mar 15, 2021 4:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Network flaw allows SMS hijacking
Replies: 26
Views: 2080

Re: Network flaw allows SMS hijacking

Concerning. But for clarification, the hacker would have to know your phone number, where your account was held, and what your username was to get anywhere with this, right? If so, that's not impossible, but pretty unlikely. JT Yes. Plus the password to whatever account the hacker is trying to acce...
by gtd98765
Mon Mar 15, 2021 2:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Network flaw allows SMS hijacking
Replies: 26
Views: 2080

Network flaw allows SMS hijacking

Another good reason to avoid using text messaging for Two-Factor Authentication:
A gaping flaw in SMS lets hackers take over phone numbers in minutes by simply paying a company to reroute text messages.
https://www.vice.com/en/article/y3g8wb/ ... -netnumber
by gtd98765
Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Phones have been hacked
Replies: 18
Views: 2241

Re: Phones have been hacked

I'm very sorry to hear that. Here is an article that addresses what happened to you and recommendations on what to do: https://medium.com/mycrypto/what-to-do-when-sim-swapping-happens-to-you-1367f296ef4d Sim-jacking is an attack in which your phone number is migrated away from your SIM card / phone ...
by gtd98765
Sun Mar 14, 2021 9:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Car negotiation (vs Truecar/Costco) for factory car orders?
Replies: 16
Views: 2392

Re: Car negotiation (vs Truecar/Costco) for factory car orders?

There are several recent threads on this that you will find by putting "Truecar" in the search box at top right.
by gtd98765
Thu Mar 11, 2021 9:26 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Health insurance / considerations for long term travel without homebase
Replies: 16
Views: 1268

Re: Health insurance / considerations for long term travel without homebase

Medical insurance for travel abroad is generally not prohibitively expensive. Type "foreign travel medical insurance" into the box at top right of the page and you will wind up with several prior threads on the topic. Here is one: viewtopic.php?t=268509 .
by gtd98765
Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:55 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Preparing to decide about a major career change
Replies: 53
Views: 3670

Re: Preparing to decide about a major career change

Retired FSO here. Foreign Service was a great job for me, but clearly it's not for everybody. As you noted, moving every few years gets to be a drag after awhile. Not every day is great, but I can say when I woke up in the morning I always knew who I was working for - the American people. FSOs I kno...
by gtd98765
Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Estate (Home) clean-out after my parents passing - tips and best practices?
Replies: 53
Views: 5827

Re: Estate (Home) clean-out after my parents passing - tips and best practices?

We used a local online estate sale company and were astounded at the junk that some people bought, such as 10 rolls of 50-year-old roofing paper; they only paid about $10 for it, but they came and took it away and we did not have to carry it or dump it. We treated the estate sale not as a money-maki...
by gtd98765
Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:21 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Quicken 2019 and forward
Replies: 500
Views: 44090

Re: Quicken 2019 and forward

Costco has the download priced at $39. Not quite as good as the former Amazon sale, but better than rack rate.
by gtd98765
Sun Mar 07, 2021 11:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home fire safe or safe deposit box?
Replies: 28
Views: 2227

Re: Home fire safe or safe deposit box?

I bought the First Alert fire chest in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-fireproof-document-safe/ Fortunately, I have not yet had to verify that its claimed fire protection abilities work. I only have important documents like wills & medical directives in here, and th...
by gtd98765
Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: It's Time To Replace my WIFI Router. Help????
Replies: 18
Views: 1931

Re: It's Time To Replace my WIFI Router. Help????

The Wirecutter has reviews: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-wi-fi-router/ Their top pick is right in your price range: After testing and evaluating 30 routers over 250 hours, we’ve determined that the best router for wirelessly connecting your laptops, your smart devices, and anythin...
by gtd98765
Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:39 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Air Purifier
Replies: 37
Views: 2337

Re: Air Purifier

I had a Blue Air filter while living in a highly-polluted city abroad. It made a giant difference, which we confirmed with a professional PM 2.5 measuring device. Back in a far-less-polluted US city I have the somewhat cheaper Honeywell HPA-300 recommneded by Wirecutter. Changing the filters twice a...
by gtd98765
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:45 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Pianists - Digital Piano or Keyboard recommendation
Replies: 26
Views: 2007

Re: Pianists - Digital Piano or Keyboard recommendation

We have had the Yamaha P-115, the predecessor of the P-125, for six years and have been very happy with it. We also have a grand piano at home, but the Yamaha has gone to live in two of my children's college dorm rooms and they have enjoyed playing it when they were at school.
by gtd98765
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:35 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Generators]/ supplemental power generation
Replies: 162
Views: 8711

Re: [Generators]/ supplemental power generation

So this might be a stupid question, but are the thermostats for the HVAC controlled via the HVAC unit directly? My Honeywell digital thermostats are both clearly designed to be powered by the forced-air furnaces using the "C" wire. Even my 25-year-old Carrier furnace could cope with that,...
by gtd98765
Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:23 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Heat pump - Check twice per year or just once?
Replies: 8
Views: 958

Re: Heat pump - Check twice per year or just once?

I haven't had my heat pump checked in at least five years and it still works fine. What is the purpose of these annual inspections? Are they worth the cost?
by gtd98765
Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:12 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Quicken 2019 and forward
Replies: 500
Views: 44090

Re: Quicken 2019 and forward

Costco has the download of Quicken Deluxe available for $39.
by gtd98765
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:34 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Anyone else like having passwords that they can remember?
Replies: 65
Views: 3773

Re: Anyone else like having passwords that they can remember?

One could deal with this "irrational fear" by 1) generating completely random passwords with a password manager; 2) printing out a list of account names and passwords and/or saving the list to an SD card; and 3) putting that list/SD card in a safety deposit box at the bank. This would allo...
by gtd98765
Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:45 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Recommendations for replacing 8 years old Whirlpool Fridge
Replies: 43
Views: 3479

Re: Recommendations for replacing 8 years old Whirlpool Fridge

Consumer Reports has frequency of repair statistics by brand and appliance type: https://www.consumerreports.org/applian ... ppliances/

For refrigerators, Whirlpool is listed as "average."
by gtd98765
Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:55 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Good time of year to buy a used car or wait?
Replies: 10
Views: 1322

Re: Good time of year to buy a used car or wait?

The pandemic has upended the used car market, making used cars more expensive than they have been in the past. So whatever annual cycles may have existed in the past do not currently pertain. Whether things will get back to "normal" by your Jan 2022 deadline is impossible to tell.
by gtd98765
Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:40 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Home warranty
Replies: 19
Views: 1262

Re: Home warranty

Consumer's Checkbook, a non-profit consumer magazine, recommends against them: https://www.checkbook.org/washington-area/home-warranties/ Home warranty companies run lots of ads promising to save you thousands of dollars when something goes wrong with your refrigerator, furnace, plumbing, and other ...
by gtd98765
Thu Jan 28, 2021 10:06 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Advice Needed: Resigning from Fed Gov't (not retiring...)
Replies: 18
Views: 1320

Re: Advice Needed: Resigning from Fed Gov't (not retiring...)

Print out or download your annual evaluations if you do not have them. Do you have copies of recent travel vouchers showing you accounted for any travel advances? At one point my agency did an audit of travel vouchers five years old, causing big problems for some people who had thrown away their rec...
by gtd98765
Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:39 pm
Forum: US Chapters
Topic: Master thread for Washington DC Area Bogleheads
Replies: 215
Views: 87684

Re: Master thread for Washington DC Area Bogleheads

I would also be interested in a video mtg.
by gtd98765
Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:00 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: 529 funds for off-campus housing - online classes
Replies: 12
Views: 1730

Re: 529 funds for off-campus housing - online classes

Remember, you can always spend money from a 529 on amounts above the ECOA, as long as you pay tax & 10% penalty on the earnings portion of the nonqualified withdrawal amount - not the whole nonqualified withdrawal. So if you are only talking a month or two over the summer it might be easiest jus...
by gtd98765
Tue Jan 26, 2021 6:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Non-standard 1099r from former employer
Replies: 8
Views: 497

Non-standard 1099r from former employer

The 1099-R for 2020 that I just received for my U.S. govt pension is not the same as the form in Turbotax or on the IRS web site. The official form has boxes 17, 18, and 19 along the bottom right, labeled "local tax withheld," "name of locality," and "local distribution,&quo...
by gtd98765
Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: TurboTax
Replies: 21
Views: 1922

Re: TurboTax

It's important to specify whether one is talking about the online version of TT or the CD/download version, since they are different. At least for last year, the online version required Premier to deal with investments like stocks & mutual funds. The CD/download version did not, it just required...
by gtd98765
Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Home Title Lock
Replies: 2
Views: 5718

Re: Home Title Lock

A scam. Discussed in several threads, two of which I have pasted below. You can find more by typing "title lock" into the search box at the top right.

viewtopic.php?t=304980

viewtopic.php?t=327976
by gtd98765
Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:25 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Microsoft Office - scanning?
Replies: 15
Views: 1334

Re: Microsoft Office - scanning?

I think you will get better answers if you describe what you are scanning and what you are doing with the scans afterwards. Anyway, I use freeware scanner NAPS2, which does all I need, scans single or multiple-page documents use either the sheet feeder or the glass window on my scanner, saves the do...
by gtd98765
Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to remove smoke smell from clothes after a fire?
Replies: 23
Views: 1997

Re: How to remove smoke smell from clothes after a fire?

I have friends whose house was extremely smoke damaged in the California wildfires. They sent all fabric items to a specialized cleaning service, but the service could not get the smoke smell out of many of them. I would send a sample of items to a service and see how they do. If you are satisfied w...
by gtd98765
Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Analysis of water & sewer line insurance
Replies: 13
Views: 1113

Analysis of water & sewer line insurance

Excellent story from a consumer magazine of water & sewer line insurance. The story includes lots of facts and analysis from water systems across the country. Bottom line: Far too expensive for the protection it offers. Also, the price for fixing these lines when they break is usually hundreds o...
by gtd98765
Tue Jan 05, 2021 8:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Credit Union? Should you be a part of one? [Considering loan to pay off debt]
Replies: 21
Views: 883

Re: Credit Union? Should you be a part of one? [Considering loan to pay off debt]

I gave up my bank account decades ago due to better service/prices from my employer's credit union. It's worth researching the options among CUs which you are eligible to join to see what might work best for you.
by gtd98765
Tue Jan 05, 2021 8:30 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: ISP monopoly
Replies: 20
Views: 924

Re: ISP monopoly

This is a political question. You should complain to your elected representatives and push for laws promoting competition in the ISP sector. There are several studies demonstrating that cities with more competition among ISPs have lower prices - not surprising since the competition/price dynamic is ...
by gtd98765
Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: USAJobs - Senior Executive Service Positions
Replies: 22
Views: 1558

Re: USAJobs - Senior Executive Service Positions

Agree with others that a four-day window over a holiday weekend means there is already a leading internal candidate for the job so I would not waste my time. At this time of the presidential cycle it could be a political person trying to "burrow in" to the career service, which happens at ...
by gtd98765
Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Is VPN essential for online privacy & security?]
Replies: 55
Views: 3535

Re: [Is VPN essential for online privacy & security?]

Thanks. Since ISP knows (and sells) which domains we connect to, isn't following a reasonable concern? And VPN the solution? In the US ISPs have privacy policies on line. If your ISP is a big name like Comcast or AT&T, it probably really follows its privacy policy, at the risk of expensive laws...
by gtd98765
Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:28 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Antivirus/Malware protection for Android device?
Replies: 4
Views: 353

Re: Antivirus/Malware protection for Android device?

I've had various Android phones for eight years and have never used antivirus. While the companies that will sell you such software, and the magazines that make money from their ads may say it's essential, I have never read of a real problem except among people who use apps outside the official Goog...
by gtd98765
Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:27 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Is VPN essential for online privacy & security?]
Replies: 55
Views: 3535

Re: Which VPN would you recommend?

The wirecutter has reviews; https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-vpn-service/ As more people’s work and personal lives go digital, online privacy and security become increasingly important. A virtual private network, or VPN, can be a useful part of your security toolkit. But the industry ...
by gtd98765
Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Bogleheads Cell Phone?
Replies: 78
Views: 5417

Re: Bogleheads Cell Phone?

The Wirecutter has reviews of budget cell phones: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-budget-android-phone/ High-end Android phones can cost $1,000 or more, but you don’t need to spend that much to get a great phone. The Nokia 6.2 is fast enough for most people, it has a usable camera, a...
by gtd98765
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:55 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New Laptop Recommendations
Replies: 53
Views: 4015

Re: New Laptop Recommendations

The Wirecutter has various reviews: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-business-laptops/ You don’t have to run a business to benefit from a business laptop. They’re easier to repair and upgrade than other laptops, and they’re built with sturdy materials that will hold up well to traveli...
by gtd98765
Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:25 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Treadmill
Replies: 39
Views: 2618

Re: Treadmill

The wirecutter has a good article on treadmills that discusses a lot of problems they have: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-treadmill/. Finally, treadmills can be a pain to set up and get working. You have to schedule a special delivery window, move very heavy boxes to the right spot...
by gtd98765
Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:19 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Turbotax on Sale Today Only
Replies: 103
Views: 8916

Re: Turbotax on Sale Today Only

Thanks! I just purchased Deluxe & State, plus $10 gift card, for $40 all in. The software is an instant download. The $10 gift card will apparently be mailed to me. At Costco the other day I saw Deluxe & State for $50, so the $30 price net of the gift card seems pretty good to me.
by gtd98765
Thu Dec 24, 2020 9:09 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: For Retiring Feds with lump sum payout
Replies: 1
Views: 283

Re: For Retiring Feds with lump sum payout

My agency said it was unable to control when the annual leave payout happened. I retired in November, and was hoping to receive the payout in the next tax year, when my income and tax bracket would be lower. Unfortunately it appeared in December.